Sporadic Shower Leak

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by mbrennan, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. mbrennan

    mbrennan New Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    We have a shower that leaks sporadically, maybe once every 3 or 4 months. When it does leak, it is a gush of water down through our kitchen ceiling until the shower is turned off. Unfortunately, we can not recreate the leak. We have had 2 plumbers in so far who were unable to recreate it. The first plumber thought it could be a caulking issue after we tore open the ceiling and examined everything, so we recaulked everything. 3 months later (after we repaired the kitchen ceiling), it happened again. We had another plumber out and he thought it could be a couple of cracks in the tile. But I don't see why it would not be continuous if that were the case and why such a large volume of water. We don't do anything to fix the problem but the shower works fine the next time. I have noticed water collected in the drain pipe (not in the shower) after the occurance. Someone suggested it could be part in the pipe that keeps water from flowing backwards? And maybe it is periodically malfunctioning? Is this possible? Any ideas? Our house is about 17 years old, the standing shower has a fiberglass base (I think) and tile up the 3 walls with a sliding shower door on the fourth wall.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2008
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If the drain pipe had a hole or crack in it (it usually happens on the bottom but not always), and it got partially plugged, it wouldn't normally get that high, but while plugged could. On a fiberglass shower, it is possible that the floor was not fully supported, and it can flex. May be that when you stand just right, it bends enough to allow water to drain down around the outside of the pipe. If built properly, there should be a vapor barrier behind the tile that leads to the inside lip of the pan that should prevent any liquid water from getting behind the walls and leaking out, so eve a bad caulk joint, if built right, should not allow liquid water outside of the shower.

    It could be totally unrelated to the shower, and maybe a leak from the roof that coincidentally happened after taking a shower. Severe shower or melting snow?
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  4. krow

    krow Plumber

    Feb 11, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    Here is a scenario that I came across last year. It may or may not apply to you.

    Our local handyman called me for some advise after 4 visits to his clients home over a 4 month period with the same leak.

    I had to see the location to give my opinion. He had already caulked all around the shower base, including around the drain , stopping the leak for about 2 months (then came back)

    I start my investigating and couldn't find the leak for about 1hour (luke warm water intermidently. ) . Then I decided with only hot water,still nothing. We were about to call it for that evening and then a small drip on my head. I got a little closer on the ladder and saw a small drip coming , from what I thought, was the drain assembly. It was very tight to the joist, so visibility of the pipe was minimal. I asked the handy man to stay downstairs as I went to the shower stall. . I stepped into the stall to get a clear view of the drain assembly and as I stepped in , the acrylic base flexed , pushing down on one side opening up the cracked abs pipe even further allowing more water to get through.

    So, I figured that the hot water expanded the pipe making a tight fit but when a persons weight flexed the base and pipe (pipe was not completed cracked all the way around, just partial) , it got worse. It was a botched new subdivision home when the contractors give you the bare minimun at best. This would not have happened if some sort of mortar or concrete was placed under the shower base. It wouldn't of allowed the base to flex as much

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2008
  5. mbrennan

    mbrennan New Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    Great Info

    Thank you for the ideas! I will let you know how it turns out.
  6. Sincraft

    Sincraft Member

    Feb 4, 2006
    I'm sure you checked this and you say it's a good bit, but I had that problem prior to remodeling our bathroom, I replaced all the pipe under the tub and hope that it wasn't after that (IE have to rip out ceiling to repair it)

    however, long ago when I lived at home with my parents we had this problem. It turned out to be water splashing between the tub and the floor on the outside of the tub AND a gasket for the on/off valve was rotted so water was pouring in there.

    So I investigated ours, replaced the gasket and caulked the floor and it never did it again. I assume I fixed it because we had no further leaks but 2 months later I gutted the bathroom and replaced it so, like I said I assume I fixed the problem like we had to long ago when I was younger living with my parents.

    This MIGHT be an issue you could look at but I'm sure your guy already did that..
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