leak from upstairs, need help to locate!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by plumbbob, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. plumbbob

    plumbbob New Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Hi - i came home about 2 weeks ago to find a small puddle (maybe 1/4 cup) on the floor. There were no signs of where it came from, and had clearly stopped. About 3 days later I was sitting in the room and heard a drip drip.

    It seems as if the water is eventually coming out from the molding in the doorway directly BELOW our shower. The water is also rust colored, if that matters.

    The shower pan seems fully sealed and I can see no leaks. The leak is not related to us using any fixtures in the bath group. It can even be several days between leak events,

    My thinking is there may be some small leak in the drain pipes (my wife claimed to smell something musty after the last leak).

    Any thoughts on the best way to figure this out? Should I rip up the tile floor in the bathroom/shower to examine the plumbing? Is there a better way to find the leak?

    We have an older house with plaster walls and cielings, so going in from below is more costly than ripping up tile from above.

    Thanks, Matt
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Could be numerous things. You could check out the shower pan fairly easily if you can remove the grill over the drain. Get a long balloon, blow it up stuck in the drain so a good portion is below the surface (in case there are weep holes in the drain - there should be - you want the plug below the weep holes). Then, using a bucket, fill up the pan to just below the top of the curb. Let it sit overnight and check the level.

    If the plumbing is galvanized, then it might need to be replaced, either supply or drain.
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  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Nov 8, 2005
    Hansville, Washington
    What else is up there?

    The one thing I know about leaks is that although water runs downhill, it doesn't necessarily run straight down hill. Depending on the structure above the doorway, this could even be a leak from outside, due to bad flashing around a window, for example. I generally start from the leak's exit point and work up, although in your case that doesn't look like an easy task. Alternatatively, just try to correlate the use of some fixture(s) above, weather events, etc., with the leak and see what you can find. It won't be quick, from the sound of things. If you've got a good plumbing and DWV plan for the house, that will help.
  5. plumbbob

    plumbbob New Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    great input, question on piping replacement

    thanks to all for the great input - i'll get set to try that pan test idea. One question while I wait for the balloon test overnight:

    I know the DWV and supply in that part of the house are original (1920s) and it's the last on my list to replace. If I need to replace the DWV are there any great soundproofing tricks for using PVC? I used PVC in the kitchen and downstairs bath remodel and they are noticably louder than the original cast iron. I tried spray insulation (hilti in one place and DAP in another) but it's not great. Given the volume of water and placement of these pipes I want to do all I can.

    again, thanks for the testing ideas!

  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    Sound proofing PVC and ABS drains usually isn't highly successful, but if you have enough room around the pipes, you might box them in with batt insualtion in the box.
  7. lithnights

    lithnights New Member

    Nov 30, 2005
    Acoustical Surfaces makes a product that is supposed to severely eliminate much of the noise from PVC. It is an extremely dense material and supposedly does a great job from what I have read on other sites. I just recently ordered some so I can't tell you how it works YET.

    Here is a link.. http://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/noise_barrier/bardec_pvc.htm?d=14

    It is expensive though.. about $2.25 a square foot plus shipping. But I am a noise freak and it is worth the money to me when compared to other alternatives.. which there aren't really any except to put up with the noise...

    I'll let you know how it works once I receive it.
  8. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Aug 7, 2005

    Start with Jim's suggestion and check the shower pan.

    Plug the drain and don't run the water in the shower. Bring in water with a pail and pour it on the shower bottom and wait and look downstairs.
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