Leaking Shower Pan: Why Does it Happen and How to Fix It

Normal wear and tear and unwanted movement are two possibilities for the cause of a leaking shower pan. There are some do-it-yourself remedies for this problem, including patching cracks and repairing the grout. However, you will need the assistance of a specialist for more difficult fixes like replacing the shower pan or making changes to the floor underneath it.

Due to a leak, a shower pan may be unable to entirely collect and distribute water into the drainage system protecting your home for water damage. The movement of the buildings structure is the leading cause of the shower pan leaking. These leaks threaten the stability of your home’s foundation if they are not promptly repaired.

The substantial piece that covers the floor of your shower area is called the shower pan. Tiles are the main surface material use in your shower pan tiles are made from different materials; ceramic, stone, concrete, porcelain and other suitable materials are used to make it most of the time. Its function is to gather shower water and direct it toward the drain.

In this article, we’ll outline the primary reason why the shower pan leaks and discuss the various quick fix for leaking shower pan solutions.

How Does a Shower Pan Leak?

Depending on the age of the bathroom determines what people are looking for in the way of remedy. Homeowners who have an old bathroom express phrases like “I’m looking for a temporary fix for leaking shower pan or a quick fix for their leaky shower pan” as they think they will soon need a full renovation. They just want a leaky shower repair to reduce the issue with structural problems later. New homeowners, however, seek a more permanent fix for the leaky shower pan but are challenged when they find out they can’t match tiles.

Other than movement, here some additional issues that may cause for leaks in a shower, including;

  • incorrect waterproofing products being used, 
  • no waterproofing is being used
  • correct waterproofing being used by damaged during the tile installation
  • proper waterproofing used in the wrong location or incorrectly

Although all the above reasons are accurate and can lead to leaks in waterproofing membranes, leaks in shower recesses are typically caused due to movement. Homes are built to move without cracking, then we put a very rigid shower floor in the form of Sand and Cement bed/screed or thick cement sheeting, and there is an expectation that it will not crack over time, but this is just not the case. It would be similar to having rigid or hard skin over our bones. It’s just not very practical, and movement cracks are inevitable.

Additional issues that will increase the likelihood of your shower pan leaking are if you install stone tiles in the shower. Stone tiles behave like rigid sponges; they soak up large amounts of water and hold it. Doing so means that your stone shower pan is now holding moisture and looking for a point of failure.

However, perhaps the biggest issue leading toward your shower pan leaking is if your home is built with a frame. Although most people immediately consider a timber frame, it can be any substrate that does not include a solid poured concrete slab, including timber, steel, concrete block, Hebel, etc. Frames that have decreased centers to thicker sheeting, all of them fail because they are built to move, and move they do. They move because of the impact of the rain, and they also move because their framed construction is built to do so.

There is no need for homeowners and builders to fight over issues regarding potential causes for a Leaking Shower Pan and who is at fault. The process can be lengthy and costly in both the way of finances and, more importantly, the stress on your family.

How to Check for Shower Pan Leaks

You can do a quick test to determine whether a leak is there. You may also see whether the water is coming from somewhere else if you have noticed an actual leak from your shower pan (such as water on the floor next to the pan) or any of the reasons for leaks mentioned above.

The process consists of the following three easy steps:

  • The shower drain must be sealed.

You can use anything, even rubber plugs and duct tape. You’re set to go as long as the material you use creates a water-tight seal around the shower drain.

  • Fill up the shower pan with water.

You want to create enough ponding water to ensure there is a minimum 2 inches above the level of your floor. One or two buckets of water can be added, and the water level can then be noted using a marker.

  • Watch how the water level changes.

After eight hours, return and check the water level. If it has descended from the marker and you are confident that the drain was correctly sealed, it indicates that your shower pan is leaking.

In addition to this approach, you can look for leaks by making observations near your shower pan. To check are the following areas:

  • The site of the shower pan for moisture and water.
  • If the shower pan is on a higher floor, below the shower pan. There could be stains on the floor or the roof board.
  • There are loose floor tiles near the shower.
  • The carpets surrounding the shower stall are wet.
  • Moldy smell in neighbouring walls
  • Swelling of skirting boards

You will be able to tell that not all the water is draining if there are stains, moisture, or other symptoms and that a quick fix for leaking shower is required.

How Do You Fix a Leaking Shower Pan?

So, how do you repair a shower pan that’s leaking? First, log on to the website to download your step-by-step instructional manual, which includes video references. https://www.remedialmembranes.com/leaky-shower-repair/But to briefly summarise, remove the existing caulk/silicone, clean the shower with Chlorine, and rinse thoroughly. Identify if the tiles are in good condition. If they are in good condition, you may only need to replace any missing grout before getting the surface back into what looks like good condition. 

If there are loose tiles, then remove the tiles and existing adhesive and feel if the surface is spongy. If it is, your substrate may be water damaged, and more expensive shower pan leaking repair may be needed. But usually, the surface can simply be dried out with a heater, and then the tile can be replaced. The compatible SMX Caulk is a neutral cure and does not need access to open-air to cure so that it can be re-grouted immediately. 

Once the grout has cured, as per the recommendation on the bag, the leaking shower pan needs to be mechanically dried out to remove excess water. This can be done by putting a heater in the leaking shower recess, leaving it on overnight (being careful to ensure the electrical leads are positioned away from the heat to prevent fire in the morning, turning the heater off, and letting the surface cool down. 

The shower is now ready for the Clear Over-tile Waterproofing Membrane application. First, apply the caulk to the junctions where the floor meets the wall and the wall above the shower rose. Mix up the Clear Waterproofing Membrane Part 1 and Clear Waterproofing Membrane Part 2 to apply the membrane from the first grout joints on the walls to the shower waste.

By matching the existing tile, finish work with the Clear Waterproofing Membrane. If you are seeking a gloss finish, then combine part 1 & part 2 as you did in the first coat and mix in the aggregate and in the second coat to create a slip-resistant finish. 

If you desire a satin or matte finish to match existing tiles, then, leave out part 2 and add 5% matting paste for a matte finish or 2.5% matting paste for a satin finish. Once the application has been completed, you can let it dry on its own or apply the heater back to the surface to quicken up the pace. The initially leaky shower pan is not water-tight and no longer leaking.

How Much Do Shower Pan Leak Repairs Cost?

When a leaky shower pan is present because matching tiles cannot be found (unless the homeowner has kept some), the requirement for a complete bathroom renovation costing between 20-30K is considered. Suppose that it’s not cost-effective for the plans of the homeowner. In that case, they generally think of ripping out the bottom row of tiles along with the shower floor tiles, waterproofing, and sand cement screed making a mess. 

The final finished product is not much greater, with the shower pan now looking like a patch job. Every time they enter the bathroom, they are reminded of the fact that their shower pan leaked. But now, you can purchase the Clear Waterproofing Membrane for $135.40 for a standard shower and apply the membrane yourself without changing the look of your shower pan. By this, you can do not just a leaky shower repair but also a leaky balcony repair and leaky deck repair in a single day.

How Remedial Membranes Can Help

Clear Waterproofing Membrane is a two-part aliphatic polyurethane waterproofing membrane. Aliphatic means that it can be left exposed and walked on. Polyurethane is synonymous with waterproofing the world over. The other difference between our membrane and other polyurethane is that our membrane is Clear and is installed as an over-tile waterproofing membrane. 

Being transparent with the option of Gloss, Satin, or Matte, you can match the existing finish of your tiles, and with the membrane being applied to a grout joint, it makes it even harder to see where the membrane begins and ends. Although we don’t claim that the Clear Over Tile Waterproofing Membrane is invisible, without the knowledge of the membrane application, it could be hard to differentiate.

With the clear slip-resistant aggregate installed in the final coat, the surface is made slip-resistant in one application which can be great for families with young children or the elderly.

There is no need to remove tiles to repair your leaks. You only need Clear Waterproofing Membrane with a method of installation that is described as detailed but not difficult that you can do-it-yourself. With full help desk support provided for DIYers, the method of installation can be discussed in detail to gain confidence before commencing the installation. If that is not enough, Remedial Membranes has over 20 instructional videos to call upon so you can see each step of the process occurring before doing it yourself.

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