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Leaks in the Bathroom

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Leaks in the Bathroom

by Allan Staines

There's nothing like a comforting soak in the bathtub to restore one's sense of wellbeing until contemplation is interrupted by a "drip, drip" sound - something is leaking and it is obvious.

Pleading ignorance and hoping it will go away won't work. It can, if neglected long enough, cause expensive problems.

Telltale Signs: A water leak inside a floor or wall is inaudible. One has to rely on visual detection, such as unexplained puddles on the floor near the bath or shower and through the ceiling of the room directly underneath; swelling timber; excessive mildew; woodrot or wet patches on the wall.

Possible Causes: Perhaps the drainage connection under the bath or shower is loose or a crack or hole in the shower or around the waste.

With a shower recess, inspect the tile grout joints for small holes and examine the shower base for possible leakage points.

The capillary action of water could be the culprit around the perimeter joints. If it is a shower/ bath, inspect tiles for small grout holes and around the joint sealer or PVC joint mouldings.

Run the water and watch. If a dribble shows, pencil-ring the area so it can be plugged. Fill any gaps with silicone using a cartridge gun.

Check before you do this however, as in some localities only plumbers are permitted to carry out plumbing repairs.

For suspect baths remove and replace the bath: A sensible move anyway if you are updating surrounding tiles. If not, it can be a messy and costly exercise. In the majority of cases tile removal is the only method of releasing the bath as the side lip will be positioned behind the existing wall lining.

If the house is built "pre metric" measurements, then some carpentry adjustments will be necessary to the framing, to house the new (metric sized) bath.

If this is too much hassle, have a Contractor fit a bath insert. The principle is a thin bath shaped PVC insert is fitted and adhered inside the existing bath without disruption to surrounding areas.

Repairing Leaking Shower Recesses: When tiled shower bases are built, tiles are placed on a waterproof base or tray made from stainless steel, or a fibreglass or similar waterproofing system laid across the floor and returning up the wall. A sand cement mortar bed is then laid into which the tiles are bedded. The shower wall tiles or waterproof panelling is fitted over the sides of the base to prevent capillary action and consequent water damage to studs.

If the base develops a leak or the tray needs replacing, the wall linings must be removed to release the tray. If your shower base is tiled and you need to deal with the problem promptly, then try using a sealer such as "Tile Plug". If wood rot is present in the timber framing, urgent rectification is necessary. Stopping the leaks doesn't fix wood rot problems. The damage is already done.

Check your wall tiles for pin holes in the grout and regrout if necessary. This could be the cause of the leak.

Examining plumbing joints: If the shower has sufficient space between the base and floor (houses with timber floors) it may be possible to access some plumbing joints from underneath should this prove to be the problem.

Another "nasty" is wet patches on the wall linings indicating a leaking pipe inside the wall. Perhaps a joint has worked loose and is slowly leaking. You'll need to remove the wall lining around the suspected area to expose the pipe, have it repaired and then replace the lining.

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