How to Fix a Shower Leak Behind the Wall: Trace the leak to the shower arm and elbow connection, remove the arm, clean and wrap the threads with plumber’s tape, then reinstall the shower arm. This project is continued from How to Fix a Shower Leak Behind the Wall.

Shower Arm and Elbow Connection is Leaking

I reattached the shower head then turned on the shower. The shower leak was plainly seen. The leak was coming from the threaded joint at the shower arm and the drop ear elbow:

Shower Leak behind the Wall Repair: Shower Arm and Elbow Joint Leaking

Shower Leak behind the Wall Repair: Shower Arm and Elbow Joint Leaking

I unscrewed the shower arm from the elbow and observed that:

  • The shower arm was threaded-in very tightly – this is good.
  • The threads were sealed with pipe joint compound – also good.
  • The pipe joint compound had become brittle and dry, this caused the shower leak.

The shower arm is pictured below. The pipe joint compound is the white stuff in pipe threads:

Shower Arm Leak Repair: Old and Brittle Pipe Joint Compound

Shower Arm Leak Repair: Old and Brittle Pipe Joint Compound

Shower Arm Leak Repair

A brass-bristle wire brush was used to clean the old pipe joint compound from the threads of the shower arm. Brass is a soft metal and won’t scratch the nickel finish. The shower arm was polished with a cotton cloth.

Fix a Shower Leak: Shower Arm after Cleaning the Threads

Fix a Shower Leak: Shower Arm after Cleaning the Threads

The shower arm threads are sealed with Teflon plumber’s tape. Wrap the tape clockwise (with the pipe end facing you) so the tape won’t unwrap as the shower arm is threaded into the drop ear elbow inside the wall:

Shower Leak Repair: Wrap the Shower Arm Threads with Teflon Plumbers Tape

Shower Leak Repair: Wrap the Shower Arm Threads with Teflon Plumbers Tape

The shower arm threads wrapped after Teflon plumber’s tape is shown in the following photo. I prefer Teflon tape for this job over pipe joint compound because I wouldn’t be able to get a wrench on the elbow to really tighten the joint and I felt that Teflon tape does a better job of sealing gaps in the pipe threads.

Show Leak Repair: Shower Arm Threads Wrapped in Teflon Tape

Show Leak Repair: Shower Arm Threads Wrapped in Teflon Tape

The old pipe joint compound was cleaned from the drop ear elbow with the brass wire brush before reattaching the shower arm:

Drop Ear Elbow for the Shower Arm

Drop Ear Elbow for the Shower Arm

The shower arm was threaded into the drop ear elbow inside the wall and the shower head reattached. Then the shower is turned on to watch the plumbing joint for leaks. No leaks! Problem solved!

Shower Leak inside the Wall Repair: Check the Shower Arm for Leaks

Shower Leak inside the Wall Repair: Check the Shower Arm for Leaks

Install a Shower Plumbing Drywall Access Panel

The ugly inspection opening in the drywall was covered by 12 inch by 12 inch white return grill purchased from Lowes. The grill can be easily removed for maintenance or repair if needed in the future.

Drywall Plumbing Access Panel: White Return Air Grill

Drywall Plumbing Access Panel: White Return Air Grill

Here’s a better perspective of the bathtub/shower and wet wall with the newly installed white grill.

Shower Leak behind the Drywall Repair: Wet Wall and Bathroom

Shower Leak behind the Drywall Repair: Wet Wall and Bathroom

Update: bauco softline Access Panels

I was later introduced to the bauco softline access panels and replaced the air return grill for a better and more professional solution.

bauco softline Access Panel: Shower Plumbing Drywall Installation

bauco softline Access Panel: Shower Plumbing Drywall Installation

The final task is to paint the downstairs closet ceiling to cover the water stain.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Jackson

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