Leaking Bathtub

What to Do If a Bathtub Overflows and Leaks Downstairs

Water damage is enough to raise the anxiety of anyone. Property damage and the impact on your personal belongings can be terrible. The unwanted risks are why it’s essential to be well versed in a plan of action about what to do when water damage strikes.

If you’ve found a flooded bathroom and water coming through the ceiling downstairs, you’re not the only one in that position. Sometimes it’s difficult to prevent such circumstances, but your actions following a downstairs leak can make the difference between a messy situation and a disaster.

Learn about why overflowing bathtubs can happen and what steps you can take to manage the event and the cleanup in the aftermath.

Why Is My Tub Leaking Downstairs?

Whether your tub has overflowed or an unseen source has caused the water in your bathroom to leak downstairs, it’s likely related to the tub.

The most common reason for bathroom leaks is the bathtub drain overflow component. There can be issues with the overflow drain that affect its efficiency in redirecting water.

Some people put up with a slight amount of overflow if they already know of a drainage problem. For instance, if your tub has an overhead shower, the tub might not drain properly as you shower. That’s a good sign of a drainage issue, so don’t trust the overflow to work.

Another reason why the bath can leak downstairs is a faulty waste pipe and the silicone skirting around the bath. If the sealant wears away, water can leak out of the pipe and run down the walls and through the ceiling.

How Does the Bathtub Overflow Drain Work?

A typical overflow looks like a hole cut into the wall of the bathtub with a metal circumference. The drain funnels excess water from the inside of your bath down to the same drainage system that empties your bathtub when you pull the plug out.

Its purpose is to prevent overfilling by redirecting water that reaches the high location of the overflow. Without the drain, you may become distracted from filling your tub, only to find the water has risen over the sides and flooded your bathroom.

Once you’ve mopped everything up, you could still face damage to the flooring. There are lots of nooks and crannies for mold to develop in too.

White Ceramic Bathtub

6 Common Causes of Overflow Drain Issues

  1. Clogged Overflow Drain: Unfortunately, overflow drains don’t always work as designed. Clogs in the central plumbing of your bathtub drainage system can impact the success of the overflow. Because both water systems redirect to the same place, the overflow drain will not be able to drain the water if the pipes are clogged.
  2. Leaking Overflow Tube: The tube directs the water that has reached too high a level in the bathtub into the drain pipes. If the tube is leaking, water is collecting in harder-to-see places. Often, this water accumulates in the space between the internal and external walls of the tub.
  3. Damaged Overflow Gasket: Behind the outer part of the overflow drain, you can find the gasket. Its purpose is to create a watertight seal to prevent leaking. It’s common to see the seals stretch, rot, and tear over time. You can replace gaskets in such instances with ease.
  4. Shower Water: If your shower water is constantly making contact with the overflow drain and running over the cover, it could damage the drain. Adjust the angle of your shower head to prevent this from being an issue.
  5. Leaving the Taps On: You probably expect this to be the exact situation where the overflow drains come into play, but there is only so much water the drain can redirect at a time. Chances are, leaving the bathtub taps on will overfill the tub quicker than the water can drain.
  6. Your Bathwater Is Too High: We all love a deep soak in the tub, but be careful not to submerge the overflow plate. Doing this repeatedly can cause damage in the future.

What to Do If My Bathtub Is Leaking Through the Ceiling?

Here is a step-by-step guide that you can follow to take action against ceiling leaks.

1. Contain the Flow

First off, capture the water leaking through however you can. You could use tubs, buckets, basins, pans, or anything to catch the water so that it doesn’t cause further damage to the area below.

2. Turn the Water Off

The next step is to locate your mains water valve and turn it off. If you’re unaware of where that is, it’s usually underneath the kitchen sink. In older properties, it might be under the stairs or by a downstairs bathroom. The valve will look like a small tap, and turning it clockwise will stop all water from flowing into the house.

3. Install Protection

Even though you contained water, it’s a good idea to lay down any plastic sheeting to cover carpets and furniture. You could use a tarp or shower curtains that you might already have at home.

If the leak is close to electrical appliances or plug sockets, be careful around them because water can seep inside.

4. Turn the Electricity Off

Especially if you think water may have gotten into any plug sockets, it’s safer to turn off the mains power supply. You can shut off power to specific areas of the house through your electrical system.

Electrical boxes are usually in utility rooms, near the kitchen, or under the stairs. Sometimes they are found in hallways high up or garages.

5. Find the Source

Now everything is as safe and secure as can be, and you know how to shut off utilities, you can try and figure out what the reason is behind the leak. You may have to call someone in for a thorough inspection, especially if the leak has occurred somewhere out of sight, like behind the drywall.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions, they’re sure to be answered below.

How Do You Clean an Overflowed Tub?

You’re going to need to soak up as much water as possible. Grab a bucket and mop and start hauling.

Once you’ve dealt with the larger water areas, use a wet/ dry vacuum for the remaining water. A stack of towels should do the trick to dry wet floors.

A leak from an overflowed tub that has affected the downstairs means the damage has probably spread to other parts of the house. If you’re dealing with furniture damage that you can’t salvage, it’s a good idea to get rid of it as soon as possible. The more water that remains in the household, the longer it will take for everything to dry out.

The fastest way to dry everything is to open all your windows and doors. The more air in the property, the faster this will happen. Dependent on the time of year, it might be difficult to circulate air in the home, but it’s still essential to ventilate. Keep the windows open if you’ve turned your heating on to prevent mold buildup.

It’s important to keep cleaning your overflow drain too. You might not think the overflow can become as dirty as the main drain in your bathtub, but a surprising amount of grime can build up. Once your tub is free of water, take the time to give the overflow a good cleaning too. The less blocked your drains are, the easier it will be to empty the tub the conventional way. Of course, this step is a solution only if you’re confident there aren’t issues with the internal drainage system.

You can clean your overflow using vinegar and baking soda to clear blockages. You can also use a long thin instrument to poke through the holes in the drain cover, trying to dislodge anything stuck inside.

Does Insurance Cover Bathtub Overflow?

You can file a claim if the incident isn’t 1) intentional and 2) due to maintenance neglect. You can claim compensation for the damage and the leak, but call your insurance company as soon as possible.

If it was an honest mistake and the property is otherwise well cared for, homeowners won’t be liable for the damage.

However, if residents already knew the issues but did nothing about them, the insurance company may see them as liable. Always have a solid and clear account of what has happened.

To make your claim as sound as possible, take lots of photos and videos of the incident and the damage. Once you’ve contacted your insurance company, they will advise on what you need to do next.

Need Help? Give Us a Call Today

No one needs to deal with damage to their private property alone. It can be very stressful, and solid advice will become valuable. Speaking to a professional can lower this stress.

All Dry USA is well versed in water damage restoration and mold treatment. Talk to people who can help you get life back to normal.

Ben Suiskind
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