If the water leak is below a bath tub or shower, the following steps will help locate the problem. Sometimes this leak evaluation eliminates the need and cost for a plumber to visit! At the very least this leak evaluation information will save you costs, because it will save me time by allowing you to locate the source or at lease eliminating some of the possibilities. Locating a slow leak can be tricky, but this will give you some easy things to try. If you still need to call me, you can be armed with information that will save me time and thus save you money!
In one case, I had a customer that had a sudden significant leak into their living room ceiling below a tub. They thought it might have been a water SUPPLY leak. This information would have allowed them to keep using all of the plumbing in the house until I could get there. More on this later.
The customer with the huge leak below the bathtub e-mailed me on the weekend. I called them right away, but they were ok with getting water from a neighbor as they didn’t feel confident about making a hole in their ceiling. But if they had made the hole to confirm the cause, they could have used their entire house until I got there on Monday. This is a good time to mention that the best way to contact me for an emergency is by e-mail or text message. Especially after hours or on weekends as most of the voice calls I get are non-emergencies, and I need my time off so I don’t answer my phone and/or wait until Monday to return calls.
Go to the opposite side of the wall where the bathtub the faucet and drain are located. There should be a removable access panel. A flashlight is very helpful for this process.
- Look for any water dripping from the faucet (when it is on)
- Turn on the shower and look again.
- Look for any water dripping from the drain opening at the underside of the tub or the waste piping.
- If you have a shower skip to step to the next step. If you have a bathtub;
- Check for moisture on the waste pipes after each of the following, before continuing to the next. First, run water into the tub. Second, stopper the drain and fill water to the overflow and keep water running. Third, remove the stopper and let the water drain.
- If you have a shower, block the drain.
- Fill the “pan” up to/just below the curb at the shower door. Your local hardware store sells a thin rubber disk about 5-6 inches in diameter which is great for this task. Leave for a few hours. If there is leakage you have a problem with the shower pan. If you have a tile shower pan you’ll need a tile contractor to repair, if you need a name, let me know.
- Let the water drain. If you have a leak it is with the pan/drain fitting or waste piping. If this is the case you’ll have to go to step (5).
- If you have a tub (or shower only with a fiberglass pan), look for moisture AFTER someone has just taken a shower. I have found many instances where the “leak” is water hitting the wall of the shower and going through the joint where the tub meets the tile wall. If this is the case you have to remove and replace the caulk joint. But you don’t have to hire a plumber! If you want a suggestion of a company that can perform this service, give me a call.
- If you cannot see the pipe or fitting the water is coming from, there is no way to know what the repair will entail. Sometimes the only thing left to do is make a hole in a ceiling. It only needs to be about 3-4 inches square. I would start; in the location of the drip or directly below the waste opening of the tub/shower.
The customer with the huge leak below the bathtub e-mailed me on the weekend. I called them right away, but they were ok with getting water from a neighbor as they didn’t feel confident about making a hole in their ceiling. If they had made the hole to confirm the cause, they could have used their entire house until I got there on Monday. Either way my assistance gave them peace of mind and saved them a potentially huge bill for a weekend/emergency call.
This is a good time to mention that the best way to contact me for an emergency is by e-mail or text message. Especially after hours as most of the voice calls I get are non-emergencies, and I need my time off so I don’t answer my phone and/or wait until Monday to return calls.