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mikestorm5 12-06-2012 05:21 PM

Shower stall leaking through ceiling below in kitchen
I want to start off by saying I'm fairly certain this is beyond my expertise to fix, but I've made progress in the diagnosis. I want to be able to speak intelligently to whomever I end up calling.

Title says it all. We noticed (of course) on Thanksgiving. Since then, I'm leaning away from the plumbing I think it's the shower door itself or the tilework under the marble threshold.

Diagnosis so far.

1) only happens when water is running.
2) pointed running water directly at drain for 30 minutes - nothing
3) covered drain and filled stall with 1/2" of water for 60 minutes - nothing
4) Staggered drain cover around expose outside edgse of drain in 15 minute intervals - nothing
5) pointed water at each wall that wasn't the shower door wall - nothing
4) pointed water towards shower door (cascades down door). Water starts to drip through ceiling.

I didn't see any weepholes so I caulked around the shower door threshold. It seemed to help for a few days but now it's leaking again.

Pictures below.

Here are my questions:
1) Anything else you would recommend to diagnose that doesn't' involve cutting an exploratory hole in my kitchen ceiling? I'm moderately certain it has to do with the door but haven't found a smoking gun as of yet.
2) If it is the door, do I call my plumber (installed the plumbing when home was built) or the guy who did the tilework in 2009? I just bought this house three months ago but prior owner (who had home built) gave me receipts and contact info for everything.
3) What's with the rust spots on the marble? I caulked over one towards the center of track but you can still kind of see it. Is it related? I think there might be a hole under the track as before I cauked I saw water being sucked under the track from the marble base.

Standing water to rule out shower stall pan. Notice how drain cover is staggered. I did this all the way around the drain.

Top down of shower stall threshold. Metal track on marble flat base. Tiled on both sides. Notice the two rust spots.

Another of the threshold. Notice my caulk job on the inside.

Here is where I believe it may be leaking.

oh'mike 12-06-2012 08:45 PM

Go to the plumbing shop and get a 2" inflatable drain plug---you need to do a 24 hour flood test---

That is actually a double drain set---the hole you see drains the tile---
another set of holes is a couple of inches below the tile and drains the membrane that is under the concrete deck

That's why you need the inflatable plug--to get below the second set of holes.

After you are sure the pan is not leaking---then finding the real leak should be easy.

If the pan leaks--it's tear out time---

mikestorm5 12-07-2012 07:34 AM

Mike, thanks for the reply. Will do exactly that. Will go tomorrow (Saturday) and test through Sunday and report back.

I have a few questions.

1) Regading the flood test? How much water? Do I need to fill right up to the threshold or will a few inches do? I ask because I still think (hope) it's the top of the threshold and I don't want to fill too much to trigger a false positive on the flood test.

2) Assuming it's NOT the pan, is this a plubming repair job or a tile repair job?

ben's plumbing 12-07-2012 07:38 AM

1 st i think mike has a good idea....:thumbsup: look at the bottom cornor of door ...rusty water marks and some other tell tell signs of water leaking from door..after doing test mike suggest ..if its good then,,remove door clean surface well...ckeck for any loose if needed..reinstall door or get new one...seems to me water is leaking around door or tiles in that area notice the mold in the grout lines....sign of leakage...ben sr

oh'mike 12-07-2012 06:50 PM

Fill to within an inch or so of the threshold---

I see the same thing as Ben----I suspect the threshold---and the door seals===If so it's a tile repair not a plumbing issue---

The most common 'leak' I encounter is water escaping around a shower door or shower curtain----

mikestorm5 12-08-2012 08:25 AM

Well, well, well. I think I've potentially discovered something.

I bought the inflatable drain plug and was going to begin my test. I removed the grate and was about to clean out the first few inches of drain pipe when I noticed grout caked around the pipe.

I'm thinking the drain facing side of the weepholes are covered. Any ideas on how to remove grout without damaging anything else?

PVC pipe and septic system if it matters.

mikestorm5 12-08-2012 10:02 AM

OK, I fashioned two tools. One out of an old wire egg whisker and the other out of a wire coat hanger. I effectively fashioned picking tools, for the next 30 minutes I carefully picked away the grout buildup in the first 3" or so of the drain. Everything looks much better, but I can't find/see any weepholes!

Am I looking in the wrong place or does this drain not have any weepholes to begin with?

Drain itself is iron. There appears to be a top and bottom part and top screws on to bottom. On the walls of the top part of the drain I can now see four slits that reveal the threads of the bottom part of the drain, however I don't see any holes in the threads.


mikestorm5 12-08-2012 11:01 AM

Had a drain snake and used the plastic arrow tip as a pick. The switched to smaller snake to get around the bend. Drain now completely free of grout as far down as I can 'feel' with the snake. Not surprisingly, now drains twice as fast. Great. Fixed a problem I didn't know I had. :huh: Anyway, I'm can now (finally) move forward with flood test. Will do that and report back tomorrow.

Until then, anyone with guidance on my weep hole location, please chime in.

Alan 12-08-2012 02:10 PM

I've honestly never looked, but I doubt you could see the weepholes from the inside.

Here's a basic shower drain image so you can see what the weepholes look like from the outside.

mikestorm5 12-08-2012 02:12 PM

Thanks Alan; worth a shot. That could mean my clean up job might have inadvertently fixed the issue.

Flood test. Water level is 3" at the drain lip and 2.25" at the wall.

oh'mike 12-08-2012 05:28 PM

Good luck with the test-----

mikestorm5 12-08-2012 05:48 PM

Thanks Mike. 3.5 hours in and ceiling is dry. Normally I see a considerable amount of dripping after a 10 minute shower, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

The one thing about the step/threshold I find odd is it doesn't leak outside the shower (the much more common leak if Google is to be believed), only down through the subfloor/kitchen ceiling, so I don't know what removing/replacing the shower door will do.

I called the tile guy. I asked him for a 'back of the envelope' quote over the phone so I could get a sense of magnitude. Materials/labor to rip out/replace step (including tile work) is $800-$900. Seems a fair price.

Does something like this run the risk of damaging the shower pan?

oh'mike 12-08-2012 05:54 PM

Yes, it will ruin the pan---How to build a shower - Building a shower pan with pre-sloped mortar bed, liner and curb.

If the pan is not leaking--(your flood test will tell you this)--then the curb is okay---
if anything the cap is loose and needs caulking--or in the worst case removing and resetting.

Do not disturb the pan or curb if the flood test tells you the pan is good.

mikestorm5 12-08-2012 06:17 PM

Have you come across instances where a cap or compromised tile work on the curb could cause a leak downstairs even when flood test is OK? That part is confounding me...

Based on your link liner goes over curb, and in my shower water doesn't leak outside of shower door threshold (just down).

oh'mike 12-08-2012 06:55 PM

Finding a leak like that can be time consuming---

If the pan and curb hold water----the the problem is not the pan or inside of the curb.

Next ---aim water at the top of the curb-----
then the door---

it's a process of elimination--starting with the pan---

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