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Fred Cambma 05-24-2021 06:57 PM

Can this shower be saved?
Contractor put in a shower, 58" x 40" with "pebble" natural stone tile with a mesh backing. The drain is at the long end. It looks nice, but the total drop from the back wall to the drain is only about a half inch. From what I read online, a 4.5' run needs a 2.25" drop to drain properly. Contractor attempted a repair by chipping out some tile in the middle (where it pooled) and using thinset to raise that portion. This failed. The drain cannot be lowered. Question is this: can the problem be corrected by making a new pan on top of the existing tile? Does all the tile have to be chipped out? Or are we talking a whole new pan (which by the way, is an expensive copper one)?

cx 05-24-2021 07:20 PM

Welcome, Fred. :)

A geographic location is often helpful in responding to some types of questions. And we'd know if you're actually in Boston or just close.

This shower has a linear drain at one end?

Your copper pan has a pre-slope under it?

Your 2.25 inches would amount to a half-inch drop per horizontal foot. While most here (TYW) will agree that more than the minimum requirement of 1/4" per foot is preferred for pebble-type floors, I know of no such industry requirement.

Your shower floor under the stones is a thick mortar bed? If so, my recommendation would be to remove the entire mortar bed and do another that is flat and of the desired slope.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Fred Cambma 06-10-2021 12:24 PM

Contractor from Hell
I just learned that the guy who did my shower did not put any kind of waterproofing over the Durock. He applied ceramic subway tiles directly to the cement board, no RedGard, no membrane. Doing it all over is not an option. What can I do?

cx 06-10-2021 12:44 PM

Do you know if he installed a moisture barrier behind the CBU, Fred?

Fred Cambma 06-10-2021 12:48 PM

Probably not.
This guy talked like he knew showers. He screwed up other stuff too. I did not see what he put up behind the cement board, but he might tell me if I ask a specific question. What is the moisture barrier product called?

cx 06-10-2021 12:53 PM

I'm still not seeing a geographic location in your User Profile.

An acceptable wall moisture barrier could be polyethylene sheeting or roofing felt or similar material that laps over the sides of the shower receptor on the drain side. The presence of such a barrier would negate the need for a waterproofing membrane on the inside of the wallboards.

My opinion; worth price charged.

Fred Cambma 06-10-2021 01:32 PM

I will reach out to the contractor to find out. But if he didn't do anything but Durock, and I can't redo the whole shower, is there anything I can do to decrease the likelihood of moister problems (like mold)? (And I updated my profile, sorry!)

cx 06-10-2021 02:11 PM

Not really. The lack of waterproofing or water containment material on your shower walls is not likely to contribute to mold problems in the shower.

The problems will be much longer term, such as rotting of the wall framing, some moisture problems in the wall cavity including the mold you mention. And that will be determined somewhat by the wall cavity construction.

If the wall(s) is an exterior wall, given your climate, that will contribute substantially to the amount of moisture vapor that will exit the shower into that wall cavity and where it might find its dew point. The type and amount of insulation will affect that a great deal, too.

Lots to consider there, but not really anything that can be done with the tile wall at this point that doesn't involve destructive measures.

The one thing that can help more than any other is to install and use a properly sized exhaust fan in that bathroom. But that's true even for a properly constructed shower.

My opinion; worth price charged.

jadnashua 06-10-2021 02:15 PM

Massachusetts seems to love copper pans, if that's what you have for the pan liner. THey normally end up flat on the floor, which shouldn't pass an inspection, as the code requires the waterproofing to slope to the drain, and the pan is the waterproofing...the tile is just decorative, wear surface.

So, the liner should be sloped a minimum of 1/4" per foot to the drain, typically installed over a mortar preslope, then, the setting bed is installed on top of the liner in a parallel layer, so the slope remains the same. NOw, you CAN make that slope greater than 1/4" per foot on the setting bed if you wish.

In a conventional shower, the only part that is waterproof is the liner. There are alternative methods to shower construction that can make the entire shower waterproof underneath the tile. They all work WHEN THEY"RE DONE CORRECTLY!

Code also calls for no penetrations into the pan within 2" above the top of the curb, so if they nailed or screwed the Durrock into the wall, or used it over the top of the curb, that is a major problem.

Fabricating a copper pan to fit on a sloped surface can be done, but your average installer either can't or doesn't do this. It would be easier on a linear drain, as that has one slope, but I'm not sure how they would attach it to the drain to make a good, permanent, seal.

Fred Cambma 06-10-2021 02:16 PM

Sounds good.
Thanks for a very helpful answer.

I did contact my guy, and he said there's a moisture barrier behind the Durock. So maybe I'm ok? I do have what I'm told is a very good exhaust fan, as well.

One last question: he used TEC Power Grout in the shower. Should I seal the grout? I've heard you don't seal Power Grout.

jadnashua 06-10-2021 02:21 PM

Grout sealer doesn't make things waterproof...it is primarily to help you be able to clean up a mess before it penetrates and stains things. The grout will still get damp if the drainage isn't right, or the shower is used frequently and can't get a chance to dry out in between.

Not sure if that grout has a need for a sealer...so can benefit, some won't.

Your waterproof layer, again, is the liner. IF the liner isn't sloped properly, whatever moisture that does penetrate will NOT drain out. That CAN lead to mold issues as things will perpetually stay damp once the water accumulates unless the shower is unused for extended times in between.

Kman 06-10-2021 02:45 PM

I would towel-dry the walls and floor after each use. This won't keep moisture from getting past the tile, but it can reduce the amount of moisture that does.

As a side benefit, it can also help keep your shower clean, so less maintenance.

Shaklee3 06-10-2021 11:25 PM

Fred, back to your original question: it sounds like you said the total drop over 4.5' is 0.5", not that it drops 0.5" per foot. Is that right? If that's the case it's way off and patching it won't work, since as cx said, you'd need a minimum of 1.125" to meet the 0.25"/foot requirement, and maybe slightly more with rocks.

Fred Cambma 06-11-2021 06:17 AM

The slope problem was fixed.
I chipped out all the river stones from the first installation, and then I got a new contractor. He was able to correct the slope using thinset (and patience), and then he re-laid a new set of stones. It looks great and drains fine now. Now I'm just hoping the moisture barrier was done correctly. I'm going to seal everything, even with the understanding that sealing is not waterproofing per se, but can't hurt. Thanks everyone for all the excellent and wise advice.

ss3964spd 06-11-2021 06:48 AM

FWIW, Fred, sealing the tile/grout won't prevent water from absorbing, but it will slow it down. On the other hand, the sealer will also slow down the evaporation process - whatever moisture does get absorbed will have more difficulty getting back out.

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