How to Identify Where Your Shower Is Leaking From

Many people experience a leaking shower, so they are a very common occurrence. This doesn’t make shower leaks any more pleasant, or any easier to resolve. Sometimes the hardest part of dealing with a leaking shower is identifying where it is coming from.  Once you have done that you can set about fixing the leak, and reducing the amount of damage caused.

We’ve put together some helpful tips on how you can find a shower leak, and some information about sealing the leak when you have located it.

What makes you think you have a leaking shower?

Look for the following signs:

  • Presence of mould or mildew in the bathroom, especially around the shower

  • Water stains on the ceiling directly below the shower

  • Paint that is peeling or flaking

These are all tell-tale signs that there is a leak that needs to be fixed. This is when identification of the source becomes a priority. It could be a really straightforward issue, such as shower doors not being closed in the correct manner, so when you are looking for reasons for your leaking shower, it’s always best to start with the basics.

 

The first steps to take

Make sure that the shower doors are not closed incorrectly, or there is an ill-fitting shower curtain, as both of these can be the cause of water related problems.

To check this:

  • Splash water against the closed doors, or the drawn curtain, and check to see if any water shows up outside the shower. If your shower curtain is not doing the job it should, you may want to think about fitting a shower screen.

  • If you have rubber edgings on your shower screen or doors then any wearing can lead to gaps appearing, so you should check to see if any water is present outside the shower in this area.

  • Check any areas of caulking around the bottom of the shower where it is attached to the wall. It is possible that the caulking can break and crack with age and leaks can occur.

If either the rubber on your shower doors or the caulking is causing the problem, you can purchase rubber edging material which will need to be attached, and you can remove the piece of caulking that is damaged, and re-caulk the area.

If, after splashing the water in the shower, you cannot identify any obvious leak, you will need to take further action.


shower caulking cracking could be the cause of your leaking shower

Spray water around the shower

In order to check the entire shower area for obvious signs of leaking, you should stand inside the shower, to put the same amount of pressure on it that is there when you believe the leakage is happening.

Begin by spraying at the bottom of the shower, where the panelling meets the shower tray, and work your way up the walls, checking for any water exiting the shower as you go.

One common problem that you may identify with this process is the hollow shower profile filling up with water. This usually happens because the area around the shower screen has been sealed; this should not be the case. If this sealing takes place then the profile or frame is unable to leak into the shower tray as it fills up, and it simply overflows.

The solution to this is to unseal around the screen so that the water can leak into the shower tray.

If spraying the water around the shower does not reveal any obvious leaks, you should check the shower tray in more detail.

A spraying shower headset

Testing the shower tray

One of the most common places for a leak to occur is in the shower tray; the base of the shower. It’s possible that there may be crack in the grouting, an unintentional gap between the shower tray and the wall, or a problem with sloping.

If the leak is in the shower tray then it saves you taking time testing the drain, so checking the shower tray first makes good sense. You need time to thoroughly check the shower tray, so you need to choose a day when you are going to be in the house the whole time. Then you need to follow these steps.

  • Make sure the shower drain is completely water tight. You can do this using plenty of duct tape.

  • Use a bucket or other method to fill the shower pan from a source other than the shower head. Obviously, if you use the shower head this negates your ability to isolate the shower tray as a potential leak location.

  • Once the shower tray contains approximately one inch of water you will need to watch for signs of water around the shower and on the ceiling below.

It’s important to note that if the leak is relatively small it may take several hours for any signs of water to become visible. This is why you need to give yourself plenty of time in the house to check for the leak.

If water becomes visible, and it is evident the problem is with the shower tray, you can take temporary measures by applying some masonry sealant around the tray. It should be noted though that this is not guaranteed to be successful, and in the long run you will probably need to call in a plumber to successfully re-fit the shower tray.

 

Wet shower tray with a possible leak

Checking the shower drain for leaks

It’s not uncommon for leaks to occur around the drain in your shower; this is especially likely if you have a plastic of fibreglass shower, as when you put pressure on the shower by standing in it, you can break the seal around the drain.

There are a couple of ways you can check your shower drain to identify if a leak is present, both of which involve the same basic process.

  • If you have access to the underneath of the shower drain then you should plug the drain completely with a rag and switch on the water. Watch the underside of the drain and see if any water is coming though. If it is then you know that there is a leak around the drain.

  • If you don’t have access to the underside of the shower drain then you need to use the same method, but slightly differently. Again you need to plug the drain with a rag, and switch on the water. This time you should let a puddle form in the shower tray and mark the edge of it with a bottle of shower gel, or another available item. Watch to see if the puddle diminishes in size. If it does then you know there is a leak around the drain.

Fixing a drain leak can be simple if you have access to the area underneath the shower, you may just have to tighten the nut that locks the drain in place. If this doesn’t work then you will probably have to replace the drain assembly. If you do not have any access to the underside of the shower via a panel, you may have to gain access through the ceiling below. This is a more complicated task, and you may want to hire a professional pair of hands.

 

Fixing the shower drain

 

A Final Word…

We hope you found this guide helpful in helping you discover where your shower is leaking from. If you have any feedback or questions, please comment on this article or our Facebook page and we’ll get back to you ASAP. If you'd like to speak to one of our staff, please call us on 01202 556655 or email help@tapwarehouse.com and our customer service staff will be there to help.

 

 

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