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Old 10-24-2011, 07:16 AM   #1
jambra
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Shower leak in new house?

We just moved into a new (for us) house that is 20 years old. I'd already posted up concerns about kitchen tile tenting and we got a cash concession from the previous owner to cover a good chunk of the cost of replacement. So, that's a project for the spring. However, I have an immediate issue that I discovered this morning.

Our two-head, walk-in master bath shower is fully tiled from floor to ceiling and remodel is supposedly about four years old. Adjacent to the master shower, on the long common wall, is an office with hardwood floor. After I showered this morning, I went into the office to print off a document and heard a squish at my feet. When I looked down, water was squeezing up through the butt joint in the 5-inch floor plank about two feet out from the wall. Step...squish. Step...squish. No other water marks on the wall.

I looked at the floor/wall joint in the shower and the grout is cracked. Pics attached. The wall in question is to the right in the wider pictures and the office is beyond that same wall. We have been using the shower head on the left which will hit that right-hand wall directly when showering. There is also some grout cracking in the back right vertical corner and runs from the floor to about four inches above the floor.

I fully expect I will need to remove that grout at the change of plane and replace with silicone. However, I am also concerned about the fact that the leakage into the other room if, indeed, the shower is the cause of that.

Any thoughts on some things I need to check further? Will caulking do the trick or should we be concerned about behind-the-tile issues as well? We do have a homeowners warranty that was provided by the seller at the closing.

By the way, this is on the first floor with concrete slab. Wall tiles do not seem to have any issues with cracked grout other than at the bottom corner.


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Old 10-24-2011, 07:31 AM   #2
jgleason
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The first thing you have to know is that tile and grout are not waterproof. Cracked grout is an eyesore but is not the root cause of your leak, you will have to do some more investigation.
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Old 10-24-2011, 07:50 AM   #3
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Your leak sounds pretty big, especially if you were the first to use the shower. Make sure the plumbing isn't the cause of the leak. Remove the shower head and replace with a pipe cap. Turn the water on to the showerhead. Turn off all other water users, then go to the water meter and look at the tiny little spinner on the meter. If it is not spinning, the plumbing isn't leaking. However, even a slow spin is a leak, so make sure it is completely stopped before you decide the pipes are OK.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:03 AM   #4
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Bob,

I will do the leak test. That floor was seemingly dry late last night as I was standing on the same spot installing my printer last night. While it looks like something triggered the water flow or seepage this morning, something could have been slowly gathering the past couple days and simply reached the surface this morning.
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:06 AM   #5
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I take it you've been using the shower before this morning?
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:12 PM   #6
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Yeah. Daily is the rule around here. First we have noticed the water in the flooring, though we don't go in that office area daily. My wife has used the shower head on the right a few times but not within the last several days. If the plumbing on the primary shower head on the left were leaking, the water would have to travel clear around the shower pan to get to the other side where the office is. I know that water can make some long trips but I would have expected that side to leak into some closet areas that are closer by on that side and corner.
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Old 10-24-2011, 01:17 PM   #7
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Is it possible the water is coming from something leaking upstairs (or from the roof if this is a one-story house). The walls don't have to be visibly wet outside for there to be a leak concealed within the wall. (I've had a roof leak that I never found until I noticed the wood in the corner of a room was warped from water travelling down the wall to the sub-floor that was getting absorbed by the hardwood floor).
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Old 10-24-2011, 04:42 PM   #8
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Joseph, I went into the attic area above this bathroom (second floor living area does not extend over master bath) and checked the feed from the water heater as well as the roof. Insulation and wood is bone dry so I don't think there was anything coming from above. Still have to run a leak test on the shower plumbing.
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Old 10-24-2011, 07:06 PM   #9
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Hi John. Most showers in our area are built right on the flat slab. If the slab is slightly out of level, water will run under the pan liner to the other side, it doesn't necessarily have to go around the shower. Like Bob said, eliminate the plumbing first. Another way to eliminate the shower valve would be to plug the drain and fill the shower a few inches with an outside water hose. Leave the water in there for a day or until you see a leak.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:04 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the input. Unless I have missed something, I think I have pretty much ruled out a plumbing leak. I put pipe caps on each of the shower heads, opened up the valves individually and checked the leak indicator and needle movement on the water meter. Nothing. Buttoned everything back up, took a picture of the meter face and waited a half hour. Didn't budge.

In addition to the water under the wood floor in the adjacent office, I also checked the carpet in the closet on the opposite side of the shower. The pad is damp on that side, too, so I actually have water on both sides of the shower. The other two sides are tile and a wood floor but nothing showing there.

Interestingly, the grout in the shower dried up during the day. However, one section of grout where the floor and wall meet is still damp and that's just below the faucet on the right as you enter the shower. And precisely on the opposite side of the wall from where the wood floor in the office is wettest.

I would be inclined to think pipe leak near those wet spots but the water meter is at a standstill. So, maybe it is, indeed, some kind of compromise on the pan and it's simply leaking out on all sides.

I also suspect this is not the first time there has been a problem with water seepage in this wall. There was furniture covering the floor area in the office when we were in the "looking/buying" stage and even when our home inspection was being done. There is evidence that the base molding has been removed and reinstalled on only that wall in the office and the wood floor has some discoloration and bubbling of the surface. I also see some small white areas on the stained quarter round that look like water intrusion

The home warranty company is sending out a plumber who will check further to see what might be happening. Will see how things go.

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Old 10-24-2011, 10:20 PM   #11
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Those water meter dials are good for telling you you do have a leak in my experience, John, but I'd be very reluctant to rule out a plumbing leak just because it wasn't apparent at the meter.

But I'll wait over here whilst your plumber does his search.
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:25 PM   #12
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John,

Clearly the leak was caused by the installation of the printer. I've seen it too many times, guys not holding their mouth right when doing the install.

Good luck with the warranty. Did home inspection catch the cracked grout?
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Old 10-24-2011, 10:35 PM   #13
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I'm with you on the meters, CX. I'd much rather look at the end of a pipe to be sure. Can't be 100% until we do some more investigation. Fortunately, I have some drywall on either side of the plumbing in the showers so some cuts may be in order. And a slab check.

Have to admit, I was probably a bit complacent about my stance and composure when installing the printer and that could have tilted the earth enough on its axis to cause water flow problems. May have also been the upgrade to iOS5 on my iPhone, too. Who knows what Apple has embedded in my house.

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Old 10-24-2011, 11:38 PM   #14
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of course some poor sap living under a rock in the desert would think he was a king if he had water coming out of the floor or if he had a printer or a apple contraption
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Old 10-25-2011, 12:11 AM   #15
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Well, as long as it isn't Microsoft HouseOS 7 then it probably isn't systemic.
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