How to make sure shower arm is not leaking inside of wall

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by lordmoosh, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. lordmoosh

    lordmoosh New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    USA
    Hello,

    I had to replace my shower arm. There is no clearance around the shower arm to make sure it is not leaking into the wall. I tried chiseling out some of the cement but it feels harder than thinset. Usually I can chisel out thinset or cement board easily. In this case I was not able to chisel it out successfully. I'm not sure what material they used but its hard like a rock. I went to the other side of the wall and cut out a piece of drywall. There is a piece of wood behind the brass fitting that the shower arm is connected to. I can see the copper pipe underneath it (see pictures). The pipe looks dry. The insulation feels dry. Is there anything else I should do to make sure its not leaking? Thanks all.

    IMG_20130618_204729.jpg IMG_20130618_204719.jpg IMG_20130618_204823.jpg
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,244
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    If it's going to leak, it won't be very notable while running water through the shower head.
    Replace the shower head with a threaded cap and leave the line pressurized for awhile, then check for any sign of a leak.
  3. lordmoosh

    lordmoosh New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    USA
    My showerhead slows to a trickle (very little water comes out of it) when the water heats up. Would that be enough pressure?
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    Maybe, maybe not. A cap is less than a buck. Next time you're near a place that sells them, pick one up, then you'll know for sure. If you applied tape, pipe dope, or both properly, and tightened it down well, unless the fitting splits (hard, but not impossible to do), it's not going to leak.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I have never looked into a wall to see if a shower arm was leaking.

    Either put tape on the threads, or pipe dope, thread the head onto the arm by hand, and spin that puppy in.

    After you have the arm where you want it. then put a wrench on the head to snug it up.
  6. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Leaking Shower Arm

    Many of these shower arms are now being made with chrome plated plastic. Make sure your shower arm is not before putting any force on it.

    If you use the shower arm for support (You should not) you could crack a fitting in the wall.

    This happened in our rental years back. Cost me $6,000 to fix and repair all damages.

    Some of this going on I think!


    [​IMG]
    *Picture Source
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  7. DougB

    DougB Member

    It's sorta like trying to find out if the light is on when the refrigerator door is closed :)

    Is that a younger picture of you John?
  8. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,889
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Renters!!!

    I once opened up the ceiling on a condo, first floor basement unit. Water was coming though the ceiling above the stacked shower. I saw no reason for the water there.
    I then went to the top unit four floors up and figured I would start from the top with my detecting skills.

    The shower arm was dangling from the wall, nearly broken in half.
    The Renter said it had been that way a long time and it was hard to get it pointed right.

    Yeah.................someone elses problem I guess.

    My normal repair in that building had been for leaking shower drains. I had replace a few of those already.
    I wasn't expecting somebody to shower with a broken shower arm though.
  9. lordmoosh

    lordmoosh New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    USA
    Mines is definitely some type of brushed metal, not plastic. Thanks all.
  10. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Fixing a leaking shower arm - get the pressure just right!

    [​IMG]

    Source



    The pressure on this shower arm and fixture is to great. Look at the pain the women is in!

    Did you upgrade their shower head for them? This is a fancy one.


    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  11. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    If you shine a light and watch for a minute or two you might see a falling drop of water.

    You could also feed in some newspaper and leave it there for a few days.
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,481
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    leak

    This is a prime example of paranoia and overkill. WHO cuts a hole in the wall to check for something they don't even know is happening? You TEST, and CHECK, FIRST, then open the wall if there is a problem.
  13. lordmoosh

    lordmoosh New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    USA
    How do you "TEST, and CHECK, FIRST" to know there is a problem?
  14. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    Cap the shower arm's outlet. Take the trim off the valve. This will give you enough space to look for water dripping down from the shower riser pipe. Turn the valve on, and if it's in say a tub, activate the diverter so it tries to go up the shower arm. Leave it for awhile...if there's a leak, you'll see it. This is not rocket science...
  15. lordmoosh

    lordmoosh New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    USA
    I'm not being paranoid and I'll ignore the comment about rocket science. Based on what I have read you want to look and see if its leaking before you call the job done. The issue at hand is I cannot see from behind the escutcheon cover which I explained in the first post. Did you read it? I even included pictures.

    "There is no clearance around the shower arm to make sure it is not leaking into the wall. I tried chiseling out some of the cement but it feels harder than thinset. Usually I can chisel out thinset or cement board easily. In this case I was not able to chisel it out successfully. I'm not sure what material they used but its hard like a rock. "

    I cut open a small piece of drywall behind the riser so I could get a peek and see if there was a hidden leak. The small hole can be filled using joint compound. I will try the newspaper technique as suggested by John before I patch the drywall up. Thanks...
  16. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Keeping water from leaking inside the wall

    I like checking myself and this is a common question asked by clients. A small hole is the drywall is an easy repair and the piece of mind it offers many is priceless. Plumbers are tougher and trust their skills. We do not have their years of cofiendence to draw on so an inspection is not over the top.

    With a large diamond coring drill bit you can pre drill a scrap of tile or plastic. Then place this around the small hole. Use the pre0-dilled piece to hold the drill bit in location and drill a larger hole. You can then give yourself a little room to look. Make sure the trim of the shower arm covers the hole.

    These drill bits are a good $40-$60.00. Using a larger hole when cutting the tile in the first place can avoid this tough check. We have been waterproofing these shower arm wing backs to leak outside the shower tile's assembly. Pretty slick what you can do with off cuts of membrane and some random PVC fittings.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2013
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    If there's a leak from the el holding the shower arm, and you've taken the trim off the valve...if you leave it for awhile with the water on, you'll see if things got wet. If the plaster guard is still there, it serves no purpose anymore, and you can break it out of there. It's only used if you have a thin-wall installation once things are done.
  18. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,933
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    How to fix a leaking shower arm inside a wall.

    My buddy renovated his home and last year he called me over this very same concern. Turns out the plumber (apprentice) installed the shower arm with only 1 full turn. The very first shower flooded out the laundry room and damaged the ceiling of his new place. I went down and used my inspection camera which I snuck up inside the wall via the cover plate on the control valves.

    I think enough people have heard this horror story once before to understand that checking is not such a bad thing.
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,888
    Location:
    New England
    If you understand how a tapered pipe fitting works, and you crank it down, assuming the parts are not defective (and you can generally see that before you install it), a leak there isn't very common. The problem comes if you do not apply the sealant properly, or you decide you can't get all the way around again, and back up, that you can create problems. Unless the threads or the fitting are defective, you can almost always go far enough to get it in the position you want (I suppose if you had absolutely no feel for these things, you could mess up, but the average person won't). It takes either a really long wrench/pliers or some really strong arms to over tighten the average threaded pipe fitting.
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,481
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    leak

    You LOOK for a visible signs of a leak and then check to see where it is coming from. Do you know how many holes we would have to make in the walls if we wanted to "look" at every spot which could leak. We install the shower are PROPERLY, and then only become concerned if water appears on the floor, which SELDOM, if ever, happens.
Similar Threads: sure shower
Forum Title Date
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Shower pressure dropped and noise increased Jun 7, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Riobel pressure balance Shower Valve May 30, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Low pressure/flow rate in shower? Mar 16, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Shower Pressure on Hot & Integral Stops Mar 11, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Measurements of the Schluter Systems Kerdi-Shower-ST Series 32"x60" 48"x48" & 72"x72" Jan 30, 2014

Share This Page