How to find source of small leak?

Old 09-15-17, 07:31 AM
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How to find source of small leak?

We bought a new condo a few weeks ago. I have been taking a shower with no issues. But then our parents visited and took two long showers. After that we noticed water leaking into the bathroom downstairs. I am attaching pictures that show it. The leak was a slow drip that lasted for ~8 hours. It was nearly directly below the drain in the upstairs bathroom ( 4 inches off center ). All was caught in towels. I tried to drill a hole in the ceiling to let the water drain. The drill bit did not go all the way through. But it did seem to succeed in letting water drip through it.

Any suggestions on how to go about finding the source of the leak? My plan is to find the source then call a plumber to fix it. I bought a $30 endoscope camera from Amazon that should be arriving this weekend.
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Old 09-15-17, 07:59 AM
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I wouldn't bother with an endoscope. I would open up the ceiling to where you can see the trap and the trap arm going into the shower head wall.
If possible, open up the wall behind the shower plumbing fixtures also.
The leak needs to be found and repaired.
Since this is a newly discovered leak (catastrophic and not dripping over time), your insurance company should make all the repairs.
Water trapped in walls can cause some serious damage and I would call the homeowners insurance asap.
AFAIK insurance only refuses to pay for leaks when the damage has occurred over a long period and was ignored.
Old 09-15-17, 08:00 AM
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I'm assuming the wet spot on the ceiling is right below the shower. Because of the sheetrock it will take a while for leaks to be visible in the room below. It may have been leaking with your short showers but the water was being soaked up and evaporating before it could show down below.

One way to find the leak is to cut a hole in the ceiling where the water is appearing. That will allow you to look at the under side of the shower and see where the water is coming from. Of course this means a sheetrock repair will need to be made.

Where are you located (in a climate with freezing temperatures in winter)? Is the shower head and faucet know located on an exterior or interior wall of the condo?
Old 09-15-17, 08:18 AM
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The leak is a few inches from the centerline of the upstairs shower drain. It is all interior walls. I have never cut hole in ceilings before. Any specific tools I need? Or should I just call a plumber?

Our insurance deductible is 10,000 so I am on my own on this!
Old 09-15-17, 08:38 AM
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Here is a selection of drywall saws but if the drywall is that wet it will just crumble. Put a plastic tarp under where you take ceiling down.
Old 09-15-17, 09:52 AM
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What is back to back with the shower wall ?
That may be the easiest place to start especially if it's inside a closet.

Since the leak is visible fairly close to the wall and this is a shower instead of a tub..... it could suggest a leak in the line to the spray arm.

When you get the camera scope..... remove the escutcheon plate for the shower valve. That should give you a place to insert the camera into the wall without cutting anything.

Where that wet spot is in the ceiling.... you can just push the hole open with your fingers. The sheetrock will be mush.
Old 09-15-17, 10:15 AM
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I agree with the advice to open up the ceiling below, you're going to have to replace that drywall anyway.

There are 4 possibly leak sources, your job is to figure out which one it is.

1) Supply lines (likely not the issue, since you only get leaks when the shower is running

2) Shower head/piping from the valve to the head (there can often be dripping from the connection between the arm and elbow in the wall, especially if someone is moving the shower head)

3) Drain or drain lines (possibly)

4) Leakage through shower door, bad caulking, etc - specifically not "plumbing" related

From a quick look at the pics, it looks like your tiles are well grouted, caulked, and sealed. #4 was my first thought though when someone else caused the leak. They may not have closed the shower door as tightly as you do, or left it open while the water was warming up, etc.
Old 09-15-17, 02:09 PM
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Yep just gonna have to open up the ceiling. 10 bucks says it's the drain. Especially if its a compression or slip style instead if glue.

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