Tile shower leak in corner

NorthlutFebruary 15, 2014

This makes me so sad... We bought our house about 1.5 years ago, and one of the big selling points for us was the beautifully remodeled master bath (done maybe 4-5 years prior). It has a large tile shower with a hand shower and a regular shower head. Unfortunately, we've just discovered a long term leak that has slowly let a fair amount of moisture into the wall.

The leak is in the back corner of the shower, where the two, walls meet (no glass or anything on that side). Basically it appears that sometimes the hand shower ends up pointed Into that corner while it's on, about 5 feet up the wall, and somehow a bit of that water is getting through and into the wall. There's an obvious crack in the grout, but my understanding is that water still shouldn't be able to actually get into the wall. So I'm not sure what has gone wrong.

What would cause this? Is this something that's likely to be fixable by just taking out the tile in the corner, or are we looking at redoing the whole shower? Any advice on finding a skilled and reputable person to investigate this (we already asked our neighbors and they only could recommend plumbers or handymen, which doesn't seem like what we need).

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Plane changes should be caulked, not grouted.

Before calling anyone, dig the grout out of the corner(s) and clean it throughly with acetone or denatured alcohol. Buy the most expensive color matched 100% silicone you can get and push a heavy bead into the gap. Spray the overfilled gap with Windex, spit on your finger, and run it down the silicone. It will make a perfect bead and the Windex will keep it from sticking where you don't want it. Wipe off the Windex overspray and you're done.

Wait a few weeks and see if the leak has stopped.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Even without caulk in the corner shouldn't the vapor barrier prevent water from getting into the wall? I'm totally fine with caulking, but if there's some fundamental problem behind that I'd rather address it before I go through all the trouble of replacing the damaged drywall and stuff. On the other hand, I guess if I could get another couple of years out of it just by adding some caulk, it might be worth it...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:47PM
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Yes, there IS a fundamental problem here. While the silecone may forestay the inevitable result, the surround should have been totally waterproofed BEFORE any tile went up...whether with a vapor barrier behind the wall material OR a Surface Applied Membrane over top of the wallboard. This was obviously not done.

A permanent repair can only be done by removing all the tile, and possibly the floor tile as well...as I'm not sanguine that he did the floor waterproofing any better than the walls, using a product like Hydroban or Kerdi to make it waterproof and then re-tiling.

Understand that, by thoroughly caulking with a silicone calk, you may be able to "buy" several years of service....

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 3:20PM
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