Disarming the ticking bomb of a leaking shower pan in your bathroom

This is the story of a bathroom remodel that found its start in the shower—the shower pan, to be specific. While there are many ways a shower can leak, a shower pan is the most costly leak of all. In this case, a problematic pan had a very happy ending.

Sneaky leaks in the shower pan

Improperly installed shower pans or liners can be damaged during installation. Older ones can wear out. That’s why all shower pans deserve close attention. Though, new ones and those over 30 years old seem to be the largest source of repairs.

Concrete shower pans are built to stay put. They should never move. Unfortunately, homes in Houston tend to be in motion due to our expansive soil. While you’d think weight and multiple layers, you’d think they couldn’t move. You’d be wrong. Such movements are a common cause of leaks. That’s why you should check your pan periodically.

How to check for a shower pan leak

While there are many ways a shower can leak, it makes sense to start with the shower pan since its leaks are the most costly. The good news is, you can check it yourself.

WARNING: Only conduct this test on a day you can be home for the duration of the test. The last thing you need is the self-inflicted damage from all that water leaking out at once.

Test your shower pan in 8 easy steps.

  1. Gather tools: You’ll need a large bucket, duct tape, a tape measure and a flashlight.
  2. Prepare the area: Make sure the floor around the shower is dry.
  3. Cover the drain: Place enough duct tape over the drain to prevent drainage.
  4. Get your water: Using the tub, never the shower, fill your bucket two-thirds full.
  5. Fill the pan: Slowly pour water from the bucket to a depth of exactly one inch.
  6. Measure depth: Make note of the depth near the edge where you can measure again.
  7. Check for leakage: Look in the access door, if possible, with a flashlight looking for drips.
  8. Wait and measure: Over a period of eight hours, remeasure to see if water has leaked.

If you see leakage, or measure a drop in the water level, immediately remove the duct tape and let the pan drain. Test is over. Your pan failed. The leak could be either in the pan itself or the seal between the drain and the pan. Either way, this is work for a professional.

A happy shower pan problem

John and Jody’s shower pan problems had a happy ending because it led to a TriFection bathroom remodeling project. That’s one way to make something good out of a bad problem.


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