Drywall / Coating shower renovation. 1950's

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Hmm.
Consider this shower:
PXL_20210811_205816761.jpg


This was apparently built between 1957 and 1966, but without the required City permits. It's now come to light with the authority having jurisdiction, and must be inspected to meet the 2019 California Residential Code. The City has no problem with the galvanized pipe, but wants the required water barrier "verified".

It looks to me like painted drywall, on some form of pan, the pan is tiled.

Are there any possible options for raising this up to the 2019 code without completely demolishing it? My concern with demolishing it is the new shower would have to meet present 2019 dimensions and clearances, including upgrading the window that's just out of view to tempered glass.
 

Jadnashua

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There's probably more in that bathroom that wouldn't meet current codes. The entire shower is probably a bit small regarding the minimum size and the minimum sized opening. THen, how wide is the alcove where the toilet is...you must have at least 15" on either side of the centerline to the walls or any other obstruction.

That type of shower typically would have had a fiberglass pan and not be tiled.

I think the moisture barrier they're talking about is the one that composes the waterproofing of the pan. The walls don't need to be waterproof, just that they shouldn't be damaged by becoming damp, and that the materials behind are protected, which could be as simple as a layer of tar paper or plastic on top of the studs unless the walls qualify as being waterproof themselves. Since there is nothing on the left side of the thing as shown in your picture, that shouldn't be an issue.

You might get by with just getting a drain plug, filling the pan up with water, letting it sit say overnight, then see if there are any leaks. A shower pan should be waterproof up to at least 2" above the top of the curb. During construction, that water test is done prior to installing the tile. Tile is just a decorative wear surface and plays nothing in the waterproofing plan. The waterproof layer should also have at least a minimum of 1/4" per foot slope to the drain...the tiled surface then would follow that slope, but it's again the waterproof layer that is the critical one.

The only way to know what they want might be to ask the inspector.

A picture of the drain with the grate off might help show what's there, and you'd need to take it off to put a plug in to do a water test.
 
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A picture of the drain with the grate off might help show what's there, and you'd need to take it off to put a plug in to do a water test.
The inspector wants a complete DWV static test, so that likely means plugging the sewer line downstream and doing the same.

The issue is the dimensions. If this gets "touched" then the new shower has to meet dimensional code from 2019 which is impossible or at least super hard given the toilet. We do have CA Govt. Code Section 17958.12 which allows AHJ's to permit as of the date of construction, but they rarely allow it.

Thus, the attempt to prove out the old water barrier.
 
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The City is saying it wants the 1950's drywall to be replaced with a hardy board equivalent. Any suggestions for alternatives to propose to the inspector? I'm concerned about tearing into the walls, it seems like a never ending project, and risks someone saying the shower is too small (it's too small for 2019 code).
 

Jadnashua

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Are you talking about the area outside of the shower? Technically, anything outside of a shower is in a try area, and plain drywall (should) meet code anywhere in the US.

Is the shower a fiberglass or acrylic structure? That should have meet code when it was built. As mentioned, though, they weren't designed for the most part to put in a tiled floor if that's what you have. If the thing wasn't set well, and they decided to tile it, that might be covering up a failed floor of the shower enclosure...as said, neither tile nor grout is considered waterproofing, and if there isn't a solid, waterproof layer underneath, it will leak.

You could use any cement board, but to get a smooth surface, you'd have to give it a skim coat of something. While hard to carry and lift without breaking, some of them are available in 4x8' sheets, so there'd be fewer seams, but it seems like it's a small area, so it wouldn't be too big of a deal. Note, that gypsum and concrete don't actually work that well together, so you might want to use a clay-based plaster versus one made with gypsum.
 
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Are you talking about the area outside of the shower? Technically, anything outside of a shower is in a try area, and plain drywall (should) meet code anywhere in the US.
The interior side of that enclosure is definitely site built, the materials used are unclear.

There was a spot of bad drywall outside the shower where the curtain let water through, but other than that it's performing fine after the last 5 decades of use. This is a code problem, not a performance problem. Whatever it is, it was built between 1952 and 1966, and not touched since. The question on the table is can anything be done to make the City inspector happier with it?

I proposed to the inspector to drill a hole from the toilet side into the space under the pan, and put a water sensor there. But no dice :)
 

Jadnashua

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Code says that the pan liner must not have any penetrations lower than 2" above the top of the curb...so, to prove the pan is intact, you'd have to plug the drain and fill it to near the top of the curb and monitor the level and look for leaks. If the pan is intact, there should be a moisture barrier either on top of the wall, or behind it, to protect the wall cavity. That would be harder to verify or rectify, but a small hole and an inspection camera might work. It would depend on what's on the interior of the shower. If it's waterproof, then no additional moisture barrier is required inside of the wall.

If you do have a mortar bed pan, the pan itself will absorb some moisture during a flood test, so the level might go down, so to verify there are no leaks, you would need to run it longer until the mortar saturated, but then should let the water level become stable. You'd have to account for evaporation, so a glass of water outside of the pan would give you a reference.
 
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Code says that the pan liner must not have any penetrations lower than 2" above the top of the curb...
If you do have a mortar bed pan, the pan itself will absorb some moisture during a flood test, so the level might go down, so to verify there are no leaks, you would need to run it longer until the mortar saturated, but then should let the water level become stable. You'd have to account for evaporation, so a glass of water outside of the pan would give you a reference.
I'm trying to get the local inspector to accept the 1952 code, rather than the 2022 code. Good point on the mortar, sounds like the best bet it is to let it soak for hours, then top it up, maybe add food coloring, and start the test.

This is a slab level shower, so there's not really anywhere bad for the water to go, that's not immediately visible.
 
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There's probably more in that bathroom that wouldn't meet current codes. The entire shower is probably a bit small regarding the minimum size and the minimum sized opening. THen, how wide is the alcove where the toilet is...you must have at least 15" on either side of the centerline to the walls or any other obstruction.
Right exactly. And the toilet is 14" to the side wall, so it's an issue the city is sticking to their guns on. Had it been inspected when built in 1952 all would be OK, but today they want to view it as new construction.

I've proposed to the City that I'll apply for a side yard variance, from 4' to 3' 11", and expand the building's wall by one inch to accommodate the toilet clearance. They don't have a procedure for allowing less toilet clearance, but side yard variance is possible.
 
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