You step out of the shower and as you are drying off you notice a little bit of water on the floor. You figure it’s just water that has fallen off your body and think nothing of it. But as the weeks go on, you notice that there is more and more water on the floor after each shower. All this water couldn’t possible be from you, could it?
Internal leaks in the shower, bathtub, and toilet are a serious problem that will eventually affect every household. The reason they are so vicious isn’t because they are hard to fix, it is because they typically do not get detected until an extensive amount of damage has already been done. And the longer a leak continues, the more you’ll have to pay to get things back to normal.
“It’s easy to see a leak when it is in one of your pipes and you can physically see water bursting through it, but it is very difficult to see a leak when you don’t see water dripping, you just see evidence,” said John Moore Services Manager and Master Plumber Joe Bany. “Many homeowners do not realize they have an internal leak in their bathroom until a lot of damage has been done. This makes what could be a simple plumbing repair a costly one because now internal and external items need to be replaced.”
What are Internal Plumbing Leaks?
According to Bany, the major causes of internal leakage are the age of the home and basic wear-and-tear on the shower, tub, and toilet. As a house ages, it will shift and settle because the earth is constantly moving. This constant shifting causes cracks to form in the home’s foundation, and in turn causes cracks in other parts of the home like the grout in the tile of the shower, which will cause a leak. Also, as the house settles, the drains of the shower and tub shift.
“A lot of houses have a standing shower with a fiberglass base. In the base there is a rubber gasket, and over time that gasket starts to age and will eventually dissolve,” said Bany. “The gasket is no longer able to keep the water from leaking, and water will start to leak from the base of the shower. Each time you run your shower, more and more water will start to leak and cause a bunch of problems.”
Problems? What kind of problems?
The problems that are caused by a leak are bad, but if you are able to recognize them when they first appear, you can get the leak fixed before the damage becomes costly.
Broken tiles: People tend to think that a broken tile is just an aesthetic problem, but it is actually caused by water damage. A hole in a tile, or a tile that has completely broken off will allow a lot of water to come through and end up damaging the entire wall.
Rotting baseboards and flooring: The longer water leaks from the shower or tub the longer it will sit and absorb into your flooring and baseboards. As water saturates the flooring, it will start to curl up and buckle from the floor. The baseboards will begin to peel off and rot.
Shower door won’t close: If you notice that your shower door is becoming harder to close or won’t close at all, that is a sign of an internal leak. The water damage has become so great that it effected the base of the shower and caused it to expand, which in turn caused the door to shift and move into a different place.
Dark, moldy grout and tile: If you scrub your shower and can’t ever seem to get it clean, and as time goes on it only gets worse, then you have a leak. The constant leak has produced steady moisture, which caused biological growth to form. This growth also causes dark rings and circles around the tub and drains.
Spongy sheetrock: Sheetrock acts as a sponge when wet, and if it is exposed to a leak it will absorb all water that comes its way. If you are able to put your finger to your wall and it is no longer solid like it should be, then you have a serious problem.
And if these problems aren’t bad enough, internal leaks can also cause major issues with household pests. Termites, roaches, and water bugs are attracted to moisture. If you have a constant drip in your bathroom, the bugs will find it and immediately start to nest and breed.
“The biggest problem of all is the homeowners that don’t notice they have a leak for an extended period of time,” said Bany. “If I catch the overflow leak quickly I can fix it for next to nothing, but the longer you let a water issue go the more things you are going to have to fix and the more expensive it becomes. An example would be if I find that a shower is leaking we decide to replace the shower. But as soon as I rip out the shower I realize that the sheetrock is rotten, the studs and wood inside the walls are rotten, and all that has to be replaced. So instead of a simple shower replacement, I have to basically rebuild the frame of the house.”
What if I’m just not sure if I have a problem or not?
To the untrained eye, noticing a problem can be difficult. If you think you might have a problem it is best to call in the experts.
“Our goal is to make the customer aware of what can lead to serious plumbing problems. If you are looking at different parts of your bathroom and see something that you aren’t sure about, we can send one of our guys out to perform a test to determine if there is a leak and where the leak is coming from,” said Bany. “If it is a potential shower leak we do what is called a Pan Test. Basically, we plug the shower drain and fill it with water. We let the water sit for an extended period of time and if the water level lowers at all then the leak is somewhere in the shower. We can perform the same test on tub, or we can inspect the tub’s access door to see what’s going on underneath it. There are many things we can do, and it is best to have these tests done as early as possible in order to save money.”
Internal bathroom leaks are tricky and can be expensive the longer they go without being fixed. If you take a shower and notice a large amount of water on the floor, or if you notice any of the signs listed above you should call John Moore Services. Our expert plumbers can be at your house in no time and can diagnose and fix the leak before it becomes a bigger, more expensive problem. Give us a call!