Leaking Shower Pan: How to Fix, Test + Signs & Causes.
Shower pans, like other plumbing fixtures, can develop leaks for a variety of reasons, including poor installation, deflection, and normal wear and tear. Dampness and water stains are signs that you have a leaky shower pan. If not repaired promptly, these leaks can endanger your home’s foundation.
You can easily fix a leaky shower pan all by yourself by using epoxy or masonry sealant, doing grout and liner replacement, using adhesives, etc. It depends on the nature and severity of the problem. In extreme cases where you cannot fix the issue, you can call in a professional plumber.
How to Quickly Fix a Leaking Shower Pan
Sometimes you can fix the leak yourself without hiring a professional. However, you should be able to recognize issues that go beyond your plumbing expertise. You can avoid the serious repercussions of a leaky shower by putting in place a temporary fix before getting professional help.
Some do-it-yourself fixes for shower leaks are described below, including caulking cracks and replacing grout among others:
Use of Epoxy
Using epoxy is a temporary fix that will keep your shower pan together until you can find a permanent solution.
Epoxies are composed of a hardener and a resin that, when combined, form a strong bond suitable for ceramics and other materials. Because of their viscosity, epoxies can also be used as fillers. They effectively fill in dents, scratches, cracks, holes, or joints and can be sanded and painted to blend in with the surrounding area.
Repair the shower grout, then clean the shower floor before sealing a leaking shower floor with masonry sealer or epoxy. Seal the tiles after that to create a watertight shower floor.
Use Masonry Sealer
This is a relatively inexpensive way, similar to epoxy, to reduce water damage from a leaky shower pan, but it will only be a short-term fix until the shower pan is replaced.
Its application is similr to that of epoxy.
Superglue works well as a temporary solution for bonding and sealing tiny shower pan cracks.
To form a solid bond, superglue uses cyanoacrylate, which is made from cyanide. Unlike epoxy, this convenient product doesn’t need to be mixed and dries in a matter of seconds. It works well to repair broken planter rims and to form bonds in narrow spaces in lightweight ceramics.
Before using superglue, however, you should thoroughly clean and dry the surface and take all necessary precautions for safety.
Shower Pan Liner Replacement
Replacing the shower pan liner is only a short-term solution for leaking shower pans because the liner may wear out again, resulting in additional leaks.
You should use a pan liner to seal cracks and the contact area between the shower pan and the surrounding area to prevent water from getting within the pan and into the drain
To provide a watertight seal, apply a shower pan liner to the pan’s cracks and edges. This necessitates a careful examination of the shower pan and the areas where it meets the wall or the edges of the shower drain for cracks and spaces.
If you have a small shower pan leak and don’t want to tear up floors and walls, dealing with grout issues may be a bit easier. Because grout deteriorates over time, you may get away with applying a sealer or replacing the grout entirely.
Remove any loose grout from the tiles with a grout saw, blow it out, and then apply enough grout to replace the grout between the tiles and where the tiles meet the shower wall. Apply a sealer and allow it to dry overnight before resuming the use of the shower.
The grout may wear out over time. If this is the case with your shower pan, apply new grout along with the appropriate sealant for your pan type.
Install a Flexible Fitting
Plumbers who anticipate the shower pan flexing or moving will frequently install a special flexible drain fitting in the drainpipe below the shower.
The fitting is intended to accommodate bending and flexing in prefabricated pans. When the shower base flexes around the drain opening, a flexible fitting acts as a rubber shock absorber, compressing and springing back.
If your shower is moving enough to cause leaking in the drain connections, this fitting can be installed retroactively from below the shower. Cutting an access opening in the ceiling below the shower is required for installation from below, which can be patched after the fitting is installed.
Replacement using Prefabricated Pans
This is a long-term solution for leaking shower pans, lasting several years depending on the overall quality of the shower pan. Shower pans are typically made of fiberglass or composite materials. With the right tools, you can replace a shower pan in just a few steps. Ensure you correctly seal the pan to avoid water leaking through the sealing, as this can be expensive to repair.
Prefabricated shower pans have the advantage of having few or no weak links that could lead to leaks. On the other hand, they have specific shapes and may not fit perfectly in all bathroom shapes and sizes.
The issue with this approach is that installing the pan requires some skill. This will almost certainly necessitate the assistance of a licensed plumber.
Hiring a Professional Plumber
All of the previous techniques and tactics are useful for dealing with a leaking shower pan, but they may not be a permanent solution. Furthermore, some of these may necessitate the use of tools that you do not have, or your shower pan may not be easily accessible.
It’s probably time to hire a professional plumber to complete the job!
This is critical when a long-term solution is required. Your shower pan may be inaccessible, or you may lack the necessary tools, necessitating the assistance of a professional plumber.
Aside from that, some procedures, such as replacing the shower pan, simply require a skilled individual to carry out in order to avoid problems later on.
Shower Pan Leak Test
You can test for a shower pan leak without contacting a plumber or repairman. Here’s a simple test you can use to determine if the leak is coming from you and not somewhere else:
- Before you begin, make sure the floor of your shower is dry. You can use a rag or old cloth to thoroughly dry it, especially the area around the drain.
- Seal the shower drain with duct tape firmly to keep water from entering it. Duct tape, rubber plugs, or inflatable rubber balls are just a few options. You’re good to go as long as what you use creates a water-tight seal around the shower drain.
- Fill a bucket with water from any other home faucet (DO NOT use the showerhead)
- Pour a few drops of dye or food coloring into the bucket of water, then pour the water into the bathroom floor, the level measuring about an inch deep.
- Mark the water level with a marker pen or pencil and set it aside for a few minutes.
- Monitor the results by checking the water level every hour for eight hours. This will also assist you in determining the severity of the leak.
- If the water level remains constant, the shower pan is not leaking. If it has decreased and you are certain that the shower drain has a water-tight seal, the shower pan is leaking.
How to Tell if your Shower Pan is Leaking
A shower pan leak will be obvious. You’ll notice things like:
Cracks in the shower pan indicate the presence of leaks. Cracks are a red flag that always indicates a flaw in an item, and their presence in a shower pan definitely brings along and indicates leaking.
Damp carpets and baseboards in the shower stall. Such dampness will reveal that not all of the water is draining properly and that a repair is required.
Stains on the Walls, Ceiling, and Floor
Depending on where your shower is located, you may notice stains on the walls and flooring. Water residue and rust are the most common types of stains you may encounter when your leakage isn’t severe.
However, if the problem is severe, you may notice stains forming on the level of your home below the bathroom.
Water leaking from the bathroom ceiling is also a clear indication that your shower pan or another part of the shower floor is leaking.
Wobbly Shower Pan
Shower pans are supposed to be firm and stable, so a moving shower pan is definitely not a good sign. Movements indicate the presence of gaps, which in turn indicate the presence of leaks.
A warning sign is when you enter your shower stall and the shower pan moves to accommodate your weight. To make sure that the leak is not already compromising your floor, you should have it checked.
Change in Gradient
Common in prefabricated pans, such a change indicates that the shower pan isn’t sitting properly, which affects how water drains.
Because the grout and adhesives used to hold the tiles together are constantly exposed to water, they may become loose over time. The tiles may fall off as a result of this.
Mold and Mildew
Mold is more likely to appear in your bathroom when the environment is wet and warm. Mold on the bathroom floor or in its surroundings could indicate a leaking shower pan.
Shower Pan Leaking Causes
There are several probable reasons behind a leaking shower pan. They include the following.
There are two types of prefabricated shower pans: those that are installed in a bed of mortar spread across the floor and those that are mortar-less and designed to rest flat on the floor.
Even with higher-quality shower pans, if a mortar bed is not installed with a shower pan that requires one, the shower pan will not be adequately supported underfoot. When someone showers, the pan moves and flexes. Over time, the condition deteriorates and the shower pan starts leaking.
Wear and Tear
Although shower pans are built to last, their function can expose them to daily wear and tear from people entering and exiting the shower, as well as the constant influx of water. Normal wear and tear can damage a properly installed shower pan over time, possibly even decades, but it is not impossible.
The weight of the household members on the shower pan itself can cause cracks as well. Weight restrictions apply to shower pans. For details on the weight restrictions for the shower pan, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t go over the safe weight limits. Heavy use causes the mortar bed to crack and become ground up, which causes structural failure.
This part of your shower can still become splintered and begin to disintegrate even when it is not frequently used.
Any movement, no matter how slight, indicates that your shower pan could leak. If the pan is clearly moving when you clean your shower or enter it, there is a problem.
A shower pan that has been installed correctly shouldn’t budge while being used. But if it is not secured properly with bolts, sealants, and caulk, it may move and start to crack, allowing water to seep through to the floor and into the space or room below it.
Even if it doesn’t crack, a moving shower pan will let water into the foundation because it will leave cracks all around it where it can leak out and reach the ground. These gaps may have been created by missing grout, loose tiles, or a lack of a pre-slope during construction.
Deflection is the degree to which a structural element is displaced under a load. When installed, your shower pan has a specific gradient meant to direct the water to the drain.
If you notice any unusual sloping in the shower pan, or if it feels unstable when stepping in or out, this might be a warning sign of deflection. Deflection of the shower pan prevents water from entering the drain, probably making it pool elsewhere and even leak.
Mechanical damage to the shower pan can occur occasionally, most likely as a result of an accident, such as dropping a hard heavy object in the bathroom.
This causes breakage or cracking, which causes a secondary problem of leaking.
Improper chemical cleaning of the shower pan over time may deteriorate its structural quality, causing it to leak. When using drain cleaners, one should immediately and thoroughly rinse the pan with water. Certain chemicals have been shown to degrade acrylic, ABS, polystyrene, fiberglass, or plastic. Solvents like turpentine, mineral spirits, paint thinner, and acetone can also cause the pan’s surface to crack..
Poor drainage in the shower drain may allow water to seep into the nearby floor between the drain and the shower pan. This might be a result of too much debris clogging the drain or an improper drainage design.
A shower with poor drainage may also cause water to collect in the shower pan, which may then overflow and leak into the surroundings.
Cracks are often the first telltale signs of shower pan damage. If you have a plastic pan, any cracking is an indication that the pan has failed. With sturdier materials, such as porcelain, cracks in the pan itself, not the grout or tiles, are a warning sign of a problem. If there is any cracking or splintering in the shower pan, stop using that shower immediately until you can repair it.
Cracks could be a result of industrial defects, mechanism breakage or other reasons.
Uneven expansion and contraction
Common in prefab shower pans, sometimes the shower pan can also crack or loosen up due to heat changes leading to expansion and contraction which can sometimes be uneven throughout the shower pan material.
Consequently, these cracks or movements lead to spaces that allow water to seep in and leak.
Are shower Pan Leaks Covered by Insurance?
Homeowners’ insurance is meant to compensate for unprecedented losses and damages. Despite being common household disasters, leaking showers and other plumbing problems do not always merit this coverage.
Usually, insurance companies in the United States will not cover the cost of failed items. In the case of a leaking shower pan, it would be considered a separate, failed item from the rest of your home. In other words, your insurance will most likely not cover the cost of replacing the pan.
That being said, if your policy covers water damage, you are likely covered for any amount of water damage to the flooring beneath the shower pan. In other words, the shower pan itself would not be covered, but anything damaged beneath the shower pan would be.
The only exception is if you were aware of the damage and did nothing to repair or prevent further damage. Otherwise, the date of loss is the first time you discovered the damage. Because the leak was most likely unexpected, it meets an insurance requirement that a covered claim be unexpected, accidental, and unintended.
However, because insurance companies frequently use different types of coverage forms, you or someone who understands the forms will need to carefully review your policy. In fact, shower pan failures are a common occurrence and are caused by a plumbing problem, i.e., a shower pan failure.
Shower Pan Leak Repair Cost
The cost of repairing a leaking shower pan can vary between $100 and $750. Most homeowners pay pro plumbers an average of $350. If you’re a DIY person, you will probably spend less.
However, the total cost depends on a couple of factors including;
- The number and types of replacements that may be required
- The material from which your shower pan is made
- Additional repairs
- Plumping company rates
- Region (where you live)
As an Amazon Associate, we may earn an affliate commission whenever you purchase through links on our pages. Disclosure here