Does your shower leak?

Does your shower leak?


Nothing is worse than knowing the investment you've made to improve the value of your home is no longer functional because of inadequate construction of your tile shower.

This week we've received five phone calls from home owners with leaking showers and wanting quotes to replace them. This unfortunately is very common in our industry caused mainly by:

1. Contractors having limited knowledge.
2. Use of inferior products.
3 .Taking short cuts while constructing the shower.

Question: Do you know the top three reasons we see showers fail?

1. Nailing through the PVC/CPE pan liner.
2. Missing outside or inside corner dams.
3. Missing or lacking of adequate sealant on the drain body assembly.

Constructing a shower should be left to the pros. However, it is very important for you, the consumer to be aware of the steps to ensure long lasting beauty and a leak free, functional system. When your tile contractor is present have him sign off on the checklist below to guide you during a traditional shower installation:

1. Is there a pre-slope under the pan liner? SHOULD BE YES!
2. Are there fasteners in the pan liner where there shouldn't be? SHOULD BE NO!
3. Are inside and outside dam corners being used? SHOULD BE YES!
4. What sealant was used around the drain body?
5. Was an overnight water test preformed prior to tile installation?
6. Was a surface membrane applied?
7. What material was installed behind the CBU if a surface membrane was not applied?
8. Was an expansion joint installed at all adjoining walls/flooors? SHOULD BE YES! Shower temperatures vary dramatically depending on the ambient temperature and moisture. This can make your tiles pop off or even explode. Your grout may also crack or be forced from the joint.

We're consistently being told "No" when we ask our clients if a water test was performed during the construction of the shower that has sprung a leak. A properly constructed traditional shower installation should be able to retain water with minimal loss (due to evaporation) for 24-48 hours after the liner is installed, prior to tile installation. Your tile is not the waterproof membrane! If there is significant loss, you'll want to know where it went (and why) before he installs thousands of dollars of beautiful tile. You may be tearing it out.

Remember, when constructing a shower that will last a life time it's important to use quality products. One such United States manufacture is Noble Company located in Grand Haven, MI.


  1. Great information, enjoyable read Dan.

  2. Great post on shower pans. I have seen tons of bad installations in the Denver area. Some of the cities here even require shower pan inspections now. Glad to see that a few of us still install a true leak free shower.

  3. Great article, I am glad to see some of us still install leak free showers.

  4. John Whipple says:

    Great post. Thanks for promoting proper shower construction. I would like to add that working with a product like Noble Company’s Noble Seal TS is in fact a better membrane than other plain no fleece covered products. We find that the Noble Seal TS actually draws the mositure to the drain with the aid of the pre-slope and these shower pans dry out faster.

    The key to a successful clamping drain instal is the use of Noble Sealant 150 on top of the bottom clamping drain and under the Noble Seal TS. It is very common to see plumbers use silicone between the rubber liner and the top collar – this creates a dam of 1/8″ – 3/16″ and blocks the lower weep holes from working.

    Better products = Better Showers!



  5. A leaky shower could appear like a fairly innocuous difficulty, but absolutely nothing could possibly be further from the truth. Water that leaks into the structure of a household can trigger permanent structural harm.

  6. Willy says:

    Nice info, it is amazing how many times we have had to repair leaks in shower floors. If tile contractors and plumber will talk each other, they would avoid so many problems. It is apparent that they have no understanding of shower systems and how they should work.

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