Major Shower Leak

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Old 11-17-02, 02:46 PM
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Unhappy Major Shower Leak

I tried a relatively simple plumbing manuever yesterday and ended up with a disaster. I replaced the tub diverter faucet. I thought everything was fine until this morning when my wife was showering, I noticed a flood of water flowing down into the basement. The leak occurs mainly when the diverter is pulled up for the shower mode however, it still leaks a little when it is in "bath" mode.

Could I have jarred a joint loose in the shower piping during this job? Please tell me there is an easy fix besides ripping out my tile and wall!!!! Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
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Old 11-17-02, 03:00 PM
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Why did you replace it? what type did you replace it with? was it threaded or was it a slip on type? What type was the old one?
if the spout is leaking at the connection and it is very tight against the tile then it would leak some with the tub on back into the spout and through the opening in the wall to the basement, and would do it much worse when the shower was on instead... However, if you strained the copper in the wall in the new installation, then it would behave the same way... So the thing to do is to take the diverter off and run water into the tub and see if it leaks downstairs, and then have someone watch while you put your hand over the pipe and manually divert it to the shower and see if it leaks... this will help you narrow it down...

Please follow up with what you find...
 
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Old 11-17-02, 03:40 PM
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Ragnar-

Thanks for your help. I replaced it because the old one (we just bought the house) had about half the water coming out of the spout when we showered. There is a 1/2" straight copper pipe.
I replaced with a standard diverter. It has a copper threaded piece with small set screw to tighten it onto the 1/2" pipe. I cauled around that piece

I took your advice and when I took off the diverter and plugged up the pipe with my thumb, the shower ran and no leaking occurred downstairs, so that's good news. So, although I read the instructions, obviously something is still wrong.......

I do have a theory. The 1/2 pipe has a slight flat spot on the bottom (I noticed this when I took off the old one) which means that there is a slight gap between the pipe and copper threaded piece. Will caulk plug up that gap or would solder be necessary? Otherwise I guess that would mean replacing that stretch of pipe?
 

Last edited by bsweger; 11-17-02 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 11-17-02, 05:13 PM
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Well, I would say the flat spot is the problem if that is where the oring on the diverter meets the pipe... and in that case i would recommend trying to replace that small section of pipe without going behind the tub if possible... If you try to caulk it, it is not likely to hold the type of pressure that will be against it when the shower is on as opposed to the tub...


But you mention the copper threaded piece and a set screw, what type was the OLD diverter? how did you get it off, and then what was left sticking out of the wall EXACTLY... and then how did you attach the new diverter?
 
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Old 11-17-02, 07:21 PM
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Cool

bsweger,
What Ragnar (a pro plumber, I'm not) is getting at is that there are two types of diverter spouts...one that screws onto a threaded fitting and another that has an o-ring (and set screw) that slides onto a plain straight pipe.
It isn't exactly clear from your posts which type that you have.
If the old tub spout unscrewed off of this copper threaded fitting, and then screwed back on, if you didn't use teflon tape on the threads, it will leak.
If this is the type that you have, wrap 2-3 flat turns of teflon tape clockwise only around the threads of the pipe sticking out of the wall, and then screw the diverter spout on. That should seal that kind.
If you have the o-ring with-set-screw type, as Ragnar said, the o-ring may be falling on that flat spot (probably caused by over-tightening the set screw in the past).
If that's the case, I might try two o-rings. Caulk isn't going to hold.
If two o-rings don't work, you might try rounding that 1/2" copper pipe with a flaring tool.
If the flaring tool doesn't work, I'd convert it to a sweated on copper fitting. (You'll have to carefully measure and maybe cut the pipe off a bit first.)
NONE of the above require going into the back of the wall, as all can be done from the shower/tub side.
Let us know how you make out.
Good luck!
Mike
 
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Old 11-24-02, 04:47 AM
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Wink Previously leaking shower

Ragnar, Old Guy-

Thanks for the motivation and the advice. I have to end up taking out a couple of bath tiles to take out a section of copper pipe and replace.

What happened is that the orginal diverter had been installed the same as I described the new one however they used the white goop (which acted like glue) instead of the tape to seal the joints. When I tried to twist off the old diverter, then off course the set screw bent the pipe which in turn caused the leak when put on the new one.

Thanks again...Brent
 
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Old 11-24-02, 04:40 PM
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Brent,

Before you go tearing out tiles, my question is did the NEW diverter that you put on have threads up in it that screwed onto the copper? and the copper that was left hanging out of the wall, did it have threads also? cause that is what is sounds like... IF you are working with a diverter that threads on then the flat spot in the pipe does not matter... If you are trying to put on a diverter that just has a little alan key on the back and an o-ring inside that seals it, then the flat spot is a problem... But you mention 'glue' in the threads so it had to be a screw on diverter... so what you need to do is take the diverter back off, put pipe dope on the male threads of the copper, then brush some pipe dope on the female threads in the diverter also... Now when you go to tighten it, it will need to be pretty tight,... the problem is of course, that it will sometimes not be tight when it is aiming straight down and you dont want to try and go around again and risk not being able to... if this happens, put something in the end of the spout to help turn it or use a strap wrench that wont scratch it or just use a pair of channel locks carefully to get it tight enough... IF you still feel like the copper needs to be replaced, is it possible that you could get access from behind easier? like through the drywall in another room? this is easier and cheaper than the tile route usually...
 
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Old 11-24-02, 05:56 PM
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I don't know of a diverter spout that screws on that has a set screw. however I know the insert part of the skip on spout can be removed by unscrewing it.

Now my thought, it could be this spout was a slip on type and when removal it damaged the pipe and the insert got unscrewed at the same time.

If I'm correct here, this could be fixed without opening up the wall or removing any tile.

It where the pipe is flat and there is room between the pipe and the wall to sweat on a coupling and a shout stub of pipe and a male adaptor, all copper, then a regular screw on type diverter spout could be used.

I little confusion here between a slip on and a screw on type of diverter spout.
 
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