Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Is Your Bathtub Leaking? Here are 3 Potential Reasons Why

Large freestanding clawfoot tub with silver feet and raw cast iron on the outside with enameled inside.

More than any other room in the house, the bathroom is home to many pipes, drains, and plumbing fixtures. The simple fact that so many appliances, including the sink, shower, toilet, and bathtub, rely on plumbing to work properly means it’s inevitable that you’ll experience a leak in the bathroom from time to time.  

Bathtub leaks can be especially pesky, as they don’t always manifest where you’d expect them to – like in the basin of the tub or along the faucet. Have you noticed that there are water stains on your ceilings and walls? Or, worse still, is your drywall bubbling up from extra exposure to moisture?  

If you’re questioning a leak at all, address the issue immediately. Otherwise, the leak can lead to serious health concerns, such as mold and mildew exposure, chemical hazards, and even electrocution. It can also cause water damage and spike your monthly water bill by as much as 10%. Finally, ignoring a leak can end up ruining your drywall entirely, resulting in costly structural damage and rot. 

Knowing how to recognize the signs of leaking as well as what can cause your bathtub to leak are both critical to the health and safety of your home, so let’s dive in! 

Soaker tub in a white bathroom with black tile floors.
    Shop alcove tubs.

Early signs of a leaky bathtub 

To protect your home, it’s key to know what to look out for when diagnosing a leaky bathtub. The earlier you catch a leak, the easier it will be to fix. Here are several early signs that your bathtub is indeed leaking:  

  • Water is pooling along the tub basin 
  • The paint is peeling or flaking on the walls 
  • The tile or vinyl flooring is damaged or curling 
  • Mold or mildew has built up on the walls or ceiling 
  • The walls or ceiling are showing water stains 

Remember: water will always take the path of least resistance, so you should also check in any adjacent rooms beyond the bathroom for water accumulation. As soon as you notice any of these signs, the next step is to determine the cause.  

Large gray freestanding tub in a simple white bathroom.
    Shop stone freestanding tubs.

What can cause a bathtub to leak? 

If your bathtub leaks only when you are using it or immediately after, this may just be an intermittent leak, which you can usually fix yourself. However, it’s crucial that you identify the true cause of the leak before you make any decisions to tamper with the tub. Call in a professional plumber to ensure you address the issue sufficiently. 

Here are 3 of the most common reasons why bathtubs leak:  

The faucet’s rubber washers are worn down

You may not think that a leaky faucet is that big of a deal; after all, the tub basin will catch any dripping water and send it down the drain. In reality, a leaky faucet is actually a huge problem that can lead to hefty water bills, unsightly stains, and even corrosion. 

Luckily, this is one of the easiest leaks to fix, as it’s usually a result of the rubber washers inside of your faucet. Over the years, rubber washers can dry out, leaving them unable to perform their function. All you need to do is take apart the faucet and replace the rubber washers with new ones, which you can find at your local hardware store. If your tub is still leaking, you may need to replace the whole faucet entirely, which is a job for a qualified plumber. 

There are grout and waterproofing issues

Your tub or shower likely gets a lot of use, which means that the grout and caulk surrounding the tiles can shrink or become reduced over time. When this happens, so will leaks. 

To troubleshoot potential waterproofing issues, you’ll want to make sure that grout or caulk is fully covering the perimeter of the tub, especially where it connects to the floors and walls. If there are noticeable gaps or crevices, you may want to regrout your tiles if the leaking persists to create a stronger moisture barrier. 

The bathtub’s drain is malfunctioning

If water is seeping out below your bathtub (which will often manifest on the ceiling of the downstairs room that’s directly beneath your bathroom), this is a telltale sign that the drain isn’t working. Most often, a leaky drain is caused by a problem with the surrounding seal. 

After disassembling the drain, you can likely fix this on your own by applying plumber’s putty to the surrounding area. While there are many instructional videos online, it may be smartest to call a plumber for help to make sure the drain is repaired correctly! 

 Now that you’ve addressed the main cause of your leaky bathtub, you may be looking for additional ways to update your bathroom and make it your dream retreat. Here are several stress-free DIY ideas for remodeling your bathroom.

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