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Question DetailsAsked on 12/22/2016

Is this possible??? Apt managers saying leak from upstairs bathroom thru the ceiling is due to shower curtain?

Due to the shower curtain absorbing large amounts of moisture, the water is draining outside the tub and seeping into the baseboard areas causing the water to leak downstairs. As a customer service gesture, we would like to install a shower curtain liner (plastic) for you so that your cloth curtain no longer absorbs large amounts of water. As long as the plastic liner stays in the tub at all times as a barrier for the water, you should no longer experience the leak downstairs.

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1 Answer


Could be - though usually this problem is due to curtains that are too short (don't cover and fall down inside the rim well or don't run full length of tub and adjacent portion of walls), light ones that blow in the draft from the shower and pull away from and baloonn out over the tub rim, or far more commonly due to user error - leaving the curtain in a position where it is partway open or is partly outside the tub.

A shower curtain hanging outside the tub or shower sill is a VERY common cause of leaks like this, as are curtains that are too short so don't far more than cover the whole tub length or that are not pulled tight into the shower/tub in a curve at the "back" end of the tub, so spray hitting that corner gets around the curtain and outside. Straight curtain rods or ones mounted to far "outside" the tub are a problem for this reason too, leaving the curtain bunched up on the end of the tub at the far end rather than covering the end wall and tub rim on the curtained or "open" side of the tub, thereby letting water impact on the far end of the tub rim or on the wall right near the tub edge to then run down to the tub rim and out onto the floor.

An out-of-level tub can also cause this problem - easy to check out by pouring some water on the shower wall at the far end where it is hit during showering, and on the end rim of the tub and see if the water runs to the outside or down into the tub.

The shower curtain should nestle tight up against and wrap around the end of the tub and wall at least 6-12 inches, so that it covers the tile/surround wall right above the tub "outer" rim and also wraps around the end of the tub rim at least the same amount to keep shower spray from accumulating at the far corner of the tub and leaking outside. Ditto at the "open side" or shower side of the tub at the head of the tub, because a lot of splash off the body typically hits that corner and can get out around the end of the curtain if it does not wrap around and is pressed tightly into the tub at the ends to divert that water down into the tub. Curved curtain rods like are used at many motels/hotels are preferred to minimize this risk for this reason. Commonly tub shower guards are the tub outer corners are also used to minimize this risk - they look like the following, in several forms to stop spray and splash from getting around the curtain end - can be a guide to keep the curtain curved at the ends, a corner guard to prevent water getting out at the wall/tub rim intersection, or full-height plastic guards at the rim ends which the curtain lies inside of - these work best.

Sometimes curtains are set too low and allow spray (from the showerhead or splashing off your head or shoulders) to go over the curtain, too.

Another cause - common enough - is a leaking or partly plugged shower head or hand sprayer which is putting out a spray to the side or upwards, sometimes so fine a mist it is not noticed and cannot be detected except by moving your hand around beside and above the shower head and any connections in the shower arm above that, to feel if there is a spray going over the curtain.

Poor control of a hand sprayer is also a common cause of wet floors - poor coordination resulting in the head spraying outside the curtain when washing hair or shoulders.

I would not think a shower curtain absorbing a lot of water (unless it is so pervious that spray water is going right through it during the shower) would cause a problem UNLESS it is not draped inside the tub at all times - during use and while draining out after the shower. However, I guess if the top edge of the tub is level or does not tilt inward, water wicking down the curtain could go through the curtain to the "outside" surface because it is inclined inwards by the tub rim, and then pool on the top of the tub and run down over the outside edge.

Certainly, checking the bathroom floor and the wall near the ends for free water right after showers would tell if you have a problem from the curtain or not. Especially if the downstairs belongs to you too - you have a 2 story apartment - so you would be in a good position to determine if floor wetness (including water running down the wall at the ends of the shower to the floor) is the source of the downstairs leak or not. This sort of situation is a lot tougher to track down if there are different tenants on the two floors.

Trying the plastic curtain would not be a major issue to you, to see if that is the cause. Certainly a reasonable first step before tearing into the downstairs ceiling to look for a piping leak under the tub.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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