Maybe you’ve just noticed a growing water stain on the ceiling of the room below where your shower sits. Or maybe you’ve been noticing loose floor tiles adjacent to the shower, water-stained baseboards nearby, or a soggy carpet area by the shared wall. Any one of these signs is an indication of a leak that requires attention, perhaps even a dreaded shower pan leak.
Shower Construction 101
Leaks can come from many parts of a shower and some are easier to fix than others. Lesser problems include bad seals on the bottom of your shower door, leaking shower head fixtures, and faulty grouting between the tiles. Replacing the fixture, re-sealing, and re-grouting are quick and easy fixes. In more extreme and difficult-to-fix cases, the pipes behind the tiling could be leaking or the source of the trouble could be your shower pan.
A shower pan is simply the floor of your shower. Sitting beneath the tiling is a low-walled “tub” covered with a waterproof liner, set there to protect the infrastructure of your house from possible overflow. If water is getting around this area to stain the ceiling and beams below, you may not notice the damage for a while. Unfortunately, such a leak can rot and destroy wood and sheetrock as well as encourage mold.
How To Test For A Shower Pan Leak
If you suspect a shower pan leak, you should test for it immediately. All you need is some duct tape, a bucket, and about eight hours.
– Make sure the floor of your shower is dry
– Cover the drain generously with duct tape to ensure water can’t seep through
– Fill a bucket of water from any other faucet but the shower head (to ensure the leak isn’t coming from the fixture or the supply pipes)
– Pour water into the bottom of your shower to about an inch of depth
– Watch for water seeping onto the floor, through nearby walls, or upon the ceiling or beams in the area on the lower floor just under the shower
– Check every hour for at least eight hours to allow water to accumulate from any smaller leaks
If you notice drips, stains, or water accumulation, you have a leak in your shower pan.
How Can I Fix It?
Because fixing a shower pan is an infrastructure matter, the kind of work you want done once and done right, it may not be the kind of job even the hardiest of DIY-ers should tackle. Fixing the leak means tearing up the tiling on the floor and lower walls of your shower. You may also need to tear out and repair any nearby water-damaged areas such as baseboards, carpets, and sheetrock. Proper shower pan installation is a skill best left to the professionals.
Whether you’ve diagnosed a shower pan leak or you’ve noticed that your shower head is dripping, never hesitate to call your trusted plumber to ensure that the job gets done right.