Testing a Bathtub for Leaks Below (Note: More advice is available in the book OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com)
It is important to start with a dry area before testing a bathtub for leaks. If leaky tile grout, leaky caulking, a plumbing leak above, or some other leak runs down to plumbing connections, people automatically assume the connection leaks. As always, it takes systematic testing to focus on one leak at a time. Systematic testing is the key to proper testing. You must try to make sure everything is dry before you start testing.
Testing a bathtub requires a good flashlight and access to the connections at the head of the tub (waste and overflow). Like other testing, it is important to establish a dry area and a dry finger. While the testing procedure will require testing the lowest area first, you must make sure no leaks above contaminate the test area. For example, if there is a grout leak, caulking leak, plumbing leak or some other problem above, water might run down; fix it or keep it dry as you systematically test all connections. Even if everything looks perfectly dry, touch all areas with a dry finger to make sure; be careful of sharp edges.
- Run hot water until the drain feels hot and dry finger test.
- Run cold water until the drain feels cold and dry finger test.
- Fill the tub about one-quarter full and drain it. Dry finger test.
- Fill the tub up to the overflow and make a wave over the overflow. Dry finger test, paying extra attention to the overflow gasket (high up on the tub).
- Drain the tub and watch for leaks as it drains. After the tub drains dry finger test all connections.
After testing drain connections I usually cap off the shower arm and pressure test the faucet, the pipe between the faucet and the shower arm, and the shower arm.
Often when testing bathtubs, I find more than one leak. All testing procedures need to be repeated until it can be determined that all plumbing connections provide satisfactory results. Frequently, leaky grout, caulking, cracks around the faucet trim, leaky shower doors, or careless people cause leaks.
One of the most important things you can do to save money, aggravation, and time, is to learn how to properly search for leaks. Before you buy a home you should test for leaks.
Before you call a plumber you could search for leaks. After a plumber leaves you might want to test for leaks (depending on the level of trust you have in the plumber).
More details are available in the book (OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com).