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Old 10-29-2010, 06:48 AM   #1
SolMan217
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Shower Pan liner flat on floor, no slope

My plumber laid a PVC shower pan flat on the floor without putting a mortar slope beneath it. He did not put a bead of silicon between the PVC sheet and the drain base but used plumbers putty to grease the bolt holes. The weep holes were plugged as he had the liner protruding over edge of drain base.

Then the contractor's tile man put in a mortar bed on top of the flat shower pan, but he left all the area under the screw in drain cap devoid of mortar. Also at the back of the 3x5 foot shower pan there is a 1/4 inch low spot. I followed advice to caulk the cracks in the durock wall with tubed concrete patch which seems a bit soft. This stuff is also in the crack between the durock walls and the shower pan.

I broke away some of the shower pan mortar and am going to try to put the 100% silicone beed on underside of the pvc pan liner. I also cut away a little of the liner to allow the weep holes room to drain. They were blocked before. So, now I have a big hole and a swag in the floor and maybe some slightly incompatible rubbery concrete patch in the floor/wall joint. I have tried to think of a way to compensate for the unsloped drain pan. My contractor says that is the way it is always done. OK, but I still wanted the weep holes to be open and the seal between the PVC pan liner and the drain base. I guess it will just be moist down there. I am planning on mixing up some sand topping mix and sand per John's instructions, putting pebbles around weep holes and screwing in the drain top then filling in the whole thing and possibly trying to add a layer of some type of mortar (if necessary) to get rid of the low spot in back of shower.

I had also been advised to Redgard everything, walls and floor, but I have seen contrary advice too. I would call in a tile guy to do the job, but so far I have heard many different approaches to the problem and am worried about what work was done so far. Maybe I worry to much, but please advise how best to proceed. See photo and note I did patch some real rough spots in the pan mortar that was laid with the premix concrete patch. My mistake? Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-29-2010, 06:59 AM   #2
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John,

You're lucky you caught this one early!

With a liner on the floor you don't want redguard on the top of the mud pan. That would trap all manner of wee beasties in the mud pan.

Any chance you can take down the lower layer of CBU from the walls and have the plumber re-do the liner properly this time? That would fix all your problems listed.... Just sayin....
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Old 10-29-2010, 08:31 AM   #3
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Or skip the plumber and do the pan yourself. Does your local area require a permit and inspection?

Me personally, I would tear out the pan and liner and switch to Kerdi.

At the very least, the pan and liner need to come out so a proper preslope can be done. A preslope is required by code, doesn't matter what the plumber says about how its always done.
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Old 10-29-2010, 08:41 AM   #4
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Count me in as someone who built a great shower with the help of this forum. My plumber wanted $750 to set the liner in a 4'x6' shower without a preslope claiming "yes a preslope is called for but we always do it this way." I knew for a fact that the floors had pitched slightly towards the center of the house over the course of 40 years and that there was no way all the water would find its way to the drain. Hauling all the dry pack mix to the third floor and doing it right was a pain in the neck, but I have a great shower.

You can do it yourself and do it right.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:01 AM   #5
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+1 for tearout and start over. You're asking for major trouble down the road if you leave this as it is, I'm afraid
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe
"A preslope is required by code, doesn't matter what the plumber says about how its always done. "
Not all codes require a preslope. IRC model code certainly does. Most states that adopt IRC plumbing do, but some actually omit that section! There are other states under other codes that do not require a preslope.
Unfortunately by some codes, the only opinion that legally counts is actually the plumber's.

I am going to paste some things I posted elsewhere, I simply believe consumers need to be properly educated, need to hire installers sometimes willing to do more than "required" (and consumers need to be willing to pay for it)

The reason I highlight this is I think it does an overall disservice to consumers to believe they are protected by codes that might not apply in their state. I ask installers all the time and in some areas they estimate as high as 90% of the showers are built without preslope.
Unfortunately, they must at least ask their installer or understand their codes to insure they get what they want.

Many showers do last without preslope, but it will depend on many other variables of installation. As you have to repair, you have a decision about throwing good money at something unknown. Lots of 30+ year old showers existed without it, but almost anyone that understands it, today, would of course want preslope. That said, in many states, it is not required.

My point is not to defend any practices at all. My point is simply to understand that showers built to some codes can often hardly meet any human’s definition of minimally acceptable. At least the up to date IRC code is pretty good protection (although I’m sure in 7-10 years from now people will point to deficiencies)
A consumer needs to protect themselves.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:41 AM   #7
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Many thanks for replies so far which are unanimous in suggesting that the money paid to contractor, plumber and tile guy who put mortar straight over a flat floor has been wasted and now needs to be redone. I have my fears you are correct which is why I posted the question.

My contractor said he thinks the unsloped pan liner is fine because he thinks a shower pan is a permanently wet area anyway. I tried to think this concept through. If PVC liner is flat on floor and there is hump to get over the drain base then certainly it would be permanently wet if used regularly and water vapor does migrate down into the mortar bed. I presume it would be more wet than a pitched shower pan. The idea of a sloped shower pan is that water seeping under the tile and grout would soak into mortar until saturated and then drain down a sloped PVC pan to the weep holes and drip down the drain. If this same plumber and contractor have not in their careers had to repair or redo all their shower pans maybe it is worth considering a question before I put another $500 toward changing current situation. Could it be that mortar beds sloped or unsloped are always pretty wet anyway and as long as there is some route for moisture to drain before filling up all the way to the grout line and there is no leak between liner and drain that this setup performs basically the same without a sloped pan. That is, the mortar in any shower pan stays pretty moist if indeed significant moisture seeps through the sealed grout.

I wouldn't say I was lazy, but sometimes I fix things that don't necessarily need fixing and cause a bigger problem. Clearly, if I tear out the work that has been done I can do a textbook job. There are three alternatives:

1) Tear out the old work and cut off the CBU and reinstall new sloped shower pan.

2) Assume that all shower pans retain a fair amount of moisture constantly anyway and that as long as the top inch is above grade the moisture in the critical interface with the grout and tile will not be abnormally wet. Then I would silicone caulk under the PVC to the drain base, fill in the remaining hole seen in the photo with mortar and tile and grout as normal. See if it works. If problems arise then I haven't spent too much more anyway and can redo the pan. I don't think the pan is going to leak no matter what I do.

3) Here is the more radical idea that may combine both plans. (The only problem being that the PVC liner on the floor is not felt paper and is not permeable.) Treat the currently sloped pan as if it were the first phase sloped pan. Add enough mortar in the wide open hole around the drain but slope it down to the drain base only. Make something like a 45 degree slope from current surface of mortar down to the drain base. Apply a thick layer of Redgard over the entire surface of the mortar bed right up to the weep holes. Add pebbles aroung weep holes, screw in the drain cap to proper level fill in area under it and add another one inch mortar bed on top of the Redgard treating it as if it were the shower pan membrane which should be solid right up to the drain base weep holes. No water vapor should be able to get into the lower mortar under the Redgard. Redgard is approved as a shower pan. Basically the Redgard then becomes the shower pan liner. This would also allow for me to get a good slope without a low spot to pool water in the finished floor.

Please vote on option 1,2 or 3? Many thanks for your help.
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Old 10-29-2010, 09:54 AM   #8
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#1. #1. #1. #1. #1. #1. #1. #1. #1.

We can vote often, right?
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Old 10-29-2010, 10:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
If problems arise then I haven't spent too much more anyway and can redo the pan. I don't think the pan is going to leak no matter what I do
I might be confused, are the walls tiled already or something? Ripping out the pan now will be tremendously cheaper than ever doing a repair later if this is a new install.
If you can do this yourself, it’s less than $100 total materials at this point.

Can I ask what state you are located in? As far as resale, I’d want to make sure it was at a minimum, code compliant, first.

Quote:
as long as the top inch is above grade the moisture in the critical interface with the grout and tile will not be abnormally wet
The top inch will perform similarly if everything is constructed right. Unfortunately that assumption doesn’t apply to the bottom inch, look in the worst thread in the pro’s section for visualization.


If I have to vote for one option, I'd vote for #1

But, I'd probably rip the floor out and convert it to a kerdi drain/hydroban hybrid shower.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honeydo
Not all codes require a preslope. IRC model code certainly does. Most states that adopt IRC plumbing do, but some actually omit that section! There are other states under other codes that do not require a preslope.
Unfortunately by some codes, the only opinion that legally counts is actually the plumber's.
Quite true Ed. I was generalizing with my comment. The only way to know what is accepted code in your area is to visit your local municipalitie's building inspector. Remember that just because something "meets code" does not mean that it is the best way to do it. Quite often it satisfies some minimal requirement. Kind of like going with the low bidder.

I would still opt for a tearout and go with Kerdi or some other surface applied membrane.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:09 AM   #11
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#1 is the only way to go. seriously. Its your house, why settle for less?

You can keep the pan as is. All you'd have to do is forward your address to us so we know to come knock on your door in 6 years or so to re-do your shower, and the room below or next to it to solve all the mold and water problems.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:16 AM   #12
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I am in Florida. I was here for the building inspection. The building inspector said nothing about the pvc laying flat on the floor. I had pretty much decided to just go with current setup after you mentioned that 90 percent had the pvc liner flat on the floor in some areas. It is a shame you pay good money on new construction and get work that has to be redone. It is no consolation that the plumber that did it is in jail now. So much for getting him back here to do it. Please tell me again where to look at the "worst" photos or description on what happened with flat pvc liners. Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolMan
My contractor said he thinks the unsloped pan liner is fine because he thinks a shower pan is a permanently wet area anyway.
Absoulutely Not!!!! Yes a shower is a wet area, but here is the thing. Water still needs to go down the drain. If you have water pooling there on that liner w/o ever making it to the drain you are asking for trouble. At best it will cause efflorescence to come up and turn your grout and maybe tile white. You could also have some of the cement color come up and stain your grout. And the worst which will probably eventually happen (maybe not for 5-1o years, but will still prolly happen) will be the growth of mold. If you want to chance those things then leave it, if not rip it out and make them do it the correct way, after all they are the "pro's"
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Old 10-29-2010, 11:47 AM   #14
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Just got off the phone with local tile guy who said he would cover all the walls and current sloped floor with a Schluter membrane with a drain assembly that bonds to the drain pipe and eliminates need for weep holes, etc. He said he might pull the mortar out anyway but not the old pvc liner as it was not an issue with the totally sealed Schluter cover over it. Anybody familiar with this idea. Tile store guy said his installers went to school for 3 days to learn how to properly install the Schluter system which is more than I can say for guys who created the mess. Of course, he wants $500 to $750 for the job. Yes, I could pull out the old work, make a huge mess and still have to do it myself. For $500 I may just let them handle it IF the Schluter system is a real solution for the current problem. What do you think about the Schluter idea? Thanks again for all your help.
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Old 10-29-2010, 12:00 PM   #15
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The Schluter system is a great idea, you just have one problem there. The old liner technically you aren't supposed to have two different water proofing membranes at different levels of the install. It makes what is called a "moisture sandwhich" Meaning if anywater happened to penetrat the kerdi and get into the pan it would have zero chance of escaping. I think the kerdi is a great idea just ask them to rip out the pvc liner berore they float a new pan.
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