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. Hardt

    Hardt Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    I can appreciate the op's concern about leakage at the shower arm/elbow. Just a few days ago, my wife discovered a wet floor opposite the wall where this junction is located. I changed that shower arm and head three years ago and it could have been leaking since that time. I started by inspecting below the shower drain, pan and around the shower arm/elbow and a leak (looking for discoloration) was not apparent. My troubleshooting took about 3 days but to make a long story short: I finally took off the shower arm and counted the turns before it came off: 4 complete revolutions. I put new teflon tape and pipe dope and reinstalled with 4 turns. I capped the arm (this is key, as jadnashua suggested and something I did not do 3 yrs ago) and it leaked pretty bad! I think the pros have a good feel for how tight you should screw in the shower arm from years of trial and error but for us DIY types who only work on a plumbing project once every 2 or 3 years, it is a guessing game as to how tight to make a connection like this and with compression fittings for supply line/faucet fittings, etc. So anyway, I turned the arm 2 more complete turns (it took all the strength I could muster) and that fixed it. Of course, the question when screwing in the arm, is can I go 1 more complete revolution or will I go half way and can't go any more and then have to back up and then possibly ruin the seal. Like I always say, plumbing is always the most difficult DIY projects in the home and for me anyway, it is close to rocket science!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    The offset to most shower arms gives you a reasonable lever, but there's nothing wrong with say putting a screwdriver in the end to extend that lever...if the thread isn't defective, you will be able to complete that next turn or so. Most strap wrenches don't work that well on the smooth chromed surface, but you could try one of those, too, if you have one.
  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD for both Canada & the US

    Jul 20, 2009
    Design Work World Wide: Bathrooms Vancouver Area
    North Vancouver, BC
    Preventing leaks inside shower walls

    It is science. Plumbers go to school for this and then study in the field logging hours and hours of time on the tools.

    There is too much to learn and so much can not be learned online or by books.

    Careful you don't tighten up a plastic shower arm to much - they can split or crack so easy.

    In Canada you are required to pressure test these bathroom set ups before the walls get covered with board and tile. Leaks show themselves quickly under 200 pounds of pressure. I would never skip this step and require any plumber to do this test - required by local code or not. I understand parts of the US follow this same procedure.

    A plumber might comeback and fix a leaking fitting but if you have a leak and the leak is the result of a failed connection or fitting. Who pays for all the damage? The plumber? The wholesaler who sold the part? The manufacturer of the part? Who....

    Why go there. Crank up the pressure and isolate the new work. I see all to often plumbers changing out shut offs and redoing connections because the work crapped out under a 200psi pressure test. Happens all the time - it's why these tests are required in Canada and parts of the US. JW
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