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vdegrazia

05:05AM | 11/16/04
Member Since: 11/15/04
8 lifetime posts
Bvplumbing
There is a shower stall on the 2nd floor that has cerimic tile on the walls and floor. Beneath it on the main floor, there is what appears to be a water stain on the ceiling. Can anyone suggest what the best way to find the source of the leak and a way to effect repairs?

LonnythePlumber

08:09AM | 11/16/04
Shower leaks are difficult to identify. Try to separate the water sources. Often it is the shower pan. We check it by removing the drain strainer and inserting a blow up plug or heavy balloon down in the drain a few inches past the weep holes. Then fill with about 4 inches of water. If it goes down over a couple of hours then your pan has failed and it needs to be replaced.

You can check your drain by pouring buckets of water down the drain. Four or five 5 gallon buckets is not too much. You check the plumbing by capping off the shower head and opening the valve. You can remove the valve escutcheon and use a mirror to look for water marks. You check your shower walls by throwing buckets of water on the walls. Sometimes the water gets past the curtain or door and runs down the outside of the shower.

Removing drywall in the ceiling below does not always help as you will be looking at plywood and the water just runs to the drain opening to get out. Repairing the rock and re-painting the whole ceiling is an added expense to be avoided if possible.

vdegrazia

08:37AM | 11/16/04
Member Since: 11/15/04
8 lifetime posts
Lonny: Thanks for the info. Shot of tearing up the tile and floor, is there anyway to repair a pan leak? Is it really a pan or would it be a waterproof membrane given the house is only 5 years old?

LonnythePlumber

09:47AM | 11/16/04
I have not heard of a way to repair a failed shower pan other than to replace it. The pan is a waterproof membrane. Usually it's vinyl but can also be copper, lead or a hot mop system. You should get 20 to 30 years out of your shower. Hopefully the leak is not the pan. It will probably be grout falling out between the tiles. Do you notice any gaps? a 1/4" gap can let a lot of water run through it.

vdegrazia

10:47AM | 11/16/04
Member Since: 11/15/04
8 lifetime posts
Lonny: the grout between the floor and the wall needs to be replace. There are area where a significant amount is missing. Is it better to regrout or ad a good silicone caulk?

vdegrazia

10:54AM | 11/16/04
Member Since: 11/15/04
8 lifetime posts
Lonny: I know the missing grout is not good. But isn't the purpose of the "pan" to handle water passing through the grout?

LonnythePlumber

12:48PM | 11/16/04
The pan only protects the bottom. Water getting through the walls will seldom find it's way into the pan that runs up about 6 inches above the floor. If you have grout missing then you have an 80% chance that it is the source of the leak. I won't tear anything up until you removed all loose grout, let shower dry for a couple of days and then regrout and caulk with 100% silicone. A five year old house can have workmanship problems from it's construction. Grout falling out can be for several reasons including lack of temperature control when it was installed.

The most common is grout failure at the corners. These joints should be siliconed to allow for the expansion and contraction of the walls. I have a job now that is only a year old where the tiler grouted the corners instead of caulking.

vdegrazia

02:01PM | 11/16/04
Member Since: 11/15/04
8 lifetime posts
Lonny: thanks for the info. Even though the missing grout is at the base of the wall, and should be in the pan area,that can still cause a leak?

LonnythePlumber

02:29PM | 11/16/04
No it should not leak at the base where the tile is in the pan. If it does then that is the pan leaking which we both hope you don't have. You can check your pan as described above. You have to stick the blow up plug down in the drain because there are weep holes at the bottom of the pan to direct water into the drain.
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