Our 4-unit building has identically laid out apartments with a guest shower. I was clearing some ice from a broken freezer, and left about a pound or less of ice near the drain of the shower to melt away.

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Two hours or so later, our downstairs neighbor reported that there was a very small but 'steady stream' of water coming out of theirlight fixture, which looks exactly like this. Since the incident, their light fixture hasn't functioned.

Could the melting ice water have caused a permanent leak to have developed? In the past, we have taken very very long showers in this shower with no hint of a leak, but hadn't used this bathroom in a week leading up to this incident.

enter image description here

  • 2
    A pound of ice is a pretty small amount, I can't imagine it would have caused sudden failure of the drain seal mechanism. I think it was likely a coincidence. If you could show a closer picture of the drain we might be able to give clues as to how it seals to the pan. Also, have you tried running water to prove out that your shower is the culprit? maybe rain water or some other piping leak is to blame. Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 20:18

3 Answers 3

  • could be the cold has shrunk something, maybe rubber isolation, and the water was able to go around it (something like that caused the challenger explosion)

  • could be the cold has cooled down the neighbours ceiling and the moisture in the room condensed there, like when you use air conditioning

  • 1
    counter args: to #1: that's not how drains are built, especially considering the extremely low flow rate from melting ice. to #2: total moisture content would be ridiculously small. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 10:34
  • Well, Challanger was more like: the temperature drop caused the rubber to develop cracks, more than to simply shrink. And cracks do not repair themselves...
    – yo'
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 23:46
  • Condensation appears to have been the situation in this case. Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 21:40

Could the melting ice water have caused a permanent leak to have developed?

(my emphasis)

Leaks generally don't repair themselves.

Since there is evidence of a leak, it is very likely this will recur. This means that the leak needs to be actively investigated and fixed to prevent further damage.

You downstairs neighbor will probably get someone to repair their light, that person may be able to inspect the space above the light fitting (e.g. using an endoscopic/borescope inspection camera) to identify the source of the leak (or at least it's approximate location)

In your photo it doesn't look like you have easy access to the underside of your shower tray - last time I had a shower leak, access to the underside of the tray was very useful in locating the cause of the leak. At the very least I was able to remove, clean and replace several possible causes (loose pipe joints, worn seals)

  • the ice froze some water standing in the pipes and that created a clot, so when more water came through the pipes, it overflowed (overflew??)
  • 1
    This is very unlikely considering the little amount of ice. If the ice reched the drain pipe it must have been molten already. Hence there was no possibility to freeze other water.
    – Ariser
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 15:52
  • Ice takes in almost all of its heat while melting, which it does at exactly 0℃. That means it can only cool things that are warmer than 0℃. That means the cooling power of ice won't freeze other water into ice. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 16:23
  • 1
    @DanielGriscom: While in this case the ice won't be able to freeze other water due to practical reasons, it is not true, that ice can't freeze other water at all. Consider a block of 1 kg Water at -20°C. Before it starts melting it can absorb 41.2 kJ. This is in theory sufficient to cool down 98.7g of water at 20°Č and absorb the freezing energy. Of course in a more practical setup the ice will only be able to freeze a smaller amount of water due to losses, but it will definitely do. That's why you can stick with your lips to icecream which is too cold to sell. I painfully learned that.
    – Ariser
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 9:44
  • @Ariser Yes, if you pushed the ice (still frozen) into the drain, which you do not.
    – yo'
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 23:44

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