View Full Version : Help - Major Damage from Failed Shower Pan

10-18-2009, 07:54 PM
We are not sure what to do. We were going to do a shoestring budget bedroom remodel. We pulled up the carpet. The wall next to the bathroom had severe water damage. We replaced the shower pan 13 years ago. We can't believe the damage that has now happened. We are to the point that we think we should put some type of insert in versus going back with tile so that this won't happen again. Our shoestring budget is now a complete bathroom remodel along with replacing a good part of the wall between the bath & bedroom.

I have attached pictures which show the bathroom entry. We have sinced removed the sheetrock on the right side of the door to see how extensive the damage was on that side. Can't believe it.


10-18-2009, 08:45 PM
Post(s) deleted by John Whipple

10-18-2009, 08:55 PM
If you do the labor, building a shower that doesn't leak isn't all that expensive. You can find tile that is dirt cheap that doesn't look bad, and cement products are fairly inexpensive. The key is following an accepted, proven, procedure and not making any mistakes along the way. If you aren't replacing the shower valve, you could replace a tiled shower for probably less than $300. Now, if you want some fancy tile, you could easily spend 20x that. I've seen some for less than $1/sq ft. For help on tiling things, visit www.johnbridge.com (http://www.johnbridge.com). They've helped numerous people in building a shower, myself included. CBU, mortar, and the liner and some lath are the majority of other things you'd need to build one. Course, there's the tools, but if you're lucky, you could borrow some and not have to buy. Renting a wetsaw can get expensive. If you don't need fancy cuts, you can buy a snapper, but plan some extra tile in case you mess up in measuring or cutting. To save some money, use a shower curtain, and leave the glass doors for later when you have more money. A spring type rod and you won't have to make any holes that might not be covered by a door.

10-19-2009, 09:24 AM
Sorry to hear about your shower pan failure -- I feel your pain, I discovered the same exact thing about 3 months ago. You got some good advice from johnfrwhipple -- open everything up and expose all the rot, even if it means tearing out some drywall that looks fine. This is like dealing with cancer, you have to cut into some of the healthy stuff to make sure you get all the bad stuff out. You will be glad you did, and it will not add much to your cost for a few extra sheets of drywall and some 2x4's when you go to rebuild.

Take pictures as you progress. As long as you're not dealing with any load-bearing posts, all you have to do is replace what is badly damaged with a new, exact replacement. Keep an eye out for termites, they love this sort of situation. But from what I can see in the photos, I don't see extensive wood damage other than mold. Let everything dry really good and then do a close inspection for unsound wood that is falling apart.

As for rebuilding the shower, I am in the process of putting in a prefabricated unit (a Sterling model). Yes, there are lots more options when you build with tile, but after I ripped out my barely 9-year-old tile shower and saw how just a few cracks had resulted in so much damage (damaged 2x4's, drywall, hardwood flooring, termites, etc.), I saw just how many ways a tile shower can fail. The prefab units -- there's just a lot less to go wrong, no grout to struggle to keep clean, and much more economical/simple to install.

If you do choose to install a new tile shower, make sure it is done RIGHT. The problem with mine was that the "curb" of the shower (the part you step over to enter the shower) was simply a 4x8 laying on the slab, covered in black paper, then sheetrock, then tile. Holy smoke! Any fool can see something like that is an accident waiting to happen. All you need is a small unnoticed crack in the grout and then water weeps in and next thing you know, the wood is expanding and the tiles are cracking and the grout is falling out and that's when the termites move in. If you look through this forum and other forums online, you'll see example after example of poorly built tile showers failing like this.

God be with you.

10-19-2009, 03:49 PM
Note, tile and grout in a shower is NOT considered to be waterproof...that is why the curb and the bottom of the pan are supposed to have a waterproof liner. A common mistake even when they do cover the curb with the liner is that they nail it on the top...failure is guaranteed. The liner is the primary waterproofing...the tile is essentially decorative. Drywall anywhere in a shower is always dumb unless you are using a surface waterproof membrane like Kerdi from www.schluter.com (http://www.schluter.com). then, drywall IS the preferred surface for the walls and can be used on the curb since all of it is covered with the waterproof membrane.

Cement board on the walls isn't waterproof either, but because water can't sit on it like it can pool on the floor, water flows mostly down the walls. Even if it gets behind, if it is built properly, the water should drain inside the pan below. the big advantage of cbu (cement backer unit, aka cement board) is that it doesn't degrade when wet, like drywall. And, without any paper products, it won't grow mold. That doesn't mean you can't get mold on it, since contaminate it with anything organic, and mold will grow when moisture is also there.

The big advantage of a Kerdi shower, or any done with a surface waterproofing membrane, is that water can't soak the cbu or mud bed of a typical shower...it gets stopped by the waterproof layer - Kerdi. This means that the whole thing dries out very rapidly. Opt for epoxy grout, and never worry about mold as long as you don't let soap scum build up and you have reasonable ventilation. Even if you do, it all washes off.

10-19-2009, 04:04 PM
I wish the jokers who had installed my shower (before I bought my house) had used Kerdi! I wouldn't have had to spend the last 3 months ripping everything out and rebuilding. 95% of the shower was fine -- as you said, the water doesn't have time to soak into the walls, and I live in Southern California and things dry out quickly -- but that poorly built curb just was doomed from the start. When I pulled out that 4x8, it looked like it had been sitting on the bottom of a lake for 100 years. The shower hadn't run for almost 2 months and it was still damp -- so much so that there were drops of water running off it when I picked it up!

10-23-2009, 06:51 PM
I appreciate all the comments in regards to the damage we have uncovered. We are still undecided how to proceed....go back with tile or insert of some kind. We were at Sam's tonight and there was a NuBath booth setup. Does anyone have experience with this type of product, have any idea about costs, and whether this is a good alternative to a prefab insert?

Again, thanks for the information and comments.

10-24-2009, 09:09 AM
If that is the back of the shower you are showing, then I do not see any sign of a protective membrane to prevent that kind of damage. A preformed shower floor will prevent that kind of damage, but if not done properly, it can cause other types.