Bathtub leak

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Mermaid, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Mermaid

    Mermaid New Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Rhode Island
    Hi there,
    Several weeks ago I discovered a leak from my second floor tub into the kitchen below it. The water first appeared to be coming from the head of the tub below the drain and faucet. When I started seeing water dripping into the kitchen I first examined the caulking around the tub rim and realized that it was badly cracked and mildewed, so I removed it and recaulked the rim as well as the enclosure seams (I don't have a tiled enclosure). The dripping stopped after several days and I thought I'd fixed the problem.

    Then I spotted water that seemed to be leaking from the wall-side of the bathtub down into the kitchen. I figured my caulking job had been faulty so I removed the caulk and re-did the job. Again, after several days the leakage seemed to have stopped.

    But wait... I have a dropped ceiling in my kitchen (the house is over 100 years old and did not have indoor plumbing when it was built--I'm not sure when the bath was installed but a drop ceiling was needed to hide the drainpipe) and I noticed water stains on the ceiling tile just below the FOOT of the tub. These stains very quickly became a buckling ceiling tile, so I got my ladder out and investigated. I removed the damaged tile, plus the sopping wet insulation atop it (what a mess!) to discover that the original plaster ceiling directly below the tub had softened and come away from the flooring. I removed that and now have the area below the bathtub exposed. I can see a persistent dripping that is coming from the floor below the foot of the tub.

    Sorry to be so long-winded but I'd like to get your take before I call a plumber, mainly because there is no access to the bathtub plumbing and the drywall will have to be cut to get to it. I can't see the drainpipe even with the ceiling tiles removed (it's behind a soffit) so I can't tell if water is leaking from any of the plumbing at that end.

    I've been told that leaking water can travel before appearing as a drip, but it's hard to believe that a leaky supply fixture would end up dripping this far away from the source. I'm still wondering if it might be the caulking. And if so, I'm wondering how long it might take for water that has leaked over the tub apron to completely drain out of the immediate area, especially if the leak has been going on for awhile. I last showered over 24 hours ago and it's still dripping.

    For the record, I only take showers (daily) and I have shower doors, rather than a curtain. I'd appreciate your thoughts and thank you in advance.
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If it's leaking long after the shower has ended, it may be a supply line problem, OR, it could be the trap or drain line has given up (i.e., corroded away). A couple of things to check on the tub: take a long level and see if the tub is level; make sure the drain basket is tight and not loose; make sure that the overflow gasket is intact - it could be dry rotted and fall apart; see if you can move the trim from the shower arm away and if there's any space, see if there's any water visible behind there; do the same for the shower valve, if possible. You may be able to see leaks behind the wall. If the tub is original, and 75 years old, the plumbing is ancient as well. Touch it, and it may fall apart! I did some work at my mother's house, and just looked at the tub fell apart, and her's was put in in the early 50's.
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  4. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple BATHROOM DESIGN & BUILD for both Canada & the US

    Jul 20, 2009
    Design Work World Wide: Bathrooms Vancouver Area
    North Vancouver, BC
    Open the wall behind the plumbing fixtures

    You need to open up a hole on the back side of the wall so you can get an inspection camera in there and see whats going on.

    There is no way of knowing for sure with out a visual inspection.

    It may be time to start shopping for new tile.

    Good Luck.
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