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Unread 08-06-2008, 10:40 AM   #1
deluca5
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sunken tiled showers leak

9 year old home, we have owned for 3 years. 18 months ago we noticed water stain on a4 year old engineered wood living room floor which is opposite master bath shower. Shower is sunken 5-6 in., fully tiled. I removed damaged LR floor, baseboard, quarter round and a big section of LR wallboard. Two different plumbers and one leak expert could find NO leaks in plumbing or tile/grout/fixures/drains. Plumber even jackhammered a big hole in the LR slab, exposed pipes and no leaks. Water has been disconnected and shower has NOT been used for 18mos. Moisture meter still measures unacceptable levels of moisture in the LR concrete for about 1-2 inches from the wall shared with the shower. LR walls and shower are interior walls and are NOT adjacent to exterior walls. There is no sign of moisture on the shower wall/board which can be seen through the hole in LR wall or on the floor joist which is treated lumber and visible. A third wall of the shower is shared by a carpeted closet containing the hot water heater and neither the wall or the floor of the closet show or measure any signs of moisture. We started using the sunken shower in another bedroom and noticed stains on the hardwood floor in the hall opposite the shower and again plumbers and leak expert found nothing.
We have spent a fortune on plumbers and leak experts and a moisture meter and have no answer. I am wondering if perhaps the builder may have left wood framing in the ground which may be wicking water along the outline of the shower...Any ideas...this problem is driving me nuts
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Unread 08-06-2008, 12:45 PM   #2
ddmoit
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Welcome to the John Bridge forums. What can we call you?

Without pictures or further information, I suspect that you have a poorly constructed shower pan that has blocked weep holes or no preslope under the liner, or both conditions. I would expect a really good plumber to check for weep hole blockage before he/she got the jack hammer out.

Contrary to popular belief, tiles and grout are not waterproof. Water will get beneath them. A properly constructed shower pan will have a slope under the waterproof liner to allow water to flow naturally to the weep holes, which are there to allow otherwise trapped water to get to the drain pipe.

It is sometimes possible to unclog weep holes without tearing out your shower. If you're missing a slope under the liner, you must tear out the shower or live with the problem.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 01:42 PM   #3
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A couple of years ago we had a leak. We detected the problem when it ruined our new wood bedroom floor and the vanity in the hall bath. The plumber told us it was in the slab. We re-plumbed the whole house in PEX (that was a good thing anyway) only to find out that we still had the leak. We finally found it in the most obvious place, the connection from the wall into the sink supply lines. We re-plumbed the whole house for nothing! Dan is probably right about the pan but I would do some serious detective work before I started tearing anything out. We thought we had investigated enough and boy were we wrong.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 02:50 PM   #4
deluca5
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Thanks for getting back to me so quickly...I am still not clear about the source of the moisture...we have not used the shower for 18 months and the water has been turned off for at least 10 months...and remember any plugged weep holes in drain would be more than 6 inches below the level of the living room floor..How long can water hang around the shower...we live in FLorida. house is on a slab so I can't crawl under the shower, but the soil is very sandy, no clay.

I have photos, but I don't know how to post photos but I will try to figure it out.

Thanks,
Jessica
...
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Unread 08-06-2008, 03:03 PM   #5
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Hi again Dan,

I just checked around and there is no code here in N. Florida that requires a shower pan to be installed in a tiled sunken shower...I don't think there is a way to determine if there is a shower pan. I have tried in the past to get other information from the builder (who is still in business!) but they are totally uncooperative.

I removed the grout in the other bedroom shower where the walls meet the floor so that i could put a pipe cleaner in the crack and see if I could pull up any water. No water. Musty smell though.

Jessica
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Unread 08-06-2008, 03:22 PM   #6
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Hi Jessica,

There are quite a few pros around here that work in Florida. Perhaps they'll add their local expertise to your thread.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 03:51 PM   #7
ceramictec
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Hi Jessica,

do you know what builder built your home ?
a certain percent of Florida builders dont put in liners or any type of waterproofing in their showers.

did lots with no liners when I first moved to Florida and was on all the flooring centers to tell them it would be benificial to put them in. some of the smaller ones did, most of the larger ones didnt.

even if you haven used your shower water can sit in the mudbed thats saturated with water and be wet for a year or more. I ripped one out that wasnt lived in for over a year and it was soaked. ost mud beds will hold water in the mud but mostly seep out on the preslope and into the weep holes.

you could also have a cracked slab and moisture getting to your wood from the bottom that way.........it is the rainy season now.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 04:14 PM   #8
deluca5
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Hi Brian,

The builder is J. A. Long, Jacksonville, FL.

If you are correct it means we have demo the existing showers and rebuild from scratch...aarg.

The leak detector guy who was recommended by State Farm suggested that the problem may have occurred before we moved in, but wouldn't be seen with carpeting in the LR because it breathes whereas the hardwood which was installed by the previous owner shortly before he sold the house, wicks up the moisture from the concrete...we never see water, only dampness on the concrete since removing the damaged hardwood.

One of the plumbers, who has worked in construction, suggested that the vapor barrier may have been pierced when they put posts to mark the corners of the shower. This of course would allow moisture in the soil to move into the area around the showers.

Jessica
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Unread 08-06-2008, 04:45 PM   #9
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could be all of them, I have seen some hardwood here get moisture damage from being set directly on the concrete.

I cant help you with that builder, sounds like a local guy up in Jax.
we have a member here Royce (scuttlebuttrp) that might know of this builder.

I "pm'ed" him to see what he knows.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 05:00 PM   #10
deluca5
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Gee thanks, Brian

I removed nearly 2ft. of engineered hardwood along the LR wall abutting the shower. (Glued, so not an easy job except where the wood had deteriorated.) The concrete slab is dry except for 1 or 2 inches out from the LR wall which abuts the shower. Also, no crack in the slab is visible.

If the problem was near an outside wall I would be looking for a sprinkler problem, but the moisture problem is on interior walls far from any exterior wall.

Jessica
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Unread 08-06-2008, 05:15 PM   #11
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from what your explaining to me it sounds like the mud pan is saturated and has wicked into the slab in that area and is causing the problem.

probably would be a good idea to gut the shower walls and floor and redo.
use a waterproofing membrane like Schluter - Kerdi, Customs- RedGard or Nobleseal - TS or even a pan liner Chloraloy.

if done correctly you will not have the problem that's happening now.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 05:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
...it sounds like the mud pan is saturated and has wicked into the slab in that area and is causing the problem.
My thoughts, exactly.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 05:34 PM   #13
deluca5
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Dear Brian and Dan,

"From your mouth to God's ear."
.
We are talking thousands to gut and redo a single shower, not to mention the second shower and the cost of replacing the engineered hardwood. We have triplets---one just graduated from college, one is getting his masters degree and the third is in an architecture program with 2 years left...all our money is in Boston colleges. I was hoping for a DIY project. Can I be sure if I bite the bullet and redo the shower that the problem will disappear? I want to consider all the possibilities BEFORE I demo a shower or two.

Do mudbeds or whatever you called them EVER dry out?? I have the patience of Job and have been blessed with 3 full bathrooms. Two have sunken showers and are problematic and the third has a bathtub/shower combo. Could the problem resolve if I wait long enough??

Thanks again,
Jessica
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Unread 08-06-2008, 05:42 PM   #14
ceramictec
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Quote:
Do mudbeds or whatever you called them EVER dry out??
if the tile is removed off the top and the air drys out the mudbed.......but that wont do any good since it still doesnt have a pan or if one is there its leaking.
you need to get to the core and fix the problem.

you might try going into the floor from the other side of the shower where you have removed the wood. jack into the slab and see if under that area is wet ground.

*disclaimer* we cant be sure this is your problem, if inspectors cant figure it out, we are only going on a hunch.
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Unread 08-06-2008, 06:00 PM   #15
deluca5
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We have jacked into the slab in the living room 4 inches from the shared wall. We have a hole 1 ft in diameter. We exposed the hot water pipe that runs through the slab and disconnected it. I could try to tunnel toward the shower...i can see where the slab thickens as it approaches the shower...HOw close to the shared wall do I have to get to see water or wet sand or whatever I will be looking for?

Thanks, I like the little Smiley that is shaking a martini...This problem could drive me to drink...

Jessica
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