What do I do about my shower leak?
If you’ve owned a home for any amount of time, you know that things around the house break. It’s a seemingly constant area that requires diligence and its own line item in the budget. No one wants to have to deal with is fixing the damage from a water leak, especially when it involves major repairs in the bathroom. However, it's a fact that when you have a water leak, no matter how small, it can cause a large amount of damage. The sooner the leak is caught and addressed, the better.
Often the cost to repair a water leak can be much higher than expected for a variety of reasons. We are often asked why a seemingly small leak can grow into an expensive repair. Below we address why fixing a bathroom leak can be costly, and what to expect when you call a plumber (and contractor) for help.
Often the first sign of a leak is a spot on the ceiling below that bathroom. By the time the spot appears, the leak may have been causing damage for quite some time. Let’s look at some examples –
We see four main sources of shower leaks: the tile (floor or wall, and their components), the drain, the shower door, or the shower fixture. Tile is the most common culprit and most tiled showers are built on a mortar base which is installed over a PVC floor pan (or liner), which in turn is connect to the shower drain. If the PVC pan, the drain, or any of the components of the base leak, the entire shower floor must be removed and replaced. But the tile in a shower is installed as a system, first on the floor, then on the walls, and so to repair it correctly, the entire tile system must be replaced. To complicate it further the shower tile may run continuously into the tile around a bathtub. This often requires the removal of both tub and shower, and sometimes the flooring as well, to find and repair the source of the leak. Once the leak is repaired, then the new tile and reinstallation of the fixtures can begin. If the leak is coming from the shower fixture (faucet), or the shower door, it is less expensive, but may still require some careful removal and installation to repair.
Example of a connected tub and shower.
Leaks in, or around the flooring, can sometimes be traced to other sources. A shower curtain, leaking shower door, toilet tank, or vanity fixture can all be sources of a leak that appears to be a flooring problem. Finding the source is the key. If the flooring is leaking, it is less costly than a shower, but still may require removal of other items to correctly repair. Many vanities are installed after the flooring, so they must be removed when replacing the floor.
If the toilet is the source of the leak, it is usually replaced, but it often causes damage to other components, like the floor, subfloor, walls, or trim. While the toilet itself is a relatively inexpensive item, the additional repairs that may be required can add up quickly. Often the subfloor around a toilet flange (connection to the pipe in the floor) must be replaced, and if it has gone undetected for long time, the water damage can spread into framing components as well.
In each of these scenarios, the ceiling below often needs to be repaired. The leak may cause damage that requires drywall repairs and painting, which is another item to consider when thinking through what the budget may look like.
Of course, there are ways to be cost effective, and we can help guide you to selections that are budget friendly. The plumbing fixtures, and tile are usually the most expensive items in a bathroom leak repair.
Example of a tiled shower, where we had to tear up and replace the full shower floor.
Both have a wide range of prices depending on the selections you make. We can help decrease costs by walking you through carefully choosing options, or switching to alternative products.
Although there are ways to cut costs around a bathroom leak, it’s essential that the leak is addressed as soon as you find it. Every situation is unique, so give us a call and we can take a deep dive into your situation. Click here to get the process started.