Shower Problem

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by blue_can, Sep 13, 2007.

  1. blue_can

    blue_can New Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Hello everyone - first post on this forum.

    I’m puzzled by a problem I’m having with the shower so I wondered if anyone could help shed light on this. I have a leak from the shower (leak is downstairs – shower is upstairs). It does not always leak and when it does it only happens after showering is complete. It never seems to happen during the shower. I opened the faceplate surround the shower knob and there is no evidence of any moisture on the pipes. I was unable to feel behind the spout as the opening is too small so I took a chance and replaced the spout – I figured that maybe there is something wrong with the spout so that when the shower is complete and the diverter valve turns off the loss in pressure causes it to leak.

    However that also has not fixed it. At the moment my guess is that it may be one of the joints in the pipe to the spout that could be causing this.

    This brings me to another question – to properly investigate this I will need to remove the surrounding tiles. Is it possible to remove tiles without destroying them as I would like to reuse them if possible. I have not looked but I’m not sure if I can find matching tiles.

    Another possibility I suppose is to rent or buy a borescope.

    Any possibility that this may be a drain related issue?
  2. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Aug 11, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    is this a shower stall or tub and shower?
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  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Since you mention spout, it sounds like it is a tub/shower. It often takes an accumulation of water before you notice it.

    If the tub isn't level, it can channel water out a corner into the wall.

    It could also be that there is no vapor barrier behind the tile, there is missing or compromised grout or caulk, and it takes awhile to accumulate to show.

    It also could be a supply line or shower to valve piping problem, but normally you'd see something if you took the valve trim plate off.

    Depends on how the tile is applied and what the substrate is, but don't count on taking tile off and being able to reuse them. If you can get them off without breaking, you've probably got bigger problems, as they should be permanently bonded to the substrate and the substrate should not break apart to release them.

    If there is any possibility of breaking through the wall behind the wet wall - maybe from a closet or another room, then do that and then patch. Same with the ceiling below, probably easier to just cut a hole big enough to evaluate things then patch it after repairing the leak.

    There is no real magic to figuring it out...

    You could try just taking a bucket and splashing things. A properly built shower or tub/shower should not care.

    Note, if there is too much deflection when standing in the shower, sometimes that flex won't be apparant while looking at it from outside.
  5. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Jun 28, 2007
    Use a hose to fillthe shower with water and spray the walls and what not just like you do when you shower. If you still get the leak it is the shower construction itself.

  6. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Jun 18, 2007
    Plumber, self employed
    Licensed Grump
    I have gone on more than my share of leaks exactly like the one just described.
    Half of them are badly caulked seams.
    Caulk ALL the inside corners of the walls and where they meet the shower surface, allow 24 hours to dry.
    If that doesn't work, THEN think about pulling tiles off.
  7. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Jun 16, 2007
    NorthWest PA
    Get rid of as much of the old caulk as you can first and then use 100% silicone caulk not latex tub and tile caulk. It is terrible to work smooth, but it works wonders on leaking tiles and tub/shower doors.

    If that doesn't take care of the problem, start at the bottom and work your way up. Use a hose, run water down the drain only, then check the over flow, from the back for signs of water, while you have someone spray water at it. Then if that passes, run the tub spout, being careful not to wet down the walls, then the shower, use a bucket to keep water off the wall, then hit the walls, see when the leak starts. Check the floor along the tub for holes. Isolate and investigate. If all else fails cut a hole in the ceiling where the leak appears. If the grout joints are cracked a new tile job or surround is in order.

  8. blue_can

    blue_can New Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Thanks for the replies. All things suggested are good logical steps. I am unable to see any cracks in the grout or caulk but as suggested I tried pouring water along the shower walls and also poured plenty of water along the caulk seams where the tub meets the tile. Probably a better test would be to spray with a hose – I may do that later.

    However, I have not been able to see any leaks so I will try some other things.

    The reason for my suspicion of the spout and piping is that while it was leaking a few days ago I noticed some cracked caulk about the spout. I decided to wrap some plastic around it in case water was getting in there. In doing so once I tightened the plastic wrap it pushed the spout up a bit. Almost immediately the leak stopped. I had the plastic on for 2 – 3 days and there was no leak at all during this time. I then removed the plastic to install the new spout and the leak came back again.

    I agree that pulling the tiles off should be the last report – I will probably invest in a borescope (useful to have in the toolchest) and try more experiments with the water inside the shower to try and pinpoint the problem. Yes, I could cut open the ceiling but based on past experience it is not easy to retexture so that it blends in and also the whole ceiling would probably have top be painted so that the patch does not stand out.
  9. bmccabe

    bmccabe New Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Owner, Ferret Properties

    Did you wind up investing in one? May I ask how much you spent and the brand? Were you satisfied?
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Dec 15, 2007
    Service Plumber
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Nov 12, 2005
    The first thing that comes to mind is toilet trapways.
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