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Unread 11-18-2018, 05:25 PM   #1
chemprof
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possible efflorescence

We recently had a new shower door installed that is semi-frameless with a sweep at the bottom. Because of the size of our shower, water constantly hits the door and some splashes out beyond the sweep at the bottom, landing on the curb outside the door. Not a huge amount, but enough we have to wipe it down. We went round and round with the installers who claim this is “normal” with door sweeps. We are done arguing and plan to just buy a new door with a different style in a few months, but just can’t afford to at the moment.

Even though we completely dry the area after showering, I have recently noticed the grout seems to be staying darker in some places on that outer curb area. I also have found a whitish substance which I can scrape off with my fingernail.

What is odd is that not all the grout lines on the curb are affected, just a few.

Any ideas what is going on? Beyond being unsightly, is this something that is causing damage?? Our curb is built from bricks, not wood, by the way.
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Unread 11-18-2018, 07:12 PM   #2
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Rob, fill us in on the type waterproofing that was used on your shower and the type of grout.

How much pitch does the curb have?

Sometimes it can't be completely avoided but I try not to build a shower that gets a full stream of water hitting the shower door.
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Unread 11-18-2018, 07:29 PM   #3
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The top pitch of the curb should slope in like your shower pan at about 1/4"/foot. So, because it is fairly narrow may be hard to see, but should be measurable.

Are there any screws penetrating the curb? Do you know how it was constructed?
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Unread 11-18-2018, 08:04 PM   #4
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1/4” per foot is the norm for a shower pan and plumbing drains. But at that little pitch in a shower, it tends to pool “uphill” a bit instead of immediately streaming downhill. And if that occurs on the curb at the shower door, water can sneak past the sweep. I pitch curbs at least 1/2” per foot...slightly more if the shower door installation will allow.

Do you have a picture of your door sweep in the door’s closed position?

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Unread 11-18-2018, 08:44 PM   #5
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Cement board on walls. Plastic behind cement board. No screws in curb. Typical shower pan liner over the brick curb. Not sure how far the liner is wrapped out over the curb. Lath and mortar over that. Curb has a good pitch—shower door guy even commented on it. Is it possible to have too much pitch??

Shower is small, maybe 3x4, so no way to avoid water on the door, even with shower head angled.

We re-did the shower because it was on dry wall and ruined the wood curb. It is essentially the same configuration only with cement board and a brick curb now. Our old door had a metal piece across the bottom with attached black rubber sweep. No issues.

When we re-did the shower, we decided to get a new door. This design has no metal at the bottom—just glass with an acrylic sweep across the edge. The water is hitting the metal plate on the curb and some is splashing out under the sweep to the outside. Obviously, the sweep is not creating a good seal. I am hoping this is the issue and not something more major. Guess we won’t know until we can afford to try a different door design.

The grout on the inside of the curb seems to dry pretty well between showers. It is just on the outside part of the curb that seems to stay damp. Grout is Custom non sanded bone color.

I would like opinions as to whether having that grout stay damp can cause serious damage and what the white stuff might be.

Will try to get a picture tomorrow.
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Unread 11-18-2018, 09:52 PM   #6
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the plot thickens

I just went in to look at the shower curb more closely and it looks like pretty much all the grout on the curb area both inside and out is darker and looks damp. I have discovered the silicone was not applied thoroughly all the way across on the inside edge of the shower door at the bottom, so there is a little gap in the corner. When I pressed on the silicone, water came out at that gap. So not only is the water splashing out under the sweep, it also has apparently been getting behind the silicone through that gap on the inside. I suppose it possibly is trapped underneath the frame on the curb too. Awesome.

While I am not sure it is just a shower door installation failure, obviously that is where I have to start. I am just praying that it is not also a shower pan installation failure. Guess I am calling the shower door people tomorrow.
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Unread 11-18-2018, 09:54 PM   #7
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(Hard) water will leave minerals, obviously. The question is whether what you're experiencing is just normal splash or whether something else is going on.

I installed a frameless door with a sweep. In fact, I got annoyed at the sweep and took it off. It will collect water where it hugs the glass and will have mineral crud build up over time around the glass (which in the long run can be difficult to remove from the glass). Now, I have a gap of about 1/4 at the bottom of my door but get little to no splash outside it. My grout is epoxy so it doesn't absorb any water. Unless I point my handheld right at the gap, water will never go beyond that point. It seems the slope of your curb is not the problem. But I'd agree that ideally your grout should dry in about the same time, inside and outside the curb.
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Unread 11-18-2018, 10:54 PM   #8
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Rob, it may be that you’ve come across the very problem that is both allowing leaking outside the curb and into the curb (which would explain the extended dampness).

Can you show us a couple pictures? One, from the inside with the shower door closed so we can see how the sweep is fitted...and a second of the place you’re referring to?

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Unread 11-18-2018, 11:02 PM   #9
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That little bit of water won't hurt your curb. If it leaks enough, it can hurt other things but the curb is brick, mud and tile. Nothing there to hurt. I believe once you fix the door problem, you'll be good.

Rob said, "Shower is small, maybe 3x4, so no way to avoid water on the door, even with shower head angled. "

No doubt the curb will always get wet in a small shower but I'm talking about hitting the curb with a full stream of water. Most of the time it can be avoided by having the shower head installed on a different wall. Anytime the shower head is aimed at the door, as a general rule you're asking for trouble. It all starts in the design stage.

Pics would help us.
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Unread 11-19-2018, 11:13 AM   #10
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Here are pics of inside the curb, outside the curb, what the grout looks like in the dry areas, the pitch of the curb, and the spot in the corner with the water coming out behind the silicone.

Even more water came out this morning when I pressed against the silicone, and that had been well over 24 hours since last shower. Obviously, we are not using the shower till this is resolved, so back in the other bathroom...again.
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Unread 11-19-2018, 07:40 PM   #11
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Take a small piece of fine sand paper and fold it in half. Sand a small area of grout and see if it's a lighter color underneath the surface.
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Unread 11-20-2018, 02:58 AM   #12
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Unless my eyes are deceiving me on this little bitty screen...

Yeah, I see holes. The left-to-right seam on the metal track along the curb needs to be sealed with silicone. And where at least one of the horizontal upright meets that same track, it’s missing silicone in its side.

How can the shower door installers be arguing anything? It’s obvious they missed a some sealing. It’s relatively simple to correct. And it would bring their work from the wrong side of acceptable to the right side of acceptable.

I’d grab a bright flashlight and step inside the shower. Carefully examine every inch along the side uprights and bottom track. I see no reason why this can’t be made to perform perfectly well rather than replacing it with another type of door. Just make sure to follow the shower door manufacturer’s instructions that very likely prohibit running beads of silicone on anything on the “OUTSIDE” side of the shower door. That’s not meant to be caulked.

But once you’ve got that all squared away, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a relatively long time for the grout joints to dry out, as my theory still operates under the assumption that there’s moisture soaked into the curb. But it should dry in time, once the silicone has been completed.

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Unread 11-27-2018, 09:38 PM   #13
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There are bigger problems than the silicone. The tempered glass has a slight bow in it in the lower left corner, so the glass doesn’t sit up against the door seal very well. Amazingly, water didnt pour out that gap. Water is hitting the metal plate on the curb and richocheting up under the slight gap under the door sweep onto the outer curb. I videotaped it. There is no fixing that. It may not be a significant amount, but it happens every time my husband showers. Plus, I can’t even rinse off the inside of the door after showering because it floods out that gap under the sweep.

owner of the shower door company kept claiming all the issues were with “the tile job” not their installation and basically refused to do anything. This was all before I discovered the poor silicone job on the inside a few weeks ago.

We have decided to get a new door that has a more traditional metal drip guard across the bottom. Even though I am not thrilled with pulling this door off and cleaning off all that silicone, it will be worth $420 to have a door that doesn’t leak. Believe me, I will scrutinize this install. I just want to be sure everything is dried out first.

Two questions:
1. They have always put silicone on the outside of every door we have ever had in all our showers. Is that not supposed to be done??? What is the reasoning for not doing so? Seems like you would need to cover any gaps between the chrome frame and the tile since door jamb isn’t perfectly plumb.

2. Davy, what exactly am I “diagnosing” with using the sandpaper on the grout?
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Unread 11-28-2018, 06:51 AM   #14
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You were talking about the grout being dark in places. I have seen unsanded grout turn dark on the surface but be the correct color just under the surface. A very fine sand paper or steel wool would remove the top surface of the grout and hopefully expose a lighter shade. You don't want to scratch the tiles so you want to use a very small piece or fold the paper and use the edge of the fold. Steel wool would probably work best.

Many times the dark grout is from using too much water when mixing or washing.
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Unread 11-28-2018, 10:46 PM   #15
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1. Generally speaking, you don’t absolutely need plumb walls to have the track against them with no gap...but you really do need flat. As far as the caulk: You caulk the inside to seal the water. You leave the outside uncaulked to allow any moisture that might get in there a very easy path to get out. The best way to manage water is to make it hard to get where it’s not supposed to be and very easy to get out of those same spaces. I’ve corrected quite a few odd shower door leaks installed by others and most of them would not have occurred if not for the incorrect exterior caulking. If you happen to have a manufacturer that specifies the outside caulking, then go right ahead. But mine prohibit it and it’s worked well.

By the way, I’m assuming you’ve checked that it’s the glass and not the track that’s bent? Just asking. I hate to see you put additional holes in the tile.

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