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Old 04-14-2013, 01:32 PM   #1
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Shower Leak


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I have a really confounding leak in my shower. Please reference the attached photos.

The leak only occurs when the shower is running. For troubleshooting I sealed the drain and partially filled the shower basin with water to make sure that the drain hole is not the problem (I siliconed the drain seal really well last week as I thought that was where the water was going.) The shower basin is holding water fine.

The leak occurs outside the shower basin in that corner that you see in the second image. The first image is just a closeup of that corner where I've removed the piece of tile. The water starts running almost immediately after the shower is turned on and NO water is running directly on that corner so the leak is somewhere in the wall.

For situational awareness, the shower control is just out of picture on the same wall that is in the picture. So the plumbing in picture #3 is in that wall.

Here's the confounding part. I took off the shower control plate and you can see in image #3 that the pipes that run all the way down to the floor from the shower control are bone dry, as is the bottom of that wall space. The pipes there are not leaking.

What doesn't make sense to me is that any pipes running water to the shower should be under constant pressure. So if there is a leak, it should leak even if the water is turned off. Am I thinking wrong here?

The wall behind this is our toilet area and it will be simple to cut an access hole down there to take a look but I thought I'd get some experienced advice before I go there. I'm pretty handy but I like to have as much info up front as I can get.

Any advice appreciated. I can provide more photos if necessary.

Thanks.

E


Last edited by Herk_Man; 04-14-2013 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:40 PM   #2
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Shower Leak


I'm on my phone so I can't really see your pictures, but your line to the shower head isn't under pressure unless the shower is on.

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Old 04-14-2013, 01:46 PM   #3
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Shower Leak


Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbuilders View Post
I'm on my phone so I can't really see your pictures, but your line to the shower head isn't under pressure unless the shower is on.
Ok, that doesn't make sense to my engineering brain since when the shower is turned on, water has to get up to the shower head, but I'm not the expert here so I'll trust you.

So what you're saying is that I probably have a leaking pipe somewhere in that wall that needs to be sweated back together?

Really appreciate the quick response! Wife is getting sweating supplies right now!

P.S. I noticed the forum warning and accept full responsibility for any work I do on my own. I'm pretty handy, just not always fully versed in the exact ins and outs of how things work.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:51 PM   #4
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Shower Leak


Check the nipple of the shower head. Unscrew it and pull it out of the wall. Put thread sealer or Teflon tape and re attach.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:59 PM   #5
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Shower Leak


There is no water coming from up high. It is bone dry inside the wall where all of the vertical pipes run.

It is really strange. The water is coming from the edge of the OUTSIDE of the shower basin at the top of that area where I removed the tile.

All I can figure is that where the pipes run down to the slab and and then run out toward that spot, there is an elbow leaking.

I originally discounted this as I thought the pipes would be under pressure at all times in order to allow water to flow upwards when the shower is turned on.

(I'm interested to know how the water does go up if there is not pressure when it is turned off. That part of this is really bothering my engineering brain and what I thought I knew about plumbing.)

Again, your timely responses are sincerely appreciated.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:05 PM   #6
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Shower Leak


To just help emphasize that the issue is not up at the shower head or shower control, the leak starts up almost as soon as the shower is turned on, and it is not a really fast leak. Probably a drop every two seconds.

If the leak were up high, the water would have to run down the wall, get past the stud between the pipes and the leak, and pool a bit before it started dripping.

This leak starts up fast so I'm positive the problem is down in that corner somewhere.

I'm still listening and know I'm not the expert here so anything else you can throw at me is very welcome. I just want to make sure I provide you with a good picture of the situation.

I think I'm going to have to enter that wall from the toilet area wall (backside of the wall with the leak). This will allow me to only damage drywall instead of having to go through the tiled area of the shower.

Does that seem like a good strategy? Once I do that I plan on just making a nice access plate instead of sheet-rocking the wall back in again. I'm pretty handy with woodworking and trim, thankfully.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:13 PM   #7
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Shower Leak


Well then you've stumped me. To bad you don't have a snake cam. But the access panel is always a good idea. I have one down low and one at the shower head at my house.

But I have worked on houses that we found a leak 20' from the puddle.

Post what you find when you open up the wall
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:17 PM   #8
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LOL. Ugh. Thanks.

I mean, I know what you're talking about. Water is funny stuff.

I'll probably take your advice anyway since it's a simple fix. Perhaps it is somehow traveling sideways up high. I'd just think there would be some amount getting down the pipes if that were it. But it's absolutely bone dry in there.

Fun fun.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:57 PM   #9
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Shower Leak


Well, I think I figured it out. And before I started destructive operations too.

I tied a bucket to the shower head and ran the shower into it. No leak.

So while sitting down in the shower talking to my father about it, I had a different angle and discovered that one of the tiles on the back wall of the shower has some missing grout. Couldn't see it until I got down low (that's my weak excuse anyway.)

So now it looks like grout and sealer and I'm off and running.

I'm still amazed that it was getting all way to the opposite diagonal corner and leaking so fast but I think there is already some water in there so when I start running the shower, it just starts pushing the water that is already present. It appears to be running around the lip of the shower basin inside the tile until it gets to that corner and has an exit.

I really appreciate the help. Pardon me while I...

Also: Any thoughts on how best to get that area behind the wall dry without ripping out all my tile? If I stop the source of water, will it eventually just evaporate?

And I'd still like to understand your original statement that the pipes going to the shower are not under pressure if the shower is not on. I can't get past this as I don't know how else the water would flow up to the shower control when you turned it on.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:58 PM   #10
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Shower Leak


I think I could have explained it better. The single line from the handle assembly to the shower head isn't under pressure. The hot and cold lines coming into the assembly obviously are.

As far as letting it dry just make sure you don't have mold growing. We don't want to see you or your family get sick.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #11
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Yes. I'm tearing out a row of tiles to check. So far it just looks like the fiber board has water damage and will require some replacement areas. Maybe a little mold has started but we'll kill it.

I will have to reinstall the bottom two rows but I definitely found the problem so I'm glad for that.

God bless.

E

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