leak under bath tub damaging ceiling below


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Old 07-16-07, 04:57 AM
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Question leak under bath tub damaging ceiling below

I have 4 year old condo. The bathtub/shower is upstairs above the dining area. This morning i noticed some wetness showing through the ceiling on the drywall. Last night we plunged the shower drain extensively to loosen up some hair, etc that was slowing the drain. My girlfriend held some plastic wrap over/in the overflow drain to get better plunging suction( I thought). One thing that is odd to me is that after taking the chrome cover off the overflow drain, I dont understand how it is functional because there is an orange plasticy cover over the end of the white pvc that sticks through the tub. It's kind of like a drum head. I was wondering if this is something that should have been removed but wasnt and could be a source of my water leak? I also noticed some chunking out of the seal around the drain in the tub. I'm sure I probably did this while plunging. In summary, which is more likely my problem; do you think it's the overflow drain situation, the drain itself, or is it likely/possible that the suction damaged a connection down below?
 
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Old 07-16-07, 06:05 AM
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talked to plumber on phone

Ok, well i'm finding out that you should never use a plunger on a tub drain. The lady at the plumber cleared me up on that. she was very quick to say that I probably blew it apart below the tub and they'd have to cut the ceiling and repair it. Ok so i'm not so bright, consider myself reamed for that stupid mistake, however as I look at the drain in the bottem of the tub, i see an entire chunk of the seal under the drain fitting in the bottem of the tub that has come out and to me is a direct passage for the water to leak out from around the drain. Shouldn't i try this first? If so, I'm not sure how. Does the drain piece just pry up off of the gasket or what. The fixtures are moen. The drain twists and it stays up, twists again and it closes. There is a chrome ball nut that i can unscrew but then there is some sort of brass piece that is flat on one side and has a flat sideed washer on it as well. can someone tell me how to removethis thing/ (this is why I was plunging in the first place) Thx
 
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Old 07-17-07, 06:23 AM
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Ok, maybe fixed

Ok, i figured out how to get the stopper out (up twist, down twist) then remove brass shaft, no set screw, just turn whole shaft. Anyways, I took the stopper out then read where 2 crossed screwdrivers will help unscrew drain. I did that. It wasn't all that tight. I took it all the way out, to the bare hole in tub with pipe underneath and gasket butting up to it. Why do they use that putty stuff under the chrome drain insert? Why not caulk? I cleaned up the area really good. I ran some good silicone caulk around hole in tub instead of putty stuff. I then reinserted drain fitting and tightened really good with crossed screwdrivers. I cleaned up oozing caulk and reassembled stopper. I also removed the covering on the overflow pipe and now the whole thing drains great. It has been 2 days and I have run a lot of water down this drain.
My ceiling dried up after the initial incident after only about 1 hr of fan on it, and after this repair, no water has appeared at all. Is it likely that the water that made it to ceiling was forced out of the loose drain fitting while plunging? Keep in mind im only using one of those cheap orangy colored plungers and couldn't really get much of a suction because the stopper was in the way. PLEEEEASE tell me that this is a likely cause of my problem and I probably fixed it because that's what I'm banking on. I cancelled my plumber for now. I hate to think there is possible water dripping in my ceiling, but wouldn't u think since it so quickly showed itself the other day that if it were leaking still that it'd show right through again.. please tell me yes because i feel like it's fixed, at least I hope!!!
 
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Old 07-17-07, 07:03 AM
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I am not sure of what you are describing regarding the tub overflow. But I'll explain how a standard one is sealed:

You have the overflow pipe that is a continuation of the drain pipe. At the top of this overflow pipe is a big round opening that is cast together with the pipe with no joint to leak. This big round opening is bigger than the big hole that goes through the bathtub. To get this whole thing to seal, there is a big round rubber gasket that is sort of filleted open so that it fits on and around the big overflow pipe's big round end. Then when you tighten the chrome overflow cover, it draws that rubber gasket tight to the backside of the tub, creating a seal that should not leak.

Have you established exactly WHEN the tub leaks? Like, does it leak if you simply run water out of the spout and let it sit in the bottom of the tub, and let it set that way for a while? (If your tub were to leak then, that would mean that the rim of the drain is leaking, as the only possible cause).

The reasons an overflow can leak has two possible causes; either water splashes off the person taking a bath or shower, or from kids or whoever spashing water at he overflow - or - from the overflow becoming submerged from filling the tub with too much water. With a proper gasket seal, it should not leak in either case.

In trying to diagnose your leak, you need to start from the botom up, to rule out stuff. You can't start from the top down, else you will confuse yourself as to what is the real cause.

First, fill the tub up say with a foot of water (BELOW the overflow), and let it set. The more watrer you have in the tub, the more gravity pressure the water exerts on the rim of the drainhole.

IF no leak from it setting, then pull the plug and see if it THEN leaks. (If it leaks then, that means you have loaded up the drainpipe and it is getting by one of the plastic bevel washers or rubber gaskets where the various components of the drain and overflow piping parts connect up.)

If you STILL have no leak, then you test the overflow as mentioned.

IF there is still no leak from doing this, you move up higher to the tub spout and make sure water is not getting around it and through the wall. Splash water on the tub spout/wall area.

If still no leak, then you make sure water is not getting by either a single control mixer valve's plate cover or by the escutcheons (chrome trim rings) on a 2-handle control mixer valve. Again, splash or pour water all around it.

If shower is being used and the diverter is pulled up, due to backpressure, it is possible that water can leak around the pipe/nipple inside the tub spout and follow it's way inside the tub spout, back into the wall (but this is quite unusual).

There is also a scenario that is more common than one might think and is overlooked, and that is from a hidden water flow that is caused from water running around the top of the tub, behind the wall where the flange of the tub is, and then getting behind the wall at the front edge of the tub, and running down. This can often be hidden for a long time, depending on what the floor and wall is made of. Sometimes the tell tale sign will be wall deteriation at the front edge of the tub where the wall comes down to the floor. Or you'll see where the floor has gotten spongy in that corner. (Several times I've had this scenario. One place grew mushrooms out of the floor tile grout nearby! Another one rotted the floor so bad from undeneath, with never no signs of water ON the floor that it almost caused the toilet to fall through the floor next to the tub!)

Another scenario is where there are those acrylic grab bars that some combo tub/shower stalls have built into them, and they allow water to get by the seal where they enter the fiberglass. (I found such a leak last year at a condo)

Another scenario is in tiled walls, the water can get inthe grout and runback and race around the tub flange and can leak out a bad place in the flange (had this last year on steel tub and it rotted the corner and ran down the shower wall behind the flange into kitchen ceiling below), like in the corner, or, it can leak out as mentioned 2 paragraphs above.

I have alot of experience in all these scenrrios and have always found the source of the leak, (in a systematic diagnosis method) without having to tear open the ceiling simply to look at see. Although I have had to open up the ceiling to make the repairs)

Do you have an access panel in a room or closet behind the headwall of the tub? And if you have a room back there, you might want to consider making one.

Bottomline to all this, again: Test the tub and then shower, thoroughly, working your way up, as mentioned. Then post back what you have discovered.


Regarding your plumber's putty question: There are those who DO prefer silicone caulk over plumber's putty.
 
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Old 07-17-07, 01:46 PM
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thanks, but......

This problem is a direct result of the plunging we did the night before. The overflow drain is the drain on the front wall of the tub. I know it's not leaking because the plastic cap/seal had never been tken off by the plumber(same one who left cap on vent on roof). I'm pretty sure we forced water out of the connection where the regular drain pipe(tubs main drain connects to the bottem of the tub. Please read my last post a little closer.

Thx
 
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Old 07-17-07, 04:01 PM
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Okay. So either your drainhole flange is no longer sealing, and would have to be unscrewed and new plumber's putty or silicone caulk put under the rim before reinstalling, or you have to do repairs from below, or through a wall access. I could say that most LIKELY it is a leaky connection in the pipes below, but we don't know that for sure.

But you don't know which of the two problems it is, right? If it is the flange leaking, then by filling the tub with water and making sure a stopper is stopping the water good, will tell you which it is. But you have to be sure that your tub stopper does not leak, otherwise you will not know which it is; flange's rim failure or loose connections under the tub. You might have to unscrew your existing stopper and use a rubber one that fits down inside.

If you opt to cut a square out of your ceiling below, the repair of the ceiling is not that hard and you could then post/ask how to do it under the appropiate sub-forum here.

I just thought of something you could try: You could stopper up the tub good, as mentioned, and then unscrew the overflow coverplate and use something like a turkey baster or something to get water carefully down the overflow pipe, without missing, to see if it comes out on the ceiling below. If it does, then you would absolutely know that is in the trap below the tub. But, if your leak is in the tub drain fitting where there is a "tee" fitting that goes 3 ways; up to the overflow, across to the tub drain hole, and down into the trap - then this test won't determine this, necessarily, if the joint is bad where the tub drain horizontal pipe comes out of the tee-fiting.
 
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Old 07-17-07, 05:51 PM
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No water showing up for now, possibly fixed

Thx for all the good info. I had taken that flange out, cleaned it up really well and loaded it up with silicone caulk under it where the putty previously was. What i'm not 100% sure of is would it leak into the floor if it went under the flange where the putty previously was? If so then i am even more confident that is where the prob was because due to the plunging we drew chunks of putty out from under the flange.( i call it a flange...the actual chrome drain insert in the bottem of tub) i have limited plumbing lingo. I think/hope that it was coming from there or under the drain where the gasket draws up to the tub. I think/hope we were kind of forcing water out of the joint while plunging. Again the water mark on ceiling dried up quickly and never returned after my "repair" Should I wait for more sign and consider it fixed for now? I don't want to cut a hole in my ceiling just see if it's 'ok", but i don't like to think that there is water leaking in my ceiling either....but it sure showed evidence quickly after the first incident, wouldn't it show right up again if it were still leaking? thnx
 
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Old 07-17-07, 06:29 PM
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Well, we know now it is all tub/drain related, and nothing to do with running the water for running the shower. So therefore, if you just fill the tub and let it set for a say 1/2 hour, you are going to know soon enough if you have a leak still at that seal you caulked.

And if that test proves fruitful, then you will want to pull the plug and then see if it leaks. And then do that fill- and- drain test maybe 2 moire times, and see.
 
 

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