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Old 04-13-2019, 04:51 PM   #1
Johnny22
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Leaky Shower Help!

Hi all,

My name is John, new to the forum. I'm looking for some advice, so hoping to provide a few pictures and hopefully that might help illustrate what I'm talking about.

We have a shower upstairs, part of the master bedroom. A few months ago I noticed a small dripping downstairs in the kitchen, from the ceiling, right below where this shower is upstairs. Not really sure what caused it, but it got me to look at the shower a bit closer and I realized the grout was in pretty bad shape (i.e. some places it was missing or cracked, other places it was dark / white), so i decided to start cleaning it. During my cleaning, I noticed some of the tiles were actually a bit loose, and moving around a bit. Specifically, the wall tiles on the bottom row that connect to the shower floor and the tiles on the inside of the curb were loose, so i removed a few. The wall behind the tiles was "soft" in those places, kind of mushy and muddy, so obviously water had leaked behind the tiles and I'm assuming they were put onto a cement backer board not drywall, hopefully.

Then to make matters worse, once I opened up a few tiles, over the next few days, we started to see carpenter ants emerge from those openings. Long-story short, we have managed to get rid of them using datomaceous earth (which is the white stuff visible in all these pictures). I pumped a bunch of it behind the walls and we haven't seen them in days, so hopefully that's the end of the ants.

Now for the shower. The inside of the curb, when I took off the tiles and the soggy backer board that was behind them, I could see the liner and I noticed that they had nailed something in because nails were sticking out on the inside of the curb in some places, right through the liner. I have a picture with the nail circled. Also, they seemed to use backer board on the inside of the curb, which seems like a bad idea to me but I'm not an expert.

Specific questions and advice I'm looking for:

1. Should I rebuild the shower floor and replace the liner? It looks like it's in reasonable shape, but it's leaking somewhere, so would you recommend breaking out the floor and curb and rebuilding? Changing the liner? Obviously I wouldn't nail the liner in from the inside, so would look to do this right. It might also provide me a chance to see if there is water damage under the floor as I know there was a leak, and ants.

2. Should I also remove tiles from the wall to replace the backer board as it seems to be soggy near the bottom where the wall connects to the shower floor? How far should I go up the wall when doing this? I assume it's not going to be soggy all the way up and I don't really want to go through the work to remove all of the tiles up the wall. So if I go up a few feet and cut out the backer board, I assume I can replace with a new board and then just seal to the old board (similar to how you would seal drywall)?

3. If I rebuild the base of the shower, is there a way to salvage the ceramic tiles on the floor (is that even worth doing?), or is it easier to just break the cement floor entirely including the ceramic tiles?

Sorry for the long post, I'm also including pictures so you guys can see what this all looks like.

Thank you all who can provide advice!

John
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:29 PM   #2
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Welcome, John.

If you have water leaking outside the shower, my recommendation is nearly always the same: Remove and replace the entire shower and do the replacement correctly.

1. Yes. I can't tell what you might have for a liner in that receptor, but the backing material doesn't look like a CBU, it looks like gypsum drywall. Perhaps if you were to vacuum out all the diatomaceous earth and take another photo that would help with the material identification.

2. Yes. You should go all the way to a few inches above the shower head supply pipe. Then you can properly waterproof the walls to go with your new waterproof shower receptor.

3. I doubt it, but you can try. I like to see smaller tiles on shower floors, anyway.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:51 PM   #3
greenjp
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I had a shower fail in pretty much exactly the same sequence. Hmm where's this water coming from. Oh there's cracks in the grout in the shower. Uh oh some of these tiles are loose. What is this, drywall behind the tiles?

As CX said this resulted in a complete tear out and rebuild. It wasn't done correctly from the get go so this was the only solution.

Your shower actually looks pretty nice. It's amazing that the hacks/crooks who do this wouldn't bother with the relative low costs and efforts associated with doing it correctly in first place.
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Old 04-13-2019, 06:57 PM   #4
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It looks like a nice shower, but unfortunately you need to redo the whole thing.

That's a shame because of how the tile continues outside the shower, but I wouldn't think twice trying to save some of the wall to make it work...it's not worth the headache and added time and monkeying around. Tile material cost is a small fraction of the entire job, so just rip it out and start anew.

Be sure to pick a real pro, because that kind of work could easily happen again.

One last thing..it's not the job of grout to keep water from getting behind the wall, even if some does a decent job of doing that. The tile substrate (entire shower) should be water-tight when built correctly.
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:27 PM   #5
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The first pic looks like Hardi board to me and the third pic looks like mastic. It is possible to only replace the pan liner and lower section of the shower but I doubt there is any moisture barrier on any of the walls. In that case, along with mastic behind the tiles, I would advise a complete tear out.
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:33 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys. No getting around having to rebuild I don't think.

Realistically, should I even attempt to remove all the wall tiles individually to salvage them and reuse for the rebuild? Or is that not practically possible and I'm going to damage them or chip them (these are glass tiles)?

Never tried to remove wall tiles, so I don't entirely appreciate how difficult it is.
Trying to understand if part of my budget then needs to be purchasing new tiles for the shower and also the wall that extends outside the shower too...

Thanks again!
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:34 PM   #7
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While I think it very doubtful you'll have much success removing those glass tiles intact, John, there's really no way to know until you try.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Old 04-13-2019, 07:39 PM   #8
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Usually there's a lot of labor involved in cleaning the tiles and not worth it.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:21 PM   #9
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Mapei aquadefense

Hi all,

As I'm working through re-modeling the master shower in my house, I asked a friend for advice on how best to waterproof. He said that for the base of the shower, he would just apply Mapei Aquadefense, and not use a liner at all.

He mentioned liners are old school and don't perform well because when you clamp them to the drain, you're essentially preventing water from effectively draining as the clamp creates a barrier. No idea if this is actually accurate but it seems to make some sense, although liners are quite popular from what i'm reading.

Is it possible to effectively water proof your base with just a paint-on waterproofing system like Mapei? In that case, you probably only need 1 layer of mud, instead of having to do a pre-slope, then liner, the more mud.

Thoughts?

Thank you all.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:29 PM   #10
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With a liner, there are weep holes in the drain’s clamping ring. Water is able to drain through and out of the shower mud bed.

Aquadefense will work in lieu of a liner but you need to do the divot method. There’s no pre-slope, only a single sloped bed.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:35 PM   #11
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Thanks, but doesn't the weeping hole get filled up once you put the mud bed on top of the liner? I guess the mud allows water to go through, that's the theory?
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:23 PM   #12
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You put a handful or two of pea gravel or similar around the weep holes to keep them unblocked. Or use something like this...https://www.homedepot.com/p/Goof-Pro...-106/202822271
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:37 PM   #13
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Like Lou said, you protect the weepholes so they don't get clogged up and then you use dry pack mud which is very porous, water travels thru it to the weepholes. Here is a pic of a divot drain with Auqa Defense and fabric installed. Once the grate is screwed on, the weepholes will be protected and the divot filled with deck mud.
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Old 04-19-2019, 05:24 AM   #14
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Could you not just install cementboard tight to the floor, then do a preslope down to the drain flange, then waterproof everything? So as to make it like a PVC pan liner? Then install upper flange that has the weep holes and drain. Then float floor for tile installation?
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Old 04-19-2019, 06:44 AM   #15
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Why would you do that, Donald?

If you were planning to build a traditional shower receptor, wouldn't it make more sense to use a traditional pan liner rather than a direct bonded waterproofing membrane?

And what would be the purpose of the "cementboard" on the floor?
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