Bathroom Leaks - Where Did It Start?

It’s not a good day when the homeowner comes home to find a bathroom drip leaking into the
floor below. Too bad this problem is not like a car engine that can be plugged into a computer at
an automotive shop which will reveal a plethora of diagnostics. Instead, the homeowner must
clap on his detective hat and do some sleuthing.

Often the bathroom drip has been accumulating for some time. The homeowner might have
noticed a brownish stain that has been slowly growing larger on the ceiling underneath a
bathroom. For a while, he has been “going to look into” what is obviously a bathroom drip.
Finally, the wet ceiling has become too pronounced to ignore or an actual drip has emerged.
First step, look at the wet ceiling.

Your problem may be easily diagnosed or you may need to call the plumber.  

Examine the bathtub

The homeowner should measure how far out from the wall is the source of the moisture, then he
can go upstairs and have a better idea where the bathroom drip has originated. When the
plumber arrives, he will find these measurements useful. His experience will lead him to many
possible reasons for the wet ceiling. The bathtub is one of the first places he will examine. Does
the drip correlate to where the bathtub drain is located? If so, he will examine the drain closely
and possibly pull the drain to see if it is not fitting properly. He might apply caulking to trouble

Sometimes seemingly simple areas can be trouble. For example, does the sliding glass door in
the shower have a water-tight close? Water could be leaking out from around the door and
dripping down the side of the tub, through the floor tiles and down onto the ceiling of the floor
below. The plumber will have several suggestions to remedy a bathroom tub drip, including a
bathroom drip guard where the shower door is not snug.

Another simple fix might be that the grouting in the tiles on the floor is old and has deteriorated.
Although fixing grout is not the plumber’s job, he might point out the problem to the homeowner.
After examining the shower drain and door, the plumber might continue the detective work by
looking for a bathroom faucet drip. Is it leaking there? If so the plumber can remove the handle
and take steps to remedy the dripping bathroom faucet.


Another frequent reason for a bathroom drip is that the caulking around the tub has become old
and deteriorated. The plumber will recommend a careful removal of the old caulking, which
often requires a spray that is useful in loosening the old caulking. A special tool that can be
used to remove the caulking efficiently or a putty knife will suffice. The putty knife will probably
take longer and not do as neat a job.

Once the old caulking is removed, the area should be carefully cleaned with a sponge to
remove any lingering particles and dried. The new beads of caulking should then adhere to the
tub and to the wall to make a water-tight seal that will last. Caulking might need to be applied
where the tub joins the floor. This would prevent water that escapes the tub from pooling and
eventually leaking down through the floor to cause a bathroom drip on the floor below. This area
should be examined closely, especially if the homeowner believes this might be where the
bathroom drip originally began.

Toilet problems

The bathroom leak might be caused by toilet problems. By examining the base of the toilet, the
plumber might deduce that this is where the leak is coming from. He might recommend the
replacement of the wax ring that helps make a snug fit from the toilet to the wastewater pipe.
Another toilet problem that could cause a wet ceiling is water dripping from the water shut-off
valve underneath the water tank. A flexible line carries water from the valve into the holding tank
for the toilet. This line could leak at the valve or at the point water is carried into the tank. Each
of these points should be examined for leaks.

Water damage is one of the most expensive issues a homeowner will face.  Catching the leak early and fixing it before you have a major flood is key to saving you both time and money.

Finding a bathroom drip can be a detective job that requires examining several
clues. The tub, shower and toilet should all be inspected. Small issues like caulking and shower
door closure also bear checking. If these reveal nothing, call the plumber.  He pay need to have a look behind the drywall.  Our certified plumbers are skilled at finding the leak with the least amount of damage possible.