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Thread: Leak Test

  1. #1
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    Default Leak Test

    I want to leak test this sunken shower for my client. They would like to use it as a bath tub, and I told them that we should leak test it first.

    How long do you usually wait after you fill it with water until you go back and look for leaks? It's over a crawl space, so it's not too big of a deal if it does leak, but they want to know before they closing if it does.

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I want to leak test this sunken shower for my client. They would like to use it as a bath tub, and I told them that we should leak test it first.
    Jim,

    I carry several flat rubber stoppers, probably 4-5 inches in diameter to test first floor showers and tubs. I pick them up at the supermarket or Target. I fill the tub to what I feel is an acceptable level and then let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Generally, if it does not leak in that time, it is not going to leak. After I drain the tub or shower, I crawl underneath to look for leaks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    How long do you usually wait after you fill it with water until you go back and look for leaks? It's over a crawl space, so it's not too big of a deal if it does leak, but they want to know before they closing if it does.
    Actually, it is a really big deal if it leaks. Any leak will eventually turn into rot, which will be an expensive problem. Probably half of the "roman" tubs that I test end up leaking and need to be replaced.

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    30-45 minutes for showers on slabs will usually show up running out under the walls. I would guess just 15 minutes or less on a tile tub BUT realize the tremendous weight and horizontal force involved. In my opinion you can't just turn a shower into a tub if it was not built for the purpose. I would NOT be testing anything to a purpose it was not designed for! DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER, DANGER!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER, DANGER!
    Actually, I think it should be "DANGER JIM ROBINSON..."

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Yeah, William is my brother. I meant it wasn't a big deal to the house for the leak test if it leaks. It is a big deal to my clients if it leaks. I'm expecting it to leak, but who knows. There was no sign of leaking visible underneath when I inspected the first time.

    It sounds like I can do the whole thing in about an hour, so we'll see what happens.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    It sounds like I can do the whole thing in about an hour, so we'll see what happens.
    That's a good point about the increased weight of filling that shower up when it was not designed for it. You may be wise to check the supporting framework in the crawl for strength and try half full or less to start.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    If it is built as a shower, expect it to start leaking once the depth of the pan is exceeded with the green board or tile backer (if your lucky) to push outward and totally destroy the structure once the water gets deep enough.
    I repeat, "I" would not be testing this shower as a tub. If you do, be prepared to pay for the damage.

    Rough estimate is 1860 pounds when full and there is no overflow visible, so watch it closely.

    Water weighs: 61.998 pounds per cubic foot and roughly 30 cubic feet estimated volume.

    Last edited by Jim Luttrall; 10-05-2009 at 08:56 PM.
    Jim Luttrall
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  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    One gallon of water weighs 8.43 pounnds


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    One gallon of water weighs 8.43 pounnds
    Yep but what does one cubic foot weigh?

    Jim Luttrall
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Regardless what it was "built for", it should have been built to hold water to the overflow level of the curb, and is required to have a liner to that height, up and over the curb, and 2" higher than the curb all the way around the walls.

    If that drain clogs, it will fill to that level, much better to find out that: a) it leak when it should not; b) it fall through the framing below when it should not ... BEFORE closing and BEFORE you say it is okay.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Leak Test

    Water actually weights around 8.34 lbs per gal, and there are 7.48 gal. in a cubic foot. So a cubic foot of water weights appx. 62.4lbs.

    Jim, I have it so you are about a whole 12lbs light....


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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Regardless what it was "built for", it should have been built to hold water to the overflow level of the curb, and is required to have a liner to that height, up and over the curb, and 2" higher than the curb all the way around the walls.

    If that drain clogs, it will fill to that level, much better to find out that: a) it leak when it should not; b) it fall through the framing below when it should not ... BEFORE closing and BEFORE you say it is okay.
    Good points but I would not be filling it up without being at least reasonably sure that I was not going to make it "fail under testing".
    You might want to debate the finer points of that argument in court, but that is not my forte'.
    I would be looking at the framing from the crawl and learning as much as I could and passing it off to someone else to perform that test.
    I don't even fill a normal shower to the flood rim, about 2 1/2 inches to the top of my test plug is my limit.
    I would expect to learn quite a bit from a trip in the crawl.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    and is required to have a liner to that height, up and over the curb, and 2" higher than the curb all the way around the walls.
    Jerry...It's actually 3"

    P2709.2 Lining required.
    The adjoiningwalls and floor framing
    enclosing on-site built-up shower receptors shall be lined
    with sheet lead, copper or a plastic liner material that complies
    with ASTM D 4068 or ASTM D 4551. The lining material
    shall extend not less than 3 inches (76 mm) beyond or around
    the rough jambs and not less than 3 inches (76 mm) above finished
    thresholds. Hot mopping shall be permitted in accordance
    with Section P2709.2.3.




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    Default Re: Leak Test

    I must be missing something.... doesn't that tub spigot mean it was designed as...... ummmmm..... a tub?


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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    They would like to use it as a bath tub,
    And they think that this would be a nice tub to lay down and relax in?
    When I was a little goomer we had something like that for my brother's horse.

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    I must be missing something.... doesn't that tub spigot mean it was designed as...... ummmmm..... a tub?
    That is what I was thinking....

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    The framing should be fine under the crawl space. I was under there on Friday.

    I've got a written go-ahead from the owner to do the test, so we shall see what happens. I'm expecting it to leak, but who knows. Maybe they lined it all of the way to the top and it will work. I'll report back tomorrow.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Jerry...It's actually 3"


    P2709.2 Lining required.
    The adjoining walls and floor framing
    enclosing on-site built-up shower receptors shall be lined
    with sheet lead, copper or a plastic liner material that complies
    with ASTM D 4068 or ASTM D 4551. The lining material
    shall extend not less than 3 inches (76 mm) beyond or around
    the rough jambs and not less than 3 inches (76 mm) above finished
    thresholds. Hot mopping shall be permitted in accordance
    with Section P2709.2.3.


    Wayne,

    I forgot that had changed. Used to be 2" for as long as I can remember back, then it changed and I keep thinking 'back before time began' ...


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  19. #19
    Mitchell Toelle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    2 points of interest as I read this thread and look at the picture. There is no apparent overflow in the photo. This needs to be noted in the report if it is not present. Also, when blocking the drain for a typical shower drain (which this may or may not be), one should block the line below the weep holes on the drain flange riser to prevent water from weeping out, through the grout and mortar bed. If marking for water level and weeping occurs you will get a false reading.

    With a crawlspace it would be easier to get reliable information underneath after at least an hour, but if this is a true pan test it should be over a 24 hour period, marking the water level at beginning and end.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Jerry, It's hell geting old, isn't it!

    Did you help write the code of Hammurabi?


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Looks like one of the installs the "new mexicans" in Houston are putting in. It appears that the faucet is about 6" right of center, was the shower head centered or is it offset too?


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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_John Smith View Post
    Looks like one of the installs the "new mexicans" in Houston are putting in. It appears that the faucet is about 6" right of center, was the shower head centered or is it offset too?
    It's centered with respect to the back wall and top surround - it's only the deepest part of the assembly that is off center compared to the controls.

    And for the record, I've seen jobs performed by incompetent people of all races, tribes, and ethnicities. I've also seen some of the best work ever performed by recent immigrants.

    I'm all for calling out shoddy work when you see it, but let's leave the xenophobic talk elsewhere. That there are more hispanic workers in your area performing shoddy work only speaks to the population demographics in that area and the economics of the region. Believe me, there's crack-addled work everywhere you go and I find it's often related more to economics than it is to race. The "cheap" contractor hires minimally skilled labor at the best price he can get - sometimes that's the undocumented casual laborers outside the home centers, sometimes it's a couple of "buddies" from the bar looking for drinking money.

    If you hire unskilled laborers that don't care about their craft, well, what do you expect to get? I blame home owners just as much as the contractors - you don't need a 4000sf home for your family of 4. Build a house half the size and hire someone who knows what they're going and gives a **** about the quality of their workmanship.

    Let me also remind you that our families were all immigrants here at some point, some of us just arrived earlier than others.


  23. #23
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    This is a radical design well beyond it's time, just think brown floor, blue tub white walls. Right away that should tip you off to advanced engineering. Any bet's if it's going to leak ?
    I would give it a 1/2 hour the longest reasonable soak time.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    I have been in this bussiness for 15 years. Profisional tools sells a stopper aprox 2" in height with a hole in the center. This was one of the first tools i bought a month after i started. this is How to do it industry standard for checking a shower pan. How long is a debate. it depends on the flow rate of the shower to reach the top of the stopper. I usually want it to be full for a least 30 Min.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    I have been in this bussiness for 15 years. Profisional tools sells a stopper aprox 2" in height with a hole in the center. This was one of the first tools i bought a month after i started. this is How to do it industry standard for checking a shower pan. How long is a debate. it depends on the flow rate of the shower to reach the top of the stopper. I usually want it to be full for a least 30 Min.

    Stacey,

    Gosh, I was on my 10th (or more) stopper before you even started in the business ... (just trading barbs with you, seeing how you can take what you give) ...

    Put the stopper (yes, the one from Professional Equipment) in the shower and let the water run until it overflows the stopper and runs into the drain, then let it run, and run, and run, and run ... the longer it runs the better test you will get.

    By allowing the water to overflow the stopper and run into the drain you are also testing the drain piping at the same time (VERY IMPORTANT on bathrooms which have space below them, not as important for showers recessed into a slab on earth).

    Then, for deeper showers, and tubs like the one shown in the photo, I would stack 2-3-4 stoppers on top of each other to fill the water as high as I could (without causing the water to overflow the curb height). The higher you get the water, the greater the head pressure you get behind the water trying to find a way out and leak.

    ALWAYS monitor the shower as sometimes a drain will clog up, backing up and overflowing the curb if you are not checking on it. That is something you do not want to happen.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    ALWAYS monitor the shower as sometimes a drain will clog up, backing up and overflowing the curb if you are not checking on it. That is something you do not want to happen.
    Yep, that draining stopper is not a substitute for proper supervision; ask me how I know!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Leak Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ALWAYS monitor the shower as sometimes a drain will clog up, backing up and overflowing the curb if you are not checking on it. That is something you do not want to happen.

    IMO, real world it's not practical to continually visually monitor showers for reasonable test lengths during home inspections.

    My current procedure is to carry three of these:



    and set the sensor below the shower curb and above the level of the stopper (I also have stoppers cut down to a 1" and 2" height for showers with low curbs).

    I let the pan fill to the height of the stopper, let the shower run at full output, and monitor the shower visually for a few minutes while I do the rest of the bathroom.

    Then if things look OK, I turn the shower back to a slow flow and continue on with the interior inspection - the alarm is loud enough to guarantee that I will not get distracted and miss a potential overflow.

    It's not ideal, but it's the best compromise between inspection time and test adequacy I've found to date.

    The alarms are around $10 each a at Home Depot and also useful in front of/under of dishwashers and below tub overflows.

    -----------------

    And while I'm at it, another simple procedure which has saved me a lot of grief:

    Label poker chips with "OVEN", "THERMOSTAT", "SHOWER" ect.

    Set the chip beside/on the item when set / operated.

    Count the chips in your pocket before leaving the property...

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 10-11-2009 at 04:49 AM.
    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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