Shower/Bathtub combo leaking water to lower floor

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by eaglemtn, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. eaglemtn

    eaglemtn New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hi, during a recent use of the bathtub on the second, we suddenly noticed water coming through the head jamb of a closet on the first floor. I'd like to figure out how to check this out. Here is what I know:
    1. The previous day, someone was going to use the shower of the bath/shower combo. I was on the first floor when I suddenly heard lots of banging noise. The person had turned on the bath water and was then lifting up the plunger on the bathtub spigot to turn on the shower. They turned the water off. I came upstairs, tried the same thing, and didn't have any issues turning on the shower - so I didn't know what happened, but it appeared to be OK. Note that the banging noise was pretty significant.
    2. The next day, someone wanted to take a bath. They were in the bathtub, when my wife noticed the water coming down through the head jamb of the closet on the first floor. I went upstairs. There was no water on the bathroom floor. The water was not running.

    So what should I look for in trying to find the root cause? With the water turned off, there is no water leaking. I don't think it's coming from any leakage in the drain. We had used the bathtub a few weeks earlier with no issues. The loud banging noise is sure suspicious. We didn't notice any water leaking when the shower was being used, but maybe that's because the water wasn't on long enough to cause leakage?

    Is there anything I can look at by taking the tub spout off or the escutcheon of the bath/shower valve? It's a tile bathtub wall, but I do have access to the back side from a bedroom. Am I going to have to cut a hole to see what's going on? If so, where would be the best place to cut the hole - opposite the valve? Could anything be leaking by the tub spout?

    Thanks for any ideas!
     
  2. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Either the tub & drain is leaking, or on the water supply side that has pressure. Taking off the tub spot is a good place to start but able to see inside the wall may be tough depending on how much of an opening there is. You'll need a mirror. Taking off the spout and escutcheon you then can run the water and look for any spray of water.

    The banging could have been when the shower pull lever was lifted and then push down to turn off the shower while the water was still running. It will make that bang noise with water pressure behind the spout. Generally most shut the water off and the pull level will then drop. It's possible the pipe into the spout was moved and water is splashing back into the wall.

    It's not clear if the leak happened during a shower or filling the tub.
    • Run the shower only and let it drain and wait for any visual water leak.
    • Or let the tub fill up by the shower head, a possible leak at the drain flange.
    • Or let the tub fill up buy the spout.
    • Or just let the water run from the spout with the drain open.
    • Still not sure get a lot of pails and fill the tub with a few inches of water and let it sit. Possible leak at the drain flange.
    For opening the wall I would start near the bottom so you can look at the drain connections. If you run the water its above and water then will trickle down and you'll then know if have to open the wall higher up.

    I think it would be faster and more prudent to just open the wall . The leak will not fix itself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2021
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  4. eaglemtn

    eaglemtn New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Thanks for the info. When you mentioned that the leak is on the water supply side that has pressure, (before the on/off valve), wouldn't that mean that water would be leaking all the time?

    It's probably best to just go ahead and open up the wall. I can try the various experiments, but it could a bit of time for the water to start leaking through the closet head jamb below the bathtub. I'll probably try taking off the spout and escutcheon to see what's there. Then I'll cut a hole in backside and try the various experiments to see where the water is coming from.
     
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    I had a shower leak for a couple of years but only when the shower was used. I had made a bad sweat fitting to the shower head and it caused a very fine spray. Fortunately, I used Dense Shield wall board so there was no damage except for the drywall on the garage side of the wall. Cleaning the garage one day I noticed mold behind the water heater.
     
  6. eaglemtn

    eaglemtn New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hi Folks - wanted to provide status on how this issue was resolved. I was looking at opening the wall behind the bathtub - which was in a closet. I also noticed that the ceiling in a closet below the bathtub would probably provide visibility to the drain. I took off the escutcheon on the shower/tub valve. Looking inside the wall, I didn't notice any indication of any water leakage. Since it was easier to open a hole in the ceiling below tub than the wall behind the tub, I decided to open up the ceiling below the bathtub.

    I opened up a hole and noticed water stains, but the source wasn't obvious. So I turned on the water and looked through the hole. Pretty soon I noticed water coming from bathtub drain area. Hmm... what's going on? After removing the drain, I saw this ->

    BathDrain.jpg


    Well, that explains the leak. Not sure how that gap occurred in the plumber's putty. I had to remove the drain several months earlier to clean out a bunch of hair. I replaced the plumber's putty - but not sure why a chunk would have disappeared. The shower had been used several times without any noticeable leak. The bottom of the picture is towards the rear of the tub. Maybe when taking the shower, water never ended up by the front of the tub so didn't leak? I replaced the plumbers putty and everything is OK now.

    Any thoughts on why that chunk disappeared?
     
  7. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    The strainer basket may not have been tight enough into the shoe and it slowly washed away or as you removed the strainer the piece came out? The rubber gasket between the tub and shoe should have stopped this little drip. It must be tight enough to compress the rubber gasket some to fill in any gaps. Some will use silicone or caulking to aid the rubber gasket. The plumbers putty is the primary water seal. While working on the drain from the tub, it's very easy for the gasket to dislodge from the shoe.

    https://i0.wp.com/edmondbathtubrefinishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Bathtub-Drain-Diagram.jpg
     
  8. eaglemtn

    eaglemtn New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2021
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I can't remember looking at the strainer basket to see if a chunk was attached - maybe that's what happened. The rubber gasket is still there. I remember seeing that. Through the access hole from the bottom I can see it's not leaking, but I'll remember your comments next time I have to remove the strainer basket for cleaning. Thanks.
     
  9. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    The only way for water to leak out is from the tub gasket. Any water getting by the flange will be on the inside of the tub gasket. Overtime the tub gaskets can get hard so it should be replaced. It can be done from the top.
     
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