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Rubbertree 09-20-2009 08:21 AM

Shower leak (what else) Old home, new owner...
Hi folks...
So I've been searching and searching on this site for a solution to my issue...tried some stuff but can't seem to pinpoint the problem. I would appreciate any we go.

Tiled shower stall on main floor of older (built in 51) house. Base is not tiled, appears to be concrete but I'm not 100% sure. I'm pretty sure the shower was added after construction.
We had been using the bathroom for about 2 weeks and I noticed a leak in the basement. It only occurs while showering. I'm trying desperately to pinpoint the location of the leak but am having no is what I've tried.

Removed fixture from wall and took a look. - Dry as a bone.
Removed caulking from seam (where tile meets shower pan), cleaned it out, dried it up and recaulked. Waited 36 hours. Leak is still there.
Plugged the drain hole and filled the pan. 1 bucket - no leak. 2 buckets, no leak, 3 buckets no leak. 4 buckets and BAM, We have a winner. Water is leaking into the basement.
The answer seems to be obvious but here is where I am stumped. By bucket #3 I was already above the caulk line and no leak. I even stood in the shower to add the leak. With bucket #4 the leak was instantaneous. The grout looks intact but obviously the water is getting in somewhere.
Any ideas how I can find out exactly where the water is getting in?
Thanks, I appreciate any and all advice.

AllanJ 09-20-2009 09:24 AM

You say the leak stopped at first after you covered the drain hole.

Was water going down the drain hole slowly due to imperfect cover, and by the time (minutes:seconds) you got to bucket #4 there was enough down there to rise above a certain level, say in a trap, and resume leaking?

Sometimes the shower pan has rusted out and althogh the shower floor and tiles are caulked, water gets into the shower pan via the drain opening.

plumber Jim 09-20-2009 10:36 AM

have you filled 4 buckets and poured the down the drain and make sure not to get the water anyplace but the drain? If not try that. if that doesn't make a leak then get a hand held shower and spray the tile walls one at a time and see is one of them causes the leak. test the drain first so you can rule it out.

Rubbertree 09-20-2009 11:58 AM

Thanks guys, I appreciate the advice.
When I plugged the drain to fill the pan I removed the strainer and pushed a rag into the drain pipe below the seals so the seals were exposed to the water. I had the 3 buckets full in the pan for at least 20 minutes without a leak and the fourth bucket was definitely the straw that broke the donkey's back so to speak. I can see the pipe and trap from the basement and they are dry too so I can only assume that its not the drain.

The hand held shower idea is ingenious, I'll give it a shot.
Now, assuming that I find a wall that is leaking and assuming it is through the grout will I have to rip it all out or can I simply seal the grout with something? In the longer term I'm going to rip out the shower and replace it with a prefab dealy but in the mean time....
Thanks again...:thumbsup:

AllanJ 09-20-2009 12:50 PM

Grout has some porosity but a properly grouted tile wall will let several showers in a row be taken without leaking through to drywall, etc. behind.

Also, the grout can be sealed, primarily to retard mildew but this will also reduce the porosity further.

But if grouted sections of the wall are submerged, then there will be oozing through.

Michael Thomas 09-20-2009 01:03 PM

1) A "tiny" defect can produce a "major" leak, I've seen water pouring out of a light fixture due to a nail-hole in the pan liner of the shower on the floor above, the water was entering around the nail, though the liner was tight around the nail's shank.

2) One especially suspect area is the door and door sill, as screws or other fasteners are often run through the shower pan and/or wall to secure the door frame.

Rubbertree 09-20-2009 07:31 PM

I think that is what I have been struggling with. I just today found a crack in the grout line of the first row of tile (its actually about a 1/4 tile) but thought there was no way enough water could possible get through to cause a leak...apparently I was wrong
Now, with my trusty $5 walmart telephone shower head I'm about to see if it is indeed the culprit. Thanks again. I'll let you know what I found if you're interested.

Rubbertree 09-24-2009 05:20 PM

Well, for those who helped I thank you.
For those who stumble across this thread in an effort to find out where their shower is leaking, heed the advice.

The crack in my grout was barely visible. Probably no more than 1/32" but it was enough to allow water to seep in and drip into the basement. A good clean and a silicone cap seems to have solved the problem...for now.

Thurman 09-25-2009 01:26 PM

Rubbertree--You've done well and heeded advice well. IMO-the "silicone cap" will just be a short-term "get-by", and I do mean short term. There are ways to remove the grout in question to do a re-grouting. You can get the hand operated "grout saw" and spend some time doing this, or you can various power tools which have attachements just for removing grout. I have the Dremel Mult-Tool which has a grout removal blade that works great. Again, IMO- you should remove the grout in this suspected area and re-grout. Good Luck, David

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