Shower Leak

 
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:29 PM   #1
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Shower Leak


Just wondering how many have run into this problem. We did two showers over tubs with travertine in 18 by 18 squares. They worked fine at first but over time developed a leak behind the caulking line just above the tub an below the first course of tile. The water got behind the caulk and follows behind this line until it gets to the floor outside the tub and in the corner where it meets the wall. We have denshield behind the travertine and used thinset to adhere the tiles. My concern is that the tiles, even though sealed, are perspiring behind and this is blowing of the caulk bead from behind the tiles. Before we had the water based caulking that matched the grout but I pulled this out and replaced it with silicone. I am not sure if it will hold up. The first fix worked for a while but eventually failed. Just wondering if there are any other products out there that might be better. Something along the lines of sikaflex only designed for use around a tub. Is the cut edge of travertine too chalky to permit a bond with caulking to last? I also wonder if denshield is not a good product. It doesn't breath. Any insights would be helpful.

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San Francisco
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:34 PM   #2
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Re: Shower Leak


The backerboard is installed on the inside of the tub lip, right?

Are you certain that the leak isn't in the showerhead, mixer, or spout, and dripping down from one, two, or all three of these areas?

What about the travertine itself? It reminds me of brain coral. Can't the water just go right through it in places?

What brand tub? There should be a good slope on the flange. Do you think the water is really flooding down from the flange, through the caulk, and down the side of the tub to the floor?

What kind of grout?

How do you know where the leak is? Can you see the caulk falling off or what?

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Old 09-09-2008, 08:38 PM   #3
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Re: Shower Leak


if you are looking for some type of caulking to be the primary defense against leaks, you have already crossed the line of no return...

note, tiles dont perspire, people perspire when there jobs are leaking.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:52 PM   #4
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Re: Shower Leak


Exactly.

Something isn't right in your construction. You shouldn't even have leaks with no caulk there at all.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:09 AM   #5
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Re: Shower Leak


Try this link. Do some searches, lots if good tile related info.

http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/index.php
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:28 AM   #6
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Re: Shower Leak


I did a water test to try to isolate the problem. Using a hand held shower nozzle the water consistently leaked after being sprayed in the area just above the tub where the caulking line failed. If I taped this area with red tape and performed the same test, spraying the nozzle higher up the wall, it did not leak. So, what I gathered from this test was the fact that it was failing at this point by itself and not at the escutcheons in the field above. If I ran the shower with the nozzle pointed just into the tub, it did not leak period so I eliminated a leaking shower valve as the candidate by this test. Water gets behind the caulk bead and the caulk bead itself acts like a channel which causes the water to flow behind the vertical jamb of the shower door an onto the floor
. After re-caulking the first time, I did manage to stop the leak. However, about two months down the road, the leak starts again. The caulking has failed. This is why I am trying to determine why the caulk joint is failing. When it is new, it does prevent water from going in the corner as I described but the caulk eventually fails. My theory is that water condenses behind the travertine, but in front of the denshield. This weeping moisture is causing the caulk joint to fail over time. That is one possibility. The other possibility that I have considered is the caulking I am using is just not maintaining a bond with the underside of the travertine because the product is not very good or the travertine's cut edge is just too chalky to bond well with conventional caulking. This is the caulking made by the grout manufacturer that is designed to match the grout. I am wondering if it is formulated more for appearances than for performance. I have coated the travertine with several coats of stone tech sealer.
The Denshield is over the plane of the tub flange and cut so it does not have contact with it and won't wick moisture. AS far as I know, I followed the manufacturers guidelines installing the product. I am just curious if anyone has had similar experience with Denshield or travertine. Is it okay to use travertine in a moist environment? I know some species of marble are not advised for bathrooms.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:36 AM   #7
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Re: Shower Leak


There is nothing wrong with travertine. Is there insulation in the wall? My God how much condensation could you possibly have in order to pool enough water to show the leak you are describing? How big is this gap? Is it so large it needs backer rod? What brand caulk are you using?
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Old 09-10-2008, 07:20 AM   #8
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Re: Shower Leak


there is insulation. The gap between the tile and the tub is about an eight of an inch to less than this but the backer board behind is held above about a quarter to three eights. I don't think condensation is causing the leak, just making the caulk fail over time. It is a slow process. Once the caulk fails, this is when the leak starts by getting behind this caulk joint after it has failed. That is what I determined with the water test. Holding the nozzle down low and spraying the water right at the tub level produces the effect described before. As I mentioned before, when the caulking joint was new and fresh, it stopped the leak for a couple of months but the caulking doesn't last. The tub is Americast. The caulking is made by Hydromet and is color matched to the grout. I replaced this with GE silicone yesterday and I am waiting for feedback on whether it has stopped the leak.
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:16 AM   #9
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Re: Shower Leak


I reread your post this makes no sense to me

Quote:
The water got behind the caulk and follows behind this line until it gets to the floor outside the tub and in the corner where it meets the wall.
I've diagnosed a crap load of leaking showers and tubs and they all start with the person telling me about it having their theory of what is causing the leaking. They turn out to be right about 10% of the time! The mind plays silly tricks on us when we suspect something, we tend to find evidence that we thinks supports it. It wouldn't suprise me to find out your theory here is incorrect and this whole caulk thing is a wild goose chase you are on.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:43 AM   #10
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Re: Shower Leak


try filling the tub with water then caulk and leave the tub full of water while the caulk cures. sometimes when water and human weight is added the tub settles a little causing the caulk to crack.
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:24 PM   #11
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Re: Shower Leak


mike finley-I think he means that the water flows to the outside of the tub, on the flange, then goes down to the floor and collects there on the floor in the "corner". The "corner" is there because the tub is inset from the wall, as is common.

I think the weight of the tub theory might hold water. What material is this Americast tub? I've had people tell me that their tubs are as good as cast iron, but I've never heard a cast-iron manufacturer tell me that their tubs are as good as the composites, i.e. Daimler doesn't say their cars are just as good as the Yugos.
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:27 PM   #12
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Re: Shower Leak


The caulk must be CURED at least 24-48 hrs. before the first shower or the bead is subject to fail.

pheonolsil is best , also GE 100% silicone .
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Last edited by Snow Man; 09-10-2008 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:35 PM   #13
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Re: Shower Leak


Quote:
Originally Posted by kevjob View Post
try filling the tub with water then caulk and leave the tub full of water while the caulk cures. sometimes when water and human weight is added the tub settles a little causing the caulk to crack.

TRUE
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:54 PM   #14
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Re: Shower Leak


Cleveman,

You are correct. I tried to post a photo but the file was too big to upload to this site. That is exactly what is happening. The water rides the flange down behind the failed caulk joint to the floor in the corner. I recaulked the tub day before yesterday and once again it has stopped the leak. This time I used GE silicone instead of the Hydromet product that matches the tile color. The caulking bead invariably failed at the tile line, not on the surface of the tub. This is why it formed the channel effect. I am hoping that the silicone holds up better but wondering why the bond keeps breaking from the underside of the tiles. The leak is not substantial but it will eventually cause problems possibly with the subfloor and its not good for credibility.
I am not sure exactly what goes into an Americast tub. I believe it is a steel shell with resins and polymers bonded to the surface. Its not as light a a fiberglass tub but much lighter than a cast iron tub and a lot easier on the back. The flange that goes around the perimeter is about an inch high and the denshield laps this at least a half an inch. Water is not going into the wall behind. Water is riding the tub contour to the outside corner and onto the floor. Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed that this new repair will withstand the test of time.
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:53 PM   #15
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Re: Shower Leak


tub installed level in both directions?
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:09 PM   #16
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Re: Shower Leak


Quote:
Originally Posted by Waffle Face View Post
Water gets behind the caulk bead and the caulk bead itself acts like a channel which causes the water to flow behind the vertical jamb of the shower door an onto the floor.
The fact that there is a shower door makes a big difference. Being a tub I would assume it's a by-pass? Please elaborate on how water flows behind the vertical shower jamb? Being in the shower door business I've seen my share of leaks. The first thing I would do is remove the shower door and make sure the area where the tile meets the tub UNDER the door frame is sealed. You can seal around it all you want but if it's failed or not sealed BEFORE the door was installed it will leak every time.

I've seen this MANY times. Most shower doors are not sealed properly. By that I mean you should silicone under the sill before you put it down, then silicone inside the sill where the jamb meets it.
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Old 09-10-2008, 11:21 PM   #17
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Re: Shower Leak


Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Fatboy View Post
The fact that there is a shower door makes a big difference. Being a tub I would assume it's a by-pass? Please elaborate on how water flows behind the vertical shower jamb? Being in the shower door business I've seen my share of leaks. The first thing I would do is remove the shower door and make sure the area where the tile meets the tub UNDER the door frame is sealed. You can seal around it all you want but if it's failed or not sealed BEFORE the door was installed it will leak every time.

I've seen this MANY times. Most shower doors are not sealed properly. By that I mean you should silicone under the sill before you put it down, then silicone inside the sill where the jamb meets it.
This is exactly what I am saying. The mind plays tricks on us, this whole caulk thing sounds like a wild goose chase to me.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:40 PM   #18
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Re: Shower Leak


Ive had showers leak because the tub was never calked before the shower door went on .It leaked into the track and behind the glass and out on the floor . I like to counter sink screws into the tub flange then tape over the edge of the tub with tile glue . I just use grout with additive most of the time and i dont get any leaks .
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:12 PM   #19
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Re: Shower Leak


Can you drill a hole where the leaking water is collecting allowing it to exit into the crawlspace? You could just buy your customer a nice statue as a thank you for the job and set it next to the hole so they don't notice it. This will give you time to get your affairs in order before you move off to the next town.
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:39 PM   #20
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Re: Shower Leak


sure multiple things could cause this problem. shower door system not proprly caulked happens alot. but the problem starts when the wall/tub caulk is sprayed with water. i doubt the densheild/tub was caulked before tiling per manufacturers directions. now when the tile/tub caulk fails it can fill up that 1/2" lip until it overflows into the wall.

the matcching caulk may not stick well to the sealed stone.the silicone caulk sticks will stick better and will outlast the matching caulk. but they better maintain that caulk or this problem will come back.

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