What Causes a Shower Leak

Leaking Shower Repairs are necessary when it is damaging the structure of your home. So what causes a shower leak. There can be several reasons why your leaking showers have a leak.  One thing is for certain, left untreated for a length of time the spread of water will cause structural damage to your home. As your biggest investment, it’s worth the effort to maintain it regularly just as you would your car. But have you ever thought about what caused that shower leak in the first place?

Some common causes of a leaking shower could be:

Building Movement:

Homes are built to allow for some building movement. Your home will gradually be settling years after it has been built. With time minor changes will occur within your home. Doors will shift, doors will shift, hairline cracks will appear and skirting boards may detach from the wall.  One of the most common areas to be affected by the building movement is your shower. Tiles and cement grout aren’t flexible they are rigid materials. Building movement will cause separation between the floor and wall. This will affect the sealant and causing the grout to crack and fall out. The gaps then allow water to seep under the tiles. Once there the water gets trapped between the tile and waterproof membrane.

Waterproof Membrane Fails:

A waterproof membrane is applied to all wet areas in your home including balconies.  The membrane is designed to stop water penetrating to the surrounding areas. Australia has regulations in place which the application of waterproofing must comply with.

This is set out in the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards (AS3740 -1994). Bathroom specifications, state that the entire shower floor and walls up to 1800mm in height must be waterproofed. Even with regulations in place, there are limitations to the waterproof membrane.

The special concern goes to cases where inferior products are used or the application is not to standard. Particularly the joins where the floor meets the walls. If you have ever watched The Block on television you will notice the catchphrase “Waterproof Wednesday”. Why because the membrane needs enough time to cure before tiling. Any combination of these items can easily put extra pressure on your membrane. Missing or cracked grout in the shower allows water to penetrate the membrane. The more water trapped under the tiles the quicker the deterioration. Once breached water is allowed to travel to nearby structural parts of your home.

Silicone Sealing Fails:

No presence of silicone seal within the inner junctions of your shower walls.  This is an issue for potential leaks from your shower. When you find more water on your bathroom floor than inside your shower,  you have a leak.   Even when it has been applied the constant use of the shower will in time deteriorate its integrity. Once silicone starts pulling away from the wall or has mould you will have moisture issues.

Crumbling & Missing Grout:

Cement-based grout is generally used in shower floors, because of its ease of application and cost savings. The downside is its tendency to chip, stain, susceptibility to mould and durability. As cement grout is not flexible any type of building movement will cause it to crack under the pressure.  The small hairline cracks will in time grow larger and cause the grout to crumble.  Regular visual inspections of the walls and floor will alert you to potential issues. Grout which is missing and cracked grout will allow water to penetrate behind the shower tiles.  The presence of mould in the grout lines is an indicator of the moisture trapped behind the tiles.  Leaking shower recesses are a prevalent problem, in particular amongst apartment buildings.

Plumbing Issues:

As this is such a broad category I will split it into two categories. Visible leaks and hidden leaks which are behind walls and under floors. The visible leaks are easier to identify and fix. A leaking shower head may only need something as simple as replacing a worn-out washer or a thorough clean. The showerhead can become clogged from built-up mineral deposits.  Don’t want to replace your shower head.   Try some home remedies to clean the showerhead to see if that helps with the drip. There are countless remedies on the internet. But I use the white vinegar method to clean all the calcium buildup. Partly fill a plastic bag with white vinegar.  Submerge the showerhead in the vinegar. Attach the bag with a string around the neck of the showerhead. Let soak for a couple of hours, untie the bag and let hot water run through to flush out any of the built-up calcium.  You can also use an old toothbrush to get rid of any excess calcium around the holes. Then let the hot water run again to flush away any remaining calcium. Always check your materials when using vinegar as it can destroy gold fixtures if left for too long.  Unfortunately,  water leaks behind the shower wall are more difficult to diagnose. In cases like this, it is always best left to professionals. Plumbers have both the knowledge and tools to diagnose and fix the water leak correctly. Whichever the case may be water leaks in the shower should never be left for too long to repair. Excess water within the shower not only aids in the growth of mould it can cause structural damages.

Warning Signs of a Shower Leak

  • Shower Smells–  Nasty smells coming from your bathroom. They can be a case of blocked drains or extreme mould.
  • Loose or cracked tiles  – Movement of tiles within the shower is a signal of water trapped under tiles. Cracked or broken tiles allow for higher water penetration to your membrane.
  • Paint problems –  Bubbling or peeling paint are common signs in bathrooms with leak issues. Poor ventilation or water damage near the shower will aid in the paint deterioration. Resist the urge for a quick fix by painting over the problem area. Identifying the root of the problem will be more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Damp damaged wall – If the wall is starting to warp and stain it’s a sure sign that there is water damage behind there.
  • Discoloured or missing grout –  Loose or missing grout within your shower. This should always be sealed as soon as possible to stop water penetration under the tile. Discoloured grout is not only an eyesore but a sure sign you have a leaking shower. The condition and colour of the grout in the shower is an indicator of a shower needing repairs.
  • Bathroom or shower doom jamming   –  Sometimes it can be a simple fix, such as a loose hinge on the bathroom door.  In other cases,  it is an indicator that there is too much moisture behind a wall making the surrounding wood to swell.

How to Fix a Leaking Shower

Once the detective work is completed and the source of the water leak identified. A more informed decision on how to fix the leak in the shower can be made.  Hidden leaks such as pipe connections behind walls are best left to plumbers.   If the cause is within the shower structure such as the seals, silicone or grout you have two choices.  The first choice for many will be the DIY route. This will include many trips down to your local Bunnings store.  Once there receiving advice from sales staff on products to use and handy tips. For some technologically savvy DIY enthusiasts will go through YouTube videos for handy hints.

The second choice is to leave it to the experts.   Having a shower sealed by professionals might seem like a big financial outlay. It will save you both time and stress not to mention the peace of mind knowing the job has been done properly.

A professional company provides many services for fixing leaking showers. Services include regrouting showers, shower waterproofing, shower leak repsirs, fix, sxeal, replace broken tiles, waterproof epoxy grouting, sealing shower recesses, application of silicone. When repairing shower bases ensure that high-grade epoxy grout is used. Assessments should always be done by a tradesperson, not a salesperson. An experienced tradesman will be able to diagnose the source of the leak and offer a shower sealing solution customized to your needs. When choosing a shower repair company have a checklist handy. Are they knowledgeable, approachable, friendly, is communication prompt.  Always check reviews and past customer experiences. Lastly are you comfortable with the staff and do you have confidence in them?

Whatever path is taken one thing is for certain the shower leak should be fixed as soon as possible.  Left for an extended period of time it can cause structural damage to your home.

Want more information about Shower Repairs we would be happy to assist.

At SealTech Solutions, we provide a Cost-effective shower sealing solutions within Sydney. We are the Shower Repair Company that still believes in old fashioned service. The shower leak repair specialist.

To speak to a Sealtech team, Call 1300 356 703 or you can contact us online.