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Old 10-22-2007, 12:37 PM   #1
VinceH
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Complicated shower leak: advice... alternatives?

My parents have a custom shower / tub that is leaking. It's never used as a tub, as it's too big, but is used as a shower. It's been in place for about 25 years. In the past year, it has begun to leak, probably an ounce or less per day (2 showers). The plumbing has been tested (good) as has the drain (good). Filling it to about 3 inches, there was no leak in 24 hours. At about 5 inches, there was a leak evident. It's not near the drain. Grout appears to be in very good shape. No obvious defects. I don't know the details of its construction. A picture follows. I have done a fair bit of reading here, and understand that the likey correct solution is to re-build it.

Question is... are the alternatives for fixing this? Is there some sort of sealer that can be applied to it that may eliminate the leakage? I have doubts about grout sealers, as I think they are mostly to seal against absorption of stains and so on, but are not true waterproofers.

Crazy idea: Could an epoxy be used? I'm familiar with epoxy paints that are designed to be used on boats to prevent osmotic blistering from occurring in fiberglass, and wonder if that would work. Very non-standard, yes. But some indications are that re-building this shower or installing something more conventional would be numerous thousands of $ and perhaps it would be worthwhile to spend a day and a hundred dollars on epoxy. I would plan to coat it up to the level of the top of the 'tub' portion. What do you experts think?

Sincere thanks,
Vince Harris
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Old 10-22-2007, 01:00 PM   #2
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There is a failure of the shower, presumably above the membrane.

My guess is that the shower is wicking moisture up the backerboard and there is no vapor barrier.

At 25 years, repairing this is a waste of time.

I know of no method using paint or sealant to stop this leaking. The leaking may through the grout, in which case, you will have to remove all the grout and re-grout with an epoxy grout. Cost--probably $1,000. And since most tile is not waterproof, the tile itself will conduct water into the stud bay, regardless of grout.

Can you imagine what the wood looks like? My guess is black yeechy mold infested wood.

To slow the leaking you could wipe down the floor and walls with a towel(s) after every shower. And that is a huge pain in the ass. But it might buy you and extra year or two.

This shower has served its useful life--trash it.
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Old 10-22-2007, 04:23 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard, Vince.

Somebody did a really great job on that shower 25 years ago. I'm afraid Scooter might be right, though. I would do a shower pan test, though, before I tore the whole thing out.

http://www.johnbridge.com/shower_pan_replacement.htm
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:21 PM   #4
Scooter
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John, if I read his post right, he did plug the drain, fill it up to 3 inches, flooded it and there was no leak. Only when they filled it up over 5 inches did it leak.

If I read the post right, that is.
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Old 10-22-2007, 05:41 PM   #5
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I agree with John; that's one cool shower, what with the curved glass and all.

I also think Scooter's experience with this sort of thing has led him to a correct, but unfortunate conclusion.
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Old 10-22-2007, 06:52 PM   #6
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thats a real shame since the shower is a nice one plus it seems heavily tied to the floor outside...it looks like at least 2 sides the wet wall and the side with the sloped wall could have acess from the back?if so id cut out some sheetrock if you could to inspect behind those walls.not 100%sure but the idea of an epoxy coating might trap any water in the floor or behind the walls that might never dryout or affect the way the epoxy dries in some way.
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:41 PM   #7
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Good thing they haven't taken any baths.
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Old 10-22-2007, 09:12 PM   #8
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Welcome, Vince.

It is a pretty thing, and certainly in good repair after 25 years, but the others are giving you the sad truth, I fear. Time to tear out the old and build a new one. When a shower pan starts to leak after 25 years, that's about the only reasonable approach.

That said, it's possible a fella could do a pan replacement in there. I wouldn't even consider it were it mine, though.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:05 AM   #9
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If you do opt for a tear out and re-do, I'd save that glass and re-use it. Neat shower design no doubt.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:17 AM   #10
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Can anybody tell what kind of drain was used for this tub. It looks like something that im not used to working with. I am curious to know what waterproofing method was used.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:55 PM   #11
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#9 -- I'd redo the bathroom with a very close matching tile that is produced today with the current that is installed. Keeping the layout and the shower construction the same, with the latest setting materials and methods of today of course.

That is one nice looking shower!
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Old 10-23-2007, 02:26 PM   #12
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I'm sure that was a full mud job by looking at the Mud cap on the left and the shelves and b-e-a-utiful curb.....a real artisans job there for sure !
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:25 PM   #13
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Thank you all for your comments. My father has read them as well, and we're taking all your advice into consideration.

Regarding the first couple from John and Scooter, yes, we did the test that should have told us about the pan. One thing... we didn't concern ourselves about plugging the weep holes that should be down in the drain (didn't know), yet we still didn't see any leakage until we filled the thing with about 5 inches of water. I haven't been back to look and see if I can see them in the drain. [I live elsewhere].

That 'screen' as we call it isn't glass, but acrylic. Lexan or Plexiglas or some such. It's held up well, but split shortly before the leakage started.

For HotMop, I have a slightly closer picture of the drain, but I don't think it adds anything.

The shower leakage is evident in the garage below. We removed the ceiling there and get an idea of about where it leaks (on the near-side at one or two points along the low wall that curves (on its straight portion)), but don't see any nasty mold or anything at this point.

I suppose the architect would be happy with all your nice comments, anyway.

For my edification, what part is the 'mud cap' and what is the curb?

Nothing more at the moment.

Thanks all-
Vince
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:33 PM   #14
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It sure looks to me like it has a 1 1/2" tub drain. See the overflow and spout on the wall?
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Old 10-23-2007, 04:43 PM   #15
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Yeah, this is a Roman Tub and Shower combo.

I never heard of an "epoxy coating" to solve shower problems--not once. There is no can of 2 part epoxy that you can pour over everything and solve leaks.

I guess one could take 2 part epoxy bar finish or glue and slather on there. My God, what a mess that would be. Especially on walls.
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