Sound of water drip in wall AFTER shower

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Jack Jo

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Hi, Got an issue that is driving me a little crazy and hoping you can assist me. I have upstairs bathroom with a shower recess and an adjoining bath tub. The water from the 2nd floor runs behind the kitchen wall on the ground floor.

After a shower, I hear this drip roughly every 15 sec which is quite audible (especially now that my ear is tuned to it). With time the duration between the drips get longer and finally after about half hr. to 45 mins., they stop all together.

I noticed the same thing will happen if I simply have the water running for about 10-15 mins. If the shower head is run for only a few minutes, then I don't hear the drip.

Ok, so I have done a lot of work to try to isolate this problem. Here is a sample...
  1. I have installed a silicon bead around the base of the shower recess. I noticed some fine cracks in the grouting so, the silicon made sense. Impact on the drips: None.
  2. I then sealed the grouting using a grout sealer around the tiles and in fact the entire shower base. Impact: None. Note, the show base is a cement base.
  3. Thinking there may be leak from the floor, I put a thick plastic sheet to cover the shower recess floor and fully sealed it around the walls so no water got to the floor. Then had a shower... Impact on the drip: None.
  4. Given the water from the bath tub also runs down the same path and assuming the bath tub and the shower recess would use the same pipe, I ran the tub for about 10 mins. Impact on the drip: None.
  5. I then filled the tub and let the water run. Impact on the drip: None.
  6. I noticed the pipe looked a little clogged. Ran Drano Max through it and then the next day, used a different product (after I had had a shower ensuring the products in no way mixed). Pipe looks clean. Impact: None.
So, I'm out of options. I don't want to cut the wall unless I know there is a high probability of a leak. Oh, I don't see ANY signs of water leak damage on the walls/ceiling.

Worth also noting that, we only moved into this house about 3 months ago. Not sure how long this has been going on. I suspect it did not start the other day!

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
 

Terry

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Next, try it with cold water in the shower and listen for it, then run the shower with hot water.
If it only makes the sound with hot water, then it's likely that the ABS drain is expanding with heat, and as it cools shrinks back down again. If the holes are a little crooked that the pipe passes through, it binds the pipe. The solution there is to open the wall or ceiling and cut away the wood around the pipe, or quit listening for it and move on.

I've done both, sometimes the customer wants the wall opened up.
 

Jack Jo

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Terry, Thanks for the suggestion and will try it. Well, I know I have it after a shower (war/hot water) so, only need to try doing so with cold water. That said, I have to it does sound very much like a water droplet falling from the top to the bottom. I'm hoping it is something within than external to the pipe. Regards...
 

Jack Jo

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Terry, I'm about to nominate you for the official title of Genius! So, here is what I did. Ran the cold water shower for about 10 mins. Let it sit and did not observer any drips. Hum I said, let me try that again. No drips. This morning, I ran the shower but this time with the hot water running. Ah! the drips appeared. I went back up and then turned just the cold water on straight away. Guess what, the drips seem to have disappeared. I will no doubt test it out a little more but based on tests so far, your hypothesis seems to be SPOT ON. Thank you sir!

So, this is nothing to do with a leak but with water but the pipes expanding and contracting, obviously made worse in the winter.

Regards...
 

Reach4

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From https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/physical-properties-thermoplastics-d_808.html, it looks like this effect will be larger with ABS than PVC.
img_3.png
 

Jack Jo

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Thank you... I guess, it is normal to use ABS. That makes sense as I looked down the drain, the pipe was not white. Not knowing they would use ABS (which is black) I thought it may have been a metal pipe (which I thought was strange). This issue really had me thrown and I would never have suspected an expansion/contraction would have caused the issue. Live and learn. Regards...
 

Reach4

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Thank you... I guess, it is normal to use ABS.
It's a regional thing. California, Nevada, and Arizona and others have places where the higher temperature ability of ABS could have played a part in ABS becoming more popular in the West. In Washington, it may have been keeping compatible with the neighbors. There could certainly have been other factors.

I think most places allow either ABS or PVC drain lines. The stores carry what is popular. The users find it convenient to use what is stocked locally.
 

Jack Jo

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Terry, You have seriously saved me a lot of effort as I would have likely ended up opening the wall. I did invest in an endoscope but could not see things too clearly and it was too stiff to run down the pipe (can't expect much for $50). So, thanks very much for your insights... I will test this more and let you know and your readers know if my findings change.
 

Jack Jo

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Thanks a bunch for all your assistance. Ran through the test protocol again and confirm that the drip noise only appears when warm/hot water is running and phases out once the cold water is turned on. I'm pretty hands on but never would have guess this to be the cause - then again, I have not worked with ABS, just PVC. Whew!!!
 
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