How to Fix a Leaking Shower
LESLIE: Nothing is more unsatisfactory than a leaky shower or an unhappy showering situation. Roy, what is going on with your leak?
ROY: The water keeps leaking down through my wall and into my closet.
ROY: So I’ve checked the stems and put all – everything is brand new but I just can’t figure out why it’s still leaking underneath the wall.
TOM: Now does it only leak when the shower is being operated?
ROY: Yeah, afterwards.
TOM: OK. So then we know that there’s no leak up to the valve; that once you activate the shower valve and the water goes up the shower pipe and out, that’s when you get the leaks?
ROY: No, it’s after when you turn the shower off.
TOM: OK, and have you caulked all of those joints? Are you sure there’s no gaps in the tile? Because very often, if you are taking a shower and the water bounces off your body, it can find the smallest, little gap in the tile and leak through.
The first thing to check is this – is there a way that you can, say, run a hose or something and just check the shower drain?
ROY: I can do that.
TOM: Run the water so it doesn’t touch the walls and only touches the shower drain.
TOM: Because we need to eliminate that there’s no problem with the shower drain itself.
TOM: If we know that the shower drain is now intact and it’s not leaking, then you need to work that hose test a little up higher on the walls. But it’s been my experience that there could be the smallest possible gap in that wall can cause this problem.
The shower pan, by the way, what’s it look like? Is it a tile floor?
ROY: The pan itself is probably 25 years old.
TOM: Ah, OK. There could be another problem here. You could have a break in that pan. Let me show you how to test that.
TOM: First you test the drain, right? Then what I want you to do is take like a heavy washcloth or maybe some sort of stopper and cover the shower drain itself and fill the pan up with water; just the shower pan. It’s going to be about three inches thick or four inches thick.
TOM: So fill that up with water and let it sit and check underneath. If you’re getting leaks after that, then you need a new shower pan and that will be very, very common in a shower that’s 25 or 30 years old, Roy. OK?
TOM: In fact, I’d be surprised if that’s not the problem. Yeah, that’s about 1,000 to 1,500 bucks to replace because you’ve got to tear out the tile and redo the pan and usually they’ll use a rubbery material today. They don’t use lead anymore.
ROY: I appreciate it.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.