Tub is leaking water through the floor, and I'm very worried (Cleveland)
December 31, 2013 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Living in the Cleveland, Ohio area. The area around my upstairs bathroom's bathtub has been leaking through the floor to the downstairs bathroom for some time now. I kept putting off getting it fixed, and when my son who is home visiting saw it grew extremely worried. He said that it is damaging the structural integrity of the house and could also be breeding "black mold" which is a health hazard. Is it really that bad? What kind of work would be necessary to fix this, and should a professional be called? (Picture inside)

Upon taking off the caulk and vinyl, it is obvious that there are some rather large holes on the right side of the photo, on the top and bottom of the tub:


I know nothing about home improvement. How bad is this? Should I check out guides online and try to fix it myself, or should I call a professional? I am asking on this site because you people aren't judgmental and I feel so stupid!
posted by BuddyBoo to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I don't know about black mold, but it does look like you've could have some structural damage to the floor under the tub already. I say this because it appears that the gap between the tub and the plastic surround above it has widened over time, meaning the tub is sinking into the floor that it sits on. It's entirely plausible that the floor underneath might be soft and rotten due to constant wetness. There's obvious water damage to the adjacent drywall, and for some reason the flooring doesn't come right up to the tub as it should, so there's that huge gap where water can get under the tub and flooring.

It's hard to be sure from just one picture, but I think you're probably looking at a significant remodeling job here. Gut the alcove that the tub is in, remove the tub itself, replace any rotten joists and floorboards, straighten out any sub-par plumbing, new drywall, new tub and surround, and new vinyl floor. Is this necessarily necessary? No. But it is probably the best thing to do. Water leakage that's allowed to continue for a long time can do serious damage. Once you have structural members rotting, there just isn't a quick, cheap, topical solution anymore.
posted by jon1270 at 3:29 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

There looks to be pretty significant damage there. You definitely need a pro for this one, asap.

One thing you can and should do today, if possible, is cut off the water supply to that bathroom to keep it from getting worse. There should hopefully be an access panel for the tub. Open that up and you should find a shutoff valve for the tub. If there isn't an access panel, you'll have to hunt around for the shutoff valve, but it's worth the trouble to keep things from getting any worse.
posted by zug at 3:38 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used to be a plumber in Cleveland, ANYP (am not your plumber)...

Unless you have a sensitive respitory system or any infants in the house, the mold itself likely is not harmful.

Jon described it well and you'll likely need the significant remodeling job that jon describes (this is all based on one photograph and my experience of course...) With water leaking in the room below, the plumber will not know the extent of the damage to the floor and lowerlevel ceiling until he/she actually opens up the ceiling of the lower level room and assesses the damage..

This will require a professional (look for a plumber is registered as a "master plumber" in the state of Ohio).

IF you know nothing about home improvement, do not try to fix this yourself. This is NOT the job that you can learn as you go.
posted by fizzix at 3:40 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes it is really that bad, and yes you should call a pro. I'd call several (not plumbers but general contractors who specialize in kitchens & baths) and get some estimates. I had something similar happen not long ago (hot water heater, slow leak into the bathroom below that went on a long time) and it was a mess. Moldy plaster & insulation, and rotted joists. It was a job for sure. Not emergency but the longer you put it off the more it will cost.
posted by headnsouth at 3:47 PM on December 31, 2013

I'd be worried about the structure more than mold. You need a contractor after the plumber is done.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 3:52 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I took this video just the other day. It's looking up through what used to be the ceiling of my downstairs shower to the bottom of my upstairs tub. I tore the ceiling out myself. It cost me all of *$14* to fix the leak (two $2 gaskets and a $10 special tool for removing bathtub drains). It took maybe two hours. There is still a hole in my downstairs ceiling but no more water is leaking into the interior of my walls, so no new damage is occurring now.

Even if you don't get everything fixed right away, at least stop the leak.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 4:01 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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