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Small leak - stain on ceiling

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  • Jun 4th, 2020 1:45 am
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes

Small leak - stain on ceiling

Hi all. I’ve just had a plumber leave scratching this head (no fix). I’d like your opinion please.

We woke up to a stain in the ceiling about 4 inches in diameter on Tuesday morning. The stain is directly below the en-suite shower. Plumber came in today and checked the bathtub drain. He also inspected the shower drain along with all the sealing. He said they were all good. He suspects water may have leaked out of the tub or shower, but that didn’t happen.

The house is 3 years old and the shower and tub have been heavily used in those 3 years.

What would you do?
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58 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
3235 posts
2198 upvotes
Toronto
A shower can leak from 1000 different places other than the drain. Is it a tiled shower? Acrylic insert? Is this a tub/shower combo?

It could be as simple as caulking around the shower faucet trim plate, or it could be the tiled shower was built without proper waterproofing and the entire thing needs to be ripped out.

It could be the p-trap of the shower drain wasn't glued properly and it's finally leaking.

Once you do more investigation of the shower itself in terms of it's construction etc, the next likely step is to cut the ceiling open where the leak is and see what's going on.
Sr. Member
Jan 7, 2013
708 posts
377 upvotes
Oshawa, Ontario
My parents recently had a leak from their shower area, turned out to be a copper elbow fitting leaking after 30+ years
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2014
753 posts
1151 upvotes
Woodbridge, ON
Cut the ceiling open and follow the wet stains to your leak. Fix leak, patch and paint ceiling. This happened to me as the builder had damaged the rubber shower liner when they installed the drain. Had to tear up the shower floor, fix, retile, patch drywall and paint.
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
4302 posts
3740 upvotes
Toronto
Water flows along joists and pipes. The leak might not be exactly above that spot, so it'll be difficult to pinpoint the area from inside the bathroom. As others have said, there's nothing you can do except cut a hole in the drywall, then run the shower and see where it it's dripping from. At least it's not a popcorn ceiling, so it's easy to patch up.

Drywall can soak up a lot of water, so it's quite likely that the other side of the drywall is quite wet and it's now reached its saturation point.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
Thanks for your help so far. I’m not really digging the fact that the plumber didn’t open the ceiling up to pin point the issue. Is that wrong of me? The damage has to be fixed anyway so why wouldn’t he have done it anyway? He’s basically saying spray the stain with bin paint(?) and see if the leak comes back. Should I call back and ask to cut and inspect?
Deal Addict
Apr 18, 2005
2521 posts
906 upvotes
Mississauga
So you paid him to drive to your place and tell you the paint it back up ??

Why do you not just break the ceiling yourself and see ?
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
762 posts
326 upvotes
Could it possibly be from your toilet? I've seen a stain like that after a toilet wax ring failure. It was a very slow leak, no pool of water on the floor but a very small amount of moisture on the floor at the base of the toilet.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
Katedontbreak wrote: Could it possibly be from your toilet? I've seen a stain like that after a toilet wax ring failure. It was a very slow leak, no pool of water on the floor but a very small amount of moisture on the floor at the base of the toilet.
I guess it could be anything at this point. Before opening the ceiling, I'm going apply some BIN primer sealer spray and see if it worsens. At this point it has fully dried. The tub, shower and toilet have been used multiple times today. From there I'll open the ceiling up and see what's up.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 23, 2008
4045 posts
440 upvotes
Toronto
I had something similar. Had a minor leak when the shower was turned on.

Try checking it out when someonr is showering.
Member
May 28, 2012
425 posts
369 upvotes
ONT
We had something similar on our main floor ceiling.

Turned out my wife had used too much water cleaning the bathroom floor and some had leaked around the floor warm air vent.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
8715 posts
1659 upvotes
Another thing, if you have children and they're taking a bath is it possible they tried to cover the spout where the water comes out with their hands while the water was filling the tub? The water would back flow into the wall cavity and then leak down to the ceiling.
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[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
NEMESIS_2008 wrote: I had something similar. Had a minor leak when the shower was turned on.

Try checking it out when someonr is showering.
Thanks. We left the shower running for 20 minutes when the plumber was here and there was nothing 🤷‍♂️.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
mrct1944 wrote: We had something similar on our main floor ceiling.

Turned out my wife had used too much water cleaning the bathroom floor and some had leaked around the floor warm air vent.
Thanks. Definitely not. I do the cleaning :).
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 2, 2012
3685 posts
2644 upvotes
KINGSTON,ON
These things can be infuriating.
I'd have to agree with the plumber on the course of action. Cutting into the ceiling may reveal nothing, and now you have to patch AND paint. The leak is not pressurised (meaning supply side, before any shut off or valves) otherwise you'd have water dripping constantly. Therefore it's not a panic, drastic measures situation.

It could be from a spill/slop/poorly fitted shower curtain/shower door left open/kid doing who knows what, etc. (I've seen it all, including a woman who liked to use the shower head in a "certain fashion", that revealed poorly sealed wall perforation. It only leaked when she used the shower; so it was a bit of a puzzleGrinning Face With Smiling Eyes).

As Toronto Tim stated, it could be coming from a 1000 places.

Before you buy the paint, do this test. Push the spot with your finger. If the drywall is spongy at all, it means that the leak has been going on in a small way for a period of time. Wetting/drying drywall will make it go punky. If it is spongy, then you should cut into the ceiling. The leak still might not be apparent though, and you may have to watch for water as every family member uses the shower.

If the drywall is solid, buy a can of Zinnser Up Shot and repaint the spot. Home Depot Zinsser
Paint, then keep an eye on the spot.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
762 posts
326 upvotes
Floger78 wrote: I guess it could be anything at this point. Before opening the ceiling, I'm going apply some BIN primer sealer spray and see if it worsens. At this point it has fully dried. The tub, shower and toilet have been used multiple times today. From there I'll open the ceiling up and see what's up.
Any way to check and see if you have staining on the subfloor around the toilet? Toilet leaks are slow and sneaky, most people never even realize their toilet is leaking until they reno the bathroom.

Subsequently, if you can lift the pieces of flooring, you could also check around the base of the bathtub. If the stain came from the kids getting rambunctious in the tub and spilling water, you would see that on the subfloor as well.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Sep 1, 2005
12581 posts
7313 upvotes
Markham
What about drilling a hole, stuffing some valuable rolled Toilet paper in there and just monitor if there's a leak over time. TP wicks water very easily so you should be able to see it on the other side sticking out I think. If after a couple of weeks/month if nothing, a hole is not hard to fix (could use toothpaste in fact).
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[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
MrFrugal1 wrote: These things can be infuriating.
I'd have to agree with the plumber on the course of action. Cutting into the ceiling may reveal nothing, and now you have to patch AND paint. The leak is not pressurised (meaning supply side, before any shut off or valves) otherwise you'd have water dripping constantly. Therefore it's not a panic, drastic measures situation.

It could be from a spill/slop/poorly fitted shower curtain/shower door left open/kid doing who knows what, etc. (I've seen it all, including a woman who liked to use the shower head in a "certain fashion", that revealed poorly sealed wall perforation. It only leaked when she used the shower; so it was a bit of a puzzleGrinning Face With Smiling Eyes).

As Toronto Tim stated, it could be coming from a 1000 places.

Before you buy the paint, do this test. Push the spot with your finger. If the drywall is spongy at all, it means that the leak has been going on in a small way for a period of time. Wetting/drying drywall will make it go punky. If it is spongy, then you should cut into the ceiling. The leak still might not be apparent though, and you may have to watch for water as every family member uses the shower.

If the drywall is solid, buy a can of Zinnser Up Shot and repaint the spot. Home Depot Zinsser
Paint, then keep an eye on the spot.
Solid advice and thank you Mr.Frugal1. I’ve just sprayed a coat of Zinnser for now. I’ll be keeping my eye of it and take it from there. I’ll update.

Thanks again everyone
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
Katedontbreak wrote: Any way to check and see if you have staining on the subfloor around the toilet? Toilet leaks are slow and sneaky, most people never even realize their toilet is leaking until they reno the bathroom.

Subsequently, if you can lift the pieces of flooring, you could also check around the base of the bathtub. If the stain came from the kids getting rambunctious in the tub and spilling water, you would see that on the subfloor as well.
The bathroom floor is tile and there is no sign of water or noises. My kids are young enough that they are always supervised so it’s definitely not them. I appreciate the response.
[OP]
Member
Oct 14, 2017
248 posts
93 upvotes
gr8dlr wrote: What about drilling a hole, stuffing some valuable rolled Toilet paper in there and just monitor if there's a leak over time. TP wicks water very easily so you should be able to see it on the other side sticking out I think. If after a couple of weeks/month if nothing, a hole is not hard to fix (could use toothpaste in fact).
Cleaver. I like the idea. I may go that route although I don’t mind patch work. The house is new enough that the ceiling paint hasn’t discoloured. I have the original ceiling paint left with the house which is nice. It’s a small enough area that I can patch and paint in an hour or so when the time comes. The stain has a wonderful ridge that was left as well so it’s not flat anymore. I may get away with a light sanding, but I’ll probably just patch.

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