Where is water in ceiling come from?? Need HELP ASAP

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Pete147

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Hi all, I need help from the experts. My master bathroom is above my living room ceiling and twice in the past 3 months, after flushing the toilet in the master bath, shortly thereafter water could be seen coming out of of the ceiling below. Sorry this is a long story but I think all of the details below will be helpful.

When this first happened a few months ago, after flushing the toilet, a loud bang occurred down at the base of the toilet. The second time the leaky ceiling occurred was earlier this week and it too occurred after flushing the master bath toilet. This time, the water to my house was shut off since I was having irrigation installed, after the water was turned back on, I used the master bath toilet and 15 minutes later I noticed water coming out of the livingroom ceiling. There was air in the water lines and have no idea if this contributed to anything.

Here are some facts. My home is only 6 months old and all of the piping is PEX.

I called a plumber and he first tried changing the toilet ring. The original plumber used one of those green oversized Sani Seal rings, but the one that came over yesterday removed that ring and used a traditional wax ring. When the plumber came over, the dripping from the ceiling stopped. He flushed the toilet after replacing the ring and 10 minutes later there was more water dripping from the ceiling.

I called him back and he returned and this time suggested I get a brand new Toto toilet, so I picked one up and we replaced the toilet today. We flushed the new toilet and more water dripped out of the ceiling a short time later.

I then lifted the toilet up and took a look at the wax ring and it didn't seem to be properly sealing things so I replaced it with another Sani Seal ring that I picked up at Home Depot. One thing I noticed is that the original plumber used an offset flange however the rubber gasket that the toilet sits on top of it appears to be made for a traditional flange that goes straight down the drain. Could the issue be that I need to find an offset gasket to match the offset flange since to the left the gasket there is a pocket that is formed? I've attached a picture of this. I'm wondering if once in a while pressure builds up in the offset flange and water get pushed up through the ring and out down to the ceiling.

My original plumber does not believe there's a crack in the drain pipe or a leak in the water line since the leaky ceiling wouldn't only have happened a couple times in a few months if it was either of those but rather constantly.

So I am completely out of ideas and have no idea what the issue is but I can't pinpoint or stop the issue. Could it be that I need an offset gasket so that it fits the offset flange or do I likely have a leak or crack somewhere else. I have two more of the exact same toilets in my other bathrooms and they have never leaked, the difference is they don't have an offset flange beneath them but rather a straight, traditional one.

Please help. I'm about to lose my mind! Thanks.
 

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  • Sani Seal.jpg
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Reach4

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I am not a pro.

I think you are thinking the problem is not the toilet or the ring. I tend toagree. If you ran water into that grey thing (is that an Aquia?) with a garden hose, I suspect you would see water running to the ceiling again. If so, expect that drywall ceiling is going to need to be cut open.

Cracked soil pipe, maybe. Bad connection from the closet flange to the soil pipe? Maybe.

Is there a warranty on the house? Kinda sad there is an offset closet flange on a new house.
 

Pete147

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I am not a pro.

I think you are thinking the problem is not the toilet or the ring. I tend toagree. If you ran water into that grey thing (is that an Aquia?) with a garden hose, I suspect you would see water running to the ceiling again. If so, expect that drywall ceiling is going to need to be cut open.

Cracked soil pipe, maybe. Bad connection from the closet flange to the soil pipe? Maybe.

Is there a warranty on the house? Kinda sad there is an offset closet flange on a new house.

Thanks for the reply. The offset flange had to be used because of the fact there is a floor joist in the middle of the floor and so the toilet would've had to be installed pretty close to the wall without one. Unfortunately I didn't know about the issues with an offset flange. I general contracted the build of my own house.

So as far as the soil/drain pipe potentially being cracked, if that was the case, wouldn't I have seen leaking pretty consistently over the past several months? We flush that toilet at least 5 to 7 times per day and so why the two leaking events spread out over 3 months? This is why to me it seems that a cracked drain pipe or leaky supply doesn't make much sense.

Could the offset flange be causing water to splash back up towards the toilet rings from time to time, hence the leaks? Is there a better gasket I need to buy for my toilet so that it matches the offset flange?
 

MKS

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Not a pro.
Maybe village idiot.
Cut out wet, potentially molding drywall.
Flush toto.
Look for leak from below.
Repair as appropriate.
Flush toto some more.
If no leaky.
Replace drywall and tape.
Seal entire ceiling with gardz.
Paint ceiling.
Weee, the joys of home ownership.
 

Widgit Maker

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You let some one sell you a new toilet because he couldn't figure out where a leak was coming from?

Could I have you for a customer?

As MKS said cut out a section of the ceiling below and watch.

Why would this happen sporadically and not all the time? Probably because there is something in the drain line that tissue and solids are getting caught on and causing a back up. You say it is a new home, what could be blocking the line? Who knows, maybe the drywall man dropped his hammer down the drain.
Pull the toilet and run a snake down the drain line. Watch what happens for a few days then put a piece of drywall in the ceiling below. Wait a few weeks before jointing up the patch. Then after a couple months paint the patch.
 

Pete147

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You let some one sell you a new toilet because he couldn't figure out where a leak was coming from?

Could I have you for a customer?

As MKS said cut out a section of the ceiling below and watch.

Why would this happen sporadically and not all the time? Probably because there is something in the drain line that tissue and solids are getting caught on and causing a back up. You say it is a new home, what could be blocking the line? Who knows, maybe the drywall man dropped his hammer down the drain.
Pull the toilet and run a snake down the drain line. Watch what happens for a few days then put a piece of drywall in the ceiling below. Wait a few weeks before jointing up the patch. Then after a couple months paint the patch.

Widget Maker, thanks for your reply. I'm a lot smarter than going out and paying full price for a new toilet when the old one was only 6 months old. I called the company that I purchased all of my toilets and fixtures from and they agreed to give me a new toilet free of charge to rule it out. Yes they are amazing at customer service and are on of the largest plumbing suppliers in my area.

Anyway back to your assessment, it likely could be the drain pipe and I was hoping not to have to punch a whole into the ceiling but that sounds like the next step. Is the consensus that it is very unlikely that it is a water line?

One other interesting thing to note. I measured where the wet spot is on the ceiling and it's 4 feet to the right of the toilet and drain.
 

Reach4

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Anyway back to your assessment, it likely could be the drain pipe and I was hoping not to have to punch a whole into the ceiling but that sounds like the next step. Is the consensus that it is very unlikely that it is a water line?
I still think the garden hose test would be worthwhile.
 

Pete147

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I still think the garden hose test would be worthwhile.

I'm assuming you mean remove the toilet, run a garden hose with water down the drain and observe from the ceiling below whether there's a leak from th drain?

Yesterday when the toilet wa removed, I dumped a gallon of water down the drain and waited 5 to 10 minutes. It didn't seem like more water was dripping from the ceiling - it was about the same. However after flushing the toilet a few times after reinstalling it, more dripping occurred within the next 30 minutes. It could be that it takes some time for the water to drop from the source and accumulate on to the ceiling.
 

Dj2

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Check behind the toilet to see if there is any wetness on the tiles.

If not, we kind of ruled out the toilet and the ring, so we are sure about it.. What's left is the drain and the connectors.

Open the ceiling, you will have to open it no matter what. With the toilet removed, dump water in the drain. Use a hose or buckets, as many as it takes to see a leak.

This test has to reveal the source of the leak.
 

Dj2

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One more thing: If your plumbers didn't do all these tests it is because: they are lazy, they are incompetent or they want to be paid for time, whether they find a leak or not.
 

Pete147

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Check behind the toilet to see if there is any wetness on the tiles.

If not, we kind of ruled out the toilet and the ring, so we are sure about it.. What's left is the drain and the connectors.

Open the ceiling, you will have to open it no matter what. With the toilet removed, dump water in the drain. Use a hose or buckets, as many as it takes to see a leak.

This test has to reveal the source of the leak.

I checked behind the toilet several times and under it and there was no wetness anywhere - the tiles were dry. When you say the connectors, are you taking about the connectors on the water supply lines inside the wall or the connectors right behind the toilet that are visible and physically connect to the toilet?

As far as the water supply line in the wall/ceiling, the original plumber claims there are no connections in the wall or ceiling near the toilet, only the one that is visible that connects directly to the toilet.

It feels like the likely culprit is the drain but can't confirm until I get into the ceiling. Is it odd that the wet ceiling is 4 feet to the right of where the drain pipe is above, or is it possible that the water is going to the lowest part of the ceiling and coming out of a recessed can and drywall seam which happens to be a few feet to the right of the drain?
 

Reach4

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Is it odd that the wet ceiling is 4 feet to the right of where the drain pipe is above,

I think that depends on where you stand.

  1. Looking at the sketch below, which pipe best represents your situation-- gray or light blue?
  2. Would this sketch best represent a top view or a bottom view?
  3. Which line best represents the wet line in the drywall -- red, purple, or pink?

img_1.png


Regarding the hose test, it seems unlikely to me that a wax seal problem would cause this symptom unless the pipe was filling with water. That toilet exit drops water into the center of the flange top, so I don't see your wax getting wet if the pipe is not full. If there was no wax, but the everything below the wax level were good, I would not expect a water leak. Sewer smell, yes. Water, no. Also, your bucket test is short. It may take a while for a trickle of water from a bad seam or a bad pipe to migrate to where you see it on the underside of the drywall.

You have about the easiest toilet to lift off and restore. But you could maybe shove a garden hose through the trapway far enough to get its output below floor level. So you could try the hose test with the toilet in place. Lifting the toilet would make it all clearer I think. You are not using that toilet now anyway.

The reality is that there is a good chance you are going to be cutting into the drywall below to repair the damage that is already there. So going in sooner will make troubleshooting easier, and I suspect, and the others suspect if I read correctly, will be necessary to fix the problem.

If you are going in anyway, do you need a new light fixture or ceiling fan mounted while you are in there?
 
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Widgit Maker

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I measured where the wet spot is on the ceiling and it's 4 feet to the right of the toilet and drain.
Is that 4' parallel to the floor joist or perpendicular to the floor joist? Most likely parallel. Water won't run very far perpendicular. It is probably coming through at that point because that is where there is a joint in the drywall. Water will penetrate the joint compound much faster than the drywall itself.
Go ahead and make a small hole so you can see and so you don't have to wait for the water to seep through. Give you a much better timing concept. Easily repaired.

Remove toilet. Look at the toilet flange. Is it secured to the floor? Is it flush with the tile or is it below or above the tile?
Assuming that it is properly secured to the floor. Put down a wax ring. Spread a plastic trash bag over the drain. Press it down on to the wax ring. Cut a hole in the plastic over the drain line.
Pour a couple gallons of water down the drain as quickly as you can. The trash bag should take care of any spillage. If you have a leaking pipe it should show up at this time. If you repeat this several times as quickly as you can, and you have any kind of blockage down the line, you should be able to see the water back up in the piping.

Just completed a small repair where the flange was not fastened to anything other than the toilet. Someone apparently replaced the sub flooring. Didn't know what he was doing and just cut a big hole large enough for the flange to pass through. That left you with a flange on ABS piping not fastened to any thing other that the toilet. And no way to fasten the toilet down.
 

Pete147

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I think that depends on where you stand.

  1. Looking at the sketch below, which pipe best represents your situation-- gray or light blue?
  2. Would this sketch best represent a top view or a bottom view?
  3. Which line best represents the wet line in the drywall -- red, purple, or pink?

View attachment 34431

Regarding the hose test, it seems unlikely to me that a wax seal problem would cause this symptom unless the pipe was filling with water. That toilet exit drops water into the center of the flange top, so I don't see your wax getting wet if the pipe is not full. If there was no wax, but the everything below the wax level were good, I would not expect a water leak. Sewer smell, yes. Water, no. Also, your bucket test is short. It may take a while for a trickle of water from a bad seam or a bad pipe to migrate to where you see it on the underside of the drywall.

You have about the easiest toilet to lift off and restore. But you could maybe shove a garden hose through the trapway far enough to get its output below floor level. So you could try the hose test with the toilet in place. Lifting the toilet would make it all clearer I think. You are not using that toilet now anyway.

The reality is that there is a good chance you are going to be cutting into the drywall below to repair the damage that is already there. So going in sooner will make troubleshooting easier, and I suspect, and the others suspect if I read correctly, will be necessary to fix the problem.

If you are going in anyway, do you need a new light fixture or ceiling fan mounted while you are in there?

I've attached a picture of the toilet and water closet. Behind the toilet is an exterior wall. The offset flange and drain go to the left of the toilet about a foot and then down towards the exterior wall and straight down the inside of the wall to the basement. The wet line in the downstairs ceiling is 4 feet to the right of the toilet and runs parallel to the joists. The joists run from the exterior wall towards the door of the water closet. I'm wondering though how the water is getting from the drain pipe and over 4 feet to the right. So basically it's going perpendicular to the joists by 4 feet and then makes a parallel wet line in the ceiling. There is sheetrock strapping that goes perpendicular to the joists so potentially the water is riding all the strapping and then dropping down to where the ceiling water line is located.

toilet room.jpg
 
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Pete147

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Is that 4' parallel to the floor joist or perpendicular to the floor joist? Most likely parallel. Water won't run very far perpendicular. It is probably coming through at that point because that is where there is a joint in the drywall. Water will penetrate the joint compound much faster than the drywall itself.
Go ahead and make a small hole so you can see and so you don't have to wait for the water to seep through. Give you a much better timing concept. Easily repaired.

Remove toilet. Look at the toilet flange. Is it secured to the floor? Is it flush with the tile or is it below or above the tile?
Assuming that it is properly secured to the floor. Put down a wax ring. Spread a plastic trash bag over the drain. Press it down on to the wax ring. Cut a hole in the plastic over the drain line.
Pour a couple gallons of water down the drain as quickly as you can. The trash bag should take care of any spillage. If you have a leaking pipe it should show up at this time. If you repeat this several times as quickly as you can, and you have any kind of blockage down the line, you should be able to see the water back up in the piping.

Just completed a small repair where the flange was not fastened to anything other than the toilet. Someone apparently replaced the sub flooring. Didn't know what he was doing and just cut a big hole large enough for the flange to pass through. That left you with a flange on ABS piping not fastened to any thing other that the toilet. And no way to fasten the toilet down.

Hi Widgit Maker, I responded regarding the joists and the water line in the post above. It appears where the water line in the ceiling is located there is a seam and that is a good point that water will penetrate the joint compound faster than the drywall although I would've expected to see some discoloration in the ceiling where the drain is located unless all of that water is flowing 4 feet to the right and then dropping down onto the seam of the drywall..

As far as the flange, I took a look last night and it looks like the Oatey offset/closet flange below. The top of the flange is the same color as the one below. There are bolts and nuts holding it down and it sits on top of the the tile but it is well secured and tight to the floor. Then on top of it is a Sani Seal waxless ring and the base that the toilet sits on top of.

You know what I just noticed though in look at the picture of the Oatey flange below. The one in the picture seems to do down deeper into the drain pipe than mine. Mine if I remember correctly is as if it doesn't have the bottom piece in the picture below, unless that was just my imagination.

Oatey Offset Flange.jpg
 

Reach4

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Would the red, orange, brown or green line better represent the water seeping through the drywall seam?
img_6.png


Referring back to your second paragraph, I don't know where a loud bang would come from unless maybe that was some pipe under stress giving way? Seems strange. Then you had a second event. I don't understand why you only have had two events if you have been using the toilet regularly. Could there be rain coming in from above that happened to be near the same time that you flushed?
 
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Widgit Maker

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At this point I think I would cut a 8" by 8" square hole in the ceiling directly below the toilet. Then you will be able to see what's going on. You can cover the hole with a plastic, spring loaded, access hole cover from Home Depot. About $12 and not unsightly.
The depth of the flange can depend on how much off set you need.
 
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Pete147

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Would the red, orange, brown or green line better represent the water seeping through the drywall seam?
View attachment 34437

Referring back to your second paragraph, I don't know where a loud bang would come from unless maybe that was some pipe under stress giving way? Seems strange. Then you had a second event. I don't understand why you only have had two events if you have been using the toilet regularly. Could there be rain coming in from above that happened to be near the same time that you flushed?

The red line represents where the wet seam in the ceiling below would be located.

The two intermittent events are very odd, I agree. I don't think the water is coming in from the outside. The whole second floor is dry and I've inspected everything thoroughly. Even though it was two events now it seems when I flush the toilet I'm consistently getting water dripping from the ceiling at a more frequent pace. It then takes two days for the water to completely stop dripping, but I'm thinking that's how long the joists and drywall need to release all of the water.

So the fact that the wet seam is at the red line in your diagram, are you still thinking it's likely the drain?

aquia-with-washlet.jpg
 
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Pete147

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At this point I think I would cut a 8" by 8" square hole in the ceiling directly below the toilet. Then you will be able to see what's going on. You can cover the hole with a plastic, spring loaded, access hole cover from Home Depot. About $12 and not unsightly.
The depth of the flange can depend on how much off set you need.

I've resorted to the fact that I have to cut open the ceiling. It won't happen until Tuesday though which is the soonest I could get the original plumber to come over. Knowing me though I may cut into it before then because the unknown is killing me!
 

Mime

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Thanks for the reply. The offset flange had to be used because of the fact there is a floor joist in the middle of the floor and so the toilet would've had to be installed pretty close to the wall without one. Unfortunately I didn't know about the issues with an offset flange. I general contracted the build of my own house.

So as far as the soil/drain pipe potentially being cracked, if that was the case, wouldn't I have seen leaking pretty consistently over the past several months? We flush that toilet at least 5 to 7 times per day and so why the two leaking events spread out over 3 months? This is why to me it seems that a cracked drain pipe or leaky supply doesn't make much sense.

Could the offset flange be causing water to splash back up towards the toilet rings from time to time, hence the leaks? Is there a better gasket I need to buy for my toilet so that it matches the offset flange?
 
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