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Unread 10-03-2019, 02:04 PM   #1
Lou_MA
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Advice on diagnosing shower leak

I’ve gotten called in to look at a shower that’s leaking pretty significantly, and I’m at a standstill as to what next steps should be.

The shower has several body sprays, and when they’re aimed at the opposite wall, within a few minutes, a steady leak starts right under the back corner of the bench, which is outside the glass enclosure. The leak initially is traveling behind the paint since there are a number of raised bubbles that fill with water. Another few minutes and a little river of water appears on the surface.

This house is only a year or two old, and the shower has had minimal use. Maybe a few dozen showers, if that much. The bench top itself pitches towards the drain, but isn’t level side-to-side, it pitches slightly towards the glass. The glass is siliconed around it’s perimeter, and the leak does not appear to be originating from water seeping past the glass.

So far, I’ve cut a small access hole to see under the bench. No sign of water, and everything appears dry.

Shower construction is pvc liner (don’t know if there’s a preslope), and hardibacker with what looks like hydrobarrier on the walls and bench.

Any thoughts on any additional non-destructive steps?
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Unread 10-03-2019, 03:12 PM   #2
Just In Tile LLC
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I'd bet its where the wall and bench meet. Then add that the pitch is towards the glass... Sure looks nice but having that bench flow past the glass enclosure without taking extreme caution on waterproofing and slope is a recipe for disaster in my mind. If I'd of built it that left side of the picture would be a pony wall so you couldn't see the bench from the pictures view. I like to slightly enclose my showers with features like that.
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Unread 10-03-2019, 04:34 PM   #3
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I agree with Justin.

If I were to do a shower that way, I'd probably have the glass on the waterproofing, and silicone the bench to the glass on both sides. So the bench would actually be two pieces.

Or do like Justin said, stop the bench inside the glass. The downside to that is, leaving enough space that the are between the bench and glass can be cleaned.

Generally, I'm not a big fan of that kind of layout in your pictures, and for this very reason.
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Unread 10-03-2019, 05:01 PM   #4
Lou_MA
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Thanks guys.

So I’m clear, are you thinking that there’s an open joint along the back edge of the bench (where it abuts the wall) and that water is traveling along that joint under the bench, past the glass?

That joint always seemed like a weak point to me since the bench doesn’t have to be an especially tight fit, especially if the wall tile drops down onto the bench (as it does here) and the tile will cover a gap. Add in a bench top that’s 3/4” or 1-1/4” thick, and I can certainly see that being an avenue for water.
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Unread 10-04-2019, 05:56 AM   #5
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Yes sir thats where I think it's leaking, running past the enclosure is risky, but does make for a nice look.

To clarify how I would of built the bench I'd of actually had the framing come up 6" past the top of the bench and maybe 3" past the bottom face. That way the bench is sitting inside two walls so to speak.

Even if it was pitched wrong the water would hit a wall and run down.

Chop the wall at the red line and the rest would be open in your case. The bench is encased between two walls.
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Unread 10-05-2019, 12:22 AM   #6
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bung up the waste, and bucket some water in from another source, fill up the shower tray see if that leaks, do the same with the seat ledge tape a bit of a dam and fill it with water see if it leaks, at least that way you havnt used any of the shower plumbing so if it leaks its not a pipe issue.
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Unread 10-05-2019, 06:58 AM   #7
tilemanct
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Jim has nailed it for diagnosis!!
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Unread 10-10-2019, 07:24 AM   #8
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I use an infa red camera to find leaks. works great
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Unread 10-10-2019, 12:40 PM   #9
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Fred, do you have any pictures you could share? Might make an interesting thread in this forum.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 06:58 AM   #10
fhueston
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Yes I do have several pics..here is one where the owner didnt want me to tear a tile out. It sounded hollow....the camera told me why
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Unread 10-11-2019, 07:05 AM   #11
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I was looking at FLIR cameras some years ago, the lowest one I found was around $19,000! That was used off of some security site but it had smooth video. I should check them out again but i'll stick to the lower models that now work with your phone for much less green.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 07:49 AM   #12
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I have this one. A bit more in your price range Justin? I use this thing all the time. From finding leaks, to locating clogs in radiator hoses in my skid and back hoe, to test the air coming out of my vents in my trucks and so much more

FLIR TG165 - Spot Thermal Camera - with 2-Meter Drop Durability for Your Toughest Jobs. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NXJDQV0..._XCiODb059TKEH
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Unread 10-11-2019, 02:07 PM   #13
Dave Gobis
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A drain and wall.
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Unread 10-12-2019, 07:21 PM   #14
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Much more in the price range, I might have to pull the trigger.
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Unread 10-12-2019, 08:48 PM   #15
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What a fantastic tool that is.

It’s not fool-proof, but you bust open a circuit panel and it’ll immediately red-flag an overloaded wire that’s warmer than the rest.
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