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Unread 05-16-2021, 07:41 AM   #1
Terry9484
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Water Trapped In Shower Pan

I am newly married (late life) to a lady who had to have her shower redone due to a leak in the copper pipe. This was done 5 years ago. Within a year of the work she started noticing that the grout where the floor and wall meet on one wall was starting to mildew and that water constantly, but only enough to keep the grout lines wet, was flowing to the drain. In the 18 mos we've been married it had gotten worse along the same wall (and the same wall as the mixer). I had someone come in and professionally probe for a leak using PIR, and none was detected. We finally made the decision to tear the shower out and evaluate. I tore it out yesterday. Here's what I found:

- The tile backer board (not a cement product) was wet 12" up all the way around the shower
- Post-demo there was a 3/4" plus gap all the way around between the shower floor tile and the pan and was full of water.
- The floor tile was laid over the existing floor tile AFTER the walls were done.
- The backer was space up about 1/2" from the pan, but apparently had been wicking up from the water trapped in the void.
- There is no plumbing leak

I'm not uber experienced, but have built and renovated a few showers. What I have observed leads me to think the entire problem is that the original tile wasn't torn out, and the the installation of the floor tile AFTER the walls created a "moat" that was filled once the grout became saturated and allowed water to pass from daily use of the shower into it, and it just found the lowest point to run back out once the shower was turned off.

My initial thought is to fill the "moat" with hydraulic cement and build the shower back with my new hardie backer 1/2" above it, wall tile all the way down (minus grout joint).

Have I correctly identified the problem, and will filling the "moat" be a suitable strategy or am I perpetuating the problem by not removing both layers of floor tile and building it back out from the pan?
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Unread 05-16-2021, 09:41 AM   #2
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Welcome, Terry.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry
there was a 3/4" plus gap all the way around between the shower floor tile and the pan
What are you calling the "pan" there?

How was the shower receptor constructed? Was there a clamping ring drain with a waterproof liner over a sloped mortar bed? Then a second sloped mortar bed over that?

Is the shower floor recessed into a concrete foundation slab?

Given your geographic location, we have reason to doubt that your shower was constructed according to any known industry standard and need more information. Some photos would likely help.

Bottom line: I would personally never re-build a shower without tearing out whatever is there and making a new waterproof receptor. Just not worth the effort otherwise.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-16-2021, 11:30 AM   #3
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Like Cx says, Florida is known to have showers built without a waterproofing layer. Who knows, the moisture could be coming up from the ground if there's no pan liner.
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Unread 05-16-2021, 05:09 PM   #4
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Neither tile nor grout are considered waterproofing, they are decorative wear surfaces.

Plumbing code calls for the waterproofing to be sloped to the drain at a minimum of 1/4" per foot and there can be no penetrations of that liner within 2" above the top of the curb.

For some reason, Florida seems to think that a slab on grade with a shower does not need any waterproofing. That means that the moisture that does get beneath can leak out, drawing carpenter ants, termites, and roots into the area. None of which are particularly good! And, because it's just sitting there, will wick up the walls. Cement is NOT waterproof, but it is not damaged by being wetted (unless, say it's full of salt, or similar chemicals).

If there IS a liner, and it is flat on the slab, it WILL accumulate some moisture, as there's little reason for it to flow to the drain. Some moisture WILL get beneath the tile.
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Unread 05-16-2021, 05:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
For some reason, Florida seems to think that a slab on grade with a shower does not need any waterproofing.
I think that applies only to shower receptors that are recessed into the concrete slab, Jim. I think we don't yet know if that's Terry's situation.
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Unread 05-17-2021, 10:23 AM   #6
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There's definitely a membrane pan with a sloped bed. The visible part of the pan is in good condition. I can't vouch for the condition under the bed. The slope and minimum distance to the top of the curb is also good. I'm trying to figure out what the best solution will be for my perceived problem. Water is definitely accumulating in the void under the wall tile backer and beside the floor tile, and is:
1) wicking up the backer
2) running back out across the shower floor when the shower isn't in use. The subsequent perpetual environment for mildew generation is what I need to take care of as well.

Thanks, and let me know what you think the best solution is.
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Unread 05-17-2021, 10:38 AM   #7
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CX,

Sorry, new to the tool and missed your first response before I did. The "shower receptor" (pretty fancy terminology) is a wood framing on a concrete slab. The curb is 2 - 2x4's stacked, secured and wrapped with the pan membrane. Since I haven't demo'd either layer of the floor tile I can't tell if the drain body is of the type that clamps down the membrane or not. I'm making an assumption about the bedding over the membrane being sloped since the floor drains well and is installed over other tile.

I'm not opposed to tearing out the two layers of tile and building back from slab. I'm just not sure I have the skills to build it back correctly, and have a nice finished product. I've done a couple of pans, but both were over wood floors that I built. Never done one in concrete , and not where the drain body is already set.
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Last edited by Terry9484; 05-17-2021 at 10:40 AM. Reason: Left out info
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Unread 05-17-2021, 11:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry
I'm making an assumption about the bedding over the membrane being sloped since the floor drains well and is installed over other tile.
Terry, it's the sloped mortar bed under the liner that's in question here. If you don't have that, you will have longer term problems, including some similar to what you're describing.

The only way you're gonna determine whether that part of your receptor was correctly built is to remove the entire shower floor you currently have, which I suggest you must do anyway to construct a new shower.

The only difference, by the way, in building a traditional shower receptor over a wood framed subfloor and a concrete subfloor would be the method of attachment of the pre-slope to the floor. The rest of the construction is the same.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-18-2021, 04:35 AM   #9
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Thanks for the responses. I have investigated further, and harvested my wife's memory, and have determined that there the sloped bedding, membrane, bedding layers are there. The original layer of tile isn't there, just bedding. So, back to the issue. Is there truly no way to eliminate the void collecting the water around the perimeter? My wife likes the floor tile and doesn't really want to tear it out unless absolutely necessary.
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Unread 05-18-2021, 08:53 AM   #10
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Terry, if water is collecting around the perimeter of your shower floor, there is something wrong with your receptor construction. That's not just an opinion, that's a fact. Fill the gap with whatever you want; you still have the problem.
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Unread 05-18-2021, 11:06 AM   #11
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Thanks, I'm taking the plunge. I'm going to tear it all out and make it right. I would like to use the Kerdi pan if it's the right size. Moving the drain to the center would be worth the extra work, saving on pan construction time. I may have to do a mud build-up anyway since my wife wrinkled her nose at the comment that I would have to move it.

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Unread 05-18-2021, 12:18 PM   #12
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I recommend using a sloped mortar bed regardless the type of receptor you elect to construct.

I recommend moving the drain to the center of the shower footprint regardless the type of receptor you elect to construct.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-20-2021, 09:54 AM   #13
Terry9484
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I tore out the shower floor last night. I was surprised to see so much concrete over the membrane, and more at the drain than at the wall. When I removed the membrane I was pleasantly surprised to find the concrete slop under it was sloped well within the 1/4" or more from the wall to the top of the drain (after I threaded it down to about 1/2" from the sloped floor instead of the 1 1/2" it was when I demo'd). I found the drain body in good shape and it looked like it was installed correctly. The drain grooves were clogged.

From this point I'll check to see if my Kerdi drain will work in the plumbing configuration I have before I commit to tearing out a section of slab unnecessarily. I'll also likely remove the built-up 2X4 curb (it is soaking wet) and replace it wit bricks. I'm definitely going all in with the Kerdi system for everything once the drain is set.
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Unread 05-20-2021, 09:55 AM   #14
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................... the membrane was also removed and tossed!
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Unread 05-20-2021, 09:44 PM   #15
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The 2x4's at the curb have seen some water due to the lack of pan corners.
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