chirag_patel7153

water leaking from shower into bedroom downstairs

chirag patel
October 20, 2019

hello. just built a brand new. bathroom, and now theres a leak! as you may see from pics, the leak doesn't look like its coming from the pipes. From experienting, it looks like its coming from where the wall meets the shower pan. the grout line however, doesnt look cracked, hence my confusion as to HOW its leaking.

whats my fix here?? will regrouting fix the problem?

Comments (63)

  • chirag patel

    how does sealer not make it waterproof?? thats what its made for...to SEAL the grout line.

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    Sealer is made to give you more time to clean the grout when stained. It does NOT claim to be waterproofing. Sealer is also designed to allow the grout to breathe as to let moisture out and allow the tile assembly to dry.

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  • HU-527663426

    The pros on here already explained it. The waterproofing is installed before any tile goes up. There are several industry-acceptable ways of doing it. Each contractor has their preferred materials and methods. My contractor preferred Laticrete Hydroban boards, but others might prefer Kerdi, or cement board with red guard. There are different ways of doing it, but the tile, grout and caulk are not part of the waterproofing system. They are what goes on top of the waterproofed shower system. They are the visible, decorative elements. If your shower is not waterproofed correctly the tile, grout and caulk will not make it so.

  • mainenell

    Do you have grout at the bottom line of the tile? It should be silicone to allow for movement. Anytime you change planes you use silicone caulking, not grout.

  • chirag patel

    correct
    its silicone caulking. BASICALLY, im sure its not the shower pan, and i believe its that line i circled in the picture. IS THERE NO WAY TO SEAL THAT CAULK LINE! I reallllllyyy dont want to rip up anything...:-(

  • mainenell

    If it is already leaking then something was done wrong. Proper detailing would prevent this from happening.

  • HU-527663426

    Did you built it, or did you have a contractor?

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    Question - where the plumbing is for the faucet - can you access that through the other side of the wall?? Quite often where you think the leak is coming from, is not always the case. I would cut open the wall on the other side of that just to confirm... The odd angles of the copper and burnt joists give me pause...

    Hopefully you can find this issue and fix it easily!

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    If you are sure its not the shower pan, the only recourse is to remove it down to the studs and start over. Sorry about that. Still worthwhile to do a flood test on the pan before demolition.

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    chirag patel,

    You (or your contractor) need to make sure that the plumbing itself is not causing this problem. As some people have mentioned, a water leak can sometimes appear to be from someplace other than where it appears to originate.

    Remove any trim pieces around the faucets and look with a flashlight to be sure there isn't a plumbing issue. If you can access the back of the plumbing wall that's a good place to look also.

    But let's be really clear... if this is leaking -- and it's not plumbing that is accessible -- you have no alternative other than to rip it out. There is no sealant, no caulk, no anything, that can be applied to fix this. Caulk and grout will always crack, dry out, etc. - it's not considered waterproofing. Waterproofing happens under the tile and doesn't rely on caulk.

    We know that ripping out the shower is last thing you want to do - but that's the answer. We have seen this repeatedly.

    The rest of the story is that if your contractor attempts a repair, you may postpone ripping it out past the warranty period (or not) but it WILL leak again - and will cause mold, rot and other damage. Again - caulk always dries out and cracks. Your contractor will be gone by that time.


    After additional consideration, I'm going to somewhat disagree with Cabot & Rowe: If the pan is leaking the answer is exactly the same... you have to rip out and start over. So I'm not sure how much value the pan leak test has other than perhaps to say, "the wall details were right... there's just a crack in the pan". Go ahead and do the pan leak test - but know if the pan is leaking, the answer is the same.


    The pan leak test is most valuable before any walls go up. If there's a problem with the pan or the drain assembly you want to know before you start putting up walls.

  • Lyndee Lee

    If this is a DIY job, feel free to bandaid it with caulk as long as you want. Eventually, the damage will extend far enough you will have no alternative except to RIP everything out and start over. By that time, you will be dealing with extensive rot and will need to deal with joists, wall studs and subflooring. If you fix it right now, you will avoid the additional work to repair all the water damage. Water leaks can be difficult to find so check all the repairable areas first like solder joints and fittings.

    If this was done by a contractor, get him back to fix it now before he disappears!

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    Just an FYI: If you can get to the back side of the plumbing wall, or the wall in question, it can be worth it to cut the drywall so you can see what's going on before you rip out the shower. Cutting (and then patching) drywall on the back side is pretty cheap and easy. You can also do this as a fairly small hole and use a cheap scope camera that connects to your phone or laptop to look at the back side of the tile wall.

  • weedmeister

    These look like panels, not tile. So it depends on the manufacturer instructions as to how it got installed. Some can go directly against studs. Others go over drywall (green), concrete board or whatever. The panels usually have to match the pan (same manufacturer) since some have a lip that is overlapped by drywall and some don't.

    In that picture of the black wood, is that the front of the pan or the back?

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    Jake the Wonderdog, What I was aiming at is the seal around the drain sometimes comes loose or needs to be adjusted. It depends on how the seal from the pan to the drain was made. Is the HO is lucky, the seal is bad and can be redone from the bathroom and / or taking out a section of the ceiling below to tighten. If the pan is cracked it's a complete re-do.

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    weedmeister , the OP has talked about grout - so I'm not sure why you are thinking they are panels

  • catbuilder

    Because he actually meant silicone caulk.

  • chirag patel

    i dont understand the shower pan test. what will it help me find if the line where the pan meets the wall is higher than the pan with all the water filled in with (see pic). basically, th water would only fill to certain height and not touch the wall

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    The shower pan tests the pan and the pan-to-drain connection. This is the first step before taking the walls apart

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    Cabot & Rowe, I agree that the pan test will show a bad drain seal. From the photo it doesn't appear that there is water leakage from the drain connection. That said, no harm in doing the test and it could point in the right direction or at least rule things out.

    chirag patel,

    Can you tell us if that is tile on the walls, or are those panels?

    Also, would you tell us what the base is?


    Also Here is a cautionary tale about how this turns out after about 10 years.

  • HU-527663426

    Also, OP didn’t answer if there’s a contractor is involved. That info informs the path forward,

  • chirag patel

    there was a handyman who did the whole bathroom. tried to force him to come back, but he wont. dont want him to do work on it anyways, since he sucks

  • chirag patel

    yes, they are tiles on the wall. please see image and link of the shower pan.

    https://fleurco.com/bases/quad-base-with-linear-drain-cover

  • chispa

    Have you tried running the shower head and hand-held separately, and have the water collect in a bucket or large rubbermaid container? This will tell you if it is the plumbing pipes, or connectors, that are leaking

    Let things dry out for a few days first. Water can travel in very weird directions and it can be quite tricky to pin point leaks.

  • cpartist

    there was a handyman who did the whole bathroom. tried to force him to come back, but he wont. dont want him to do work on it anyways, since he sucks

    And I'm guessing he did not waterproof the shower correctly or at all.

  • mainenell

    Did you order the separate tiling flange that is required for the proper installation? Did the handyman follow the instructions correctly in installing the separate tiling flange?

    (Self wonders why any manufacturer would make a shower pan without an integrated shower flange? It is just asking for trouble.)

  • PRO
    Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works, Inc.

    No drip ledge? Go ahead and caulk all around the perimeter at the pan and tile. Make sure it is 100% sealed at these joints. If it stops leaking than you know it is absence of a drip ledge. (Diagnostic tip only).

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    Here's what I see: You can point fingers at the handyman, but I don't think that's the whole story or even half the story.

    I think that you, the homeowner, tried to get by on the cheap. I think you used low quality materials and I think that you hired unqualified labor. And this is also the argument against being your own General Contractor.

    That base isn't something I would ever use. Acrylic bases tend to crack over time (and then you have to rip everything out).

    The tile flange on your base is aluminum and is attached in the field (or attached at the factory for $65). It's pretty bogus. BTW: Aluminum will react with cement board and corrode where it touches. What's more, tile backer doesn't overlap the tile flange on your base per the installation instructions.. All-in-all (field install of the flange + bad connection between wall and base) this setup is just going to leak sooner or later. In your case it happened sooner.

    I don't know if this handyman did a proper install of the backer board and waterproofing of the walls or not. He may have - but the base was crap. A bad backer board waterproofing job - if it's just the walls - usually shows up years later. In this case, the wall to base details were crap and so it leaked almost immediately.

    • Use a Kohler cast iron base instead. The cast iron base won't crack and the Kohler base also has a proper flange around it. Note that the backer board overlaps the flange on the Kohler base so it's very unlikely to leak.
    • Get a real contractor in there to do it properly.
    • Watch the YouTube videos on proper waterproofing of tile backer board so you know how it should be done.
    • Read the instructions on installing the base. Make sure it's being done according to the directions.
    • Take photos as it's being done.
  • millworkman

    "there was a handyman who did the whole bathroom. tried to force him to come back, but he wont. dont want him to do work on it anyways, since he sucks"


    The story unfolds......................Seriously between the pan and this statement I would get prepared for a proper gut and do over. This time by a professional.

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    To find a qualified tile man in your area go to the NTCA website - locate a contractor click here

  • chirag patel

    So....if i shoot DIRECTLY from handheld showerhead into drain...I will have clear answer of whether its the pipes (if it leaks again) OR tiles/shower pan (if it doesnt leak)..correct?? or am i wrong?

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    That's probably an accurate test.

  • NYCish

    I think you might be confused as to what “waterproof” means. Tile/grout/caulk do not make something waterproof.

    There should be an independently waterproofed surface that went in before the tile/grout/caulk. If you don’t have this, then it really doesn’t matter where your leak is coming from now. This shower will leak and you will have damage. Right NOW it could be coming from a poor pipe connection, but the fact still remains, if you don’t have a proper waterproofing system in place, this is a do-over.

  • millworkman

    A properly waterpoofed shower can technically be used with no tile, no grout and no caulk with no issues. Tile, caulk and grout and all topical and visual for the most part.

  • chirag patel

    i agree with everyone. im willing to move on and restart. HOWEVER, prior to do doing so, i want to make sure its not faulty pipes..so i ask---if i shoot water down the drain and nothing leaks, i can SAFELY assume its not the piping..correct?

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    yes, that is correct.


  • MongoCT

    A slightly better way to test the supply side plumbing is to unthread the shower head off the arm, and thread on a 1/2" cap in its place.


    Turn on the shower supply valve. Let it sit like that for several hours. You won't have the noise of water running into the shower and down the drain, but if there is a leaky plumbing union/joint behind the wall, you may hear the hiss pf the fine spray, or see the results downstairs.


    By capping the shower arm, it creates more pressure within the supply tubing and will exacerbate any leak.



  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    Are you having any luck??

    On a side note... we sell and install Fluerco shower pans all the time and with no issue. They make a quality product and our customers like them. Some models come with flanges and some are designed to fit several applications ( 1 - 3 threshholds - someone had asked previously why they would sell a base without tiling flanges - this is why ).

    Hopefully you can find that it is something simple...all things happen for a reason - try to stay positive

    Keep us posted

  • chirag patel

    so...i shot water down the drain with the showerhead...no water leaked.
    in conclusion, it must be leaking from the side. we opened the side up a little and did see what we believe to be a tile flange. So, i still dont know WHAT the error was.

  • AJCN

    I don't know where you got that image, but it doesn't show any waterproofing. I'm sure a pro will weigh in further.

  • chirag patel

    thats from the shower pan installation manual

  • PRO
    Cabot & Rowe

    Might be from the manual but still doesn't show any waterproofing. Back to the pan test, did you get water all over the base of the shower or directly down the drain? I ask because the seal around the drain is sometimes outside the 2 inch drain pipe. If you shoot water down the center of that pipe you might get a false test. A plumbers balloon or a 2 inch plug before filling the pan with water is a definitive test.

  • chirag patel

    i did directly into drain. i will try all over the base of the shower next.

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    The diagram for installing a shower pan won't discuss waterproofing - it will just show the install of their pan.. Are you able to access inside the wall where the waterlines are for the shower faucet?? The whole time you are assuming it is the pan and it very well could be a leak in the pipes.

    If there is no water leaking when the shower is off, then it could be in the lines from the valve to the showerhead or handheld.

    Goodness - I hope you find it before having to just tear everything out...

  • PRO
    Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works, Inc.

    You need a professional onsite. This is beyond virtual diagnosis. And yes, be prepared to tear it out and re-do by a Pro.

  • MongoCT

    Please specifically describe how the walls were constructed, step-by-step, layer-by-layer.

    If it is simply the wall studs, with cement board or tile backer board (what type did you use?) over the wall studs, then tile adhered directly to the tile backer board with thinset, then grout?

    If different, just list step-by-step.

    The walls were framed with studs.

    Over the studs, you placed :

    1) ??

    and over that you placed:

    2)??

    and over that you placed:

    3)??

    etc...



  • chirag patel

    UPDATE: we became exhausted from trying to find the leak and have decided to redo it. thank you all for that responded!!

  • Jake The Wonderdog

    I am sorry about that.

  • HU-527663426

    Did the contractor who built the leaky shower give your money back?

  • chirag patel

    no of course not

  • chirag patel

    all crooked. from flooring guy, to kitchen guy, to bathroom guy...all crooked

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