Leaking Shower Pan that has now stopped leaking

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by themp, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. themp

    themp Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    I posted a month or so ago on a leaking shower pan, 28 years old:


    I decided to re-grout and seal, silicone the corners and bottom to floor edge, and clean the build up of calcium or whatever it was in the drain. This calcium seemed to be from the weep holes, it was tough stuff and I finally got it all removed with much scraping.

    So, after about 4 weeks, the leak has stopped completely. I know the liner is sitting straight on the plywood floor with no pre-slope. We have been using the shower heavily over the holidays and no leaks. I guess it took a while for the liner that was filled to drain and now no new water is getting to this area that leaks.

    Had two estimates for the fix, a new floor at $1000, a complete new shower for $3000, and a complete bathroom re-do at $5000-$8000. The $8000 was for granite counters, cabinets, fancy glass door, picture frame wall mirrors, new lights, etc.

    I have always been the type to only fix something once it is not fixable. I know what I did is a patch job, but it seems to work. My wife would like to do the $3000 shower and be done with it. I am holding out till it completely goes.

    I also had an interesting discussion with one of the tile contractors in that he said for the county I live in the liner does not have to be done on a pre-slope, both estimates include a pre-slope because I knew about it. But as he said all new homes in your area are not pre-sloped. He also commented on the hardness of our city water and that is why you had that calcium buildup in the drain. He said those tiny weep holes in the drain, how long do you think they will stay open. So he was slamming the liner and drain itself, implying that it is always full of water.

    Any comments on this? Thanks, Tom
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    National building codes require the waterproofing layer to be sloped to the drain. The tile is not the waterproofing layer. If the tile was a perfect waterproof layer, why would it need a liner and weepholes? So, while the ignorant inspectors might pass it, those that actually know and understand the code would not. A properly built shower wouldn't leak even before the tile was installed - it would get gunked up with soap and crud, but it wouldn't leak. The tile makes cleanup possible and is a much better wear surface!

    If you want to avoid the preslope, consider a surface membrane with a bonded drain such as the Kerdi system from www.schluter.com. Here, the waterproofing layer is on top of the sloped bed and then the tile is applied directly to the waterproofing layer. There are other similar systems, but Kerdi has been around longer, especially when you consider its origination in Europe. Noble company makes some nice tileable shower systems as do others.

    Without a preslope in a conventional shower, it typically takes about 3-5 years to fully saturate and the pH to change so that that moisture will support growths - then, if used constantly, it will start to smell like a swamp. Being fully saturated, it can also wick up the walls and the floor will stay damp, aggravating mold and mildew growth. You don't get that with a properly built shower. One completed with something like Kerdi means there's very little beneath the tile that can get wet (only a thin layer of thinset), so the whole thing dries out much faster.

    With surface membranes, some manufacturers provide various sized foam, tileable (after covering with the membrane) pans, but all of them can be used on top of a single presloped mudbed. This is more expensive in materials, but maybe not when you add the labor. Those foam parts only work well if your shower size and drain location are exactly in alignment with your needs (although they can be cut down, it should be done symmetrically, and that still may not suit your conditions).
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
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  4. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Aug 9, 2009
    I have always felt that the weep holes in the shower strainers were to small. What we do is cut two or three 1/4" slots into the threaded section of the strainer. Chances of them become clogged is much less then the tiny weep holes in the strainer.

  5. themp

    themp Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    I forgot to mention that I have been to a bunch of Tile stores and the chain Tile City near me offers classes on how to do a shower pan. They actually have a cut away in the store, of the shower floor, to use in the class and the liner is sitting flat on the floor. I ask one of the sales folks about this and they had no idea about a pre-slope.

    I did bring up with both Tile contractors about the Kerdi system, they both knew about it. Only the more expensive tile guy was willing to go that route, but his final contract to me used the standard liner. I would have had to push for that if I wanted it. Meaning the more expensive one dropped a hint of the price at over $10,000 and both my wife and I kinda flinched at that. He came back at $8000 with no Kerdi, no removing a shower wall for glass, no extending the shower ceiling to the full eight feet, 3/4 inch gkass door etc. You can spend a lot of money on a bathroom redo.
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