What to Do If Your Shower Pan Leaks?
First of all, the shower pan is one of the most important parts of your home’s bathroom. The large ceramic, porcelain or plastic basin at the base of your shower is supposed to collect all the water from your shower head and move it down the drain, but things don’t always go as planned.
As durable as your home’s shower pan can be, it’s also extremely sensitive to movement. This movement can lead to cracks in the foundation and water damage. Everyday wear and tear can also ruin your shower pan over time. If you notice pools of water around the base of your shower or water leaking into your home’s foundation, it’s time to call in a professional and have your shower pan replaced.
You can also check out our article on: How to find leaks in your home
Potential Shower Pan Problems
Shower pans are built to last, but all sorts of things can go wrong if the pan was installed incorrectly or if you’ve been using the same pan for decades. These are some of the most common situations that can cause your shower pan to fail.
Under no circumstances should your shower pan be moving. If any movement does occur, the shower pan can crack and leak. These cracks can make room for water to slip out the sides or in between the shower pan and the drain.
Typically, a shower pan is bolted to the beams in the wall when it’s first installed, so the chances of your shower pan moving around are slim to none, but things can go awry if the pan wasn’t installed properly or if the pan is several decades old.
Concrete shower pans are extremely durable and heavy, so these won’t likely budge too much. But plastic shower pans are much lighter and more susceptible to movement. If your home has moved or shifted naturally over the years or if you live in an area with earthquakes or excessive flooding like Miami, there’s a good chance that your shower pan will move around as the years go on.
Wearing Away Overtime
Shower pans can also deteriorate naturally over time. With all that water coming and going, the caulking on the sides of the pan can start to splinter and leak. This can cause water to go down into your home’s foundation. The caulking used to install the pan isn’t fool-proof, so you’ll want to keep an eye on this part of the bathroom as your home ages.
Deflection is another major warning sign that your shower pan is leaking. If you notice a slope or a curve in your shower pan or in the tile around your bathroom, there’s a good chance that you have a major leak on your hands.
Testing Your Shower Pan
If you see some water on the floor but you’re not sure if your shower pan is leaking, you can test the integrity of your shower pan on one of your days off. The test takes around eight hours, so make sure that you have some free time on your hands.
All you’ll need is some duct tape, a bucket, and a tape measure. To start, make sure that your shower pan is completely dry. Then cover the drain with several thick pieces of duct tape so that the drain is sealed tight.
Next, fill up a bucket with water and pour some into the shower pan until the water is about 1 inch high. Put a mark on the tub or shower pan to note the water level. Over the next 8 hours if you notice the water level decreasing, your shower pan will probably need to be replaced.
You Found Water In Your Shower Pan… Now What?
We have a whole article to address fixing a show pan: 7 Fixes For A Leaking Shower Pan
However, there are a few simple things you can do to fix a leaky shower pan. We have included a DIY cost.
Many times the problem can be solver easily. Grout wears out over time, so you can replace the grout completely.
DIY Cost: Between $8 to $20 depending on how much grout you need and the quality you pick.
Apply masonry sealer
If the issue is not the grout, you can apply some sealer and see if the problem goes away.
DIY Cost: Approx. $20 and you will only need a small amount of sealer.
Replace the pan liner
If you have a ceramic shower, you can try to replace the pan liner.
DIY Cost: $75 and it requires some labor and skill.
Checking for Water Damage
During the test or after you’ve taken a shower, don’t forget to inspect the floor underneath your bathroom. If your shower is on the second floor or higher, carefully inspect the ceilings in the room directly underneath the shower pan. If you notice any dripping or staining, you’ll need to have your shower pan replaced immediately.
A plumbing professional can help as there may be extensive water damage between floors. Want to know the 4 causes of water damage in your home? Click here.
If your shower is on the first floor, you’ll need to crawl under the foundation of your home to inspect the area underneath the bathroom. Use a flashlight to keep an eye out for soggy wood, stains, and leaks. If you notice water damage, you should call a professional plumber immediately.
Water Can Turn Into Mold
Do not neglect the water damage issues as they can turn into mold. Mold is very hard to contain and to eliminate, so you want to make sure you address issues before mold shows up.
If you found mold in your home, check this article out: I Found Mold In My Home
Contacting a Professional
Replacing your shower pan is not exactly a DIY home improvement project. It usually involves ripping out your existing shower pan. Also you may need to remove the tile walls around the shower, and even the floor boards underneath your bathroom.
Don’t risk doing further damage to your home. Call the professionals at Hernandez Plumbing in Miami to have your shower pan replaced the right way.