I recently got a phone call from a client who's home I built nearly a decade ago. She told me she had a leak in the ceiling in her lower level bath, and had already had a plumber look at it but he couldn't find it and the problem was getting worse now. With small kids, besides the leak, she was very concerned about that 4 letter word... MOLD!
I got there, looked and agreed, yes there was a leak. Through thourough investigation, I couldn't find it either! I set a time to come back with my scope so I could look inside the wall. Before I had a chance to come back, I got another call, "Jim it's getting worse! I was in the shower upstairs, and my mother noticed water running through the trim on the lower level bath door!" Ahhh! Hindsite! I ran the tub, but not the shower while looking for the leak the first time!
Now knowing where to look! I cut a small access hole,and looked at all of the pipes within the wall. I can see water spraying! It looks like fireflys through the scope, but I can't see is the source!
The next step is to cut a larger inspection hole, and based on what I am seeing with the scope I choose to cut it by the shower head. I look... and see NO LEAK! I again use the scope to follow EVRY pipe in the wall. Then, Aha! I see water running on a drain pipe! But it is at the bottom! WOW, the first hole turned out to be a swing and a miss! So the second hole gets cut, and in this inspection, I can actually see where the water is comming from! the bottom of the VALVE! Not visible from the scope, but we now know where the source it.... In the middle of the 2 holes I have
I have already cut! The good news is 2 fold! 1) I can repair the problem without cutting any more holes! and 2) There is NO MOLD!
The repairs were made, the leak stopped and holes patched. The Moral of the story is: There are NO good leaks. Leaks don't fix themselves. Even with the best tools, technology and experience, leaks can be very dificult to locate, and while the process can frustrating and take a lot of time, it is ALWAYS better to deal with it right away before more damage can occure!
By the way... the real problem after all of this:
The shower head was spraying onto a basket hanging on the shower head. This was directing water down the front of the shower, which was running behind the handle cover which was loose. The water was running behind, and leaking into the valve assembly, running down the shell of the tub, dripping off a drain pipe, onto the tub fill pipe, where the water finally dripped into the plumbing hole between floors landing on a heating duct, running off the duct onto the ceiling below, and following a joint in the drywall ceiling where it ran down the front wall of the lower level bath, and dripped through the door trim. Water leaks... What a PIA!