It must be stated that Shower Pans are not in fact pans, nor do they resemble pans in any way. They are not even made of metal. They are, however, essential in preventing damage to your walls and sub-floor, and in keeping the hidden parts of your house mold free.
A Shower Pan is made from a flexible, waterproof material. It covers the floor of the shower and comes up around the edge of the shower floor, just covering the wall’s edge. This process makes the area water-repellent NOT waterproof. The drain assembly is the only opening that should be made in the material used to create the Shower Pan.
Detecting And Repairing Leaks
Leak detection in a Shower Pan is usually self-evident if the shower backs on a wall and is not in an interior of the house without a visible exposed wall. You will see water, notice a damp smell, and perhaps even spot some mold. You may in fact see all three. These are clear indications your Shower Pan has failed and must be replaced.
Unfortunately, spot repairs are neither practical nor wise when it comes to Shower Pans. If it’s leaking, it needs to be replaced. This is not an easy nor is it a quick job. Your professional plumber is invaluable when a project this extensive is required.
Before you or your plumber go the extreme of taking out the shower, make sure to rule out other possibilities of the leak. Check the ceiling, and the wall behind the sinks and toilet. Check the high wall behind the shower wall to see if it is the wall’s pipes. If these areas appear and feel dry, the most likely location of the leak is the Shower Pan.
No matter the type of shower, (concrete, fiberglass, tile, marble, rock, etc….,) at a minimum, the floor has to be removed to replace the Pan. When a shower is made entirely of tile, it is common for home owners to choose to completely rebuild the shower as tile, particularly older tile, is difficult to match. Fiberglass showers can be removed in the pieces in which it was originally installed. If it has not degraded, it can be re-installed. Rock and concrete, or marble, would be a much more involved process. Re-installation is a matter of cost and preference.
If your plumber suspects the water has infiltrated the walls, more area will need to be removed in order to inspect the frame of the interior walls. If they are damp and moldy, they too will need to be replaced. This will make the cost and time increase. If your plumber is unknown to you, make sure you ask about the interior walls, the frame, drywall, sheet-rock, pipes, and anything and everything related to potential damage. If he quotes an exact price, be wary; he or she could not possibly know the extent of the damage until full inspection.
This is not the kind of news a homeowner wants to hear, but the good news is, your trusted and skilled professional plumber can fix it and give the life of your new Shower Pan a time-frame of approximately 20 years. It might be a financial sting in the moment, however, picking an honest and upfront plumber will ensure you will not have to revisit this problem for a very long time.