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Unread 03-04-2020, 09:15 PM   #1
panasta
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Need Help with Shower Leaks

Hello, I spent a small fortune on a master bath remodel which included a custom shower with a half wall & door. We have finally had the contractor come back to tear apart obvious water damage to the molding on the outside of the shower. He seems to blame it on the seal from the silicone but I call BS. There are obvious leaks when I use the hand shower as if I was using it to the clean the glass, but not when we use it normally. One picture shows the leak on the left side of the marble saddle and the other shows the leak from the top of the half wall (underneath the saddle with glass on top). Can you tell from these pictures what could be the problem...any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Unread 03-04-2020, 09:42 PM   #2
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Peter, Welcome to the forum and sorry to hear about your problems.

First question to contractor would be how the shower was built and water proofed. From the picture provided it looks like a combination of concrete backer board and drywall (but no water proofing layer) Both can be used but not together and not without a water proofing layer.

Do you have photos of the work in progress?

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Unread 03-04-2020, 09:52 PM   #3
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A shot or two from further back might help put the damage in perspective. It's difficult to tell what we're looking at from just the close-up shots.
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Unread 03-04-2020, 10:28 PM   #4
panasta
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here is a shot further back where you can see the waterproofing up the wall...i can see the same red liner under the door saddle between the wood stud & the backer board...hope this helps!
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Unread 03-04-2020, 11:34 PM   #5
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It looks like the area under the curb/door is removed. Can you get a picture of that?
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Unread 03-04-2020, 11:38 PM   #6
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Sorry. I see now that that's the first picture I think. The curb is improperly built. The cement board should not be there at all.
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Unread 03-04-2020, 11:42 PM   #7
panasta
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yes the closeup of this area is the first picture in this thread but here are a couple more shots of that area...thanks!
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Unread 03-04-2020, 11:48 PM   #8
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Jeremy, I understand these days everyone uses Schluter. This was done back in 2014. What should have been used if that was not available? Is the only permanent fix to rip this out? Thanks!
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Unread 03-04-2020, 11:50 PM   #9
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Is the cement board the cause of the leak on top of the half wall as well?
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Unread 03-05-2020, 12:34 AM   #10
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There are a number of problems causing leaks all of which stem from improper waterproofing. To fix the problem you'd need to replace the shower pan. I'd be willing to bet the rest of the installation is improperly waterproofed as well. We see this a lot.

The only way we would repair this is to rebuild the entire shower. The plumbing code in my fair city requires waterproofing to a minimum height of 6 feet above the shower floor on ALL surfaces; the bench, the pony walls, the shower walls... To reach that standard the walls would need to be removed at least to 6 feet. The top 2 feet is the easy part in any shower.

Starting over from the studs out is the only way I'd be able to warranty your shower for life and be able to sleep at night.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 06:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Is the cement board the cause of the leak on top of the half wall as well?
No. Complete lack of waterproofing would be my guess. The curb is obvious though. There is no way to build a watertight curb with cement board. The curb is usually built with lathe and mortar and then the walls integrally waterproofed. Your installer is using silicone caulk as his primary waterproofing and water is migrating thru. It looks like he even neglected to tape the cement board at the corner seams. I'm betting the marble curb will lift right up with little effort. I agree with Paul that a new shower is what is needed.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 07:25 AM   #12
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I really appreciate your responses. I am hoping that he does the right thing even though he is trying to re-silicone the glass and thought it was not sealing tight to the marble. Since the glass has not been removed I cannot see if the saddle is loose at this time. We noticed issues with the install about 6 months later when there was a leak into my dining room. At that time there was a subway in the middle of the tile on the inside of the curb that popped out and he replaced it and said it was good even though I questioned why the liner/pan would not catch that leak. That stopped but then we noticed the entire baseboard under the curb and the corner of the shower wall had water damage. We finally got him to come back 5yrs later by offering him the job to do my kids bathroom (I was here to supervise ALL aspects closely using the Schluter system - no curb shower). He promised to fix the master but I am not sure now since he obviously see no problem with the construction since it was done before those materials were available. Two weeks ago he came and caulked under the marble crown on the inside of the shower wall that met the marble saddle since there was NOTHING there. After it continued, he had his glass guy re-silicone the glass. Still leaking in both spots. This week he said they missed a spot so he did the silicone again and said to wait longer for it to dry. He is a local well known contractor so at the time I was on vacation and thought I was in good hands based on his reputation. He used all his own subs and did not pull a permit so I am not sure if there is any thing I can do for recourse at this point. He knows I am planning a HUGE kitchen renovation so I am hoping that he assumes I would give him that job so he better make me happy. Sorry to vent just upsets me as a business owner when people do not stand by their work.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 08:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter
just upsets me as a business owner when people do not stand by their work
Hardly a consolation but you are not alone. I being a contractor have made mistakes and it is tough eating the cost. But we try to learn from errors and move on.
I'm betting that if and when the shower is demoed you will find other areas of water damage. What you are seeing now is just the obvious.
It looks like the tile is natural stone. You might want to consider a porcelain if you are re-doing the shower. A lot of issues come with stone in wet areas that can be eliminated with ceramic or porcelain. Your call though.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 08:49 AM   #14
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A couple of things to note, Peter.

Building codes (permits) are typically low hurdles and are more concerned with safety than craftsmanship. I doubt you'd have recourse via that route.

Topical membranes were certainly around in 2014 and in wide use. Conventional showers and pans built correctly will not fail because of missing caulk. All viable (IMHO) systems utilize a belt and suspenders approach so as not to depend on caulk as primary waterproofing.

From your photos , we can see that this is done incorrectly and followed whims and misconceptions of installer rather than accepted best practice and an eye towards redundancy and longevity.

No amount of patchwork will give this much of a lifespan, which I'd peg at a minimum of 20yrs. Lots of well constructed conventional showers still functional at double that.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 06:43 PM   #15
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Yep, what the others said. The pan liner should wrap completely over the curb which we aren't seeing. Then, no nail/screw holes in the liner on the inside and top of the curb.

The pan liner method isn't the problem. Any of the systems will fail if not installed correctly. I wouldn't have him build another shower for me if I were you.
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