Do It Yourself Repair: Fixing A Shower Drain Leak

A leaking shower may mean three things: a faulty drain that needs replacement, a leak in the shower floor, or a leak under the cement in the floor.

Does the sound of water dripping from the ceiling onto your expensive mahogany dining room table irk you? If you find yourself in this, or a similar scenario chances are you have already made the call to the plumber. While many times a plumber is needed for a leak-job, there are some fixes you may be able to solve yourself. Before you get the tool-belt out you need to locate the source of the leak. If you suspect it is the shower, run water directly into the drain with a hose and see if the leaking persists downstairs. If it does, you have pinpointed your problem. Now, you must fix it.

Generally speaking a shower drain leak is caused by a faulty, dislodged, or otherwise broken shower pan. This fix can be an expensive one, costing up to two-hundred dollars a fix. But, before you spring for that kind of money, you should make sure it is simply not a faulty drain and then, if it is the pan, try the home remedy method.

Fixing or replacing a drain is not an extremely complicated task. You can find drain fixing kits at all plumbing supply houses. Wingtite shower drain replacement kits work particularly well and are relatively simple to follow. The basic procedure involves removing the old drain system and installing the new one. First you remove the drain cover with a flat blade screwdriver. Then you extract the compression gasket pipe rise and drain body by unthreading the compression nut and pulling the gasket out with needle-nose pliers. Next, remove the drain body. Use a hack saw to make two vertical cuts roughly one-inch apart through the drain body. Completely cut through the drain body, but be sure not to cut into the shower pan. Make two cuts through the drain flange as well, but again, do not break the pan. Once the flange is cut use the flat blade to pry on the piece and free it from the pan, removing it completely. The rest of the drain body will fall apart and the retaining nut below will drop. Keep the nut where it lays and remove the drain.

Now is the fun part""installation. Apply some liquid soap the new drain's o-ring for lubrication and then silicon caulk to the underside of the drain flange. With the four fastening wings against the drain body, insert the new drain into the shower pan and press evenly over the drain pipe. When the drain has touched the pipe hold it firmly to seal it. Tighten all screws evenly until the drain is on securely. Clean the extra silicon and test the shower to see if it still leaks. If it does not, you have solved your drain issue""if it does, there is future work for you or your plumber.

If the leak continues the problem might pertain to a faulty shower pan. The shower pan can be either plastic formed into a pan or a sheet of lead. Both styles are placed under the tile floor of the shower. The grout between the tiles allows some water to permeate to the surface underneath, so if there is a leak, there will be some water to drip. If you discover that the pan is bent or dislodged and allowing seepage, here is what you might try.

First, clean the shower surface with several parts water to one part muriaic acid. You can get this chemical at any hardware or paint store. Wearing gloves, you should thoroughly coat and clean the surface to eliminate grime, slime, and other unsavory substances. After you are finished cleaning, rinse the acid away with several buckets of water. If you have unearthed any grout, replace it. Next, give the surface time to dry. Use another shower in the house for a week or more; whatever it takes to totally dry the vicinity out. When the area is completely dry you may coat the surface with two layers of clear masonry sealer. Be sure to let the first layer dry before applying the second coat. When the second coat is thoroughly dry you may test the leak. If your dining room table is dry there is no need to call the plumber. If, on the other hand, there is still leakage, a more in-depth procedure must take place. If you still want to ameliorate the problem yourself here is what you can try.

If leak was serious enough you will probably have shower wall damage. Remove the tile from the lower part of the shower wall. If you use a small putty knife with a thin flexible blade the tiles will pop out quite easily. As you move further up the wall the tiles are more difficult to remove, but you should make your way up to two or three feet above the ground to be sure you rid yourself of all damage. Once the drywall is off, look for the top part of the waterproof membrane that lies under the ceramic tile shower floor. It should extend several inches above the high point of the curb and ought to maintain this height around all of the walls. Now that the area is exposed you can test the leak and identify where it is coming from. Using a hose, spray water into the area. Use a flashlight to see where the water is entering. If you cannot see the leak on the side walls you know the problem is under the floor tile. If this is the case then you need to take out the floor, the cement underneath, and install a new membrane liner. This is a job for a plumber. If the leak is above the floor and the drain replacement does not work you can try the patching method described above.

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