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Old 10-23-2012, 09:39 PM   #1
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Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall


I am troubleshooting a water issue and I am looking for ideas on how to identify the source of a water leak.

I remodeled my basement bathroom February 2009. I had a room mate living in the basement and he used the shower on a regular basis. I however did not use that bathroom. Water issues started to appear mid 2011. The first signs I noticed were bubbling paint. I noticed small gaps in the caulk between the tub and the tile and assumed that to be the cause. I removed the caulk, setup a fan and dehumidifier. The bathroom dried out for a full week before I replaced the caulk. I waited another week before allowing use of the bathroom.

The bubbling paint returned within a few weeks and seemed to worsen more rapidly this time. I suspected the user of the shower might be getting water outside of the shower but after checking the bathroom after multiple showers there didn't seem to be any excess moisture outside of the shower/tub area.

Now I suspected there was a leak inside the wall. I had a outdoor spigot that leaked when in use that was located in the block wall behind the shower wall. I had long since stopped using the spigot but I suspected that was the source. I opened up the wall to view the plumbing for the shower. It appeared that the water was not coming from that spigot. What I saw confused me even more. There seemed to be water coming from the floor near the tub flange and soaking up the wall from the floor.

Just to be sure I fixed the spigot behind the shower wall by capping it off completely. My room mate has since moved out and the paint still appears to be bubbled out. I now suspect a small leak that is accumulating between the durock and tile and running down the front of the tub and soaking into the base of the wall. I have tried running the shower for ten minutes straight and I don't see any leaks anywhere. There is no immediate moisture build up. The shower has not been in use for a few months now and the bathroom still smells musty.

As for further troubleshooting I am stumped. Can anyone suggest some troubleshooting steps to take next?

I have attached various pictures to help show what is going on.

I noticed moistrue at the base of the shower wall inside the wall. After setting up a fan and dehumidifier the moisture has not returned but the paint is still bubbled out.

I noticed that some of the plumbing connections seem to have more oxidation than others, is this normal? Is this a sign that could be the source of the moisture?

In one of the pictures there is visible moisture between the durock and the vapor barrier. Is that normal?

I have many more pictures but there is a limit of 6 so I tried to narrow it down to the most useful ones.

Any ideas or advice would be appreciated!
Attached Thumbnails
Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-view-damage-capped-spigot.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-closeup-bubbling-paint.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-inside-base-shower-plumbing-wall.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-moisture-between-water-barrier-durock.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-shower-plumbing-junction.jpg  

Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-open-plumbing-wall.jpg  

Last edited by NeverEnoughTime; 10-23-2012 at 09:48 PM. Reason: Additional questions
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Old 10-24-2012, 04:52 AM   #2
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Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall


The water damage on that corner is typical of what happens when water escapes the tub around a shower curtain.

the drywall and corner bead are usually held off the floor by 1/2" to prevent wicking ---then a base molding is used to hide that. A tile base might be a good idea.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:55 PM   #3
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Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall


More pictures and some followup questions.

Today I opened up the wall more and when I vacummed up the mess the whole bathroom began to stink. My wife said it smelled like a dead animal. It didn't exactly smell like sewer, but it was bad. I noticed that there is large gaping hole that leads under my house. Should I close this hole up somehow?

If it were the connection to the sewer line that was leaking gas is there an easy way to check for a leak?

Also I noticed some droppings or dead bugs or something. There are two pictures with brown spots. Any idea what that could be?

I popped off one of the tiles that covers the tub flange and all the screws underneath it are rusted over big time. Is this normal or just more evidence of a water problem? Also the caulk in this area on the inside of the wall is all black, like it was covered in mold.
Attached Thumbnails
Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-hole-floor.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-brown-spot-under-tub.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-another-brown-spot.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-corner.jpg   Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-base-narrow-wall.jpg  

Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall-tub-flange.jpg  
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:23 PM   #4
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Water issue in bathroom at base of the tub and shower plumbing wall


Rusted screws are to be expected---wrong screws for cement board--should have been coated---

water staining on that bottom plate is typical of water damage caused by water escaping from the shower curtain---

No idea what is smelling---

The opening in the concrete floor around the drain pipe is the way that is usually done--no need to fill that.
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