Hot Topics: Leaking Shower Not a Plumbing Problem

A big man in a steamed up shower.

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Water leaks can be hard to trace, but if you can’t find the source of the issue, you can’t stop the dripping. One reader found herself with a mystery that all the good plumbing and caulking advice couldn’t crack, until an enterprising member’s detective skills traced the problem to a surprising end.

Original Post: Please help! Can't figure out why it’s leaking!

Lauren31287 Member

Hello Everyone, I am new to this forum but I am hoping you can shed some light on my situation. We have an older house with tile walls in the shower. We have a shower/tub combination with a curtain. My bathroom is located on the first floor of the house and recently I have been noticing a tiny fist sized puddle on my basement floor. At first we thought it was coming from the tub so my husband re-caulked around the inside of the tub. When that didn’t work we thought it was the floor. So my husband just yesterday redid a line of caulk around the bottom of the tub. It seems to have made it worse and it is still dripping from the floor. You can see it! It is nowhere near any pipes and we just had all the plumbing redone a few months ago anyways. Any ideas?? It is driving me crazy!! Please help!!

Highlights from the Thread:

Northern Mike Forum Topic Moderator

Sounds like the plumbing you had done is leaking somewhere.
What type of plumbing was done (water feed to the bathroom and or drains)?
The funny thing with leaks is they'll redirect when passing through floors or ceilings, so it could be leaking one place, and finding an easier path through elsewhere.

Does it appear only after showering or after a bath as well?

If you don't know if it's from the drain, fill the tub (plug in) with some water. If the water appears, it's probably not from your tub drain.

Lauren31287 Member

I know nothing about plumbing but I will try to explain it as best as possible. The plumbing from the basement up to the shower was done as well as the shower head & faucet replaced. The plumbing was done last April. I forgot to mention that it ONLY happens when showering. Not when the tub is on or when it drains which was making me think it was getting in the back of the tile or down through the floor. That's what is so strange. I would think if it was a plumbing issue it wouldn't only happen when showering??

Northern Mike Forum Topic Moderator

Without tearing the walls apart, could the water be getting by the shower curtain onto the floor or a non-waterproofed portion of the wall?

The reason I'm asking is I have this same issue with one of our bathrooms. Because of the shape of the tub, if you don't pay attention it's easy for the water to get by the shower and on the floor. From there, it can leak through to the level below.

chandler Forum Topic Moderator

Another thought, too. If only when you shower, it could be a leak in the stand pipe from the control valve to the shower head inside the wall. May be difficult to tell, but if you aren't taking showers in there, turn the tub on, then divert it to shower and let it hit in the middle of the tub to preclude splashing. After a few minutes, go to the basement and look for the puddle. Let us know.

mitch17 Group Moderator

I would run the shower but collect all of the water in a five gallon pail so that no water goes down the drain nor ends up on the floor and see if you still have the leak. If so, it would seem to be on the supply side for the shower.

Woodbutcher Member

Hi, Make sure the basement floor is dry. Go upstairs and pour some water on the bathroom floor by the tub. Go downstairs and check for leaks.
Good Luck,

Lauren31287 Member

So I am just confused now. The floor was dry yesterday and it was wet again today! It is only happening sometimes, but always leaking from the same spot and sometimes only happens when one of us takes a shower! Tonight I am going to see if I can recreate the leak again but I just cannot figure this out!

Mikedel Member

Married friends of mine had a similar "can't find the cause of the leak" shower situation. It was in a ranch house, and the leak was water dripping from the bathroom floor down into the basement.
They caulked around the tub, made sure the shower curtain was inside the tub, etc... and still, the bathroom floor was wet.

They found the problem by watching each other as they individually showered. (I realize how weird that may sound, sorry!) Each one sat outside the tub, and looked for leak/drips as the other showered... It worked! The culprit--my buddy's "big butt"--to quote his wife.
Evidently, when he bent down to pick up shampoo, soap, etc., his butt would push the bottom of the shower curtain outside the edge of the tub and result in the small puddle on the floor.
I'm not sure if that process would be helpful to you, but it seems like you have tried more standard approaches.
Good luck!

Lauren31287 Member

That is too funny! Thanks for sharing! Yes the more standard approaches are just not working!! Just out of curiosity, how did they fix it????

Mikedel Member

IIRC, they got a longer shower curtain, with magnets in the bottom--to better secure it to the in-sides of the tub; relocated my buddy's soap dish, shampoo bottle, etc. The result--no more water out of the tub, no water to leak into the basement. They also re-caulked around the base of the tub, baseboards, etc. "just in case."

My buddy's wife suggested a smaller butt, however, that was not in the cards.

Read all the advice Lauren31287 got at: //