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Troubleshooting And Repairing A Leaking Shower Pan

A musty odor, water stains appearing on the floor or on the ceiling below a bathroom, and visible mold growth are all signs that you may have a possible shower pan leak. Left alone, the leak will only cause more extensive damage and cost more to fix later. A plumber can help you determine whether it's the shower pan or one of the pipes that are leaking.

Causes

There are several causes for shower pan leaks. In a newer shower, the issue is often improper installation. If the pan wasn't installed on the right level or if the seals are faulty, water can leak around the edges. Without proper sloping toward the drain, water can overflow around the edge as well.

In an older shower pan, leaks can occur for one of three reasons. The first is a failed drain flange. The seal around the drain becomes damaged, and water leaks around the drain and collects under the pan. The second is failed caulking around the edges of the pan, which means moisture can get in around the edge of the pan and the wall. The third reason for a leak is damage to the pan itself, such as a small crack in a fiberglass shower pan, that is allowing water to seep beneath.

Testing

Unless you can easily see the damage that is causing the leak, you will need to test to verify that the pan is leaking and not the drain or one of the water supply lines. The drain is first taped over and blocked so the pan can't empty. Then, the pan must be filled with water. Fill the shower pan with a bucket, not with the tap in the shower. This way, you can be sure it isn't the tap that is leaking.

Finally, leave the water alone for several hours. If the level in the shower pan drops, then water is leaking out somewhere. If it doesn't drop, then the source of the leak is either in the drainpipe itself or in one of the water supply lines.

Repair

If the pan itself is damaged, repair means installing a new pan. Your plumber may recommend a full shower surround since this won't have seals near the floor that will leak. If only the drain flange is leaking, your plumber can replace the old flange and then seal the new one well in place. Leaks in the caulking and seals around the shower pan are also a simple repair. Your plumber will strip out the old caulk and apply new caulk.

For more information about plumbing repairs, contact a local plumbing company.


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