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Thread: Leaking Bathtub

  1. #1

    Default Leaking Bathtub

    I live in a 4th floor condo and remodeled my bathroom 2 years ago - all went well- the problem has been, while I can take a shower with no problem I can't take a bath at all without my neighbor below me knocking on my door within 20 minutes to complain that water is coming through his bathroom ceiling light. I do not fill up the tub and water does not spill over the sides of the tub. How is it I can take a shower but not a bath and it all goes down the same drain? I do not have access to the pipes as they are all behind a tile wall.

  2. #2

    Post Leaking bathtub

    If it leaks only when you take a bath then the overflow may be leaking from the overflow washer.

    Check this out:
    http://www.homefixitparts.com/Bathwa...ctionGuide.php

    Check the washer behind the overflow plate

  3. #3
    Renovator Gencon's Avatar
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    The overflow would be more susceptible to leaking if there was shower water spraying all over it, than with water sitting in the tub.

    Remove the drain basket, reseal it with plumbers putty and retighten it. Under shower conditions thers is virtually no pressure on the drain basket. Once you fill the tub with water, the pressure builds as the water depth increases. It will leak around the outside if not sealed properly.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Leaking Bathtub

    Thanks folks for your responses - I will check out your suggestions.

  5. #5

    Default Is he for real???

    I called a plumber who told me before he would come over I should do a test:Fill the tub half way with water and if it leaks into my neighbor's ceiling below me, that the problem is in the drain (thus not the spill over or the spigot) and the only way to fix it is to go downstairs into my neighbor's apartment and cut out his drywall ceiling and look for the leak.

    Is he for real???

    I don't have access to pipes unless we rip out the tile wall. My tub pipes face the building's hallway which is cinderblock so there's no access there. He said he can't see the problem looking down from the tub drain. But can he really look up and see my tub's connection to the buidling's water waste pipe? I know my bathroom floor is a concrete slab, so exactly what would he see from down there looking up? Should I get a second opinion?

    I can't call the contractor who did the job 2 years ago as he moved his family 90 miles away. This sounds like it'll cost a fortune.

  6. #6
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Can't your plumber make an access on the other side of the wall where the business end of the tub is? If yes then he can access the drain assembly from there?

    When your plumber is there he really needs to address all of the other possible places that water can leak from when bathing or showering.

    There are other tests that he should perform in and around the bath tub.

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks plumber1 - no, the business end faces right, a cinderblock wall which is the condo's hallway wall. If it faced left it would have been my internal closet wall and it would be easy to go through that to get to the pipes.
    What other tests would need to be done? I already know:
    1) It does not leak when I take a shower
    2) Water is not spilling over onto the floor and thus leaking that way

    If I do this half-tub of water test and it leaks I will know it's the drain. If it doesn't leak then the problem is either the spill over drain seal or the spigot itself, right? But how can it be the spigot as wouldn't it leak even if I have pulled the ring to switch from bath to shower? After all water is still in the spigot, right? It's just redirected to exit out the shower head, but water is still pushing against the inside of the spigot? I'm trying to figure out the possible scenarios.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    On some tub drains, there is a nut that sandwiches the drain parts together that is accessable from the top. If you are lucky, this is just loose and you can tighten it with a large screwdriver or a wrench. Can you post a picture of the tub stopper? This could be a 5-minute fix you could do yourself.

    Does the tub flex at all when you are standing in it?
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks jadnashua - no the tub does not flex at all. It's a cast iron Kohler K-520 apron tub and sits on a concrete slab. I don't have a pic to include - gotta get me one of those digital cameras!

  10. #10

    Default

    Buy this tool (called a smart dumbell) from the hardware store. You will need a large crescent wrench to turn it with. Loosen up the drain basket as Gencon suggested, but I wouldn't remove it totally. Wrap the underside of the flange with plumber's putty and tighten it back down. You can also try siliconing around the tub drain as well.

    Then try filling the tub up 1/2 way and see if it still leaks.

    If that doesn't work, the problem may be further down in the drain, and that means cutting through the ceiling below.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Verdeboy; 11-24-2006 at 10:49 PM.

  11. #11

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    Much appreciated - I'll try it!
    Last edited by pm914; 11-25-2006 at 05:36 AM.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The drain on my tub has a hollow, approximately 3/4" bolt that holds the top and bottom of the drain together, sandwiching the gasket to seal the tub. The stopper's shaft fits through the hole in the bolt. That bolt came loose once, and I had the same problem. The fix was simply to tighten the bolt.

    On many tubs, the top drain basket is threaded into the assembly below, and that tool shown above will allow you to tighten it. You can sometimes use the handles of a pair of pliers, but are more likely to damage the basket. Since it is only a couple of years old, it probably won't be all corroded,and it should move fairly easily. BTW, that tool is in the order of $15 or so, and if it works will save you big time over calling a plumber. You may need to, as there are other things that could cause this that you might not feel comfortable fixing. Pretty much everything else would require either knocking out one of the cinderblocks to have access (you could probably put back in an access cover) or making a hole in the ceiling below.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  13. #13

    Default

    Thanks - I indeed went out this morning and bought the tool, the wrench and a roll of plummer's putty (not tape)...$22 - Removing the drain worked perfectly. I unscrewed the drain and saw that the old plummers putty looked like it missed a section - it wasn't completely around the drain. I don't know if this is the problem. But, I scraped off the old putty - checked the rubber washer which was not cracked and seemed to be in place (though not perfectly aligned it did cover the entire pipe without cracks or folds)...then I dried off the basket and wrapped it one time ( was that enough??) with new putty and screwed it back in- I got it very tight but I didn't want to force it (don't know if I can crack it if I force it)...I ran the shower for a few minutes and now I'm running the water through the spigot for 5 minutes to see if the neighbor comes a runnin' up....(just want to check the general seal I did)....after that I'll go downstairs to tell my neighbor I'm running a half-tub of water test....and I'll stand in the tub with the water to recreate a real bathing situation.

  14. #14

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    I'm not sure what a "roll" of plumber's putty is. There is plumber's putty that comes in a tub, and there is plumber's epoxy putty that you have to mix together with your fingers, but that is not what you wanted here.

    You want the kind that comes in a tub. Assuming that is what you used, you take a gob of it out of the tub and roll it into a snake about 1/4"-1/2" in diameter. You then wrap it around the underside of the drain flange without missing any spots. As you tighten up the drain, the excess will ooze out, and you can use your index finger or a flat screwdriver to remove it. As long as you used plenty of putty, you should be able to tighten it down pretty tight.

  15. #15

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    The roll of plumber's putty is made under the brand Master Plumber of Tru Value Hardware. It's 5/8" wide and 54" long. It has a paperbacking to keep it from sticking to itself when rolled up. I had gone back and wrapped it around twice and tightened it up - it did ooze out as you said and I cleaned up the excess. I have not been able to do the half-tub of water test yet as my neighbor hasn't been home. I want him there so I will know for sure if it leaks.

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