View Full Version : Advice on building shower with lead pan - nyc code

08-11-2008, 05:30 PM

I live in nyc and, although it's antiquated, I have to have my contractor build my tiled shower floor base using a lead pan. It is required per code in the city. I am discovering that my contractor isn't the most skilled in the tiling department and I don't necessarily trust his abilities making this perfectly watertight. All my internet searches for installing a lead pan only come up with stories of people removing one to put in a PVC pan. There is nothing out there describing the necessary steps to fasten the drain to the pan, building the preslope, getting the pan to lie on the preslope when it's such a tough material (unlike the pvc), etc. I just want to ensure he's taking the proper steps and not cutting corners that will cost me down the road. He knows that grout and tile and deck mud/mortar are not waterproof but insists that I won't have a problem with a flat lead pan, sloped mortar on top and tile on top of that. :confused: I feel unsure about that given all I've read about the pvc method and the idea of water seeping to the pan and not draining, leading to mold etc. Does anyone have experience putting in lead pans they can share? I appreciate the help.

08-11-2008, 07:34 PM
Stick to your guns. He is wrong. Without a slope you will have a smelly shower and perhaps enough mycotoxin to give you breathing problems.

Three newer methods have been developed better than PVC, and thus better than lead. Wedi, and membranes (sheet style and liquid roll-on).


08-11-2008, 08:25 PM
An inexpensive resource is the Ceramic Tile Handbook, from the Tile Council . Available from the Tile Council ( tileusa.com) and probably from the usual sources like amazon.

Master Plumber 101
08-12-2008, 05:38 AM
Unless your name is Jesus you probably never installed a lead shower pan. Making a lead pan takes skill, I would advise talking to your plumber(not your Handyman) about having a lead pan premade. If it's code in NYC, plumbers there should have exp. in this area. The pan (in therory) should sit on a flat surface and everything above it gets built up to give you your proper pitch. The shower drain is adjustable and has clamping ring to ensure a tight seal. Hope this kind of helps.

08-12-2008, 05:43 AM
Thanks Master Plumber - it's the most helpful post so far in terms of knowledge of what needs to be done. But you also say the lead pan should be flat. That's contrary to every other post I've seen about shower pans. Won't this cause a problem with water on the pan not flowing to the drain? things growing under there? we can slope after the pan but water will still get down to the pan level and sit. :confused:

08-12-2008, 06:48 AM
My feeling (not experience) is that it would be difficult to get a lead pan to sit flat on top of a preslope. But, code requires the waterproof surface to be sloped. Numerous pans are built with the pan flat on the floor. In New England, some plumbers swear that a copper pan, flat on the floor is the best. Try to keep a copper pan laying flat when built-up. Somebody often gets frustrated and pops a nail in them! Then, what about the waterproofing? When placed that way, you WILL have problems. It likely won't leak (unless poorly constructed or damaged during construction), but it WILL accumulate water over time. Plumbers seem to want to build a shower that won't leak (this is good!)...some don't care about long-term livability (this is bad!) - it just can't leak during their normal warranty period. Unfortunately, not all inspectors enforce the slope - they only look to see if it leaks. While not in NYC (which seems a different world), I did get an upstate NY inspector to allow a Kerdi shower - he'd never heard of the system. I sent him links and he watched the video. He requested and received the national approval documents for the system and was satisfied.

the whole goal of standards is to provide a feature that works, and, lead-lined shower pans are much more prone to failure than more modern techniques. Burried in mortar and tile as they are, there's no big issue with toxic fumes - if the fire got hot enough to mess with that, the fire was unliveable anyways - other things would have killed you first.