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
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?
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
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.
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:(
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.
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
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.
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!
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