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Question DetailsAsked on 7/24/2016

water leaks from top of basement window when we drain bathtub two floors up. Doesn't happen when we shower though.

Bathtub is on third floor. Window is directly below bathtub two floors down. Does not seem to have any water damage on wall or paint, and walls and ceiling of living room (one floor above the window) does not show any damage either. Does not occur when we shower, which is adjacent to the bathtub. The bathroom has ceramic tile. We just moved into the house, which was built in 2003.

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Sounds like you have almost sleuthed this out yourself already.


If only when you drain the bathtub, not when it is holding water, and not when adjacent shower is drained, then has to be in the drain piping at the tub, or in the piping between tub and where it meets the main drain stack or the shower drain, whichever it hits first. (Normally would go straight to the main stack or a branch of it).


Because you see no water damage on the bathroom level or on floor below, unless the water is finding its way directly down in the wall to the window 2 floors below, sounds like a drain pipe goes down the wall (outside wall, so must be a non-freezing area) to abovae the window and has a leak there or near there - almost certainly not higher up than the subfloor right above the window.


When doing leak test (if it does not cause too much damage - tradeoff between that and poking holes in the drywall to trace it) check outside to see if water is running down the siding, or coming out under the siding that might indicate the water somehow (probably at window on story above) bot outside the water barrier so it running down the outside of the water barrier under the siding - hence the lack of water damage on walls or ceilings or wet flooring on the second floor.


If tub has the tile running in under it, or contractor put a visqueen barrier under it during installation, could also be running across that to the outside wall, then down in the wall.


Depending on how much damage the leak causes when it leaks, uyou might get a METAL head stethoscope for $10-15 at pharmacy department and listen along where the drain pipe runs. Should be easy to find by running a bit of water in the tub and listening for the gurgling sound in the pipes. Then after the drip starts and tub is shut off, listen for dripping or slight water running sounds - though you have to wait till most of the water has run out of the pipe for a few seconds. In an internal wall usually easy to detect as water leak, in exterior wall if insulated might not hear anything and you might have to open up exploratory holes - commonly just finger-sized ones work in 2x4 walls to stick your finger in (but not if near electrical outlets) and feel the wall cavity and insulation for wetness, and move up the wall following the pipe run as detected by sound (which sounds like possibly a straight vertical run till it goes somewhere else above the window - maybe in subfloor above ?) before till you no longer find wetness.


One other possibility - if the tub is at the "start" of the drain line branch or stack, with the "stack" or drain main line leading next to shower and then presumably to toilet and basin and such, there may be a cleanout at the start of the line (possibly even accessible from outside thorugh hole in siding) which is leaking, so only get water from the tub to be able to leak. Ditto to a possible cracked vent line connection at the start of the line at the tub, though normally would not be in exterior wall - but in warm country they do not worry about that much so maybe.


If not joy figuring if out yourself, Plumber would be a logical Search the List category to find well-rataed and reviewed contractor for this. Another possibiliyt would be a Sewer and Drain Cleaning contractor with sewer camera (most plumbers do not have them) to run a camera through and see if there is any obvious crack or break - though would likely NOT detect a leaking joint so if that contractor does not also do DWV/sewer line repairs (onluy cleaning and camera work) you might be back to the plumber - so maybe a plumber with sewer camera is what would be best.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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