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Unread 10-10-2022, 07:13 PM   #1
morrowM
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Need Help! Bathroom bench leaking after 6 months

We recently had our third story bathroom shower completely remodeled due to a leak. We never identified the original location of the leak but it was assumed to be the shower pan. The entire pan and liner and tile were replaced. Six months later, we encountered a leak that occurred when the shower faucet was pointed towards the back corner of the shower bench. The water came dripping down in the stream through the second floor ceiling.

The contractor opened up the bench and I took pictures of what was found, it appears that the PVC liner was pulled all the way up over the bench and flush with some kind of a liner under the tub. The area that failed was the back corner where there must’ve been some failure of the liner. As a solution, the contractor has offered to extend the liner to the tub, or create an “U shape” to the liner to prevent water from leaking through that area. Of note, the completed tile bench was not level and actually had a down slope away from the drain and towards the back corner where the leak was occurring. Please see the photos. The last photo was the 24 he drain plug test during the original install. I’m at a loss as to how to proceed to fix this issue any help would be appreciated.
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Unread 10-11-2022, 08:39 AM   #2
John Bridge
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Hi Wes,

It looks like cement board might have been nailed through the waterproof membrane (shower pan material) on the bench. If so, the bench has been leaking from the start.
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Unread 10-11-2022, 06:56 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum, Wes!

…not to mention that the cement board manufacturers prohibit nailing their board to dimension lumber like what we see on top of that 2x bench top. Even if there were no holes from the fasteners (there are), the expansion and contraction of the lumber is too much for the tile…you need to separate the 2x lumber from the cement board with plywood.

…not to mention the apparent lack of waterproofing on the walls.

…not to mention the apparent lack of alkali-resistant mesh tape at all the seams.

…if that’s pressure treater lumber, that’s a mistake, as well.

Waterproofing a shower needs to be done as some sort of coordinated system. Repairing the bench only doesn’t do a lot of good when there are deficiencies in the rest of your waterproofing.

Can you confirm or contradict anything I’ve said so we can understand more about how your shower was built?

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Unread 10-11-2022, 09:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
It looks like cement board might have been nailed through the waterproof membrane (shower pan material) on the bench.
I'm sure he did the curb correctly, though.

If he used cement board over the curb like he did the bench, I don't think you'll be able to salvage this shower.

I think I see a penetration in the top of the curb from a bracket. But if the curb is wrong, it doesn't really matter.

I always tell customers that if any horizontal part of the shower (curb, bench, niche, etc.) is penetrated for any reason, the warranty is voided. Penetrations on horizontal surfaces always leak, no matter how much silicone they use to fill up the hole.

Is that last picture from the original construction?
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Unread 10-12-2022, 04:08 AM   #5
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Hi thanks everyone for the replies. I’ll try to help clarify as best I can. I’m not experienced in these sorts of things but I have been reading to try to better understand what’s standard practice.

I did point out the screws or fasteners going through the cement board and liner, I was told by the installer (not the general contractor) that water proofing was applied over the heads of the fasteners so it shouldn’t matter. From what I’ve read on here I don’t think you all like that explanation.

In regard to waterproofing the walls. That blueish cement board was built up the walls all the way to the window ledge etc. the opening in the last picture was from a repair of the window ledge that had rotted from previous leak at the time of initial install. I do think that was eventually covered after the leak test. The last picture was from the original remodel/install.

I’m a little confused as one reply mentioned they should have used plywood and another said to avoid pressure treated lumber? I’m not sure what the difference is or what they are supposed to be using, but in the last picture you can see a piece of what I think is 2x4 on the bench that was being used to reinforce some areas where there was previously wood damage.
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Unread 10-12-2022, 04:20 AM   #6
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Here is a picture of the curb during construction, I don’t have progress pictures of the curb beyond that as I was at work when the installation was taking place.

I am not familiar with alkaline mesh tape but I will ask the contractor if that was used on the seams, which I guess means all of the 90 degree edges? Would that have prevented failure in that back corner?

Technically the general contractor said this is all under warranty and they are willing to fix it, including the drywall cuts downstairs etc (as they should). They are likely using the same installers as before to complete the repairs.

Should I have them rip the entire bench out to remove the horizontal surface? They offered to lower the bench by several inches to create a vertical surface that would attach to the back wall glass. That way the liner could be pulled up over the bench to the lip of the tub and there wouldn’t be direct standing water in that corner where the liner from the tub and the bench meet.

I’ll try to take some more pictures if that will help.
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Unread 10-12-2022, 04:33 AM   #7
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Here are what look like fastener holes from the cement board being attached. How are they supposed to attach it if not with screws or fasteners?
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Unread 10-12-2022, 07:46 AM   #8
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Hi Wes, From the look of the construction you have there in the bench, I would expect the same throughout the shower. It would probably be easier to completely redo the shower than to just try and fix what you have there. Who knows where the next leak might occur, then you'll have to tear out tile again. Start over from scratch and get it done right and sleep sound at night! Google "Schluter Kerdi Shower".

ps, I'm not a pro, just read a lot of good info on this site!
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Unread 10-12-2022, 04:28 PM   #9
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Hi Wes,

"Pressure treated is would that has been impregnated with a preservative. It can be wood boards or plywood. The plywood we would suggest using is not pressure treated.

But all the the problems taken together pretty much indicates that the shower was not properly constructed. It neens to be torn out and redone. But that should be done by a qualified tileman/tilewoman, not the person who made the mess.
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Unread 10-13-2022, 05:15 AM   #10
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Another way to build the seat is to run the pan liner under and behind the seat area, then build it out of concrete blocks. That way everything is contained within the liner without any wood at all. Done it this way for many years.
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Unread 10-13-2022, 06:36 AM   #11
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Thank you all. So in a situation where it needs to be completely re-done, am I just out the cost of the original shower? Honestly I’m not in a position to pay another 8-12k (or whatever the labor and materials would likely cost) to have it completely redone by a second company. Does anyone know a company in the Houston area that you would recommend? Especially somebody that might come out and take a look? I will also explore the concrete block idea. Thanks again.
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Unread 10-13-2022, 10:11 AM   #12
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Hi Wes,
I could be wrong, but nothing about this grout line/corner suggests to me that it would produce enough of a leak for it to run in a stream thru the ceiling below.
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Unread 10-13-2022, 10:20 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes
Here are what look like fastener holes from the cement board being attached. How are they supposed to attach it if not with screws or fasteners?
That's the problem, Wes. There is no way to do that.

There is simply no way to effectively treat any horizontal wood framed surface in a tile shower when using a PVC liner and CBU.

Can be done easily using a direct bonded waterproofing membrane.

Can also be done by eliminating the wood framed bench and doing a "monument bench" using CMUs inside of the waterproofing envelope as Davy suggested.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-13-2022, 05:52 PM   #14
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I would suggest you get in touch with Paul Luccia in Houston. Try Cabot & Rowe.com or 713-459-6215. Paul is a regular contributor here and one of the top people in his field.
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Unread 11-11-2022, 03:04 PM   #15
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Finally something Lazarus and I can agree on. Paul with Cabot and Rowe did my shower after I had absolute screw ups by several others. He and Nick did a beautiful job on mine and I could not be happier. He also provides a lifetime warranty on the waterproofing.
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