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wpkoehler 09-07-2011 12:43 PM

Mystery tub leak.
Moved into my current home about a year ago. After about a month I noticed a small amount of water on my kitchen floor. I looked up and found water dripping from my ceiling; the drywall was wet. After some investigation I found that it only leaked when after or during a shower. I found some places where the grout was loose or even missing between tiles. I removed and regrouted about a 3' by 2' section of tiles; all other grout lines seemed to be in good shape.. Well, that worked for about another month or so but the leak began again (or maybe was leaking all along. might have dried up from not using the shower or a month or two before regrouting). Anyway, I can see the plumbing of the tub from the rear as I cut a square inside the vanity in the bathroom that backs up to it. The plumbing seems fine and does not leak from what I can see. After running the shower for a while i can see water begin to drip off to the side of the tub in a location that I cannot access easily.. Could the grout be bad and just not noticable? Any suggestions would be great.

Redwood 09-07-2011 03:34 PM

Shower leaks can be a lot of fun to find and repair...
However, being a bathtub that only leaks when showering rules out the drain... :clap:

So all you have left to check and this list is by no means complete is:
The shower arm connection at the drop ear 90 in the wall.
The shower mixer valve.
The diverter tub spout.
Leaking escutcheons & face plates.
Additional grout and caulking problems.
Tub overflow plate gasket.
Things in the wall like windows, soap dishes, shelves, wash cloth racks, etc.
Sloppy placement of the shower curtain.
Tub installed off level.

And some other stuff I'm not thinking of at the moment...
Your leak could be one of the above or, any combination of them...

A good place to start is taking the faceplate off the mixer valve and looking in at the valve and inside the wall with the shower running to see if you see anything.
Also check the bottom of the tub spout where it meets the wall where there is a drin hole to see if it is blocked or, water is coming out there.

A plumber may have a small inspection camera such as the Ridgid Micro-Explorer which can go through a small hole drilled in an adjoining wall to have a look inside the wall to see where the leaks may be.

Good Luck!

nealtw 09-07-2011 05:20 PM

I have seen a nice screw holding up the mirror, it held good as it was screwed into copper pipe.

wpkoehler 09-08-2011 08:54 AM

Wow! Thanks for all of the ideas.. I know it isn't the drop ear 90 because I can see all of the copper piping through the hole I punched behind the tub. What is the diverter tub spout? This particular tub has the three handle configuration wherein the diverter has its own knob. I think that would eliminate a diverter spout, correct? When I turn the water on and before I turn the diverter knob i get a little stream of water that comes out through the shower head. Could this mean that the diverter valve is bad and could it be the origin of my leak? House was built in 1974 so it has the old metal "fencing" with about an inch of mud on top; no green board so it is hard to see if the valves are leaking before they extend beyond the water barrier.

Redwood 09-08-2011 02:48 PM

Diverter spouts have a knob on the end of the spout you lift to divert water to the shower. You are correct with a 3 handle you do not have that.

You shouldn't get a stream of water out of the shower before you turn the diverter knob. Your diverter valve is probably bad and possibly parts of it are in the waterway obstructing the flow to the spout so it is going up to the shower.

That would probably not cause the leak as it is internal in the valve.

One of the things I would check is the packing on each stem for leaks. Bad or, loose packings will allow water to spray out around the stems and can go down the walls in some cases. The leaking from the packings will be worse when the shower is on because of the added back pressure.

You may have to remove the handle and escutcheons to see a packing leak.

Why don't you post a picture of the 3 handle valve so I can see it as I may be able to tell you more about it accurately... I'd hate to have the next thing you tell me say that you screwed it up and now you need a new valve...

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