LESLIE: Kiersten in Michigan is on the line with a leaky situation. What’s going on?
KIERSTEN: We have been in our house for 15 years. It’s Colonial. And came home the other day and my husband said that there were water spots – about four of them – on our family-room ceiling. And just above that is the master bathroom, where lots of showers take place.
TOM: OK. Do you have a shower or a bathtub?
KIERSTEN: We have both.
TOM: Is it a stand-alone shower stall?
TOM: It is. Alright. And what’s the shower pan made out of? Is it tile or is it fiberglass? Is it …?
TOM: It’s fiberglass. OK. And what you’re going to have to do here is to try to do a little bit more detective work to try to figure out where this is coming from. Obviously, it’s coming from somewhere in the bathroom and I can tell you the culprits. The first is the shower pan, which we hope is OK. But I’ll tell you how to test it because if it’s not OK, you have to rip out a good part of the shower stall to fix it.
What you’re going to want to do is take a washcloth or you know one of those rubber pads that you use to open up jars that are – have lids that are too tight?
TOM: Those things work good, too. You put it over the drain and then you fill that shower pan up with 3 or 4 inches of water, as much as it can take without overfilling. And you let it sit there for a while. And pretty much, as soon as you fill it up, I want you to go downstairs right away and look at the ceiling and see if you have any leaks.
TOM: Because I’ve done this test and had it leak immediately. Because, basically, what you’re doing is you’re filling the shower pan up and you’re making sure there’s no fine cracks in that pan.
TOM: It’s especially important if you have tile, by the way, because the water goes through the tile and then when it’s wet …
KIERSTEN: We do have tile in the bathroom.
TOM: Yeah, well, I mean on the shower pan. You don’t have tile on the shower pan.
TOM: But sometimes we see lead-lined shower pans where this goes through quickly.
So we do that. If that’s OK, the next thing you want to do is look carefully at the tile walls. And make sure that the joints are caulked in the corners and also where the tile meets the shower pan itself. Because those are the other areas that water tends to leak through.
And lastly, examine the tile very carefully for gaps in the grout. Because what can happen is it may not leak when you’re just draining water straight through the shower pan. But when you step into the shower and the water starts hitting your body and bouncing off, getting all over the walls, that’s when it leaks. Because that water is now being sort of forced in against those tiles and it will get down behind it. It’s going to be something in that sort of area that generally causes this, if it’s right under a bathroom.
And now, do you notice that it’s consistent with rainfall at all, by the way?
TOM: OK. Because if it was, I would tell you to look at the flashing, where the plumbing vent comes through the roof, which is also going to be vertical at that spot. But I suspect it’s probably something in that master bath. And I hope I gave you a few things to check for there that make some sense.
KIERSTEN: Yes, thank you very much.