How to Locate a Shower Leak
LESLIE: Now we have a call from Bud in Oklahoma who wants to repair his shower.
Bud, why don’t you tell us what you’re working on.
BUD: It’s a marble shower and I’ve got a leak in the drain and it’s not in the shower pan itself. I had plumbers come out and everybody and test it and somehow, whenever they built the house, the drain wasn’t put in properly.
BUD: And so – but I don’t want to tear the whole, entire – I’ve had several people want me to tear the whole, entire marble shower out of there and I just wondered why can’t you just – is there anything they make that you can put on the bottom; just like a liner?
TOM: First of all, let me ask you how they were able to determine that the shower pan wasn’t leaking. Just to review, a shower pan is basically the impervious part of the bottom of the shower and it’s made a bunch of different ways. Years and years and years ago it used to be made by lead. They would line the bottom structure of a shower with lead and then they’d put tile or marble on top of it and over the years that would break down. Now today there’s different materials that are used. There’s rubber materials or fiberglass, yet we still have breaks in those shower pans that cause leaks. Now how is it that they were able to determine that the shower pan was not leaking?
BUD: They filled it up with water, let that sit, had it plugged up to see if anything was going to leak there and nothing did and as they’d take that off the drain, it would run down through the drain.
TOM: And when it ran down through the drain it leaked?
TOM: Alright, well here; you can do this test without a plumber.
TOM: Let’s repeat this. First of all, plug the drain – alright, that could be with any kind of stopper that you can get – and fill that shower pan up with a good four inches of water and let it sit. And if some of it starts to run out, fill it up again. Convince yourself that that shower pan is not leaking. If it’s not leaking, that’s good news.
Now, to test the drain, I want you to get a garden hose and try to snake the thing – no matter how you have to do this; I don’t know if you have to hook it up outside, run it through a window or whatever – and then drop that garden hose right smack dab in the middle of the shower drain without it going into the pan at all; just drop it right into the drain itself and let it run and see if that makes it leak.
Now if neither of those makes it leak, the chances are it may not be the shower pan or the drain. It could simply be a leak in the wall of the shower somewhere that might just need to be caulked or resealed. Yeah, I’m not convinced it’s not the shower pan, so I would suggest that you test it in that fashion and see what happens.
BUD: Now if it is the shower pan …
TOM: Then you’ve got to tear it out. The answer to your earlier question, is there a liner for a shower pan …
TOM: … none that I’ve really seen that I think would work well on a regular basis. I mean it might be possible to go on top of it but I think it’s going to look like heck.
BUD: That would probably be a pretty good thing to invent and get a patent on and then … (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Well, you could be the first one, Bud.
BUD: (chuckles) I might try to do that.
TOM: Alright. Well good luck with that project, Bud. Thanks so much for calling us from Oklahoma at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.