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Unread 06-07-2020, 01:19 PM   #1
LouNatic
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Shower bench grout cracks, leaking to OUTSIDE of house

Hello everyone. I had my shower remodeled back in May 2018. Its a frameless glass shower and it looks great to my untrained eye, but I noticed this weekend that water was coming out of the weep holes in the brick veneer on the outside of the house along the shower.

I started investigating and there is a long crack in the grout on a bench that is right where the water is aimed at from the shower head.

The guy who did the job is claiming this must be a foundation problem with the house that caused this crack because theres no way that should happen. But here is my real question....is this indicative that the bench isn’t properly waterproofed? Because even if there was water getting through the grout how would it be making it out of the house through the weep holes? Wouldnt it be funneled back into the pan?

the bench is built out of 2x4s. I understand some people use cinderblocks.

Before you ask, yes, he’s a brother of my friend who has a handy man and the whole job ran around 6 grand. I know he knows about about water proofing because I saw him apply red guard to our upstairs shower earlier this year when we had that done.

Ive also noticed some cracks forming on the glass accent tiles adjacent to this bench. I’m guessing water has gotten back there, made the studs swell and move and crack the glass. He claims the bench is made of hardibacker.

Ive also included a picture to illustrate the crack in the grout under the bench lip where I’m able to slide a piece of paper into the crack.

Ive attached as many pictures for reference as I could.

What do you guys think? I dont have any drywall cracks above windows or door ways. does this sound like a poor waterproofing job or caused by foundation movement?
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Unread 06-07-2020, 02:33 PM   #2
Davy
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Hi Lou, welcome. The foundation would have to move a lot to cause problems like you see and since you don't have cracks in the drywall, I doubt that's the problem. The installer is like so many out there that think Hardiboard is waterproof, it is not although they do have a new type that is pink on one side. I guess it's waterproof although I've never used it and probably wasn't available when your shower was tiled.

I think you're right, the wood is getting wet and swelling, causing the problems with the grout. What type of waterproofing was used on the shower floor?

You mentioned that he used Redgard upstairs in your other shower but what type of waterproofing did he use on the walls in this shower?
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Unread 06-07-2020, 03:13 PM   #3
LouNatic
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I do not know. I know there is a sheet under the drain pan.

I'm starting to think this was a subpar workmanship job because I just found what looks like holes or gaps adjacent to this. They are wide enough I can put a toothpick into them and leave it there.

He has replied to me that if it's a workmanship issue he will repair it.

Is this something that can be repaired or would he have to tear down these parts and rebuild?
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Unread 06-07-2020, 03:59 PM   #4
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I was able to speak with him. He confirmed that there is no sealant over the backerboard. He claims the backerboard IS waterproof.

this just doesnt add up.

I think Im just going to have to cut my loses....pay to have another company come out, demo the tile and backerboard and bench and properly reconstruct.

At least the glass appears to be ok so we can save a couple grand there.

I just had twins 2 months ago so this is the last thing I needed.
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Unread 06-07-2020, 04:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LouNatic View Post
I was able to speak with him. He confirmed that there is no sealant over the backerboard. He claims the backerboard IS waterproof.

this just doesnt add up.

I think Im just going to have to cut my loses....pay to have another company come out, demo the tile and backerboard and bench and properly reconstruct.

At least the glass appears to be ok so we can save a couple grand there.

I just had twins 2 months ago so this is the last thing I needed.
He also just said that the reason there is redguard upstairs and not downstairs is because these are larger tiles and redguard should only be used for small pieces.
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Unread 06-08-2020, 05:35 PM   #6
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He is either blowing smoke or doesn't have any idea what he's doing. Or, maybe both. Backerboard is not waterproof (except maybe the new one I mentioned). Ask him who it was that told him that.

I wouldn't have him do it a second time but I would let him tear it out so he can see the mess he caused.

Something else, take accurate measurements of the tile job before tear out so it can be installed back just like it is now, that way the glass to fit back.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 01:29 PM   #7
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So he came by today and he acknowledges there was a mistake. He believes what happened was that when the glass guys stood on the bench they shifted one of the tiles. Plausible I guess.

That being said he is going to fix it. He knows its not a foundation issue.

He has torn up the bench and is going to put red guard over the top of the bench (the face of the bench is covered by the membrane thats under the floor) and repair. That being said, will redguarding the top of the bench prevent the tile from cracking again because moisture wont get through? But water is still going to get through the grout right? So wouldnt it make more sense to put down marble on the top of the bench instead of tile?

He said I need to let him know by Thursday so he can get the marble ordered and installed this weekend. Ive included a pic of the torn out top bench. He is going to “re pitch it” because the water was heading to the gap between the tub and the back of the bench and fill in that gap with sealant.

What are your thoughts on this approach? Fill in that gap and regard it and put tile back or is tile destined to crack so just use a marble bench seat on top?
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Unread 06-09-2020, 02:12 PM   #8
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Welcome, Lou.

I think he's suggesting putting lipstick on your pig.
Quote:
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He believes what happened was that when the glass guys stood on the bench they shifted one of the tiles.
Of course the glass guys stepped on your bench. And everyone knew they would. And that shouldn't have been done 'till the tiles were long past the stage where they might have "shifted." And even if they did "shift," it wouldn't have caused a leak if the shower had been properly waterproofed.

The marble top will not prevent leaking.

You had the right idea in post #4. You need someone far more competent to build you a waterproof shower.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 03:07 PM   #9
LouNatic
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My logic is if he’s going to cover 100% of the cost, why not give him a shot at making it right. If he gets it wrong again, I cut him off.

I can tell you this, he installed 2 ceiling fans for me earlier this year and I called an electrician today to come out tomorrow morning and check his work.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 05:10 PM   #10
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Lou, get a drain plug and flood test the shower floor. Not sure if this seat problem is the cause of water leaking outside.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 05:21 PM   #11
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I agree with CX, lipstick. But, I can understand your misery. Lipstick looks good till it wears off. Like Davy said from what you have told us he is beyond his abilities shower wise, he uses the wrong keywords.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 06:11 PM   #12
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I did that before I posted here, Davy.

Held water in the pan for 6 hours with no sign of leaking. We identified the problem today.

The pitch of the bench wasn’t forward enough plus no water proofing so the water was going into that gap between the tub and the shower. He is going to replace the bench with it angled slightly more and not allow for that gap at the back. By that logic any water that gets through the grout should hit the water proofing and make its way back INTO the shower down the bench, correct?
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Unread 06-09-2020, 07:41 PM   #13
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Any horizontal surface should be sloped to the drain. Keep in mind that neither grout nor the tile is considered the waterproofing. A shower should be water tight prior to the installation of the tile. So, a crack in the grout should not cause a shower to leak. It's a cosmetic issue. Grout generally doesn't crack unless there's movement, and that implies improper water management.
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Unread 06-09-2020, 08:01 PM   #14
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The waterproofing layer has to be sloped, not just the bench top. If that's not done, water will just sit on the waterproofing layer until enough collects that it runs off in some direction, or in more than one direction.

Further, I can't see the front of the bench to see if the tile has been removed. You mentioned that the membrane on the floor goes up the front of the bench. What kind of membrane is it? How will the waterproofing on the top tie into the membrane on the front?

I'd have some concerns about how the rest of the shower is built. Anyone that thinks Hardibacker is waterproof is not knowledgeable enough to build a watertight shower, let alone try to repair one.
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Unread 06-10-2020, 10:58 AM   #15
LouNatic
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Looks like weve figured it out. The wooden top of the Bench was completely level while only the tile had a slope to it. Compound that with the fact that it wasnt properly waterproofed and no wonder the bench was leaking.

One would think properly pitching the wooden frame and top surface of the wooden frame along with the hardie wacker and properly redgarding it would keep the water that gets theough the grout headed towards the drain, correct?
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