View Full Version : unidentifiable Condo leak below bathtub

06-15-2007, 04:20 AM
There is a constant drip/leak in the ceiling below my bathtub. (My bathroom was remodeled approximately 7 years ago. A new tub was installed and the bathroom was tiled with marble) Two plumbers have been out and they opened the ceiling below. They did not see any problems with any pipes. They thought it was from the central a/c unit. A/c came out and there is no a/c issue. Contractor came out yesterday and opened the ceiling further and was unable to identify the leak. He didn't think it was coming from my unit/bathtub. That said, I find that hard to believe and I'm concerned that no one has been able to identify the leak. As I previously advised, there is a steady drip/leak all the time not just when in use. Any thoughts? I need a plan of action before the situation gets worse. Thanks in advance.

06-15-2007, 04:25 AM
If there is a steady leak 24/7, like you say, there is no way a competent plumber or contractor can't find the source. All you have to do is follow the water back to it's source.

06-15-2007, 05:08 AM
I agree and that's what is so annoying. Could there be a crack in the tub or in the marble that may be causing this?

06-15-2007, 05:17 AM
Yes but if it is leaking 24/7 you follow the running water. If it is not running 24/7 then it can be harder but should be duplicatable. Try pouring water with a bucket on and down the wall and over the handles and tub spout, do this many times and see if you get a large flow then. Inspect all grout very closely.

It is possible it is coming from somewhere other than the tub as water can travel quite far B 4 it pools and drips through a ceiling.

Follow the wetness.

06-15-2007, 05:59 AM
tell us how many minutes it takes for the dripping to slow down and then stop, after you turn the water supply off at its source. Every condo has a valve; you don't need to turn the whole buiding's water supply off. If nothing changes, then the water is dripping from the condo above that one (if you are in a multistorey building). That can happen.

If you can get the big wet spot to dry up a bit, then when you turn the water back on, which side gets wet or damper first... Etc, and repeat several times.

In a condo, drips from one place to another is a matter for the condo association to pay attention to, take note of, and get involved in. They will never say that it is entirely YOUR business. You have other people to show this too, and their eyes are good to have too. They are always your allies even though many will not understand as much as you have managed to understand by now. Be sure no-one sends you on a wild goos chase to look for water sliding 20 or 30 feet through a subfloor before it drips down. That is rarissimo. Focus on straight above the drip, plus or minus 30 inches.

Sometimes it is hard to "see" how water is moving through walls, sliding along the paper facing of drywall inside the wall cavity, sliding past one or two studs and appearing at another location than the one you would have thought would be the right one if that were the leak. It is common enough for that to happen, though.

If worse comes to worst, turn the water off and install a valve at a strategic location (or cut into the piping and cap it shut), so you can isolate one large set of possible sources from another large set of possible sources. Your HW heater must have a valve; if not, put one in; then, turn it off and re-diagnose in a few minutes or hours.


p.s. Since you called it a Condo leak, I answered as if it were a condo leak. If the drip is only 100% inside your unit, then the word condo is overkill as it could have happened in any building, condo or straight ownership.

06-15-2007, 06:49 AM
The legal ramifications are too complicated for us to solve, but mainly you want to fix the leak. Is the downstairs part of your unit, or is it a different owner?

Has anyone removed all the tub/shower trim...the escutcheons around the valve or valve handles....to inspect behind there with a flashlight? A leak there probably can be seen through the holes. An even better inspection spot if available is to open a larger hole in the wall on the back side of the thb/shower.

Let us know what all has been looked at.

You need your Dick Tracy hat here, and think about any other water pipe which might be in the area.....pipe to an outside hose bibb or sprinkler system, pipes leading to another bathroom or laundry close by.....etc.

06-15-2007, 01:41 PM
Thanks for your responses. The downstairs is another condo unit. Who is responsible is another issue. I just want to get the leak resolved asap. Another plumber came out today and he opined that it was coming from the roof. Highly unlikely since there has not been much rain and there is no water damage in my unit.... I'm going to hire my own plumber to get to the bottom of this. I'm still wondering if water is getting between the marble tiles and running down the wall.

06-15-2007, 03:29 PM
If it is dripping 24/7, I doubt it is water from the result of taking a shower. It could be from the fill valves or supply piping. Maybe from the trap leaking, but that would stop once it emptied.

With the ceiling open, can you actually see or feel a drip, or is it just that the ceiling is damp?

It could be from the roof, especially if it is a flat one. If they have a leak, it can pool underneath and could last a very long time between showers. Do you have access to the roof? You might just try walking around and see if anything squishes.

Tile should be installed on cement board or a water proof membrane. If not using a membrane, it should have a vapor barrier behind it lapped over the tub tile flange. If the tub is installed level as it should be, and was installed with a good vapor barrier or membrane, you could shower without the tile or caulk at all and it should not leak. much of anything.

While looking up into the ceiling, try flushing the toilet a few times.

06-15-2007, 06:38 PM
I actually initially assumed it was the toilet. Yes, the roof is flat but there is no noticeable water damage to my unit. The ceiling is open and ypu can see a steady drip but the source is hard to locate. The source appears to be underneath the tub but the drip is steady and does not increase after use of the shower... I'm at wits end

06-15-2007, 09:42 PM
turn off the water supply to the tub. Since it has gone on so long, according to what you say. (assuming you are a real person with a real problem and not just pulling our chain....)

If the leak is below the tub, prevent water supply pipes from having pressurized water in them, and see if the leak stops.

Mr "eg", I think it is now time you told us a lot more. Have you been downstairs and looked at the pipes yourself? Are they wet anywhere?

Can you answer any of the other questions in previous posts, and can you tell us a whole lot more?


06-16-2007, 04:32 AM
I actually initially assumed it was the toilet. Yes, the roof is flat but there is no noticeable water damage to my unit. The ceiling is open and ypu can see a steady drip but the source is hard to locate. The source appears to be underneath the tub but the drip is steady and does not increase after use of the shower... I'm at wits end

If you can see a steady drip you need to follow it, for the third time, and open up what ever wall or ceiling is necessary to get to the sourse.

Someone is not doing their job right.

06-16-2007, 05:44 AM
Thanks for the insight. Plumber and contractor coming back at this morning to open a hole in my bathroom to see if there is a roof leak. Again, that seems doubtful since the water damage is in the bathroom ceiling directly below mine. My fear is that they will have to remove my tub and/or some of the marble on the wall to get to the source since they can't find it from below. That's why I;m trying to educate myself on the issue in order to avoid unnecessary actions by the plumber. I'll post back later with an update. I appreciate all your help.

06-16-2007, 06:14 AM
Has some one removed the cover plates on the shower valve / handles to see if they can see anything dripping?

This should have been one of the first things done.

06-16-2007, 06:19 AM
What is on the back side of the shower valve wall?

06-16-2007, 10:22 AM
None of the three plumbers removed the cover plates on the shower valve/handles. The living room is on the other side of the wall but the wall is concrete so that will be hard to open. The plumber canceled on us this morning...

06-18-2007, 07:37 AM
i guess it must be a very slow leak, or else there would be a far more urgent problem, like a crisis.

can you turn off the water supply valve (you'll have no water in the house), and leave it off for many hours while you go to work? Then, at the end of the day, you'll see if the leaking has slowed down or if the wet area has dried a little. After turning off the water, flush a toilet and open a few faucets; this will at first release the pressure, and then remove some or most of the water in the pipes.

If you can shower at a gym or health club, you could plan an entire week with no water pressure. Store enough water to flush your toilet with.

the purpose of this exercise is to determine whether or not it is your water supply pipes that are the source. This exercise does not rip walls open.

06-18-2007, 11:26 AM
Plumber came out again today and inspected my bathroom and the roof. he is 100% certain that the leak is coming from the roof. There is no visible water damage to my bathroom ceiling but the grout around some of the marble above the tub in my bathroom shows some minor separation. The condo assosciation is calling a roofer to come out. I still find this hard to believe but gets me off the hook. It looks like my marble will have to replaced now. Regardless, I will suggest shutting off the condo water. Makes sense.

06-22-2007, 12:22 PM
Update- Roofer came out on Wednesday and he doesn't think the leak is coming from the roof. I hired my own plumber and he came out this morning. He was unable to locate the source of the leak. However, he was able to rule out my bathroom as the source. he recommended hiring a leak detection company. I'm not familiar with them. I assume they have devices that track the source.

06-26-2007, 09:45 AM
i can sympathize; it must be frustrating!

For people help out, over the internet, you would need to begin a checklist of things you have done or had done.

Saying an expert came and got stumped is too abstract; details about what has been looked at are missing. Hope this helps explain why nobody can say anything useful now, until you get into that level of detail.


06-26-2007, 10:26 AM
Do not close up or put anything back until the leak has been found.

06-28-2007, 05:54 PM
It was my a/c.... leak detector came out today and ruled out all pipes first. He went right to the a/c and ran a hose from the bathroom sink to the recirculating pump. The water started flooding the unit below... a/c guy came back (I called him first last month..) and replaced the plastic tubing with copper. Can't believe the a/c guy didn't suspect that when he came out last month. very dissappointing and a waste of time and money trying to figure this out. Thanks for all your help.