Mysterious shower leak

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DannyDan

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A few weeks ago we spotted the drywall in our shower swelling:
dannydan-02.jpeg


The home is about 7 years old. We're the original owners and have never experienced this before. One guy told me it's the seal on the door. So I re-siliconed it myself, but problem still persists.
Still, I called the builder to rule out an issue with the shower pan. They sent out a guy who said it was most likely the grout that needs to be resealed, and that if it were an issue with the shower pan we'd see a stain on the ceiling in the floor below.
I was not quite satisfied with that answer, so I decided to open up the drywall and take a closer look:
20210416_211754.jpg


20210416_211803.jpg


Unfortunately, I still could not spot the exact source of the water. What I do know is that it starts getting moist after a few minutes of showering, and that the water slowly makes its way down to the concrete.
I believe it starts about here:
20210416_211754.jpg


I've posted on here before, but hopefully this additional information helps narrow it down.
Desperately looking for some advice or guidance. Taking guesses as well :)
What would you do? What's the next step here?
 

Tughillrzr

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Did you clean and reseal grout?
Is the shelf/ seat pitched?
Did you silicone over old or start fresh?
Seal under track
Is door track clean and drains properly
Door seals intact
Curb pitched?
New shower head? new spray pattern? it just may never have gotten to the problem area before during use.
 

WorthFlorida

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Open the wall further up to get a look behind the shower wall. Not sure why there is a 2x10 between the studs. The idea is to see what type of backer board was used.

It appears that water is being wicked up by the drywall from the floor level below the floor tile. I'm assuming the shower head and valve is on the opposite wall.

What is working against you is the shower head is probably on the other side and the water hits this corner most of the time. I had at onetime the same basic 4x4 tiles in a walk in shower. Where the water hit the knee wall, the backer board was the old blue board and it was completely soaked with water after opening it up for a remodel. A neighbor with the same house had the same issue.

Since the grout is only 1/16 inch because the way the tile is made, it is very easy for water to seep through the grout. Do check that the silicone seal of the glass frame is intact. Silicone can pull away leaving very small crevices for water to get behind the frame. The glass frame is also attached with screws going through the tile.

If the shower valve is on that wall it could be a leak behind the wall and only leaks while the shower is in use. Opening it up more will be needed.
 

DannyDan

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One other thing worth noting: the shower head is on the opposite wall of the seat.
 

DannyDan

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Did you clean and reseal grout?
Not yet. Do I need to do this for both the grout on the shower floor and the side walls?
Is the shelf/ seat pitched?
Could you give me a bit more detail? I'm very new to this.
Did you silicone over old or start fresh?
I removed the old silicone first, to the best of my ability...but only on the bottom where the shower track meets the tile.
Is door track clean and drains properly
Where is it supposed to drain from?
 
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Jeff H Young

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hot mop, vinyl liner? Ive seen some pretty bad vinyl liners looks more like floated walls than backerboard due to thickness does water get up on the seat? personaly I dont belive the grout causes that because you should be able to pop a tile off and still not get water inside wall if its built right . water getting on glass then down on the track and weeping through a hole in tile maybe?
Grout is not water proof and if it was it wouldnt need a shower pan the walls as well are not water proof so caulking and grout shouldnt be cause except around the metal and screw holes. of cource a completely sealed tile job would cover up defects under neath and stop leaks but the real problem would be in the build
 

Tughillrzr

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Not yet. Do I need to do this for both the grout on the shower floor and the side walls?

you would clean all and seal at once. A variety of sealers and cleaners on market. Most spray on let sit and wipe. Any big box store or local ace.

As stated, you could try to Inspect behind the 2x10/12 . It was most likely used as a nailer. Cut the toe nails at ends then carefully pry out. Looks like a plumbing wall is behind that wall? You may see where it’s leaking from.

Could you give me a bit more detail? I'm very new to this.

is the seat pitched (not level / leans towards the shower not wall)

I removed the old silicone first, to the best of my ability...but only on the bottom where the shower track meets the tile.

track is screwed down usually silicone under track and screw in holes. Then silicone track

Where is it supposed to drain from?
Door seals intact

Depends on your door. Tracks are just just different. Some frameless glass doors/ walls have weep holes. Yours may not

Yes! New shower head. The shower head is on the opposite wall though. Interesting, so you think the water may just be reaching places it hasn't before? We've always had a detachable shower head though so water is all over the place.

could be you never know. sitting on bench and spraying?
something has changed or failed.
Do the little inspection
 

DannyDan

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could be you never know. sitting on bench and spraying?
something has changed or failed.
Do the little inspection

I want to hire someone to figure this out for me. Do you know what type of professional I should be looking for? Happen to know anyone in SoCal?
 

DannyDan

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It appears that water is being wicked up by the drywall from the floor level below the floor tile.

Can you give me a bit more detail, or a photo perhaps? What do you mean by the floor below the floor tile?
 

WorthFlorida

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Can you give me a bit more detail, or a photo perhaps? What do you mean by the floor below the floor tile?
The sub floor is either concrete or a wood product. It's the surface that the floor tile on top of. Notice that the tile edge at the wall, it drops down about an 1/4" and water will pool there. Then the wood wicks it up. Is this a concrete floor or a wood floor. If concrete water will travel a long way from its source, wood, there may be water stains under it in a crawl space or a finished ceiling below.

If behind the tile had a water proof coating such as RedGard or a membrane, then water seeping through the grout would not penetrate into the backer board but could still run down behind the tile. The tile would not necessarily be lose or lifting. All those notched in the thin set are channels for water to flow. For this tile usually a mastic glue is used, not thin set. The condition of the wall from the pictures looks like it is not happening. It just one way that water can travel down.

You should run the shower as usual and babysit the site and look for any water in that corner. You may have to direct the shower head to other parts such as a built in seat. After sever years this is a very small leak so it may be hard to find.

I'm just giving you ways how this can happen, not necessarily the cause. Since this is standard tile readily available for repairs. Sometimes the damaged areas need to be removed and rebuilt.
 
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DannyDan

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Update #2:
I filled up the bath about 1 inch of water and let it sit. No leak.
So I guess it's either water hitting that shower bench and / or the shower door?
 

Tughillrzr

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I want to hire someone to figure this out for me. Do you know what type of professional I should be looking for? Happen to know anyone in SoCal?

No sorry I do not.
Just pop out this board. Run shower and see. Spray all over. Have someone else stay in shower and be the test dummy. Your trying to repeat the process so do what you would typically do. You look for leaks. Process of elimination
 

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wwhitney

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So I guess it's either water hitting that shower bench and / or the shower door?
Yes, most likely it's a waterproofing failure in one of those places. Showers are notorious for being built wrong.

The glass shower door bottom track, are there fasteners in it that penetrate into the curb? There shouldn't be any, although shower door installers like to use them.

Or it could be a missing corner seal in the waterproofing layer. Or a problem with the bench.

Another testing method you could try: temporarily close off the entire bench opening with plastic and tape. If the leak is happening every shower, and this measure stops it from happening, that's narrows down the location of the leak. If it continues, try instead taping plastic over the curb/glass/tile wall corner area.

Cheers, Wayne
 

DannyDan

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No sorry I do not.
Just pop out this board. Run shower and see. Spray all over. Have someone else stay in shower and be the test dummy. Your trying to repeat the process so do what you would typically do. You look for leaks. Process of elimination

Is it safe to remove that piece? Why do you think it's there?
 

Tughillrzr

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Update #2:
I filled up the bath about 1 inch of water and let it sit. No leak.
So I guess it's either water hitting that shower bench and / or the shower door?
Is it safe to remove that piece? Why do you think it's there?


try Waynes idea first . Process of elimination. Try the easiest and less destructive things first:) eliminate bench, door, back wall.
As said before if you remove that board you maybe able to see that corner more. We all know water travels the easiest path w the least resistance .
 

Tughillrzr

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try Waynes idea first . Process of elimination. Try the easiest and less destructive things first:) eliminate bench, door, back wall.
As said before if you remove that board you maybe able to see that corner more. We all know water travels the easiest path w the least resistance .
Yes it’s safe. Last resort! What’s behind that shower wall? Linen closet? Looks like wc on wall
 

DannyDan

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Yes it’s safe. Last resort! What’s behind that shower wall? Linen closet? Looks like wc on wall

Yes there are restrooms behind that shower wall. Do you think it's related?
It only leaks when the shower is in use.
 

Jeff H Young

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As I said befor the problem isnt the grout job or a re caulking DannyDan. Ive never done a repair on something like this . Its a rebuild in my opinion . everything comes out . no one I know touches that kind of work. make holes and search for source then bust out tile and try to repair , probebly not worth it. Hate to be a debbie downer Maybe demo it out yourself that should save some money
 

DannyDan

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Update #3:
Sealed off the bench / seat area. No more leak...
Next steps?

20210417_205539.jpg
 
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