Why Showers Leak
Our clients often ask us why showers leak after seemingly not causing any problems for a long time. In reality the waterproofing in the shower has probably been failing for some time and it is only when something becomes obvious that we are called to detect a shower leak and evaluate the work which has to be undertaken. Below are some of the most common causes why showers leak:
Why Showers Leak : Building Movement
Wet areas such as showers and laundries with tiled surfaces cause more that 80% of defects in new and older residential and commercial buildings. Although there are many reasons for the failure of wet areas one of the most common we find is building subsidence or movement. This can be caused by the natural settling of a building over time or in Australia, the extreme weather conditions such as drought or heavy rain.
Why Showers Leak : Failure of grout and waterproof membranes
Such natural movement causes cracking in widely used Portland cement grout and even cracks in tiles. Movement can also affect the waterproof membrane under tiles and eventually the failure of grout results in water penetrating beneath the tiles. Unfortunately it is at this point that most homeowners notice a problem as damp patches or water leaks appear around frames, architraves and sometimes even on lower floors or a building.
Common signs of a leaking shower
- Missing grout in the shower / bathroom floor or walls: Portland cement grout allows moisture to penetrate and relies to some extent on the integrity of the waterproof membrane beneath the tiles. If grout is cracked or missing due to age or building movement this may well be a sign of an imminent water problem.
- Water stained timber under the house or in the subfloor of the building: Water stains often result from leaking showers or damaged waterproofing.
- Cracked or missing tiles: Cracked tiles, particularly in the shower floor, hob or in the first 3 rows of wall tiles are a common cause of water problems and shower leaks and should be replaced as soon as possible.
- Musty odours or damp carpets: Wet carpets or damp walls are ofter caused by shower leaks and are a sign that the leak should be attended to urgently to prevent further lasting damage.
- Peeling paint: Loose, flaky or peeling paint often point to a water leak particularly when they occur in the bathroom or in adjacent rooms.
Swelling or damp timber and/or a build up of mould: If timbers in the bathroom are damp, if there is a recurring mould problem in the bathroom, this indicates a water leak that has been left unattended. In such cases a thorough investigation and repair is essential.