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Thread: Help me approach this problem

  1. #1

    Help me approach this problem

    We have a tiled shower stall, white 4x4 tile up to about 6 feet surrounding the stall. We see a stain on the vertical drywall just to the side of where the shower pipe emerges from the wall and just above the tile. I suspect a hairline leak in the elbow just behind the wall.

    My question is how can I approach exposing the pipe (to confirm a leak in that location) while minimizing the damage to the white tile? Fixing the problem comes next.

    Has anyone tackled this kind of problem or observed a professional doing something similar? What specifically was done to minimize and later repair the tile?

    What a problem to have during this season. We have another bathroom and are using it for showers.

    Thanks for your advice and comments.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Constantine, MI
    Just a quick suggestion to help narrow the range of possibilities before you go punching holes in the wall. Do you have a moisture meter? Professionals use these to localize leaks by testing the drywall in several areas. This would help you confirm that there is a leak without doing any wall surgery.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Houston, Texas
    Any chance of less damage from the the other side of the wall?
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Punta Gorda, Florida
    I suggest at least contacting a professional leak detection person. I have used them and it is amazing what they can do. They should be able to tell you whether or not they can detect the leak in the area that you are describing. If it really is there I suppose that you have just lost some of your money but if it is somewhere else you might save some money and trouble.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Ken for what it is worth, when I have run into problems like that on jobs I do a small 12x12 observation / repair hole on the other side of the wall and take a look it is cheaper to repair a drywall hole than to repair the tiles. Quite a lot of showers and tubs are built backing onto a closet and I would also suggest if you are having problems with your pipes and taps you might want to look into putting in a permanant access panel so that you are only doing the drywall repair once on the wall. If the drywall is saturated and you do have to replace the drywall and tiles I would recomend installing mason board the next time so that you are not dealing with this problem again.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the replies so to looking from the other side: no can do. The opposite is buried behind a gas furnace installation and fireplace surround.

    The wall has a distinct and telltale roundish stain, and felt wet to the touch after using the shower. It might be coming from somewhere else, but has remained dry to the touch since we stopped using the shower.

    My key interest was in how to approach opening the wall, and cutting into the tile while minimizing the area that has to be repaired. Plus, how do you go about the repair process, assuming the same white tile can be purchased. Any comments on the tile aspect?


  7. #7
    If it is located above the tile and to the side, then why not cut into the Drywall to examine? On another note.... check the shower head, does it leak when you use it and spray back to the wall? The stem that the showerhead screws to, may be leaking inside, It should unscrew quite easily (everything is easy on paper) I use a piece of rubber innertube wrapped around and then a pipe wrench to unscrew. May be that corrosion has eaten through the threaded portion and releasing a spray. You can use a flash light and look inside after removing the stem.

    On a similar note, I had a bath tub/shower that was driving me nuts I had the valve seats replaced by a plumber, after that every time my wife took a bath (I shower) water would rain down to the bath below, distroyed the ceiling. The plumber had also replaced the tub spout as the old one had corroded chunks out of it, over time. I replaced the spout again thinking it was spraying water back into the wall opening. NOT! Then checked all fittings I could see from the hole in the ceiling below, Nothing! Btroke down and called another plumber, he cut a hole in the wall behind the valves and examined, NaDa.... Then he played with different effects, still NaDa... Called my wife to fill the tub as she would for her bath... She turned the water on and right away it rained in the basement bathroom. He determined that when she full force turned on the water the new spout splashed water on the Overflow, be hind the overflow the seal was Iffy, he added some of his super doo-goo and resealed the drain. Water stopped dripping. Yeah!

    He then place a plastic access panel in the hole he cut in the wall (made for that application, I'vs sinse seen them at HD), Wrote me a big bill, I wrote him a big check, and he left. I was happy as I had fought this for over a year, although it was a simple fix and expensive, it was worth it. The panel will remain until "She" decides the Bath Decor needs changing, at which time I will patch the drywall and repaint.

  8. #8
    Ridgid Tools makes a video scope that has a 3' scope lead on it. You drill about a 1/2"-1" hole in the suspected area (make sure to locate studs and try to isolate the suspected leak to an area between the studs) and insert the scope. On the handheld portion of the unit there is a color video monitor, also the scope is water proof, so no worries there. After you insert the scope, turn the shower on and you should be able to exactly locate the leak. The scopes are around $220, or you may be able to rent one. These are available at professional tool stores, I have not seen these at Home Depot. If you don't guess the location correctly the first time, all you need to do is repair a 1" scope hole. Hope this helps. Bill

    Use a Fein Multi Master to remove any tiles and grout (after the location of the leak is determined). The Fein makes tile repairs much easier.

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