Shower Stall Drain Leak?

I have a shower stall that is leaking through the ceiling into the kitchen below. I have poured water from a one gallon water can directly into the shower stall drain pipe and the leak occurs when I do that. Based on the results of that test I don't believe the leak is from any leaky gasket at the shower pan drain or bad grout around the edge but a leak in the drain pipe it self and most likely in the drain trap section.
Does this sound like a reasonable assumption?
My next step would be to remove a piece of the ceiling below the shower in the kitchen. Depending what I find, I will either attempt a fix myself or call a plumber. I have replaced traps in a kitchen sink but don't know if that's doable in shower stall plumbing.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Arnie Goetchius wrote:

You're on the right track. Make the opening and have a look. If the house is old, chances are the pipe is galv iron and the trap is cast iron. But could be other materials.
Your best hope is that the leaking part can be sawed out (Sawzall). Then, get a couple of No-Hub couplings and splice in PVC pipe and/or trap.
There are far too many variables you could run into to describe in detail. See what you find...
Jim
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Speedy Jim wrote:

I should have looked down the drain before posting. When I looked, I found water standing at about 6 1/2 " below the floor of the shower stall. If the trap was leaking, there would be no standing water that I could see. By examining the inside of the drain tailpiece I found about 1/4 " hole due to corrision in the tail piece that is apparently causing the leak. The 1/4 " hole is just above the standing water level.
The tailpiece is copper. Based on the rest of the house (35 years), I'm guessing the rest of the drain pipe is also copper until it connects to the main drain in the basement where it is 5" cast iron.
I might be able to plug the hole with some epoxee or "plumber's goop". Another possibility is to shove a piece of 2" plastic pipe down the tailpiece (inside diameter 2") until it meets the trap and thus covers the hole. I don't know who long any of this would last. This could be done without opening up the ceiling below.
I suspect that a really good permanent repair would be to replace the tail piece in the shower stall and the trap as good measure. This would require opening the ceiling and using my Sawzall as you suggested.
Question: can the tail piece of the stall be replaced assuming I can find the right size tail piece? Can I assume it is mechanically similiar to a tail piece in a sink although larger in size?
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I doubt that shoving a piece of pipe down the existing pipe will solve your problem. Ditto the epoxy and goop.
I read your post twice trying to figure out what type of shower pan you have and never did.
Yes there are standard fittings for showers similar to kitchen sinks. Until you open it there is no way to tell if that is how yours is connected. Only 35 years old your chances are better.
There are also clamp on fittings that might solve your problems. Most of them aren't approved for unexposed locations but that would be up to you.
I think I would open a hole in the ceiling using an old fashioned drywall hand saw until I knew what runs where and have a look. To much chance of cutting something you don't want to cut if you use a sawsall blindly. This might be a real easy fix or a long project.
The semi-permanent fix (nothing is permanent) is to replace it all with pvc while you have the hole open.
Post back and some one will help you.
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

Sorry. The shower pan is molded plastic.

I was planning to use a dryall saw to open the hole and the sawzall if I need to cut the pipe.

I'm leaning that way. Thanks for your comments.

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Arnie Goetchius wrote:

The tailpiece is likely 2" copper pipe. That would be std for shower. The copper would be soldered into a threaded fitting. If the copper is badly corroded, it will be very thin all around. That doesn't bode well for any quickie repair. And unscrewing the fitings may cause even bigger headaches if this is a tiled shower base. If it's a molded (fiberglass) base, I would replace the drain fitting and trap.
This is the kind of job where experience counts for a lot as there are so many variables.
BTW, we used to think that copper waste piping had an infinite life; turns out it is limited to 35-40 years in actual practice... :-(
Jim
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so you found a hole. i would just try to cover it up so it doesn't leak. you've got nothing to lose. if it still leaks, then you can do the next steps. if that 2" pipe fits, i would goop it up with lots of silicone caulk and slide it down carefully. file and sand it so there's no sharp ragged edges to catch hairs too much. and give it a day to two to "dry" out as much as it might. then test. ..thehick
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frank-in-toronto wrote:

Finding the 2" (outside diamater) pipe is the problem. The only thing that measures 2 " (that I can find) is a 1 3/4 PVC coupler and that is only 2 1/2 " long.
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Speedy Jim wrote:

== snipped==>

The copper is badly corroded all around

It is molded fiberglass. To do the job right I figure I need:
- 2" PVC shower stall drain - Some 2" sched 40 PVC pipe - 2" P trap for shower - flexible coupling 2" x 1 1/2 " to connect PVC to original copper

Agreed. I may cut the hole and take a look. After that I may call in a plumber.

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Arnie Goetchius wrote:
<SNIP>

That may look like 1 1/2" copper, but it is probably 2" trade size. Anyway, there is a Fernco coupling made specifically to couple PVC to copper sizes. Probably have to go to a supply house, not HD.
Jim
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Speedy Jim wrote:

Thanks for the tip on the Fernco coupling. I'm sure the local supply house I use will have it.
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Speedy Jim wrote:

You are correct, it is 2". I took out a piece of the ceiling and took some pictures. The pictures are posted at www.goetchius.com/shower.htm
The first two pictures (104 or 105) show the corrosion eating through the riser pipe. The next two pictures (109 and 110) show the complete layout.
There is a 2" copper pipe coming from the johnny on the left shown in the third picture (109). This picture shows how the pipe from the johhny and the shower are connected to a 1 1/2' stack vent.
Since I don't know what that trap elbow looks like on the inside, I would be inclined to replace both or have a plumber do it.
If there wasn't stack vent connected to the 2" drain pipe, I would be inclined to cut the 2" drain pipe and connect it all up with plastic. However, at the moment I'm leaning to having a plumber come and do it right.
On a temporary basis, I could probably put a sleeve on the riser so I could use it on a temporary basis until the plumber shows up.
You comments would be appreciated.
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Arnie Goetchius wrote:

Great job on the pics!
That is going to be one tough job. You won't be able to re-do it with PVC fittings because the copper U-bend is a much shorter radius than anything made in PVC.
The U-bend is a heavy casting; I doubt it has been weakened. The trick will be soldering a new tailpiece in.
Yes, a rubber sleeve for now sounds like a great idea!
Jim
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<snip>
just another do-it-yourself suggestion. i've been using auto rad hoses in plumbing for years and years. never a problem. ...thehick
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frank-in-toronto wrote:

Sounds good. Thanks for responding.
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Speedy Jim wrote:

Yes, it is heavy casting so I agree with you that it is probably okay.

Don't think I'm up to that so I'll see how much the pumber waants to do that.

That takes the pressure off while I look for a plumber. Thanks again for your comments.

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