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Thread: Troubleshooting an invisible bathroom leak...thoughts?

  1. #1
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    Default Troubleshooting an invisible bathroom leak...thoughts?

    Multifamily house; the plumbing for the 3rd floor tub/shower exists above the 2nd floor master BR. After tearing down the BR ceiling for unrelated reasons, I discovered that the 3rd floor bath has been leaking for a very long time (long enough to turn the piece of hardwood floor onto which the leak is falling black).

    It's a relatively modern tub (ex. not cast iron), so it can flex a little. The current tenant says the "tub" sometimes "makes a creaking noise." The bathroom has a splash guard between the wall and the tub, so water is not spilling over the side of the tub and seeping through the floor directly. I re-caulked where the faucet emerges from the wall, as that was loose...but the leak still exists.

    It would appear as though water is somehow getting onto the top lip of the tub (in the wall), running to the front edge, and then running down the wood in the wall. Once the wood is saturated, the water starts "pouring" onto the ceiling below.

    My dad and I have had our heads jammed up into the floor looking for the leak for about 60 combined minutes so far with a variety of flashlights and groping around with our hands. I took a 15 minute shower while pops looked/felt around, and he couldn't even feel any water on the top lip of the tub (despite watching water fall at the same time). It doesn't appear as though any pipe is leaky, or that any part of the tub is cracked...

    I've also recaulked the "splash guard," and the faucet's knob (as well as the faucet a 2nd time). I haven't yet recaulked the front edge of the tub, but again dad couldn't feel any water up there.

    I'm at a loss. I'm trying to avoid calling in a plumber who also can't see any leak, and redoing the entire 3rd floor bath (or cutting a hole in the 3rd floor bedroom wall to access the back of the shower, as there's someone living there right now). Any ideas for other possible things to check, or solutions?
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  2. #2
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    The worst leak is one you can't find.
    What kind of pipe is being used for the plumbing, PVC or ABS plastic.

    It's possible a joint has broken and you have some pipe slip that allows a few drips here and there.
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  3. #3
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    Is this a shower/tub combo? Just seeing if there is a pipe for the shower head.

  4. #4
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    ABS (I assume, since it's black).

    I wish I had a better camera, I'd take some pictures.
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  5. #5
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    I would fill the tub completely with water and recheck for leaks

  6. #6
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    I really hate to mention it, if the floor is black be sure to check for mold, esp black mold which is quite dangerous.

    As for the leak itself, check the drain plumbing?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DucatiMichael View Post
    I really hate to mention it, if the floor is black be sure to check for mold, esp black mold which is quite dangerous.

    As for the leak itself, check the drain plumbing?
    Some type of mold inhibitor/treatment is already on my "to buy" list, as soon as I can find it.

    The drain plumbing is actually lower than the floor the drain itself is basically parallel to the floor), so I'm fairly certain that's not the issue. Also, the drain is the most visible part of the whole ass'y, so I hope we would've seen a leak originating from there.
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  8. #8
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    Probally the fixture with the knobs. Is it a single knob shower or a seperate hot/cold. If it was the single handle type you could possibly remove the plastic knob and trim ring to see the fixture.
    Sucks if you gotta cut a hole in the back side of the tub.
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    This site is lousy with electricians. Do we have a plumber in the house?

  10. #10
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    Based on what you checked and described, my best guess is that one of the valve junctions is leaking (above the valve - otherwise it would be a constant leak, rather than just when the water is run).

    I agree with Jim and believe you're going to need to open up the wall to check the junctions from the fixtures.
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