Big leak from upstairs shower


I took a shower tonight on the second floor of our house, and when I went downstairs it was leaking from the ceiling like crazy. It has never done this before, so I thought maybe the drain pipe sprung a leak? There was no overflow from either the shower or the toilet, and no crack or anything visible in the tub.
But then I realized I had spent a long time just standing under the shower head to let the water hit the back of my neck. I had my back up against the shower wall between the shower head and the fixture. Then I noticed that the "flange" on the fixture was not sealed to the shower wall. I mean the cosmetic "cover" that covers the hole that was cut in the wall to install the fixture.
Shouldn't this be sealed with caulk? It seems water can very easily get behind there. I'm just not sure what the proper technique is, since the shower wall is somewhat flexible - is regular silicone caulk the thing to do? Was it not done as an oversight?
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Probably. I had similar symptoms and reached a similar diagnosis notwithstanding some skeptisism that so much water would find its way behind the tile via that route. I caulked.
Next day, more water.
I feared I would have to start breaking into the tile work but fortunately, before doing so, I partially dismantled the faucet and found clear evidence of a leaking valve stem which I simply replaced.
That solved the problem although I still had to carry out some repairs to the downstairs drywall once it had thoroughly dried out (2 weeks of fine summer weather).
Moral: check the faucet as thoroughly as possible *before* you apply the caulk. If the caulk doesn't fix the issue you'll likely need to remove it before you can make any further inspections. Also, removing cured silicone is a bit of a pain in the ass.
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jeffc wrote:

I don't think the shower head is usually sealed. However I can't think of a reason not to seal it. However I suggest sealing only about 80% of the circumference. Leaving a gap at the bottom to all any water that does get by to drain out.
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Joseph Meehan

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It can e either a fresh water or drain leak.
to elminate a drain leak pour like 10 to 15 gallons of water down drain, if it leaks its a drain problem
no leak its fresh water.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Also along those lines, I suspect it more likely a drain or pressure pipe behind the wall than a leak at the "flange" as it is not likely that much water would leak there. I should have noted that in my most reply.
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I'll try the suggestions you guys made. The reason I suspect the flange is that I was leaning up against that wall, which I have never done before, and I think I redirected a bunch of water right at the fixture.
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I've also seen where the water leaks by the outside of the drain. It runs down the outside of the drain rather then into the drain pipe itself. If the drain is older then perhaps it needs to be removed from inside the shower stall and reseated with new pipe dope.
Hope this makes sense!
Cheers!
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another diagnostic tool:)
Take garden hose to shower, have someone turn it on, let it run a nice long time....
if you have a leak its definetely a drain one.
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That's worth a try. The house is only a year old, but you never know.
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no
the
There usually is a gasket type seal that goes behind the face plate that provides the required sealing. Caulking doesn't hurt but leave it open on the bottom to provide a drain path for any water that does get by the seal. MLD
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I had a similiar problem once on january first. I called it the flood of 1996 or something, it took down part of the kitchen cieling:(
Drain line rotted away dried and wrapped with electric tape.
It never leaked again till 3 years later when we redid the bathroom.
if in doubt cut some holes in cieling below.....
colaterral damage is to be expected:(
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It looks like you are right about that. The gasket type thing is black, so it just looked like empty space in there to me. But I don't think it's leaking there. It's not the pipes or fixture, and it's not the drain (tried both of those today). It must have been leaking in one of the other spots, due to the funny way I was standing in the shower deflecting water. The only 2 places left are in the middle of the handle fixture (center of the face plate, not outside) or the tub spout (which appears to have been attached rather shabbily and has some space between it and the loose face plate for it.
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Since it was "leaking like crazy" I'll guess that your shower drain has failed. Same thing happened to me. I cut out the drywall ceiling and was able to fix the drain from there. Fixing the ceiling was easy as it was smooth texture.
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Lots of possibilities, and we had the same thing happen here a few years ago. When I called the plumber, after exhausting what I could do, he asked if there was a soap dish tiled into the wall, which there was. I took his advice and replaced the caulking around it, and it was end of problem. And yes, lots of water can come through a little hole.

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net says...

I just had the same problem. The sheetrock in the downstairs bedroom was wet so I cut it out looking for a leak. I couldn't find it until I had my wife take a shower while I looked for water. There was water coming over the tub (couldn't see exactly where) so I figured it was the grout/caulk so cut it all out (big job!) and replaced it. One more try showed water coming around the drain too. I had to cut the drain out (ran a Dremmel tool with cut=off wheel around the inside) and replace the whole drain/shoe/overflow assembly. It *seems* to be ok. Another week without incidence and I'll close it up. Plumbing; what a PITA!
Hint from a retired plumber: To tighten the drain into the shoe use a pair of long-nosed pliers inserted into the drain and a long screwdriver between the handles and crank like hell!
--
Keith

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