Shower Leaking to Room Below


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Old 01-25-09, 01:53 PM
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Shower Leaking to Room Below

I have a leaking shower on the second floor of my house. At first I noticed bubbling plaster, then dripping water. So I opened up the ceiling in the room below the shower. The leak is not coming from the pipe, but instead the wood underneath shower base. I've attached picture from both below and above. Judging by the mineral deposits, it isn't a new problem. There's lots of cracks in the floor tile. They were patched up by someone before me.

The house is 70 years old, not sure how old the shower is. Someone that has been around longer than me may be able to date it by the tile.

My question, of course, is how do I fix it? I've read that anything I could pour over the tile (the easiest method) won't be a premanent solution. Also that the shower pan stops the shower from leaking, so at minimum I'll need to rip out the base tile and replace the pan. But will I also need to rip out the wall tile to ensure proper overlap of the wall drainage over the shower pan?

There's another shower in the house, so time isn't critical. I just want it to be done correctly.

Any advice is much appreciated.




 
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Old 01-25-09, 02:26 PM
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well, first you have to find where the water is actually coming from. to do this get something to block the drain so no water escapes through it and fill the shower to within an ich of over flowing the threshold and mark it, wait an hour and check to see if the water level has dropped. if it did then your shower pan is bad and needs replaced which means tearing up and roding the bottom of the shower. it is did not leak then it is eather something dripping from teh faucet when it is on or the grout needs to be replaced
 
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Old 01-25-09, 05:51 PM
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Sorry, forgot to mention that I already stopped up the drain, and it still leaked. I opened up a hole in the ceiling and watched from where the water was dripping. The water is dripping from underneath the shower, so unless it's taking a odd path, it's not from the faucet.
 
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Old 01-25-09, 06:00 PM
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Do you have an access panel behind the faucet side of the shower? If so open it first and check for any plumbing leaks there. Especially with the shower head pipe. If all looks fine I would say the problem is in the tile. You should try to re-grout the tiles first. It is the easiest and cheapest fix for now.

Next step is complete removal of shower pan and tiles.
 
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Old 01-25-09, 11:07 PM
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try this....

As a simple starting point I would place a bead of tub caulk in the drain where it enters the 2 pipe. Let it cure and test it. If it still leaks put a bead around the drain flange, cure and test. I looks in the picture that you have a few crack issues in the floor tile. Check those closely and caulk any suspicious spots also. With no success after those steps you will have tear out the base and redo it including the drain piping.
 
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Old 01-26-09, 06:52 PM
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I don't have an access panel, but I'll make one. I always say that you can't have enough holes in your walls.

If it does come down to regrouting the tiles - will that be a permanent fix, or a 2-5 year thing?

Is tub caulk like plumbers epoxy? I'll try this stuff this weekend and report back.
 
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Old 01-26-09, 07:03 PM
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I cannot tell you how long it will last, but if you look around there is a forum for tile work where someone there will help you out on that question.
 
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Old 01-27-09, 09:17 AM
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Much appreciated - thanks for the advice
 
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Old 01-27-09, 10:18 AM
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I perform moisture intrusion inspections as an adjunct to my home inspection business, and in my experience while it's likely the pan, it could be water form another source (usually the supply plumbing) that's running down a wall and under the pan liner. See here for an inspection protocol similar to the one I follow.
 
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Old 02-01-09, 01:22 PM
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Thanks - very helpful. I'm going to clear out the room below and do some more testing.
 
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Old 02-02-09, 03:43 PM
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John

First things first here. Your tile and grout are not waterproof. There is a mud bed under the tile, then under that a pan of some sort, probably a lead one. Plugging the drain and filling with water will only serve to saturate the mud bed and is no indication that the pan is failing. Of course the water level will drop as the mud bed gets saturated.

You can do a few things to see where the leak may be coming from. Start by turning on the water and running it into a 5 gallon pail instead of running it into the shower drain. You can do this and fill a few pails. The obvious, empty the pails somewhere other than the shower drain. If you have water leaking below, its plumbing leads.

You can plug the shower drain with a pneumatic plug and fill the shower pan with water from an external source. Not the shower head. Leave it overnight and check from below in the hole you opened up. If its leaking, then its the pan.

I dont see the 2" waste line in your pictures. Where is it? You may want to make that hole bigger to see if the waste line is leaking. That'll be an obvious one.

Judging from the looks and age of the shower tile, Im gonna guess thats real old. My guess is the shower pan is shot.
 
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Old 02-04-09, 12:59 AM
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sorry johnny but i have to disagree about the mud bed and showing a drop in the water level. if you fill the shower with water and the mud bed soaks up that water it will keep the same level because the mud bed would have to expand which would compansate for the water being absorbed by it and thus the water level would be the same. so in conclusion i would say any drop in the water level would mean a leaking pan. no to mention that the damage covers the whole shower area.

i usually turn on the shower and spray the walls to check if it is a grout on the wall problem which can eventually get behind and under the pan.

i have found the seals on shower doors to be the cause of leaks also
 
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Old 02-04-09, 06:08 AM
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Placing standing water in the shower pan of a completed shower is not a reliable test for a slow leak at the pan - water can be wicked up at and behind the tile substrate (the backer board material), the lower edge of which will be within the liner and possibly below water level.
 
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Old 02-04-09, 06:24 AM
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plumbermandan

It will take some time for the water to penetrate the grout lines and saturate the mud bed. Additionally, as Michael said, cement board will indeed wick water from the pan as well.

i usually turn on the shower and spray the walls
Also a good idea and possible source.
 
 

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