Whether it’s happening behind your shower or in some other part of your house where water pipes are located, a shower leak inside the wall is a big deal. In many cases, leaks can go undetected for weeks or even months, leading homeowners to pay to not only fix the problem but also for other construction costs that are come from the damage.

As with most problems, early detection is key. You may not be able to tell right away that there’s an issue, but there are a couple signs that can signal a possible issue, such as low water pressure in one spot of your house whereas the rest of the house is fine.

A more obvious sign – and one that homeowners most often experience – is a water stain on the roof or on the wall. If water is leaking from the pipes behind a wall, you’ll notice a slight discoloration in the form of a water stain on the wall, or on the ceiling if your house is more than one story. While it could be something as simple as a faulty drain, the presence of water stains is always a cause for alarm due to the possibility of mold.

If you believe that you have a leak in your wall, you have two options: call a plumber, or cut an inspection window. Both have their advantages, but if you decide to go at yourself, you need to make sure you exercise extreme caution so as not to cut into other water pipes and cause more of a problem. Our crew is experienced in creating inspection windows and specialize in minimizing the damage to your wall, but if you’d like to do it yourself, follow the steps below.

  1. Check for Wall Studs: Use a stud finder and find the studs that are located inside your wall, and use a finishing nail to gently probe around and look for the gap in the studs for where the water pipes are. USE EXTREME CAUTION with this step, as misjudging where the pipes and the studs are could result in you slicing through a pipe and creating a bigger hole.

  2. Cut a Window: A reciprocating saw is the perfect tool for this step. Cut a small window in the drywall (usually a 10”x8” square is enough) and use a flashlight and mirror to look around the inside of the wall. Some houses actually have a removable panel on the wall next to water pipes; if so, it takes only a few seconds to pop it open and check for leaks. Note: For aesthetic purposes, try to make your wall line up with the tile or whatever walling you have up, so as to make repairing that wall easier down the road.

  3. Check for Water: First, examine the pipes themselves to see if there is any water on the outside of the pipes. If so, trace it back to its source to see where the leak is coming from. If the leak has been there for any period of time, you should also see a slight green-white discoloration on the pipes themselves. Run some water in the tub to see if the drain is causing the offending leak; if not, turn on your shower to see if it’s coming from the head. There are multiple points that could be leaking here – the shower head, shower valve, shower arm – so it’s important to check every area to see where the source of the leak is.

Depending on the where the leak is in your wall, you may be able to do it yourself, or you may have to call a professional to come in and fix the leak for you. It may be that the shower arm simply wasn’t tightened properly, or it could be that the shower valve (the device that transitions your water from hot to cold) has become faulty. Our team is experienced with both, and we would love to help you not only diagnose the issue, but solve it in an expedient manner.