View Full Version : Can crooked shower arm be straightened after tile?

03-19-2005, 06:34 AM
My first post here.. Maybe I'm being too picky, but I'm trying to avoid any future problems. House built in 1972, first remodel to bath. Totally gutted. Would appreciate any comments/suggestions on the quality of this work. I tend to think it looks sloppy. I posted some photos/comments just to show my brother, but maybe you will find them helpful. Installing the Grohe Atrio unit. I would be so grateful if you'd take a look:


* Should I put Redgard around the window? I saw it mentioned here a lot.
* We are installing the Freehander shower unit. The faucet extension is pointing to the back CORNER of the shower stall. He said he can straighten it after the tile is installed and he attaches the fixture..is this true? It isn't off by much, but I don't want it to stress the pipe.
* Is this cementboard too poorly cut and installed? It looks incredibly sloppy to me and prone to leaking. There is no plastic membrane behind the c.board.

Guess you can tell how nervous I am. We've lived here since 1980 and this is the first remodel. We intend to go through each room and redo it as we plan to stay here for another 20 years! I've mentioned my concerns to the contractor, but he has confidence in his plumber.


03-19-2005, 06:59 AM
If the shower pipe is not how it is supposed to be, (the angle that you took the picture conceals the amount it is off), it will not be "adjustable" when the fixture is installed unless it has a "Swivel" of some kind that will allow it to rotate to seal to the wall. The handles being off level is a "bad" thing, especially with tile because of its grout lines which will emphasize the disparity. Did a plumber install it or the tile guy? It should be redone properly.

03-19-2005, 07:41 AM
Thank you so much for responding so quickly. I am really crummy at guessing things, but my guess is that the angle is off about 15 degrees...? The shower width (before tiling) is only 33 1/2" wide. To extend the aim at which the faucet doodad, pre-fixture, now is aiming, I would have to stand in the back corner in order to feel the spray. One would naturally prefer to stand in the back center. The fixture does not swivel for installation. As a matter of fact, the arm rotates 180 degrees up/down for use. (www.freehander.net)
I had not thought about the handle issue regarding grout lines. Big info there. Fortunately, I may have this on my side, I'm using a porcelain tile that will have minimum grout lines. Hopefully, that will lessen the impact of them not being level.
I'm a real stickler for detail, can you tell ;-) It is so important to know on what issues I should speak up and on which ones to let pass. Learning a lot of what to do and not to do on the next bathroom we re-do.
Thanks so much!

03-19-2005, 08:30 AM
At this point the shower pipe is fixed and should be repaired before anything else is done. It will not be able to be "rotated" after the tile is installed, unless it is not installed properly, in which case it could be fixed now. I would not accept the uneven handles unless they were on opposite walls where there would be no reference points to show the difference. Personally, if I were a customer I would not accept something like that which I would have to live with for the rest of its life. It is not a big thing, but then it would not have been a "big" thing for the plumber to install it correctly. I would still make him adjust it. I would not even have left the job unless they were level.

03-19-2005, 09:11 AM
Well, I think we should ask the plumber to come back and have another look before the tile goes up. We'll point out our areas of concern and see what he says. I had pointed out the crooked angle previously and he said he fixed it. Later that day, I said it was still crooked, that's when he said he could adjust it on final installation of the trim. I still may be at a point of overreacting before it is necessary. I'll try to stay open-minded. He's a very nice man, I certainly don't want to offend.
Thanks so much. It is so wonderful to be able to get a qualified opinion.

03-19-2005, 10:21 AM
You need plastic or roofing paper underneath the cbu. Also, make sure that the shower pan is installed with a preslope and a waterproofing membrane. DO NOT let them install the pan membrane on a flat floor - it WILL NOT fully drain, and will allow stagnent water to sit and start to smell. A proper pan is installed in a couple of steps - preslope, then membrane then sloped top coat covered with tile.

For tiling questions, you may want to check out www.johnbridge.com a friend of Terry's for tiling questions. Lots of pros and advanced DIY'ers that can guide you along as to the proper way to do things, and a liberry (spelling intentional!) with detailed info.

03-19-2005, 04:43 PM
Thank you for jumping in. Can you tell me, just how important is that plastic membrane on the walls behind the cbu. (I assume cbu is cement board?) As I mentioned, it was not installed.
Also, would it be ok if they put the 40 mil pvc on the flat cement floor (as has already been done), then added the preslope mortar bed, then more pvc, then the thinset and tile?
Do you know how far down the cbu should come? Right now, it is about 1.5" from the flat floor. Another tile guy came over and said the cbu needed to be cut about 2 more inches from the bottom. To do that would risk cutting the pvc liner.
I did post over at jb as suggested. Thanks!

03-19-2005, 08:30 PM
You should get straightened out over at John Bridge. The clamping drain can only be attached to one pvc liner, and it needs to be the one that is sloped. Assuming that they put the drain on the one on the flat floor, you've got a problem. Scarey how supposed professionals don't follow the national specifications. Not all municipalities enforce them, but the Tile Council of America has some pretty straightforward specifications that, when followed, will reliably produce a quality installation.

If the liner is properly installed, and the plastic is behind the cbu (cemtaeous backer unit - cement board), then the CBU can be embedded in the final slope of the deck mud and end below the surface of the tile (the liner should go up above the height of the curb and would protect the bottom of the cbu from getting wet from standing water). CBU is NOT waterproof, but it will not come apart IN water and makes a good surface to attach tile to. Thus, you need to contain any water that may get to and through it so it doesn't get to the wood behind. While the tile typically is pretty waterproof, moisture will get through the grout, even if sealed. Not much mind you, but if the shower is used on a daily basis, it may not have a chance to dry out before it builds up. That is why the liner needs to be sloped and you need a moisture barrier behind the cbu on the walls. Also, and often messed up, there are weep holes in the drain assembly underneath the tile that need to be kept open during construction. These holes allow any water that does make it through the tile and grout to weep into the drain. Otherwise, it will build up and start to smell like a swamp after awhile.

03-20-2005, 07:13 AM
I always understood that backer board should be held 1/4" or so above the finished base because it can wick water if constantly wet.

03-20-2005, 01:19 PM
My husband and I have decided to get another plumber and tile setter over to our house and get their opinions. After reading all of the comments, we do not feel comfortable continuing with this job until the work has been corrected. I have been given so much useful info from this site and johnbridge, it's simply amazing to me.

I'm a little unclear as to what job falls into which profession...laying the shower pan and building the shower curb. Is the pan done by the plumber and the curb by the tilesetter?

I haven't seen any photos of the curb built with cbu. I've only seen the lathe and mortar build. Any known links for "cbu over pvc" on curbs?

We want to have plastic sheeting installed between the insulation and the cbu on the walls, remove the pvc and put in the preslope first. Correct the curb which is full of holes in the pvc. Hopefully, straighten and level the plumbing fixtures. Paint redgard in niches and around window. Get a new drain, this old one doesn't seem to have any "weep" holes. Maybe it would just need cleaning...

** One last major question... if the contractor totally balks at removing all of the cbu and just wants to cut it off midway down in order to fix the shower pan, would that be an acceptable solution? If that is done, of course, I'd only be able to have the lower half of the wall with plastic sheeting between the insulation and cbu. Better than not having it anywhere, I suppose.

I thought hiring a contractor meant I wouldn't have to deal with all of this. Boy, was I ... er, uh, naive. I am totally dreading the next meeting with the contractor. Thank you all!!

03-20-2005, 07:24 PM
Based on the wisdom over on John Bridge, the cbu is often embedded in the final slope. Since you don't want to put screws into it to hold it in place at the bottom edge (cause of the liner), with the liner in place the final slope helps hold the cbu tight against the wall. The cbu is inert as are the tile. With a proper preslope, unclogged weep holes, there should be no standing water, and any that does get through to the cbu won't hurt it. My unprofessional opinion.

03-21-2005, 05:42 AM
The plastic "sheeting" is only necessary, and effective, until it gets above the level of the curb. Once it is that high it would be difficult for water to ever occur any higher and overflow it, as long as it is between the first layer of wallboard and the wooden studs.

03-26-2005, 06:48 PM
We decided to take the advice offered here and stop the project from moving forward. We called in a new plumber and his recommeded tilesetter. They came by and had a look and told us basically what has been told to me here and at johnbridge. We had a disaster waiting to happen. They plan to remove all of the cbu and the curb, straighten the plumbing, mud the walls and the curb. Thank goodness!

About the sheeting, I don't think I made myself clear. The "sheeting" to which I referred was actually a clear plastic that was to be hung on the entire wall behind the cbu, but this side of the insulation. I guess if we will get mud walls, we wouldn't really need the plastic sheeting hanging between the insulation and the mudded walls...? Sorry if I wasn't clear when I referred to the plastic sheeting or the pvc liner.

I'll keep checking back, but we're on about a two month waiting list for this tilesetter. I feel it is definitely worth the wait!

Thank you all so much!!