Shower Pan Not Drying - No Preslope?

GoofusApril 27, 2011

I had a bathroom remodel "finished" about two months ago. A couple days after the tile was finished, we turned the shower on (6 shower heads) and noticed the leaking from the step/ledge/threshold/whatever almost immediately. We found that the joint under the bench was completely wide open. What happened was that the water drained through this gap and basically filled up the shower pan until it overflowed at the lowest point, the threshold.

I let it sit for a couple of days to dry, then caulked this joint, and found the leak to be fixed.

Now, the problem is that floor tile is soaked and does not appear to be drying. The tile guy explained that the pan was sloped with weep holes, etc., and that eventually it would drain, but it had been so overwhelmed that it was going to take a long time to drain. They told me to go ahead and use it, and eventually it would drain. Well, I don't quite trust this company (long story), so I decided not to use it. I waited 5 weeks, 3 with a heater in the shower, and noticed no changes whatsoever. Most of the pictures below are from the first week, but the same picture at week 5 is indistinguishable from these.

At this point the tile guy has agreed to tear the tile out, let it dry, then reinstall new tile. He is not going to redo the pan though, as he says it is just fine. He is telling me though, that travertine will constantly absorb water, and that eventually the entire floor will be saturated again. He is now trying to convince me to install a porcelain tile instead, and says that will be the only way to keep the pan dry.

Since it is being torn out anyway, we've begun using it, and we are now seeing the floor become even more wet, just like the tile guy said. The last picture if form today, after the shower has had 3 days of non-use. It almost looks like the original water has begun to drain into the weep holes, but I suspect that this is simply new water. One of the other issues is that the drain can't keep up with even a single shower head (which seems to flow a ridiculous amount of water), and about an inch of water pools up over the entire floor during the shower.

So, after doing a lot of research here, I'm inclined to say that this looks like a case of no preslope, despite the tile guy's claim that there is. The other thing I don't understand is why the travertine is soaking up the water even now. I'm not really buying the guy's story that it can't be sealed, but I'll admit that I really don't have a clue.

Any advice would be appreciated. At this point, I have no idea what the correct course of action would be, and I don't have confidence that the tile installer has my best interests in mind. Thanks.

This is looking under the bench/slab toward the shower:

I shoved the camera into top of the pan liner:

Original leak point:

Original leak:

5 days, or 5 weeks later:


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ask which membraning method was used.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 9:08AM
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collins design

Oh, dear. This is exactly what happened to us last year. It was a total nightmare.

Our shower was built by an installer we completely trust and respect. It's a little differently constructed, since ours has a trowel-on membrane rather than sheet like yours. We used calacatta marble mosaic on the floor.

For one thing, the sealer issue. Our installer recommended not sealing, as well. Here's why: the grout is porous. Even well-sealed marble and grout will probably let in SOME moisture. If the stone & grout are unsealed, that moisture can evaporate back out of the tile after a while. If they are sealed, the moisture is trapped underneath and can't get out. You sound like you probably already know how shower pans work, but I didn't: I thought -like most people- that the water is meant to be shed by the tile and grout into the drain, and never go any deeper than that. In fact, the water goes down through the tile and grout, through the mud bed, until it hits the waterproof membrane, where it is supposed to travel down hill until it reaches the weep holes around the drain.

Like our shower, it appears that your shower bed is holding the water too long.

I wonder how much of all of this has to do with the fact that showers are mainly made with ceramic tile floors, which are not translucent like natural stone and consequently don't show when they are wet (other than the grout.) So... consumers and maybe even installers aren't really familiar with how very long the water stays in the mud bed that's on top of the waterproofing membrane. (Which is kind of gross if you think about it, even if its normal.)

In our case there was never a totally satisfactory diagnosis. The installer felt it had to do with sealer, especially that which had dripped down from sealing the wall tile, if I remember correctly. (There's a seriously looooong thread about this over on the John Bridge forum if you want to read it. Titled something like, marble shower floor always wet.") The tile supplier, as well as many other pros at JB, thought it was either inadequate pre-slope or clogged weep holes. Our installer ripped out the tile, bored out the weep holes to make them larger, added a gravel drainage area, and rebuilt the pan with more slope. That seemed to fix it, although of course the stone still gets dark when we shower. If a couple showers are taken per day for a few days, it'll never totally dry out, but if it sits 12 hours or so it dries. The area around the drain takes the longes to dry out, presumably because the water sits ther the longest. There are a couple of other spots (corners) that also take longer to dry out. I have no idea why. Maybe a denser mud mix there or something. Like I said above, I SUSPECT that this sort of thing happens every single day in millions of other showers, but the ceramic tile they are built with HIDES it, while our natural, porous stones shows it to us.

It also sounds like the inadequate drain is not helping matters. You shouldn't have an inch of water every time you shower. Isn't there a code restriction governing how big the drain must be depending on the GPM output of the fixtures? Who made those choices and did an inspector sign off on it? I'd definitely look into that. If your shower pans needs to be rebuilt, add another drain at the same time!

I'm so sorry this is happening. It was an incredibly frustrating experience for us and I sympathize.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 9:51AM
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A few thoughts: looks like Rich Pan membrane. That's for davidro.

I'll address a few have 6 shower heads trying to drain down a 2" drain. That's too much water inflow for that drain, a 2" drain is only rated (by code, so this is a defacto code violation) for 3 shower heads water worth of outflow. That's why your pan turns into a swimming pool and holds several inches of standing water when it's in use. The drain and the branch line are undersized. You need two 2" drains onto a 3" branch drain line, or a single 3" drain feeding a 3" branch drain line.

A couple of comments on the bench area. Nice photos by the way. They help. The backside photo, I see cement board, and I see membrane behind the cement board. I don't see any sheet poly between the cement board and the membrane. That's okay IF they used a topical (RedGard, Hydroban, etc) membrane on the surface of the shower side of the cement board and under the slab of stone that forms the shower bench.

Same with your shower walls. If cement board construction over wood framing, then you should have a drainage membrane between the cement board on the walls and the wall framing (typically 6-mil thick polyethylene sheeting), OR you should have a topical membrane (again, RG or HB) on the shower side of the cement board.

That issue aside...the shower pan itself:

On the floor, the Rich Pan membrane can not sit flat on the subfloor. That too is a code violation, and a violation of the manufacturer's installation instructions. We don't know if yours is flat or sloped. But for background info:

With Rich Pan, on top of your flat subfloor you should have a sloped mortar (deck mud) bed that slopes from the walls to the drain. Then the membrane goes over that, which causes the membrane to be sloped. Then another layer of deck mud goes over the membrane, and you tile on that second layer of deck mud.

Having the membrane sloped helps water that does get under the tile "flow" down the sloped membrane to the drain, through the secondary weep holes in the drain, and down the drain. If you membrane sits flat on the floor, the membrane essentially becomes a swimming pool liner. It'll hold water.

Going back a few steps...when that second layer of deck mud is installed on top of the membrane, it's good practice for the installer to place a little pea gravel, or tile spacer crosses, etc, around the drain weep holes. That debris helps prevent deck mud from clogging the secondary weep holes. See this link (Harry to the rescue) for photos.

FWIW, if the evacuation capability of your drain is overwhelmed and you have standing water in your shower, your secondary weep holes could theoretically be admitting water into the mud bed, ie, water is back-flowing through the weep holes and getting under your tile.

Flat benches in a shower aren't the best idea. Plus I would have cut a drip edge on the bottom of the bench overhang.

Finally, your bathroom is very attractive! Nice overall look.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 11:08AM
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Beautiful bathroom and tiles, and what a shame about these problems. Hope you will be able to follow-up on the advice of the well-informed here, and get in an on-site "second opinion" (best, someone who could provide direction and supervision on what needs to be done to fix up the issues, and if it comes to it, even do the work if need be). I agree, your tile guy's advice/work so far is not confidence-inducing and before you spend any more dollars, it will be important to know exactly what needs to be done, how, and that it will be done correctly. Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 7:17PM
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Looks like a very common shower failure.

I suspect that the linear is installed flat on the sub floor.

I suspect that mortar or grout was washed down the drain line or that a plumbing fitting is installed incorrectly.

I suspect that the cement board was installed over the linear and is wicking water up.

I would think a 2" drain would easily handle the water a single control valve could throw at it. I imagine your max flow rate is under 18 gallons per minute.

I would guess that no waterproofing measures are on the walls and that the bench may have no waterproofing at all on the top.

I would look for a second opinion on the repair and have a member of the NTCA look at the job.

Beautiful showers are built this way everyday. I bet it passed inspection.


Sorry for your pain.

John Whipple
By Any Design Ltd.
North Vancouver
(604) 506 6792

Here is a link that might be useful: National Tile Contractors Association - Search for Contractor

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 9:06PM
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i concur with every line in the post above.

if the liner isn't flat, but sloped, that will be one thing done right.

if the weepholes aren't blocked, that too will be good.

but then all the other things are still a problem, each one.

( i didn't see that many fixtures. (18 Gpm) . )

it's still a good idea to ask and find out what the guy knows or claims to have built.
it will give you an idea how to evaluate how much leeway to let him have.

if he can only name a product as "membrane" but cannot describe what he did in general, as a system, it will probably mean he believes that a product once purchased and installed will give the results expected. But it is not so. Methods are more important than product.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. The tile guy has agreed to remove and replace the floor tiles, but is not planning on re-doing the pan. He claims that there is proper pre-slope, but I'm not convinced. I'm assuming that this cant be checked if he simply removes the tiles and nothing else.

I tried to get an idea on how deep the liner went by taking some very rough measurements with a business card (yeah, high tech). Luckily, as you can see in the pictures, I'm able to get to part of the liner.

I slid a business card between the liner and those 2x4s on the floor to see how far down it would go. Then I reached inside the liner and did the same thing. I marked these depths in pen on the 2x4s.

The lowest line is outside the liner. The card bottoms out short of the plywood floor, so I'm assuming this is the mud base (don't remember the correct term).

The middle line is where I feel the card turn into the shower inside the liner.

The upper line is the level of the top of the tile around the perimeter of the shower floor.

I suppose the next step would be to carefully cut a section of the 2x4s away to actually see where the liner tucks under, but I figured I'd check back here before I did anything too drastic.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 2:07AM
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Nice investigation.

If it was me trying to remove the 2"x4" I would break out my Fein tool and just plunge cut my way down. If you do not have one I might suggest drilling a bunch of holes with a 1/4" drill bit (wood metal kind - not spade) and cheap them about a 1/4" off the liner for safety.

Then smash in with a chisel and hammer. Once you remove the c shaped portion of wood you should be able to snap the remain section carefully.

I would remove the top 2"x4" only and use those same cards as a little protection of the membrane when you crack it off.

I think your on the right track and if the first 2"x4" shows no mortar then remove the next - my money is on that membrane being flat on grade...

Have you had the plumbing line snaked or check for debris? Does your builder have a mini camera snake so you can look?


    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 10:48AM
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my assessment is that
you have a mud bed (thick cement, not thinset)
(therefore you need a drain with weepholes)

The two lines at the bottom are low and close together. If they show how much slope the liner was sloped, it's about, what, 1/2" ?

Even with a slope before the liner, you could have other problems.

Re-reading the previous posts,
i see "other" problems
if there is a slope, and if it's adequate,
there is a possibility of blocked weepholes, which would cause water to build up in the shower floor.

You may have a slope (preslope)
or not, adequate or not,
The business card probing trick is good for an approximate answer.

You can continue the calculations, by measuring the distance from the drain t the wall.
the drain is a local low spot.
the wall is a local high spot.
(if the distance is 24"), then between the low and high you need at least 1/2" slope.

The liner sends H2O to the weepholes.
But it is impossible to know if the liner was aligned with the weepholes.

Just btw, fyi, a topical membrane avoids these problems (weepholes).

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 11:52AM
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Ok, here's the result. The shower floor is 60x48", so I would assume that this shows no preslope at all. In the last photo, you can see there is still a bit of water sitting in there, despite about a week of drying.

I guess my biggest question is how important is the preslope? It's obviously not working the way it is, but based on the egos I've experienced with this company, I suspect that they will not redo the pan without a legal battle. I found a copy of the WA state building code, which clearly states preslope required, but I don't know if it varies by county. I'm almost certain that this company will tell me that it's not required.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Unless gravity works differently in your county, a pre-slope is necessary. If the liner is flat how is water that reaches it going to get to the drain without a slope?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 5:52PM
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You can start your own TV show, "CSI Goofus", Crime Shower Investigator Goofus! Nice work.

No preslope. Bad.

A drain undersized for the amount of water flowing into the shower. Bad.

No membrane under the shower bench or on the face of the bench. Bad.

No drainage plane (6-mil poly, etc) behind the cement board on the walls. Bad.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 7:14PM
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A preslope is so important, that without it a shower failure is guaranteed. For some of the other things mentioned one can occasionally get by without them. but that would be luck, not good planning.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 9:07PM
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"I guess my biggest question is how important is the preslope? "

Agree with david. A preslope is important enough to be required by code. And code is the bare minimum. To confirm what applies to your area, call the building inspector and ask if a preslope is required. If it is for your area, have him fail your installation.

Preslope is also required by Nobel, the membrane's manufacturer. It looks like Rich Pan liner by Nobel. You can read the installation instructions here. See section 4.3.

If your inspector blows you off, visit the inspector's office. Apply pressure. Simply ask how did this pass inspection? And could he please come take a look to confirm?

I have to say again, your pictures were fabulous, the business card trick was a treat, and nice job opening up the sole plate per John's advice without nicking the membrane.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 11:42PM
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How about this little piece of information.

In Vancouver you can build your shower with "No Pre-Slope" and this will pass inspection. This statement (since I have never done it) has been repeated back to me by 4 separate individuals in my home town.

I would suspect that in the everyday in your town showers are being built the same way and this is OK.

This little luxury of time serves the plumber and the plumbing inspector well. The plumber can lay in his liner with no delays from the tile boys, no delays from the framers and get his flood test and pressure test completed in one trip from the inspector.

So that said. Did your tile crew do anything wrong or are you just the victim of poor building codes?

I could install thirty body jets in your shower and you would have no problem on one 2" drain if all the water is coming out of one thermostatic control valve. If I installed 3 thermostatic control valves and 30 shower heads we might have issues as the amount of water would be much larger.

If you only have one thermostatic control valve and six fixtures you are OK I think with your drain size. I still suspect it's blocked some down stream or your fittings have been installed backwards or something crazy like that. I had a shower flow test fail because a miss aligned no-hub fitting was causing a slower flow rate.

Do you have access from below for this shower?


    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 9:33AM
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John - you are aware that Goofus has a Kohler DTV that's capable of pumping out over 20 GPM - aren't you???

You also cannot possible comment on his 2" drain being adequate since you cannot see what size horizontal branch it's connected to, how high it is above it, if there are any bends or elbows either and maybe most important how much slope is on those horizontal branches !

Additionally , and a more important reason for having a larger drain is so that there is still adequate drain capacity when someone stands on the drain grate and blocks most of it with their foot. If this happens while flowing 15+ GPM , the shower will start to fill up. Not the end of the world - but not good either.

I don't have my tables in front of me , but I'm pretty sure 2" will not support 20+ GPM , at any rate why are you so resistant to upsizing it? Aren't you the guy that's always tellin folks to go beyond the bare minimum? It's not as if the incremental cost is that much.

I mean really - this is the EXACT SAME attitude that Goofus' plumber/tile setter took with not having a pre-slope.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 9:09PM
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ants, a little info for you and more info for Goofus if he's interested:

Each head in a shower (handheld head, rainhead, standard head, body spray, etc, EACH counts as one head) counts as 2DFUs. Code doesn't care what the GPM rating of the head is. Each head is simply 2 DFUs.

Code allows a maximum of 6 DFUs with a 2" drain flowing into a 2" branch line, and 20DFUs with a 3" drain and a 3" branch line OR two 2" drains flowing into a single 3" branch line.

Code-wise it doesn't matter what type of supply valve or even how many supply valves you have, if it's a 1/2" valve or a 3/4" valve, or what its GPM pass-through is.

Code doesn't care if you have a diverter that limits use to just a few heads at a time.

Code takes into consideration three simple things; the number of heads in the shower, the diameter/size of the drain and the diameter/size of the branch line.

A competent mechanic would look past code and "over-design" or "up-size" the drainage if necessary when using some of the monster valves and monster shower heads that are available these days. Usually the "monster heads" have additional info regarding drainage requirements in their installation literature. Three monster heads could possibly overwhelm a single 2" drain even though it's within code. Again, code is the minimum.

Generic rule of thumb, up to 3 shower heads for a 2" drain w 2" branch line, and up to 10 shower heads for a 3" drain (or two 2" drains) w 3" branch line.

It's a simple concept to understand, and it's relatively easy and inexpensive to embrace.

For Goofus' shower, a 3" Oatey drain and a 3" PVC branch line might have only been $20-$25 more in materials than a 2" setup.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 11:46PM
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mongo - good write up.

I am familiar with drain fixture units and knew right off the bat that drain doesn't meet code. I simply had whipple on the brain and got engaged/ sucked into a fluid dynamics discussion on what volume 2" pipe would flow and how a few things that the adviser couldn't see would impact that #.

Inow realize that was a total cluster for everyone else reading. Sorry guys and gals.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Just a quick update:

The company is claiming that these pictures prove that proper preslope was used.

Unless I'm missing something, wouldn't that put my drain right at, or below the level of the plywood floor? Is there any remote chance that this is possible, or are they blatantly lying to me? They are still claiming that the problem is that I chose natural stone and that all showers with stone exhibit the same behavior.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 2:22PM
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I have a natural stone shower floor - dry as a bone. Always. But, then, I did install with a proper preslope. Do you have a means to measure actual elevation between the drain and your marked edge? If they did, in fact, slope the floor properly, it looks to me like they could not possibly have any thickness at all under the drain, so the drain would not be properly supported. Either way, it's just wrong. I would get an independent expert on site to look and measure and diagnose. Get their opinion in writing and take that to your contractor.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 5:45PM
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They are full of crap.

Perhaps it's time for the sharks?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 7:44PM
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Wow, just had a discussion with the installer. He still claims that there is a proper amount of preslope. I'm not sure if it's an act, but he seems truly amazed that I could think that there isn't. He's claiming that the pan liner enters the drain at exactly the plywood/floor level. This is the drain he says he used:

You can clearly see the flange in the picture, but I have no idea how thick it actually is. If it's only, like 1/16" thick, then I suppose that there could be a bit of slope, but I suspect the flange is much thicker. Anyone know off the top of their head? I looked at Lowes, but they only carried the Oatey brand, which had about an 1/8 flange on 3/8 standoffs. This drain (if I understand correctly how it works) would have put the pan liner almost exactly horizontal.

But wait. There's more.......

The installer told they that they are planning on raising the drain up and laying new ceramic tile on top of the existing travertine, and butting it up against the wall tile. His words: "Well of course. There's no need to destroy a pan that we know is working properly" They are now claiming that this is nothing more than a cosmetic issue, and are doing this for me as a favor in the name of customer service.

Now all of this seems completely absurd to me, but being new to all of this, I wanted to have a sanity check. I truly appreciate all the feedback I'm getting here. I know I haven't acknowledged a few specific questions that you've asked because I've been in a hurry, but most of them I didn't actually know the answer to anyway.

One last little detail. We never pulled a permit for this job (yeah....hindsight...), so I don't have the luxury of falling back on an inspector. I'm not even familiar with the permit process, but I'm guessing that I could probably apply for one still, and maybe pay some fine? I suspect that the tile company would be penalized more for doing non permitted jobs than I would be, but that's just a guess. Luckily my employer provides legal insurance.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:49PM
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This is such great info. Our 'so called' plumber we are renting for $350 per day does not believe we need a preslope for our neo-angle shower. We also have the DTV with 6 body sprays, 2 shower heads, a handheld and rainhead. We kept the 2" drain that goes to the 3" drain because we were told that the joists could not be cut wider to support the drain (otherwise we would have put the toilet in that space),since our joists are running the wrong direction in order to move the toilet. Anyway, sorry for the tangent, just in case we run into this problem how high should we make the curb so the water does not overflow onto the floor?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 9:48PM
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Favor, shmavor. If they put more tile on top, all you will have is a deeper puddle of water. If the drain sits exactly flush on the plywood - that is wrong. Get somebody else, pay them to do it and charge the first yahoos for the work (I hope you haven't made final payment). I would also call the appropriate office, tell them the situation and ask if your plumber or tile setter should have pulled a permit.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:31PM
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I found the drain at Home Depot tonight. It looks like the flange is 1/4" thick. I'm measuring the outside of the liner to be 1/2 off plywood, so if the drain is installed flat on the plywood, there could potentially be 1/4" of slope across the 2' distance to the drain. Still not right, but I suppose the guy technically may not be lying when he says he presloped it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 2:18AM
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collins design

Have you posted all this over at the John Bridge tile forum? There are a lot of pros over there who can hopefully help diagnose this for you. Just remember they are contractors so don't start off by dissing yours too badly until they tell you that it's done wrong ;)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 8:38AM
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Sorry to hear your troubles Goofus.

You need to fix this problem and you might as well start by addressing the fact that your shower is not draining properly.

That plumbing line needs to be looked at because your flow rates sound way off. Get that looked at. Snake it. Send a camera down and look.

Pop of a few wall tiles in the corner of your shower say three feet of grade. Is the corner taped? Is there a waterproofing?

Everyday in North America you can pop a compression drain like you have flat on the floor and then lay in a liner. Fill it with water and pass inspection. Happens every single day and this passes inspections all the time.

Then the wall board goes in over top of the liner. This is also common practice and when your floor pan is wet your wall board will wick water up.

Common common common.

You have a repair in the making and your tile crew I'm sure built you a code approved shower. No what.

If you didn't ask for waterproofing or pre-slope how would they know to do it if they where hired by a GC. If you where the GC then you should have requested it.

Lets get all our Ducks in a row and look for waterproofing under the bench and on the walls in the counter.

Snake the plumbing line and inspect. Crank open the plumbing fixtures and lets see first if your drain can handle the water flow.

What is the max output of your fixtures in GPM - it should say on your instructions.

Good Luck.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:00AM
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"still claims that there is a proper amount of pre-slope"

1. what is the proper amount of pre-slope Mr. Installer?

2. what materials did you use to achieve that pre-slope?

"Common common common"

but...................bad, bad, bad.

"does not believe we need a preslope for our neo-angle shower"

He's an idiot and should probably be fired unless you think you can coach him up. If he shows the least bit of resistance - show him the door.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 2:50PM
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So I am firing the plumber guy that says we do not need a pre-slope for our neo-angle shower. so can a tile guy do the pre-slope or should we get another plumber?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:09PM
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collins design

Tile guy can (should???) do the preslope. It's my understanding, in our neck of the woods, that it's the tiler who does the whole thing, after the plumber leaves the drain rough-in. (That is what happened for our master bath.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 7:26AM
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The Pre-Slope construction is a scheduling issue. Plumbers don't pack around a lot of setting materials with them normally and often a builder will mock something up out of plywood for a plumber.

The best pre-slope is one that is well thought out and the sooner you involve your tile setter in the occasion the better.

Shower curbs can be constructed to use full tile instead of having slivers and drain placement can be decided for what looks best and not for what is easiest for the plumber.

Building a Pre-slope over a plywood sub floor is different that concrete. If you can get the plumber right out of the equation. Have the tile setter decide on the best drain location(s) and have the plumber just set the drain.

Nobel Flashing

Nobel company makes a fantastic product called "Nobelflex Flashing" and allows any compression drain to be used and have a topical sheet membrane system.

This way the tile setter needs to prepare and install all of the water proofing measures. This can be done after drywall. After Cement Board or Green EBoard and it is the same guy who floods the shower pan as tiles on it.

If a traditional pan leaks who do you blame?

The Plumber? - He passed a flood test

The Dry Waller? - Did you retest after he was in?

The Tile Setter? - He can blame the Dry Waller....

Best to keep it all in one house. You Build it. You Water Proof it. You Flood Test it.

Many compression drains spec a little silicone under the compression collar. The Nobelflex Flashing uses Nobeal Sealant 150 and this is an amazing waterproofing product.

Look into Nobel's lineup of sheet membrane - they preform better that Schluter's Kerdi and allow for modified thin set applications.

Good Luck.

If you order the Flashing from Nobel don't forget to ask for a Flashing tool. Easy to make at home if you forget but handy for any installer to have in the van.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:16AM
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"Nobel's lineup of sheet membrane - they preform better that Schluter's Kerdi"

John - this is a bold claim that YOU cannot possibly substantiate. Especially since you don't have the time , equipment or resources to do any sort of scientific testing on these membranes.

Now, you can say you like one better than the other, one is more readily available in your Province, it's easier to install for you/your guys, it's cheaper, but those are a long way form saying it preforms better.

This is EXACTLY the kind of BS that get you into trouble around here. Don't let your PERSONAL biases cloud your telling of the facts.

Perhaps I should chime in that both of those are crap and RedGuard is better than those??? Well, I'm not because I neither think that as my professional opinion nor have I conducted any formal research to backup a claim that it performs better either.

You do bring up an excellent point when you say "best pre-slope is one that is well thought out and the sooner you involve your tile setter in the occasion the better."

This ALL boils down to Management and Specifications. If you don't start out with a good/correct plan and have someone to see that it is executed - than you will often end up with poor results.

So, assuming your specs were correct you can blame whomever failed to follow the plan - it's simple - in theory!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 8:34AM
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Look it up Antss it's all on line.

The low Vapour performance from Kerdi compared to Nobel is the kicker for me.

Surely you know this all ready. You can download these Perm Rating's online.

More important than that is that with Kerdi you can't use any modified thinset other than non-modified. We all know non-modified thin-set is the cheapest. If you call Schluter they will let you use only Grani Rapid from Mapei and this is the most expensive thinset. And then for the pleasure of bucking up you loose your factory warranty.

You should call Schluter Antss to confirm this - I have heard from multiple tile setter's that the Schluter reps tell the men in the field something different than what head office does. Be careful - we all know how much you like your "Manufacture's Guidelines and protecting yourself from law suits".

With Nobel TS you can use all thin-sets. That's better selection and you don't need to buy one bag of thin set to set with and one to top with. Better for the environment too!

I think Red Guard outperforms Kerdi as well in Steam Showers. I would have to look that up to be sure but last time I looked I'm sure I read that.

I'm sure Mongo can post all the perm ratings for use to see.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:24AM
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"The low Vapour performance from Kerdi compared to Nobel is the kicker for me.

Surely you know this all ready. You can download these Perm Rating's online. "

- but that perm rating doesn't make it better or worse, just a DIFFERENT performing product. Besides, not every install calls for a low perm membrane. Also as Kerdi's is under Re: the mortar - again that doesn't make it a BETTER PERFORMING product. It just makes it more versatile. Also, Kerdi will support warranty with a variety of non modified thinsets so your comment: "If you call Schluter they will let you use only Grani Rapid from Mapei" is totally non factual or an outright distortion of the truth on your part!

They rec a "premium un-modified thinset" which all brands have except Custom. Bostick has two or three including the OEM bag stuff they make for Schluter, Laticrete makes at least two, TEC has one also. Is it expensive ? Yep. Is it always in sotck? Nope, people like the cheapie stuff at 10 bucks or less a bag!

"I think Red Guard outperforms Kerdi as well in Steam Showers. I would have to look that up to be sure but last time I looked I'm sure I read that. "

Phooey! - you also read that Mongo uses bubble gum for shower drains and look where that got you. Additionally, you need to tell people using RedGuard that they need to be certain to use the correct thickness in order to achieve correct performance, that means multiple coats and the required drying time between each one and all those joints need to be taped ,with the proper tape too.

This is what I'm talking about John - you distort facts with your personal user biases instead of weighing the pros and cons of a product or system and letting the reader decide for himself what will work best for him or her. Now when someone hires you in town, you can sell them on any scheme or product you want. When educating the public, you need to take a less biased approach.

And remember - in case you didn't get it already - "doesn't make it true because you read it on the internet"!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:52AM
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It's been a while since I checked, but I'll tell you this right now-- there was not a roll/ trowel on waterproofing, including 9235, Hydroban, or Redgard, that had as good a perm rating as Kerdi. As for Noble TS, I can't say. But I DO know ther's not a roll/ trowel on-- Not even Ultraset, which IS considered to be vapor proof (in fact, before Kerdi, it was Ultraset that I used for steam showers)-- that is as good as Kerdi. The only time a perm rating is really important, though is if it's a steam shower. Otherwise a roll on is more than sufficient. In fact, I have a spec to follow from Laticrete, using Hydroban and Schulter's Kerdi drain where Laticrete will warranty the shower for 25 years. As most of you pros know, this isn't a BS company. They'll stand behind their warranties.

Stacey-- if you look, these folks (Goofus) are having a bit more trouble than you. Water is starting to whick up the walls. THIS is what it looks like when weep holes clog u It doesn't matter if it's flat or presloped. If the weepholes are clear, there wouldn't be enough water in the pan to start darkening the bottom courses of tile. Clear the weepholes, and MOST of the problem should disappear. However, that still doesn't address the missing preslope, though.

gneco-- If you're in Massachusetts, you're caught between a rock and a hard place, especially if you're anywhere in the Metro Boston area. I've worked down there before, and went thru hell getting to do the pan membrane because it's a plumber that's supposed to do it, and an inspector needs to sign off on it before the tile guy comes in, and down there the preslope IS NOT CODE!!! (It says it is in the Universal Plumbers Code, but they don't follow that there-- true story). I showed the plumber the UPC, the IRC (International Residential Code), as well as the ANSI spec (ANSI covers ALL building)-- all three require the preslope-- and the plumber looked at me and told me thank the Plumbers Union-- that they're strong enough in Mass that they write their OWN codebook. I'll be going thru it again in about another 4 weeks-- doing another house in Manchester, just north of Boston.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 7:42PM
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bill - perhaps they are turning over a new leaf, because apparently last season of This Old House had a segment in which a shower was done with Kerdi and their foam tray which of course had all requisite slopes and drain connections. It seams the tile setter put it in and what are the chances of him being certified as a plumber too?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 9:45PM
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gneco are all the showers in Boston clogging or not draining fast enough because there is no pre-slope?

Goofus, can u tell me if you like the DTV. Do u feel u need a manual control valve somewhere so everything isn't dependent on the DTV? Did you need a booster on your water heater to get enough pressure when all 6 shower heads are on? Did you have to change the size of your hot and cold pipes?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 10:22PM
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gneco-- no, they're not. You missed this part--

THIS is what it looks like when weep holes clog. It doesn't matter if it's flat or presloped.

antss-- I can't answer that. I know I had to prove that I knew what I was talking about with an inspector out on Cape Cod. Thank God when I travel, I bring a copy of ANSI 108/118 as well as a TCNA Handbook, so I could show him in writing. He didn't give a crap about TCNA, but he did about ANSI.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 11:11PM
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Ants you should not get your "How To" advice by watching "This Old House". It is very common knowledge that a plumber needs to install "All Plumbing Drains" and this is why so many Kerdi Drains get installed at the wrong elevation. Any Kerdi Drain installed in Canada by a tile setter is an improperly installed drain.

Local code in Canada as I'm sure in the states make a point of this. Antss you must know this as well. Are you still upset about the gum?

Plumber's install drains - not tile setters. Plumber's install Kerdi Drains - not tile setters. Plumber's install all drains. Slot Drains. Channel Drains. Line Drains - you get the message.

Plumbers and Tile setters waterproof shower pans - I just think us tile boys do it better. :)

And yes Nobel is better than Kerdi - Fact. On top of a better perm rating it punctures less easley and offers up a larger setting material selection. I have work with both and have worked less Nobel than I have with Kerdi. I can tell you with no hesitation that Nobel is by far the better product.

With the Nobelflex flashing you satisfy both the fact that the plumber installs the drain to the home's system and the tile guy prepares the pre-slope after the plumber is gone. NOt to mention that this set up is a lot less pricey than a Kerdi Drain. This will also mean your liner won't go in so early and everyone can't walk on it - and you will need to call a separate inspection - but you will have a great waterproof shower.

This Old House was wrong by showcasing a tile setter installing a Kerdi Drain - it should be a plumber. Look it up. You can't always believe what you see and read. Some people don't know what they are talking about!

Mongo do you have a code references where it states a plumber must install a drain? Perhaps it's mentioned in your Kerdi Thread?

I'll look up the code and share that with the group.

Remember to tell your plumber if your going with a Kerdi drain over plywood to use modified thinset and to make it a little looser of a mix but if it's over cement to use non-modified thinset and if that cement is not fully cured to wait 28 days.

If you are working with Nobel Flex remember to tell your plumber any compression drain will do and the tile guy will get everything ready for the flood test. Easy.

And Antss on a side note the Kerdi Pan has no drain connection. I can post a picture for you if you like. The Kerdi Drain connects to the plumbing system and this Drain is set on top of the tray - unless the plumber doesn't know how to do this so he leaves it proud of the floor. Then these heights have to be perfect.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 4:00AM
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"Ants you should not get your "How To" advice by watching "This Old House". " [sic]

Whipple - I don't, and that is sound advice - it was simply an anecdote, and one that was relayed to me. "because apparently ......." is a lot different than "I saw".

You really are obtuse , aren't you ???

And I'm sure there is at least one or two tile setters in Great White North that can set a kerdi drain at the correct height.

"And yes Nobel is better than Kerdi - Fact." Nope this is opinion (yours) as proved by your following statements.

"And Antss on a side note the Kerdi Pan has no drain connection"

Never said it did - you may have INFERRED that since you still seem to think you are God's gift to bathrooms and the only person who knows anything about drains and waterproofing anywhere. Sadly you are mistaken again!

And technically, I think it does, the drain would be bedded in a bit of "fat mud" which would go on top of the tray and the cement in that would stick to the tray forming a "connection". It might be a weak one, easily broken and provide little value, but a "connection none the less. So quit acting like a turd, wagging your tongue and shouting nanny nanny boo boo.

I'm plenty versed in plumbing, kerdi, noble and building codes so it's very doubtful there is anything technical I'd be able to learn from you or your amateur photographs, thanks for the offer though. Even if there was , your personality and delivery puts off 99% of other professionals so that many would simply tune you out anyway. I'm sure your schtick goes gangbusters with Canuck proletariat, (not Spanish BTW) but the big boys and girls find it annoying!

Are you sure English is your first language ?

Oh, on a side note around here, even the homeowner can install their kerdi or other drain. Inspector doesn't much care as long as it's done properly and it passes a flood test. So get your head outa the mortar bucket again. Things across the USA are not always the same as you see everyday in Vancouver.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 3:48PM
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Antss you made a very good point about a homeowner being able to install a Kerdi Drain. In many cases a homeowner can install a Kerdi Drain like they can with any drain.

If they own their own home.

If they live in a single detached home.

If they have permission from their local plumbing inspector.

Then yes they can install their own Kerdi Drain. The tile setter's however can not. A plumber of course can.

I'm sure your inspectors do care Antss - that comment of yours is a little on the "Cowboy Contractor" side of things.

If you are a homeowner in a multi-family home or condo you can not touch your drain connection. If your a tile setter you can only install your own home's drain (like mentioned above).

Who knows the local code? I see it pop up here all the time.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:23AM
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"If you are a homeowner in a multi-family home or condo you can not touch your drain connection. If your a tile setter you can only install your own home's drain (like mentioned above). "

John - there you go again !

What is standard, code , law, custom, ect... in Vancouver or Canada has no bearing in the U.S. In Atlanta the homeowner can install his drain in any residence he owns.

Got nothing to do with cowboys or shoddy contractors. It was simply to point out two things: 1. that you often don't grasp what happens outside your little patch, and that customs/codes/laws are not the same as in Vancouver.

2. Re-emphasises my point that you have a double standard and refuse to recognize it when it suits you. Homeowner or tile guy can't possibly install a drain because it's strictly against your jurisdiction's rules, but you can alter install methods when you like and installing according to manufacture's guides is optional.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Your wrong Antss. Way off base.

Plumber's hook up drains. Tile setters tile showers. Look it up.

Maybe ask Mongo. He'll tell you straight...

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 8:37PM
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So will I. It may not be so where you are, but in all the places where I've lived, there were only two people who could install any kind of plumbing-- the homeowner, and a licensed plumber. Even up in Maine, where things are as lax as they can get. When I'm installing a new bathroom floor for someone, I'll pull the toilet, but when it comes time to put it back, I'll have the homeowner get their own plumber, or I'll hire a plumber myself to put it back. God forbid, there's any problems-- my liability insurance WILL NOT cover me.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 9:45PM
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Thanks Bill.

Now we just need Mongo to confirm and perhaps Antss will change his "Cowboy Ways".

Why anyone would want to have the liability of hooking up a drain is beyond me. The actual process of hooking up the plumbing drain is easy and of course it is within may people's skill set. All the rest of the code and such takes years to learn in the field.

Here in Vancouver my favourite plumbing company is "First Call Plumbing and Heating". This is a small company and I prefer just working with two of their plumbers. Glenn and Ian. These guys can take my vision and make it work. Sometimes when my math is off "My Vision" looks more like "Their Vision".

With an inflatable test plug you can flood out this new work. Code - plumbers end.

Then the tile boys get to show off and then we flood our work. My work has a pre-slope most of the plumbers and their liners have none. You pick who should be building your shower for you.

Mongo do you have the actual code anywhere in your PC? I think Ants needs to hear it from you. He probably took a Schluter Course and they told him he could install his own Kerdi Drains in the field.

Crazy Talk.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 9:29AM
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Whipple - I AM NOT WRONG - YOU ARE !!!

The homeowner here CAN hookup their own drain in a high rise here. You see, I own one so I know.

Now, nowhere did I say it was a good thing for the general public to engage in, nor am I advocating it. Only that they CAN and YOU ARE WRONG IN SAYING THAT THEY CANNOT.

I am also saying as a matter of course around here and in SC, tile guys will glue up Kerdi drains onto a stub left by the plumbers so the final levels can be toyed with. In this case I NEVER SAID IT WAS "UPC" CODE, (but it might be local !) - only that inspectors didn't care as long as the joints were made properly !!! I also NEVER SAID that it was good business sense for the tile guy to practice this either. All of the guys we work with have no problem rejecting existing site conditions if they are not suitable for them to do their jobs.

This goes back to my comments about your interpretation skills - you project you biases into other people's comments instead of processing what they say.

Bill - this is exactly what I was saying, Homeowner CAN install, but not according to John.


Tile setter SHOULD NOT install - but in my patch(es) he does install some drains as a practical matter and the potty police don't come round to check his license. He of course is exposing himself to liability, but that happen everyday around here - even Whipple is guilty.

What I'm harping on about is really semantics ( not Spannish or Latin, John!) but nonetheless accurate. I cannot have John question my integrity just because he disagrees with something I say. Having a few hundred showers under his belt in one city and a bunch of pretty pictures doesn't make him an authority on plumbing or local customs in the Southeastern U.S.

Look John & Bill, I'm not debating the merit of these avenues or their liability with you - I happen to think you are correct on this. But, people do dumb things in the construction arena everyday, especially homeowners. I'm not ADVOCATING doing this either - but when you try to tell me that you know how things work in my own backyard having never worked here - well that's an entirely different can of worms.

You see there is a big difference between what IS and What Should Be - that's all I am saying. Don't read anything else into my comments. I say what I mean.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 3:57PM
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Antss just to summarize a little on your last post;

It is your opinion in South Carolina the plumbing inspects don't mind if the tile guys install Kerdi Drains as long as they make a good connection.


That is a pretty loosey goosey plumbing code if your right - which I highly doubt. Which city in South Carolina allows this? Did you mention a town?

I'm going to go out on the limb again Antss and suggest you revisit your local plumbing code. I'm sure if you look into you will find that you have been wrong on this point all these years. Good thing it came up now before any other jobs got hooked up wrong.

In multilevel buildings home owners have the right to access anything inside their suite. Common property would cover the bulk head and piping in the walls, and since a drain is often in your neighbors suite - fire blocking issues need to be addressed. People's lives depend on these measures be done right and this is why we have inspectors to check at each stage of the renovation.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 10:53PM
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John - you don't have to explain which end is up to me. Contrary to your notion that I'm just guy trolling the internet for reading material - I actually have 25 + years in the building/remodeling business.

All I'm trying to get through your thick skull is that UPC and local codes are not always the same ( even with in the same country) and local customs may differ in their enforcement of them ! What may be the law of the land in Vancouver may have no bearing in Greenwood SC. Also , let me spell out for you what I mean since you are having trouble grasping this: "plumbing inspects don't mind if the tile guys install Kerdi Drains" [sic]

This is not the same thing as saying: The plumbing code is WRITTEN in this jurisdiction to allow the tile guy to hookup plumbing !!!!! What is happening - are you listening John? - is that the inspectors are using their judgement and discretion on a case by case basis like they normally do to move the project along. It's a wink wink nudge nudge situation, you know - social graces, a$$ kissing, politiking, back slapping , ect... Perhaps you don't. You see, the bright ones are not there to be an autobot checking off the boxes of the CODE, they are there to ensure that the public get a safe house. Hooking up the drain PROPERLY ( can be) accomplished by a plumber , homeowner, general contractor, architect, salesman or anyone really. It can also be IMPROPERLY installed by all including the plumber, and a license is no guarantee either way. I AM NOT SAYING THAT IT IS WRITTEN IN THE UPC THAT THESE PEOPLE CAN DO SO ! I am saying that it is not that hard a task or requiring a huge amount of skill or experience - especially the kerdi one. So just about anyone with decent motor skills and a bit of instruction could do it. Am I being clear enough for you? I am also NOT SAYING/ADVOCATING that people should run out and get their ob/gyn or cousin Sally to actually preform the work. Still clear ???

Anyway I'm sure you've seen the opposite happen, crumudgeon inspector shows up and has a longstanding issue/personality conflict with your plumber or sparky so your job gets failed out of hand - doesn't matter if there is anything deficient.

We've even run in to instances where the local enforcer won't approve a Kerdi install no matter how many drawings, approvals, letters, or engineering stamps we submit to them- just ain't going to happen! I know that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, but don't worry we didn't use Nobel or Hydroban, simply put in a $200 fiberglass unit and ripped it out after inspection and C.O. and built them a curbless, doorless, walk in. Client wanted Kerdi, so we facilitated that, and the local guy was not going to impede that because he didn't agree with the product or procedure. Are you getting this point ??? He just didn't want to accept a membrane type shower, it wasn't against UPC or Local CODE, he simply wouldn't pass / sign off on it. So our "cowboy ways" made the client happy, and met CODE, it simply wasn't rubber stamped by the building police. Getting this ??? An NO, I didn't forget to mention where this took place , and NO, I'm not going to - so don't ask! And don't try to guess, It wasn't even in our region.

Oh , so now you're on board that a homeowner can install the drain in his highrise condo?? What if it's a co-op or condo in which the bylaws strictly forbid the homeowner doing work themselves ? In that case they wouldn't be able to despite the local laws! Then we could debate the merits of the fella that thumbs his nose at the board and undertakes the work himself claiming "it legal".

Again - I am not questioning your assessment of how a good shower is generally arrived at or how the UPC is written. What I am trying to point out is that local codes are not the same everywhere, and enforcement is sometimes a grey area, and the indiv. signing off may or may not be abreast of the current code in it's entirety. Then there is the inspector's "interpretation" of the CODE. SO, I think you've got a lot of nerve trying to tell me what's what in my own backyard, especially since you have ZERO experience is this neighborhood.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:34PM
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collins design

Jeez you guys. I don't know that this is helping the P.O. much. Perhaps you could take this argument elsewhere? I personally would like to be able to check back with this thread to see if the P.O. has resolved his issues, and not have to read all this unpleasantness. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 5:19PM
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Stacey-- I was already pretty succinct with what's going on in my post 5/9/11 19:42. No offense to the other two gentlemen.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:50PM
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As bill_v wrote in that post, it seems that the OP has a case of weepholes blocked and not passing water.
That, combined with one or two other problems.
But the biopsy hasn't proven it yet.
This thread probably is the right place for the guys to have it out.
Because there are so many possible problems.
I also think that staceyneil has a valid point.
Jeez you guys.
On television they all manage to disagree gently but forcefully.
(Hey, why don't they have TV shows about diagnosing shower drain problems?)
They could call it "Water" instead of "House".
Goofus, it's your turn to speak now.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 7:56AM
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Candle Wick - prevents the weep holes from clogging.

12 weep holes drain faster than 3.

The option of just packing mortar mud in around the drain is the easiest option and like Bill is mentioning again this is likely the case in this shower.

The fact that the drain is backing up still leads me to believe that it is restricted down stream on the drain body.

Nobel Company makes a weep hole protector. I have not ever used one but this little product is protection that clearly so many failing showers need.



Here is a link that might be useful: Weep Hole Protector

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:18AM
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John - perhaps you want to explain why the fella in your picture is drilling into the drain flange?

Crushed stone and tile spacers will also work for keeping weep holes clear, but my opinion is to use a drain that doesn't have/need weep holes in the first place. The design of showers with this type eliminate "pre-slopes" and a host of other problems that can arise when plumbers, and tile guys get cheap, lazy, stupid, or in a hurry.

Goofus' shower is a prime example of how a seemingly insignificant detail, that is mentioned in every training course and probably in the instructions for that drain, when not followed can cause a huge problem.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 10:52PM
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