• How to Find and Repair Leaky Plumbing Drain Lines


    A leaking water-feed (supply) or drain-line can be found pretty quickly if you follow the clues…
    a stain in the ceiling, mold, soft flooring or tiles that are popping loose, bubbling paint or peeled wallpaper or puddling of water.
    Often you will hear a hissing sound inside a wall which is a clear indication that water under pressure is escaping from the water-feed line either at fitting or damaged pipe

    The key is to repair the leak quickly because that water will eventually produce serious damage in the way of mold, mildew and rotting construction materials. So spring into action at the first sign of trouble.

    Depending on where the leak is and what’s causing it, you might be able to fix it by tightening a fitting with a wrench. In worst-case scenarios, the job might require a plumber along with a flooring or tile contractor to fix the damage caused.

    When the job is expensive, check with your insurance agent to see if the repairs are covered by your homeowner’s policy.

    Plumbing Drain Line Leak Troubleshooting and Repair

    What you’ll find here are tips for locating and repairing drain leaks, wherever they might occur. Information about repairs will help you decide to attempt the work yourself or to call a plumbing contractor.
    A discussion of the necessary tools is also included.
    Drain line repair costs for DIY and for professional work give you ballpark ideas of what your expenses will be.
    Finally, a list of resources includes additional information from professionals that will help you understand the scope of the work required and how best to complete it.

    These tips will get you headed in the right direction. Once the source of the leak is identified, you can determine if you’ve got the tools and know-how to fix it or if a pro should be called in for the job.

    • When you see water leak clues, check the water-feed fittings at the nearest sink, shower, toilet, dishwasher, etc.
    • If the feed line fittings aren’t leaking, then it’s likely to be a drain-line leak
    • For standing water on a bathroom floor, check the seal of the shower door by running water onto it from the inside and looking for it leaking out
    • Remember that if your shower has two doors that overlap, the inside door should be closest to the showerhead
    • If the shower door frame is leaking, it can be repaired with silicone caulk by removing the old caulk, cleaning the surface, applying the new caulk and tooling it into the seam
    • Tub and shower drains can leak with age or settling of the house that causes the drain to come loose from the drain pipe
    • Check drains through access panels if present by blocking the drain, filling the shower or tub with a small amount of water and opening the drain to watch for leaks
    • Shower drains can be repaired by removing the grate and the drain flange, cleaning it, replacing it and using silicone caulk between the drain flange and the drain pipe
    • If the drain flange has a gasket, remove it and take it to your local home improvement store to find a replacement
    • In some cases where access is difficult, you may have to cut a hole in the ceiling beneath the drain and replace the drain assembly from there
    • When the shower is finished with tile on the wall and/or floor, look for loose grout or cracked tiles as a potential source of the leak
    • A tile contractor is the professional to call if you don’t want to do the grout and tile work yourself
    • Leaks around or beneath a toilet are often the result of a broken toilet flange or bad wax seal
    • A toilet that rocks even slightly is another sign of a broken toilet flange
    • Our house repair guide “How to Fix a Leaking Toilet – Flange Replacement” will assist with that problem
    • When the leak is in a sink cabinet, first check the supply lines and then the drain assembly
    • A drain might leak because it is clogged, forcing water out through seams
    • Remove and clean out the drain, making sure it is properly tightened when replaced

    Drain Line Leak Repair Costs

    Because of the many variables, this can be a cheap fix done with a pair of adjustable pliers or a major repair that costs thousands of dollars to fix. Here, however, are some basic drain line repair costs.

    Here are some costs for parts, materials and tools that are commonly required for drain line repair

    • Shower drain assembly: $30 to $50
    • Toilet flange assembly: $18 to $35
    • Wax toilet ring: $4 to $10
    • Sink drain assembly: $7 to $40
    • Silicone caulk tube: $5 to $10
    • Tile grout: $10-$15 for 10lb bag or quart of acrylic repair grout
    • Plumbers wrench: $12 to $30

    Professional Drain Line Repair Costs: Most plumbers charge a minimum service call fee which ranges from $85 to $175, sometimes more. From there, the estimate will include the parts, materials and time the contractor believes it will take. Most drain line repairs will cost $275 or more just to fix the drain. Repairing the water damage to the rest of the house might require getting estimates from other types of contractors.

    Saving Money on Drain Line Leak Repair

    Making the repairs yourself will cut down on your costs if the repairs are done properly.
    If the fix fails, the ensuing damage might be expensive. Check out the resources below for instructions on DIY drain line leak repair. Borrowing any tools you need will cut down on costs too.

    When hiring a plumber, the best way to reduce your costs is to get several competing estimates. You’ll find the lowest prices and learn about the experience of each contractor before hiring one to do the work.

    DIY Drain Line Leak Repair Resources

    Here’s more helpful information for this home repair topic.

    YouTube – This video from a home inspector will help you locate leaks in cast iron pipes.

    Universal Roof & Contracting – Here’s a Q&A with a local contractor about finding a leak in a fiberglass shower enclosure.

    Structure Tech – This local contractor uses pictures to show all the possible sources of a shower leak including doors, tile and drain.


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