It’s possible to find drips and fix them before they lead to major damage. Read on through this article put together by our local Sydney plumber to learn how you can find common water drips and stop them before they lead to expensive damages.
These leaks commonly occur in the shower and bathtub, toilet, sink, and drains.
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TOOLS & MATERIALS REQUIRED
This DIY plumbing project requires having some tools and materials at hand before starting to avoid frustration and save time. Here are the tools and materials required:
- Caulk gun
- Utility knife
- Adjustable wrench
- Slip joint type of pliers
- Four-in-one screwdriver
- Toilet shims
- Drain plug
- Seals and gaskets
- Wax ring
- Silicone caulk
- Tile and tub caulk
Here are the most prevalent bathroom plumbing problems.
SPLASH LEAKS IN THE SHOWER & TUB
You should test your shower door to know whether water is splashing around it. In case there’s water seeping behind the door frame, then you’ll need to caulk the door frame from inside the shower area. Also, apply new caulking on the joint where the tub meets the floor.
Splash leaks occur when water escapes beyond the shower door or shower curtain. Sydney Plumbers argue that this is the most prevalent bathroom leak.
While you might assume that splash leaks are a minor thing, they can lead to extensive damage in the subfloor area where the floor meets the shower or tub.
The result will be loosening of the tiles or vinyl flooring. Even worse, your plywood subfloor may delaminate and rot, thereby demanding replacement of which may be expensive.
Signs of problems:
- Water stains around the joists or ceiling.
- Flaking or peeling paint and chalky-looking wooden finishing around the shower.
- Loose tiles or curling vinyl floor around the tub.
- Water seeping past the shower curtain.
- Mold on the bathroom floor or the wall near the shower or tub.
Finding the source of the leak:
- In case your shower area has a door, splash some water around the shower door frame and the door itself. Leaks should take around 5 minutes to appear.
- In case the shower door has a door sweep made of rubber, check whether it has some gaps. If the shower door has some rubber gaskets, also check them for gaps.
- Check whether the caulk has any gaps, especially the area where the tub or shower meets the floor.
Fixing the leak:
- If your shower has a shower area curtain instead of a door, then ensure it’s completely closed when taking a shower. Else, install a fitting splash guard.
- Ensure overlapping sliding doors close properly. Ensure the inner sliding door is as close as possible to the shower faucet.
- Replace worn out door sweeps or gaskets. Take the old door sweep or gasket with you when shopping for a replacement to get a matching size.
- Seal the leaking frame with new caulking on the frame surface inside the bathroom. Seal any gaps with caulk. Wipe any excess caulk immediately. Once the new caulk dries up, test for leaking.
- In case the old caulking on the bathroom floor has some gaps, remove it and apply new caulk.
DRAIN LEAKS IN THE BATHROOM
The area where the drain is attached to the shower or tub is highly prone to leaks. Such leakage is common with fiberglass or plastic shower pans and tubs since they flex a little bit when standing on them.
They may break the sealing surrounding the drain connection as they flex. These leaks may stain the ceiling beneath or even destroy it. The leaks may also make the floor joists to rot.
If your tub is installed on a slab, the leaks may destroy the flooring within the bathroom and even damage the adjoining rooms.
Indicators of drain leak problems:
- Loose flooring around the tub or shower, or damp flooring in the adjoining rooms where a tub is installed on a slab.
- Stained joists or ceiling below the shower area or tub.
Finding the source of drain leaks:
- If you’re able to view the underside part of the bathroom drain through the ceiling or access panel, fill your tub with water and release it. For the shower, close the drain opening with a cloth or rag and release water. As soon as you release water, inspect the drain and drain traps for any leakage from beneath through the ceiling or access panel.
- In case there’s no access area to the drain, then close the drain opening and pour some water to create a small water puddle around it. Mark along the puddle edges by setting something like a bottle. Allow for the puddle to settle for an hour. In case the puddle reduces in size, then it’s a sign that your drain has some leakage. Avoid relying on a tub stopper when doing this test since the stopper may leak some water. You should rather use a test plug for the tub (1.5 inches in size) and a 2-inch test plug for the shower.
Fixing a leaking drain:
- To repair the tub drain, start with unscrewing the drainage flange from the top. Clean it and apply some silicone caulk. You should also detach the gasket below the drain opening and carry it along with you when shopping for a replacement gasket to get a matching size. Install the new rubber gasket and reattach the flange.
- In case you can access the drain from underneath, tighten the nut locking it onto the pan. If this fails to work, then replace the entire drain assembly. In case you can access the drain from beneath, then make a hole through the ceiling underneath. Then replace the leaking drain with a new unit.
TILE LEAKS IN THE BATHROOM
Tile leaks usually occur when some water penetrates through the worn out caulk or grout, thereby reaching the wall area behind the tiling. Some tiling may fall off and severe rotting may be seen in the wall frame. The ceiling underneath, joists, and subfloor can also get damaged.
Indicators of leaks in your bathroom:
- Persistent mold.
- Loose tiles.
- Stained ceiling below the shower.
- In case your shower is installed against the exterior wall, then there may be peeling of paint outside.
Finding the source of the leak:
- In case there’s some loose tiling behind the faucet or tub spout, check through the access area for stains or dampness.
Fixing tile leaks:
- Remove any old caulk, grout, and loose tiling.
- In case the area behind the tiling is still in good condition and solid, then you can fix the leak by reattaching the tiles and applying new grout and caulk.
- In case there’re some loose tiles or the wall looks spongy, then install new tiling and a high-quality backer board or fiberglass surround.
LEAKS AROUND THE TOILET FLANGE
These leaks usually occur around the area where the waste pipe connects to the toilet. A leaking flange means that wastewater will leak at each and every flush.
The leaks may wreck the floor and lead to damages on the ceiling below. It may also lead to rotting of the joists and subfloor.
Indicators of a leaking toilet flange:
- Stained ceiling below the toilet.
- Water seeping around the toilet base.
- Damaged or loose flooring.
- The toilet is rocking slightly when pushed. Such movement may eventually damage the wax sealant that sits between the flange and toilet.
Finding the leak:
In case you have noticed stains on your ceiling, simply take measurements from the wall to the stained area before removing your toilet.
In case you take measurements and realize that the ceiling stain is around the toilet above, then a leaking toilet flange might be the cause of the problem. Simply remove your toilet and check for these signs:
- A loose flange, especially one that’s not screwed tightly onto the floor.
- The flange appears to be below or in level with the floor surface.
- The flange is cracked.
- The slots into which bolts fit or the bolts themselves are broken.
Fixing a leaking flange:
- In case you can’t notice the aforementioned signs, then you’ll need to replace the old wax ring.
- In case the flange’s level is extremely low, you’ll need to add another flange over the old one. Use a high-quality plastic flange on top on the old one.
- If the bolt slots or flange are broken, then install a metallic repair flange.
- In case your toilet is rocking due to an uneven floor, then add some shims below it when reinstalling it.
A LEAKING SINK RIM
You should test your sink rim for leaks. You can dribble some water on the faucet base and around the rim using a sponge. Next, use a flashlight to check for any leaks around the rim.
A leaking sink rim will allow some water to find its way through the faucet or rim. The leaking water may eventually damage the sink countertop and cabinets.
Indicators of a leaking sink rim:
- Loose faucet at the base area.
- Deteriorating caulking around the rim.
- Water stains, dampness, or puddles inside the sink cabinet.
- Loose plastic countertop laminate.
Finding the source:
- Dribble some water on the rim and check for leaks.
- In case your countertop is laminated with plastic, check the area below it with a flashlight. If the particleboard is swollen, then the rim may be leaking.
Fixing a leaking sink rim:
- Tighten the nut at the base of the faucet.
- Check for some clips beneath the rim. The clips hold the sink onto the countertop. Tighten the clips to stop the leak.
- If the rim is sealed with caulk, remove the old caulking and apply new caulk.
SUPPLY LEAKS BELOW THE SINK
You should check the supply tubes below the sink for water leakage. Avoid assuming that there’s a leak just because you touched the tubes. First, take a dry paper towel or tissue and wipe each supply tube. Then check the tissue for any wet spot.
Leaking supply tubes below the sink may remain undetected for some time. These supply tubes are usually hidden within the sink cabinet, making it hard to notice them when leaking. Leaking water may damage the base of the sink, the floor, the framing, and even the subfloor.
Signs of leaking sink plumbing:
- Water stains, dampness, or puddles within the cabinet and below the sink plumbing.
- Stained ceiling below the sink.
Finding the source of the leak:
- Run your dishwasher. Then look for any leaks below it.
- Use a dry paper towel or tissue to dab the plumbing connections and shutoffs. Then check whether you can notice some wet spots.
Fixing leaking sink:
- In case the stem of the valve is dripping, then tighten its packing nut. In case the leak fails to stop, then replace the entire valve.
- If there are other kinds of leaks on the valve, try to tighten its compression nut. If the leak fails to stop, disassemble the valve and apply a joint compound on the gasket or ferrule. Then reassemble the valve.
LEAKING SINK DRAIN
Most sink drain leaks occur around the drain connections or slip joints. These leaks are often hidden behind bottles and boxes in the sink cabinet.
They can damage the cabinets, flooring, and the ceiling beneath before you actually notice them.
Indicators of a leaking sink drain:
- Damaged or loose flooring around the sink.
- A dump odor, water stains, or puddles within the cabinet.
Finding the source of the leak:
- Run your dishwasher and drain it. Also, check its hose connection to the drain.
- Fill the affected sink with water. Then drain it and check whether there’s a leaking joint.
Fixing a Leaking Sink Drain:
- If the leak is coming from the sink basket strainer, simply tighten the sink ring nut to fix the leak. You can find this nut below the sink. In case the leak fails to stop, then disconnect and detach the strainer. Apply plumber’s putty on the strainer to seal the connection. Then reattach it.
- If the leak is coming from the drain slip joint, fix it by tightening its slip nut. In case that fails to stop the leak, then you should detach the joint and apply a joint compound. Then reassemble the slip joint.
LEAKS THAT MAY CAUSE A CATASTROPHE
In case you happen to notice water puddles around the water heater, then you should check the water pressure of the relief and drain valves. If either of the valves is dripping, then you should replace it.
If no valve is leaking, then your tank might be leaking. A leaking hot water tank needs immediate replacement.
The leak usually starts slowly and the tank may end up bursting in some days, leading to major flooding.
The same case applies for your washing machine hoses. If the supply hose has a tiny leakage, then replace it to avoid bursting.
Most leaks occur around plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and tubs. If you’re suspecting that a supply line is leaking, then you should check it for leaks.
Also, check supply lines hidden in the floor and walls for leaks. First, shut off the faucets. In case a faucet is dripping or the toilet is running between flushes, then shut off the valves.
Once done, check the current position or reading of the water meter dial. Then recheck its position after two hours. If you notice that the water meter dial has slightly moved, then you’re having water leakage in your plumbing system.