How to Find Hidden Plumbing Leaks and Fix Them Fast

Hidden plumbing leaks are bad news. They’re wasting water, which means that they’re wasting your money. They could be doing serious damage to the structure of your home and causing mold to grow, as well. This guide will help you to find hidden plumbing leaks and get them fixed in no time.

Finding Splash Leaks in the Tub and Shower

Around the shower door is a common place for leaks to happen. If everything isn’t sealed up around the tub or shower door, water can leak out when you take your bath or shower. Even an inadequate shower curtain can allow water to leak in the bathroom and cause damage. The water can soak into the floor, causing damage to the flooring and even the subfloor. If the subfloor gets wet, it can start to rot. It will have to be replaced, which means tearing out the floor and subfloor to lay new, dry plywood. That’s a hassle and a big expense. Instead of going through all that, check for leaks now.

Watch for these symptoms of a splash leak around the shower or tub:

  • 1. Your vinyl flooring begins to curl.
  • 2. Ceramic tiles start to come loose around the tub.
  • 3. There are water stains on the ceiling below the bathroom.
  • 4. The floor joists below the bathroom have water stains.
  • 5. There are visible patches of mold on the floor or wall near the bathtub.
  • 6. There is standing water on the floor after you get out of the shower.

All of these things are signs that you have a leak somewhere around your tub or shower.

Locating the Leak

Now that you know you have a leak, you need to find out exactly where it is located. First, check the shower door by splashing water on it, especially around the edges of the door and the frame. Wait a few minutes and watch to see where it is leaking. Check any gaskets or door sweeps to see if they are leaking. Be sure to inspect the caulk, too. Inspect all the way around the tub or shower where the unit meets the floor and the wall; are there any cracks in the caulk or areas where there are missing bits of caulk? This will show you where the water could be leaking.

Fixing it Fast

If there are missing bits of caulk, you’ll need to remove the old caulk and replace it with fresh caulk. Be sure to caulk thoroughly and let it dry sufficiently before you use the shower again. If the shower frame is leaking, you can seal it by adding a bead of caulk around it. Check the unit for leaks again after the caulk is dried so that you know for sure you found and fixed the problem. If you have a leaky gasket or door sweep, you can replace that accessory. Just take that piece with you to the hardware store to find the correct replacement piece. Of course, make sure to always close shower curtains completely and sliding shower doors correctly to avoid splash leaks.

Shower Drain Leaks

Sometimes water leaks around the outside edge of the drain, so it’s not actually going down the drain. If you have a shower pan or tub that is made of plastic or fiberglass, the floor will bend a little bit when you stand on it. This can cause the seal around the drain to break, and allow water to leak. A leak around the drain can cause rotting of the floor joists or ceiling below. If your home is on a slab, a leaky bathtub drain can even damage the flooring in attached rooms.

Locating the Leak

To test for a leak around the drain, plug the drain and fill the tub or shower with a couple inches of water. Then wait an hour or so, and go back and check the water level. If the water level is lower than it was before, then you have a leak around the drain.

Fixing it Fast

To fix the drain in your tub, start by unscrewing the drain flange. Clean up the flange, and add some silicone caulk. Replace the rubber gasket under the drain hole with a new one. With the new gasket in place, screw the drain flange in again. For a leaky shower drain, you’ll have to replace the drain assembly.

Tile Leaks

Your bathroom can develop a tile leak when water seeps through cracks in the caulk or otherwise gets behind the tile. This can cause serious damage, including tiles falling off the wall and rotting of the drywall, studs, subfloor, and joists.

These are some symptoms of tile leaks:

  • 1. There are tiles that are loose.
  • 2. There is mold in the bathroom that keeps returning.
  • 3. The paint around the shower is peeling.
  • 4. The ceiling below the shower has water stains.

Locating the Leak

To find the leak, inspect the caulk around the tub or shower. Look for cracks or gaps; these areas will probably have mold, too. If the tile is loose around the faucet, check inside the access panel to see if there are stains or moisture.

Fixing it Fast

To fix a tile leak, start by removing the old caulk or grout and any loose tiles. If the wall behind the tiles is dry, you can replace the tiles with new grout and add new caulk. If the wall is moist, you’ll have to replace the board there before replacing the tiles, grout, and caulk.

Toilet Leaks

A toilet flange leak is a leak that occurs in the area where the toilet meets the drainage pipe underneath it. If you have a toilet flange leak, water will leak out every time you flush. This kind of leak can cause the floor, subfloor, joists, and ceiling below to rot. Look for these symptoms of a toilet flange leak:

  • 1. There is visible water leaking from the base of the toilet.
  • 2. The floor around the toilet is loose.
  • 3. There are water stains on the ceiling under the toilet.
  • 4. The toilet is a bit loose from the floor.

Locating the Leak

If there are stains on the ceiling near the toilet, it is most likely a leaking toilet flange. You’ll have to remove the toilet, and check for cracks in the flange, broken bolts, or any loose space between the flange and the subfloor.

Fixing it Fast

If you have broken bolts, you’ll need to use a metal repair flange. If the floor isn’t level, you’ll need to add some shims so that the toilet sits level. Then you can install a new wax ring and put the toilet back in place.

These steps will help you to find hidden plumbing leaks and fix them easily. If you have a leak that needs repaired or you need help finding a leak, call Scott English Plumbing today. We can help you with any project, large or small, and we’re available 24/7 to deal with emergencies. Whenever you have a plumbing problem, call Scott English Plumbing.