Tub leak, stain in ceiling below - How to find leak???

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Chuck1026, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I noticed this morning there was a new squarish-shaped water stain on the ceiling below my 2nd floor tub. The stain is located approx 14" away from the front wall (drain) of the tub, towards the fromt corner.

    It seems odd that a leak would "walk" so far away from the tub.

    I have no access, but I have a built in storage unit that would give me access - if I can get it out without destroyong it.

    Any ideas???
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    A slow leak or drip can run down a pipe quite a ways before it hits something that causes it to drip off. Or, depending on the type of piping, it could have corroded a hole in the drain line.
  3. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Well, the house was built in the early 1980's, so I am not sure about the drain materials.

    I discovered the tiles near the soap dish (mounted on the tile just above the tub on mid-way between the head and foot of the tub) are loose. There is some movement when I press on them.

    With a broken grout seal, I imagine water could end up down there. I discovered a new water spot near the drain area (but offset towards the wall) that may be a result of this?

    *Sidebar* - I can now get access to the plumbing behind the tub fixtures, as I removed the storage cabinet last night. Now I have to figure out the best way to cut a hole in the wall there.


    Any thoughts on any of this are appreciated!!!


    Chuck
  4. greekguy7

    greekguy7 Member

    Messages:
    31
    Location:
    Illinois
    I would caulk everything around the tub area real good and then see if the leak persists. Loose tiles are not good.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    Loose tile imply something other than a cement board (cbu) backing; i.e., maybe drywall or greenboard. If that is the case, you may have many other problems with this. I'd also check out www.johnbridge.com for some thoughts...you may be in for redoing the tiled walls.
  6. bombjay

    bombjay New Member

    Messages:
    62
    Missing grout between tiles,even small cracks can let in a surprising amount of water!
    Check the entire wall and maybe just take baths!
  7. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Yes, I am pretty sure the builder (known for "value") used greenboard, but I plan on a renovation project this spring (new floor tile, wall tile tub, etc.) but for now, I just want to stop the leak while I shop for the new bathroom upgrades.

    Tonight Mr. Tub's tiles meet Mr. Caulk Gun... hoping to stop the leak while I make arrangements to update the bathroom (the baby-blue tub, toilet and sink have to GO!!!).

    Locating the source and stopping the leak are the prime directive.
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    Shower curtain all around?
  9. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Do you mean as a temporary protector? I was just going to try caulk first. The tub has shower doors that seem okay.
  10. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Grout and tiles have failed for sure. Greenboard isn't the greatest of materials for a bath area (it has a life expectency of 5 years). Damage has already been done.

    Shower curtain and chaulk is a good temporary fix, until you can get your project started. Shower doors tend to leak at the corners, right behind the jambs
  11. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Interesting... the shower doors do not seem to be leaking as I do not see any water / wetness outside the tub or floor, but water is funny stuff. Maybe it found a sneaky way to get through in between the wall, tile and tub at the seam.

    I discovered the soap dish is very loose... I could actually pull the top of it away from the tiles! No doubt water was pooling behind it and working its way in behind the tile too. I am wondering if that can explain the water marks on the ceiling below.

    They have not grown larger in the past couple days. I need to get busy this weekend and get things buttoned up with caulk... ran out of time last night (did not get home from work until after 8pm).

    I can never get a nice "bead" with the caulk gun. Any tricks?
  12. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,348
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    If you are using water based caulk then use water and damp sponge to
    tool the caulk, rinse sponge often.
  13. Chuck1026

    Chuck1026 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Well, today I got bold, and pulled off the soap dish... HOLY $#!+ :eek:!!!!

    The tile behind the dish came off with it, and the brown, muddy crap behind is all crumbled. I almost wonder if a quick & dirty fix was done before we bought the house several years ago, but that does not matter now.

    I am pretty sure this is my leak... makes sense, as the soap dish was trapping water behind it, and it was right in the shower spray (until I derverted it several days ago. The stains are drying up.

    I am definitely remodeling the bathroom and the old tub, tile and fixtures are going bye-bye... BUT... what can I do to keep the shower (my only full bath) functional until I can get the R&R arranged?!?

    Can I patch in the hole and caulk the soap dish back in place?

    Or can I mud up the hole and re-attach the old tiles, then caulk around them?

    I need to do something to keep water out (and me clean) for probably about a month...:confused:

    Chuck
  14. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,348
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    I worked for a while with a plumbing & tile co,if we found the cause of
    leak from the tile (soap dish in your case)we would duct tape 10 mil
    plastic sheeting chest high all the way across the offending wall and let it
    drape down into the tub untill we got back to do the work.
    This should keep your down stairs dry.
  15. ThomPlumb

    ThomPlumb New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    NY
    I would also suggest taping up a thick plastic vapor barrier but over the entire tub surround. I suspect that you have no waterproofing behind your tile and grout is not water tight. Grout is very porous and wicks moister just like concrete. Every time water hits the grout some will go through and run down the surface behind. So if you don't have any waterproofing lapping over the flange of the tub the water will run down the wall to the floor and so on. Green board and drywall should never be used around a tub. If you tile is on either of these expect a huge mold problem behind.

    For a nice bead of caulk make sure to cut the tube cleanly. If its a little rough sand the tip down until its smooth. Tape the tube of caulk to the gun with painters or masking tape. Squeeze slowly and evenly as you move down the surface working towards yourself. Wet the tip of your finger with spit and lightly wipe the joint so it looks nice clean and even. Always make sure your finger is wet of you will pull the caulking back out. I do not recommend using a sponge it will make a mess. Practice on scrap material with a tube of cheap caulk until you get the nack of it.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  16. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,259
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    A longer term temporary solution is to buy a couple of sheets of fiberglass reinforced plastic paneling and make a temporary surround which completely covers the problematic wet wall.
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