If your shower starts leaking it can be a complete nightmare. Even more so if the pesky leak is hidden away behind a wall!
We’ll show you how you can find if your shower is leaking behind a wall, and what you can do about it!
Signs Of A Leak
A leak (see also ‘Beginner’s Guide To Detecting And Fixing Slab Leaks‘) at any point in your plumbing system can be an expensive fix if you don’t find it right away!
So, if you notice any tell-tale signs of leaks in your home, don’t wait – you need to take measures to fix the leak right away. If you don’t, you’re risking long-term damage to your home.
If you see any water in your house dripping from places that it shouldn’t be, then that’s an extremely obvious sign of a leak somewhere.
Water, obviously, flows very freely – which means that a leak can end up going through some very strange routes in your home!
Water from a leak can often end up in places it has no right to be – for example, dripping out of light sockets. Obviously, this is not a good thing!
Leaks can also cause visible staining to walls. If you see these tell-tale stains forming on your walls and/or ceilings, then you’ve likely got a leak somewhere in your home.
Sadly, a stain can often only be the start of your problems. Not only will you have to fix the leak, but you’ll also then have to deal with the possibility that the leak damaged the wall or ceiling.
Hopefully not – but even then, you’ll definitely have to repaint that unsightly stain!
If you notice paint on your walls starting to bubble, then yet again, you may have a leak somewhere. Even if the wall doesn’t feel wet, there can be water getting to the paint through the wall if there’s a leak.
Sometimes, it can be hard to see leaks, as they may develop in places that don’t let you see any signs until the damage has already been done.
These are obviously some of the worst to deal with, as often you won’t have any idea damage has been done until long after an economical fix could have been done.
These sorts of leaks can cost a lot of money to fix if the damage is extensive.
Finding The Leak
If you’ve noticed any of these signs of a leak, and you think that it’s coming from your shower, then there are some things you need to do in order to have a chance at finding the leak.
First of all, you need to make absolutely sure where the leak is coming from. This lets you take the appropriate steps to start fixing it – and stops you wasting your time fixing problems that don’t exist.
This means that you have to be sure that it’s a problem with your shower, and the plumbing around it.
If you’re getting water ingress from outside due to the weather, for example, then fiddling with the plumbing of your shower won’t do anything to fix the problem.
So, before you start thinking about taking any measures to fix the problem, first be absolutely sure that you know what the problem is. Inspect all of your pipework coming to and from the shower for signs of the leak.
This might mean that you have to get into some uncomfortable places, unfortunately!
Look for even small amounts of pooled water. Wet pipes with water flowing from joints are obvious signs of a leak.
If you can see the source of the leak, and you’re reasonably sure that it’s not coming from behind or inside the wall, then great!
If you can’t find any obvious sources though, then it’s time to start thinking about whether the leak is hidden behind a wall.
Make Life Easy
Piping is pretty ugly stuff – after all, it’s designed to serve a purpose, not to look pretty! Therefore, it’s often tucked out of the way – behind walls, under floorboards, in closets, and so on.
This can make locating leaks tricky, as they are often in places that can be tricky to get to.
So, if you’ve gotta get down and dirty to locate the leak, give yourself a bit of help beforehand. You’ll likely need a torch to be able to see.
If possible, get one that you can mount on your head, so that you can keep your hands free. If you can’t get one, then try to find a good spot to put your torch down if you need to use your hands.
Wear some clothes you don’t mind messing up, and some good sensible footwear, as the places pipes can be located are often pretty filthy, and can have sharp objects and splinters.
Gloves and long sleeves can be a great idea too – in cramped conditions, they can stop you from hurting yourself if you brush against a hot pipe. Just be careful not to snag your clothes on anything.
If it’s going to be extremely dusty, put a dust mask on before. Your lungs will thank you for keeping sawdust and brick dust out of them!
You should make sure to wear eye protection too, as again, these places are often pretty filthy and full of stuff your eyes don’t need!
Can You See The PIpes?
You might find that you can’t easily physically access the suspect pipes. If the leak is coming from behind a wall, this is often the case.
If your pipes are behind drywall, and you think there might be a leak, then you can cut a small section out of the drywall to make a small window. This can let you inspect the pipes with a little more ease.
However, you might have to spend some money on equipment for this job if you don’t have it.
You’ll need to have detectors capable of locating studs, cables, and pipes that can be hidden behind your drywall. You can buy milti-detectors capable of finding all three, or separate detectors for finding different things.
You’ll need these because the location you put the hole is very important for safety reasons.
You don’t want to run the risk of cutting into live electrical wires, or other pipes. And if you cut drywall and find a stud behind, you likely won’t be able to see anything. You’ll have cut a hole for nothing!
This isn’t something everybody will feel confident about doing, but it can be a way to help you locate leaking pipes behind drywall.
If the leak isn’t there, then you’ve only made a small hole that can be patched and repaired – or possibly fitted with a cover so that you can remove it and inspect the pipes in the future.
If the leak is behind drywall, then it’s likely you’d have to remove a lot of it to get to the pipes anyway. At that point, a small hole no longer matters!
Disconnect Water Supply
The absolute first step you’ll need to do once you’ve located the leak is to locate and turn off the supply of water to the shower.
If it’s leaking even while it’s not in use, then the only way you’ll be able to stop the leak is by disconnecting it from the mains water supply.
The leak can’t be fixed while water is coming through it – and the longer the leak goes on, the more damage it does. So, once you’ve found the leak, stop it from getting any more water through it before you carry on!
Sometimes leaks can come from the waste pipe of the shwoer. This is a pipe that goes from the drain of the shower unit, and serves to remove used shower water.
These pipes are often made of a flexible plastic, which enables installers to easily put them in the best place.
However, the plastic that these pipes are made of is quite thin – after all, it needs to be in order to be flexible.
And sometimes the pipe can shift a little over time, due to the water flowing through it.
If this happens, and it ends up being bumped into something sharp – a stray nail or screw, or a wood splinter – then it can end up leaking used soapy water into your home.
If these pipes can be accessed by you easily, they can often be a relatively easy fix.
They’re usually a simple compression fitting that doesn’t require tools to use.
And, as the pipes aren’t under pressure, you don’t need to worry about anything dangerous happening.
Simply replace one flexible waste pipe for the other, make sure that the compression fittings are secure, and you should have fixed the problem yourself inexpensively, and without the need to call a plumber!
Fixing Plumbing Leaks
This is where the real tricky part starts, and the wallets and purses start opening, unfortunately.
Unless you’re a qualified plumber, the majority of these leaks might well be an absolutely terrible idea for you to try to fix without professional help.
As much as a DIY attitude is a great thing to have, when it comes to plumbing you’re usually far better off getting a professional in.
Not only will they have the tools and knowledge to do the job, but they’ll also have the knowledge of exactly what not to do.
An untrained layperson simply doesn’t have that – and misplaced confidence can often turn an easy fix into a catastrophe.
If you see that the leak is something that is a genuinely easy fix – something that you can hand tighten in 5 seconds – then of course, it’s not worth getting a plumber out.
But as soon as you start reaching for the toolbox, you need to take a step back and ask yourself one key question: What are the consequences if I get this wrong?
PLumbing is a skilled trade, and it’s not something you should take lightly, even if it seems like a simple job to fix your leak.
Tightening up a loose fitting is one thing, but once you start having to do any serious work that takes more than a few seconds, you really need to get someone who knows what they’re doing.
The simple fact is that if you’re the sort of person who needs to look up articles on the internet to see if you’ve got a leak behind your shower wall, you’re not qualified to do plumbing!
There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Don’t let overconfidence cost you a lot of money.
It can be tempting to fiddle with your plumbing yourself, but unless you know what you’re doing, it’s often not a smart idea. Call a professional for any leaks you might have, and you’ll save money and hassle in the long run!