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Thread: Tub leak, stain in ceiling below - How to find leak???

  1. #1

    Default Tub leak, stain in ceiling below - How to find leak???

    I noticed this morning there was a new squarish-shaped water stain on the ceiling below my 2nd floor tub. The stain is located approx 14" away from the front wall (drain) of the tub, towards the fromt corner.

    It seems odd that a leak would "walk" so far away from the tub.

    I have no access, but I have a built in storage unit that would give me access - if I can get it out without destroyong it.

    Any ideas???

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A slow leak or drip can run down a pipe quite a ways before it hits something that causes it to drip off. Or, depending on the type of piping, it could have corroded a hole in the drain line.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3

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    Well, the house was built in the early 1980's, so I am not sure about the drain materials.

    I discovered the tiles near the soap dish (mounted on the tile just above the tub on mid-way between the head and foot of the tub) are loose. There is some movement when I press on them.

    With a broken grout seal, I imagine water could end up down there. I discovered a new water spot near the drain area (but offset towards the wall) that may be a result of this?

    *Sidebar* - I can now get access to the plumbing behind the tub fixtures, as I removed the storage cabinet last night. Now I have to figure out the best way to cut a hole in the wall there.


    Any thoughts on any of this are appreciated!!!


    Chuck

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member greekguy7's Avatar
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    I would caulk everything around the tub area real good and then see if the leak persists. Loose tiles are not good.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Loose tile imply something other than a cement board (cbu) backing; i.e., maybe drywall or greenboard. If that is the case, you may have many other problems with this. I'd also check out www.johnbridge.com for some thoughts...you may be in for redoing the tiled walls.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6

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    Missing grout between tiles,even small cracks can let in a surprising amount of water!
    Check the entire wall and maybe just take baths!

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Loose tile imply something other than a cement board (cbu) backing; i.e., maybe drywall or greenboard. If that is the case, you may have many other problems with this. I'd also check out www.johnbridge.com for some thoughts...you may be in for redoing the tiled walls.
    Yes, I am pretty sure the builder (known for "value") used greenboard, but I plan on a renovation project this spring (new floor tile, wall tile tub, etc.) but for now, I just want to stop the leak while I shop for the new bathroom upgrades.

    Quote Originally Posted by bombjay View Post
    Missing grout between tiles,even small cracks can let in a surprising amount of water!
    Check the entire wall and maybe just take baths!
    Tonight Mr. Tub's tiles meet Mr. Caulk Gun... hoping to stop the leak while I make arrangements to update the bathroom (the baby-blue tub, toilet and sink have to GO!!!).

    Locating the source and stopping the leak are the prime directive.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Shower curtain all around?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    Shower curtain all around?
    Do you mean as a temporary protector? I was just going to try caulk first. The tub has shower doors that seem okay.

  10. #10
    Plumber krow's Avatar
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    Grout and tiles have failed for sure. Greenboard isn't the greatest of materials for a bath area (it has a life expectency of 5 years). Damage has already been done.

    Shower curtain and chaulk is a good temporary fix, until you can get your project started. Shower doors tend to leak at the corners, right behind the jambs

  11. #11

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    Interesting... the shower doors do not seem to be leaking as I do not see any water / wetness outside the tub or floor, but water is funny stuff. Maybe it found a sneaky way to get through in between the wall, tile and tub at the seam.

    I discovered the soap dish is very loose... I could actually pull the top of it away from the tiles! No doubt water was pooling behind it and working its way in behind the tile too. I am wondering if that can explain the water marks on the ceiling below.

    They have not grown larger in the past couple days. I need to get busy this weekend and get things buttoned up with caulk... ran out of time last night (did not get home from work until after 8pm).

    I can never get a nice "bead" with the caulk gun. Any tricks?

  12. #12
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    If you are using water based caulk then use water and damp sponge to
    tool the caulk, rinse sponge often.

  13. #13

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    Well, today I got bold, and pulled off the soap dish... HOLY $#!+ !!!!

    The tile behind the dish came off with it, and the brown, muddy crap behind is all crumbled. I almost wonder if a quick & dirty fix was done before we bought the house several years ago, but that does not matter now.

    I am pretty sure this is my leak... makes sense, as the soap dish was trapping water behind it, and it was right in the shower spray (until I derverted it several days ago. The stains are drying up.

    I am definitely remodeling the bathroom and the old tub, tile and fixtures are going bye-bye... BUT... what can I do to keep the shower (my only full bath) functional until I can get the R&R arranged?!?

    Can I patch in the hole and caulk the soap dish back in place?

    Or can I mud up the hole and re-attach the old tiles, then caulk around them?

    I need to do something to keep water out (and me clean) for probably about a month...

    Chuck

  14. #14
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    I worked for a while with a plumbing & tile co,if we found the cause of
    leak from the tile (soap dish in your case)we would duct tape 10 mil
    plastic sheeting chest high all the way across the offending wall and let it
    drape down into the tub untill we got back to do the work.
    This should keep your down stairs dry.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member ThomPlumb's Avatar
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    I would also suggest taping up a thick plastic vapor barrier but over the entire tub surround. I suspect that you have no waterproofing behind your tile and grout is not water tight. Grout is very porous and wicks moister just like concrete. Every time water hits the grout some will go through and run down the surface behind. So if you don't have any waterproofing lapping over the flange of the tub the water will run down the wall to the floor and so on. Green board and drywall should never be used around a tub. If you tile is on either of these expect a huge mold problem behind.

    For a nice bead of caulk make sure to cut the tube cleanly. If its a little rough sand the tip down until its smooth. Tape the tube of caulk to the gun with painters or masking tape. Squeeze slowly and evenly as you move down the surface working towards yourself. Wet the tip of your finger with spit and lightly wipe the joint so it looks nice clean and even. Always make sure your finger is wet of you will pull the caulking back out. I do not recommend using a sponge it will make a mess. Practice on scrap material with a tube of cheap caulk until you get the nack of it.
    Last edited by ThomPlumb; 10-03-2013 at 06:29 PM.

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