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Unread 12-12-2020, 06:57 AM   #1
rmorse
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Shower pan liner help!

Hello all,

I’m renovating the master bathroom in my house and I paid a contractor to create the shower pan as it’s the one thing I wasn’t completely comfortable with. Unfortunately, I’m almost at the tile stage and seeing I might have a couple issues. The contractor nailed hardibacker over the curb, which had the liner draped over it. From what I’ve read online, this is a problem. Is there anything I can do to make it less of a problem? I understand that this is not going to be a 60 year shower now but can I add redguard on top of the nails to attempt to get 20 years out of it? The curb was made out of stacked pressure treated 2x4s.

Please note - I’m obviously in the process of waterproofing now and I’m not finished yet, so I know I need more redguard haha. Is there anything at all that I can do at this stage, short of ripping out the entire pan and starting over? I’m heading to Home Depot now to try and pick up a plug so I can do a 72 hour water test on the pan.

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Unread 12-12-2020, 07:19 AM   #2
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Another possible concern - I’m not convinced the contractor did a preslope before the liner. I can’t remember but I do remember he was only here for maybe 4 hours total...he swung by in between another job. If my logic makes sense, it would not be possible to do a preslope that fast because I would assume the concrete would have to dry before you install the liner.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 08:06 AM   #3
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Hi Bobby, and welcome,

You are correct, nails/screws through the liner on top of the curb is a no-no, as are the nails/screws through the liner on the shower side face of the curb. Pressure treated 2X4's tend to be enormously problematic as well; they tend to twist and turn as they dry out.

You could take your chances with the nails/screws by trying to seal them with something like Red Gard, and also hope for the best with the PT 2X4's. But the question of the pre-sloped mud bed - or lack there of, looms large. IMO, you really, really want to know if a pre-sloped mud bed was installed before you do anything else.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 10:37 AM   #4
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What dan said. Although at a minimum you know you have at least 2 problems with the curb - pt lumber and fasteners through the curb liner. For those reasons alone I’d re-do.

There are pre-slope materials that dry quickly so it’s possible to do that plus install the liner in a partial day.

What is that topmost material? Looks more like concrete than dry pack.

And hardibacker should be kept a 1/4” or so above the top mud bed because it’s porous and will wick moisture. Do you know if the lowest fasteners on the hardibacker on the walls is buried below that top mud bed? If so, there are some more fasteners penetrating the liner.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 11:25 AM   #5
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Ugh, this isn’t looking good then. I’m not overly concerned about the pressure treated curb...this has been an ongoing project and it has sat for months before being used. I also laminated them together extremely well.

The nail bit is a little bit concerning but I’m going to seal it with redgard. I completely understand the issue about water wicking up the hardibacker. I think that’s something I’m willing to take a risk on, especially since the shower is so large (I don’t think water will be constantly in contact over there). If we’re talking about turning a 50 year shower into a 30 year shower, oh well.

The base - I have no idea what he used. Yes, I believe it was concrete. He does have his MHIC (not that it really means anything) and was very knowledgeable. It was clear he knew what he was doing and I believe him when he said they’ve been doing it that way for decades. THAT BEING SAID - I’m NOT suggesting that it was the correct way. I’m merely saying that it was clear he wasn’t BSing his experience doing it...this clearly wasn’t his first pan. Hopefully that pet doesn’t come back to bite me.

The bad news - I talked to him and played dumb. He told me that the liner is sitting directly on the plywood subfloor; there is no preslope nor is there any need for a preslope. He also said that the preslope is a relatively new thing and PG county Maryland’s code does not require the preslope. He did mention that he cut the plywood on a 45degree (I remember him doing this) in order to sit the drain down into the plywood, instead of up. He said that’s crucial when you’re not presloping.


At this point, I called a plumber buddy of mine and talked to him in depth about the situation. After discussing with him, he said I should be concerned but not concerned enough to rip out the whole thing and redo. He told me to swing by and grab his inflatable plug and test the pan for 24 hours and then just move forward at this point. He doesn’t like it but he doesn’t think I necessarily need to completely rip out and redo. Just redgard the curb and test it and then move forward.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 11:26 AM   #6
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Thank you all for your advice and expertise. This is a lot to try and figure out.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 11:43 AM   #7
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Welcome, Bobby.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby
He told me that the liner is sitting directly on the plywood subfloor; there is no preslope nor is there any need for a preslope. He also said that the preslope is a relatively new thing and PG county Maryland’s code does not require the preslope.
If by "relatively new thing" he means within the past hundred years, that could be correct. As for Prince George's County not requiring such a pre-slope, I would invite him to show you in the county's adopted plumbing code where the shower receptor waterproofing is not required to be sloped at least 2 percent to drain.

Same plumbing code is going to require that no mechanical fasteners penetrate the waterproof liner anywhere below a point two inches above the top of the curb. The curb penetrations alone would require a re-do of the receptor in my opinion. There is no correct method of using a CBU on the curb of a traditional shower receptor. None. Period.

I don't doubt he's been doing the same thing for decades, but that still doesn't mean he's ever done one correctly during that time.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 12-12-2020, 05:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CX
If by "relatively new thing" he means within the past hundred years, that could be correct.
He probably meant as when compared to the age of the earth, or something like that.
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Unread 12-13-2020, 07:58 AM   #9
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Understand, Bobby, that without a pre-slope any water that reaches the flat laid liner will just accumulate on it, instead of running down towards the drain. And the accumulation will be compounded if the plywood floor that the liner sits atop has a low spot, say, in a corner. Plywood floors are rarely dead flat or level.

If the water accumulates it means then that the mud base will stay wet, which means your tile and grout might also remain damp, and that's likely to result in mold/mildew growth in the grout lines.

Also, if the shower pan was fashioned using concrete, instead of deck mud that may well also present an issue. Deck mud is specified for a "traditional" shower receptor because it is porous. Any water that gets into it will drain through it to the liner. Concrete, on the other hand, is far more dense and won't allow for the water to drain through. It will, however, still get wet, and stay wet.
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Unread 12-13-2020, 08:44 AM   #10
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These responses are not what I wanted to hear....


Ok, time to figure out a path forward then. Thank you all for your help. Do any of you guys know how or where I can look up the Prince George’s County code for constructing a shower pan? I’d like to verify what the actual code says, in an attempt to maybe get a couple bucks back from the contractor. I think I have a far better chance at getting money back from something not built to code versus something just not built “right.”
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Unread 12-13-2020, 09:45 AM   #11
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Bobby, do you have a written contract with this contractor? Important to know what that says.

Best way to get a copy of the shower receptor requirements might be to visit your code compliance office for your county or municipality, whichever is your AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction), and see what iteration of the plumbing code is in current use there.
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Unread 12-13-2020, 09:51 AM   #12
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PG County makes it even more difficult to find that information than does Fairfax County, Bobby.

Call them tomorrow, they should be able to tell you, or at least point you to a link on the PGC site.

Were any permits pulled for this job?
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Unread 12-13-2020, 06:38 PM   #13
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I agree with the others, no way would I tile it.
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Unread 12-14-2020, 01:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmorse
...Do any of you guys know how or where I can look up the Prince George’s County code for constructing a shower pan?
Like a lot of jurisdictions, understanding what code applies isn't simple. This is due, in part, to the way documents are recorded...and the fact that there are many jurisdictions neither entirely write their own codes, nor do they adopt some other adoptable codes in full. Most jurisdictions like to alter bits and pieces to make them fit their needs. And this means following the legally adopted code path is winding with twists and turns and makes it difficult to follow. So, I'll run you through what I'm finding the best I can: Prince George's website lists what codes are being used here. Now, scroll down about 1/3rd of the page to the Mechanical Section that says that to find a complete listing for their plumbing code, click on Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's Website. Scroll to the bottom and click on Codes & Standards. Scroll 1/2 way down and click on WSSC Water Plumbing and Fuel Gas Code. Now, it appears as though they haven't properly updated their web page since June 30, 2018, as it doesn't have a link to their current plumbing code. So, I dropped down to what was current up until that date and clicked on 2015 WSSC Water Plumbing and Fuel Gas Code (Effective July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018). Okay, now scroll down to page 13 to see that section 101.3.1.1 adopts the International Plumbing Code (specifically the 2015 edition). Now, run back up to page 8 of the Table of Contents and it lists four amendments to Chapter 4. But none of the four amendments deal with section 417 (where your shower codes are). So...that means you can read directly out of the 2015 International Plumbing Code book. However, this book is protected by copywrite and isn't officially available online for public viewing without a membership, so I'll cut and paste little bits for you under "fair use" for section 417.5.2 Shower Lining:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2015 International Plumbing Code, section 417.5.2
...and shall not be nailed or perforated at any point less than 1 inch (25 mm) above the finished threshold...
There's one code violation with the Hardiebacker fastened to the curb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2015 International Plumbing Code, section 417.5.2
...Liners shall be pitched one-fourth unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (2-percent slope) and shall be sloped toward the fixture drains...
And there's your second code violation that directly contradicts your contractor's statement:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby's Contractor
...PG county Maryland’s code does not require the preslope.
You know what's funny is that I've seen many plumbers cut the subfloor hole at a 45 degree angle just like this contractor did. They are attempting to get the clamping drain down flush with the subfloor because they recognize the fact that water can't travel uphill. But in less time it takes to cut that sloppy hole, they could simply lay a Noble Pro-Slope on the subfloor and they would have a proper pre-slope. If the Pro-Slope is over-sized, it takes literally seconds to trim it with a utility knife to fit. It is an incredible fast 60 second pre-slope. Not only is it faster, but I think the clamping drain is much more secure when it's on solid subfloor instead of being suspended in a sloppy angled sawzall hole. And because there's a pre-slope, there are no dead-zones for water to accumulate on the liner.

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Unread 12-14-2020, 08:35 AM   #15
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Hey guys, sorry I didn’t update earlier. I’ve been reading your comments and doing a lot of thinking. I don’t want to go backwards on this project but I don’t see any other way. I’ve been in contact with the contractor and he says he’s going to refund the money I paid him.

Please note - I have absolutely zero ill will towards the contractor at this point. Talking with him, I truly believe that he is an honest and hard working man. He wasn’t out to screw me; he did good work and he truly believes it won’t fail. He also understands my concern. Crappy situation all around...it would be a lot “easier” if he was cutting corners to try and do a quick job and get paid. That’s simply not the case here.

All that being said, I have started undoing the pan and I’m noticing a couple things that are making me feel better about redoing it. The pan liner doesn’t extend over the curb and it’s nailed to the top. I’m also hesitant on how the ends of the curb were finished. Here’s a couple pictures (yes I’m having pizza for breakfast, don’t judge me):
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So I’ve got a couple questions from here. I’m going to continue to remove the pan and I’m thinking I’m going to cut out the hardibacker about a foot or two above the pan. I’ll get it back down to the studs and plywood subfloor. Do I need to remove the hardibacker that I’ve installed inside the bathroom? I understand the new liner must go over the shower curb to the bathroom floor but I’ve already installed hardibacker for floor tile.

Next question - my shower drain is not centered in the shower enclosure. Can I still use a noble pro slope with this or will that not work?

Next question - Do you recommend that I use a noble preformed curb to slide over top my stacked 2x4 curb?

Next question - is hardibacker ok for the wall where it meets the pan? Or do I need to use something else?

Last question (for now) - For those of you who are familiar with DC area pricing, do you know around how much it would cost to pay a professional to do the pan?


Thank you all so much for convincing me to dodge this bullet
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