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Unread 09-19-2022, 10:44 AM   #1
MontanaBoys
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Shower Drain Leaking from Below....Do I need to Remove the Drain and floor?

Hi,

I'm new to the Forum. My brother has done several showers and tiling projects and been super grateful for this board and community. Thanks in advance.

I'm in Virginia. We have a shower on the second floor that was installed by a friend (who makes a living as a licensed home remodeler in NH). This was installed in 2013. When doing some painting of the room below the shower, we removed the can light and noticed a a few drops of water on the inside drywall (This was not evident from the outside of the drywall - only because we removed the can and felt it on the inside).

Further investigation showed the shower drain pipe to have a calcification on the exterior. There was a small drip of water as well.

As best I can tell, this does not get significant when we fill the shower and then let a large amount of water run out at one time.

Though hard to see, we have two layers of subfloor under the shower drain. I have tried to cut a little subfloor away and I think it shows that there is a little leak/source between the drain and the upper subfloor/pan.

Any ideas? The drain is square ebbe, so I can't spin it out. It seems to me that I need to remove the drain and install a new one? Is this possible to do without putting in a completely new pan? We had coated the interior walls and floor of shower with RedGuard prior to tiling in 2013.

Attached, please see the pics...

The first is from below the shower before cleaning up the calcification.
I then have one after I cut a little of the second layer of subfloor away.

Then I show the top of the shower drain - definitely calcification there too. I used a small wheel to gently clean out. The other pic is post clean. And finally a pic of the

Super grateful for any thoughts.

Thanks,
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Unread 09-19-2022, 12:07 PM   #2
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Hi Craig. Do you know or have photos of how pan was constructed? Waterproofing method in particular? Play by play would be good.

Let's start there.
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Unread 09-19-2022, 01:26 PM   #3
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Welcome, Craig.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig
We had coated the interior walls and floor of shower with RedGuard prior to tiling in 2013.
If that's an Ebbe clamping-ring drain, I'd be concerned with your statement. I'd wanna see the photos Peter asked for, showing the construction of the receptor. While there is a way to connect a liquid-applied waterproofing membrane to a clamping-ring drain, it's not particularly straight forward.

Did you plug the drain riser and fill the shower receptor with water and let it stand for an extended period at any point?

I think the most impressive part of your shower construction is that you kept, and were able to find, the drain grate removal tool.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-20-2022, 10:20 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately. We don't have pics of the construction process. We used cement board on the walls - I am not sure about the floor. We used Redgard to coat both the wall and floor paying close attention to the corners (It think we applied a few coats).

The floor pan was constructed with cement (of some type) and hand shaped and sloped.

Sorry to ask - Filling the shower riser? Is that the pan area above the grate? or is that a portion of the drain ? I have an inflatable thing I can plug the drain with.

Appreciate the Kudos on the cover removal tool....it's the only way I know what type of drain I have
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Unread 09-20-2022, 10:47 AM   #5
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Craig, left to guess I'd say that the drain itself wasn't failing but rather how the drain ties into waterproofing, Redgard in your case. It's often assumed that schmearing liquid waterproofing on the junction between drain flange and mortar bed will be adequate to seal the receptor and, presumably, the entire pan assembly.

The only viable way I know of to use a clamping drain with liquid waterproofing is to use a technique call "the divot method". This preserves the redundant draining features of a clamping drain. Outside of that a different type of drain is a good idea. One with what's called a bonding flange.

Reinforcing fabric embedded into waterproofing is often used at the wall-to-floor junction and around drain if employing the divot method. Also wall to floor should be reinforced with mesh tape and mortar prior to waterproofing.

Plugging the vertical part of drain with your inflatable ball could potentially tell you where leak is. If it leaks with just the area around the drain filled with water, it's likely the drain flange I mentioned. If it doesn't start leaking until the wall/floor joint is flooded that would indicate that area.
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Unread 09-20-2022, 01:27 PM   #6
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Thanks Peter. I'll see what I come up with when I stop up the drain with the inflatable ball.

The good news is that this is not a big leak in that it is very slow....drops. But that is also the bad news. Because its so slow, it has not been emergent. Nonetheless....it needs to be fixed.

I'll let you know when I have an update.

Thanks again.
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Unread 09-20-2022, 02:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter
Plugging the vertical part of drain with your inflatable ball could potentially tell you where leak is.
That's the drain riser of which I spoke, Craig. The vertical pipe between the P-trap and the shower drain.
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Unread 09-25-2022, 01:11 PM   #8
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Thanks again for the help.

I went ahead and plugged the drain – using two options.

The first method, I plugged the drain on the lower portion of the pipe (past the black square drain in the white pipe) and then filled up only up to the top of the black square drain. This is highlighted with the blue square.
I left this for 5 hours. When I did this – there was NO water leak.

For the second method, I plugged the drain - up near the black square (just below as you can see). I then added water to the shower so it was standing about 1 ft around the drain (please see blue circle). Doing this created a VERY slow and small drip from below. I also left this for 5 hours - the drip started within 20 minutes. Please see the pic of the pan – this was the entire amount of water collected over the course of 5 hours….so not an quick flowing drip as it took a while to bubble on the pipe and you could only hear it drip into the pan on occasion.

So, it appears that the leak is between the black square drain and at least 1ft around it.

Is it possible for me to take out a 6” to 12” section around the drain in the center of the pan?

Do you think I could adequately re water proof / fix the seal and then rebuild
pan and tile?

Or – should I be removing the entire pan?

Is that even possible without gumming everything up?

If I did any of these options – what method should I use for cutting out grout, tile, and pan?

Or should I be doing something totally different?

Thanks in advance
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Unread 09-25-2022, 04:27 PM   #9
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Without knowing exactly how your receptor was built, Craig, it's still a guess as to what you might be able to do to rectify your situation.

IF your receptor was constructed with a pre-slope, then a liquid-applied, direct bonded, waterproofing membrane applied over the bottom flange of a clamping drain, then a full mortar bed on top of that, it may be possible to remove a portion of that top mortar bed around the drain, remove the top drain flange, and repair the connection of the waterproofing membrane and drain. Operative words here are "may be."

I really can't tell from your opening post exactly what might have been done on that shower floor. Your statement that "We had coated the interior walls and floor of shower with RedGuard prior to tiling in 2013," doesn't tell me enough to make me comfortable that I know how you built that receptor. If you remember more about the details, that might help.

Simplest solution, and certainly safest, would be to permanently install that aluminum pan under the drain and hope for the best.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-26-2022, 05:42 PM   #10
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Hi Craig, I understand what you're thinking but you can't look at the standing water and say for certain that the shower is leaking within that area. It could be but may not be. Your tile has pitch, it's keeping the puddle at the drain but if your waterproofing layer has no pitch (a preslope), then the water could run to the corner of the shower (under the tile) and leak.

I would remove the whole shower floor because I wouldn't want a patch job. But, if you have extra tiles to patch it back in, then remove the area around the drain and go from there.
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Unread 10-03-2022, 06:14 PM   #11
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I started to remove the area around the drain today and here's what I found.

I was able to remove the tile and the mortar bed about 6" around the drain. This pan was about 2" thick at this spot.

I was able to keep the Redgard intact. There was definitely some issues in that there is a little bubbling of the Redgard around the drain and it appears that the membrane was punctured (I may have done it, but more likely I think it may have happened when the mortar bed mud pan was formed.

Because it was punctured, I cut out a small piece - it appeared to be wet/damp under that section. The mortar bed (above the redgard) also appeared damp - but that being said, it was definitely set well - as I spent a good while with the hammer and cement chisel removing that small area.

I think this was a clamp drain as was suggested. It had an extended screw in drain through the mud pan mortar bed (That is the square piece).

I am trying to figure out - If I replace the drain and then cut out the bubble redgard - can I re redgard and then build up the pan/bed around the new drain (Of course following the rules of sealing around the drain and leaving the drain holes open)?

And in terms of matching the floor tile - I think I can chisel away the rest of the tile all of the way to the walls without damaging the pan/bed and walls.

Question - If I am successful in doing that, can I then add a thin layer of mortar bed to smooth the pan - then let that dry. And then add Red guard to water proof under the tile?

I imagine there is risk that the current bed may be a little wet or damp and doing that may trap moisture....but it seems to me that It would be good from a waterproofing standpoint to create a membrane just below the tile?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Unread 10-03-2022, 09:39 PM   #12
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Some guessing will be involved here, Craig.

It does appear that you used the RedGard as the waterproof liner in a traditional receptor construction. That is, you had a sloped mortar bed (maybe?), then your waterproofing liner, then a second mortar bed, then your tile.

That's not how direct bonded waterproofing membranes (ANSI A118.10), your RedGard, are normally used, but it is a manufacturer approved method. Custom does require the use of a reinforcing fabric when using RedGard with a clamping ring drain in that manner, which you do not appear to have. Actually, it doesn't appear that the RedGard was even applied completely over the bottom flange of your clamping ring drain at all, and I see no sign of any reinforcing fabric. And it's in exactly that area where we suspected your leak would be found; the connection of the waterproofing material and the drain.

I see some sort of a mesh at the bottom of the area where you cut out the RedGard. Is it possible that some sort of CBU was installed on the floor rather than a sloped mortar bed prior to your application of the RedGard?

The top mortar bed being damp is not a problem. The material below the RedGard being damp, on the other hand, is a problem, and probably also a symptom of the leak you have.

Can you recover from this problem? I dunno. I'd give it a solid maybe.

If you actually have a sloped mortar bed, or sloped something, under the Redgard, and if you can clean the existing RedGard area well enough, and if you can use a reinforcing fabric and some fresh RedGard to effectively extend your RedGard over the bottom flange of that drain, and if you have not otherwise damaged the existing waterproofing, you may be able to salvage it. Operative word being may. I'm not a fan of using liquid-applied direct bonded waterproofing membranes to make shower receptors under the best of conditions, but folks do it. In your situation, it's a bit more iffy to my thinking.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-04-2022, 07:27 AM   #13
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Thanks again for your help with this. I will know a little more as I go deeper. (I'll remove drain and get down to floor area around drain today).

Perhaps this gets worse.

I think that the redgard was applied to durock which was a flat surface under the mortar bed. I think that's why there appears to be some taped joints. It does not appear that that redgard was applied on top of the sloped mortar bed/pan.

Trying to figure out - if I added new drain and fixed redgard and pan/bed. Could I then chip off top tile , smooth out the sloped bed, add a top redgard and then retile?

Thanks.
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Unread 10-04-2022, 07:58 AM   #14
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I think CX covered all of what I would and I agree with his sentiments. I didn't know that Custom approved this method, as it would seem to add vulnerability as opposed to applying on surface just under tile, which is how it's typically used.

Advice for maybe stopgap repair would be to attempt repair of existing RedGard and for sure you don't want to coat surface of top mortar bed and create a place for moisture to accumulate with no way to dry. Often referred to as a moisture sandwich, it's never a good thing. You've got enough problems with no pre-slope...don't make it worse.

I really don't see any reason to remove existing drain unless you just want to see how it was constructed which appears like it might be a lesson in how not to do it.
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Unread 10-04-2022, 07:25 PM   #15
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I've probably installed 5 or 6 pan liners made from Mapei's Aqua Defense using the divot method. The fabric is a big deal in my opinion. It adds a lot of strength and thickness.
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