5 Star Plumbing | Guidelines for Action to Fix a Leaking Shower Pan
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Guidelines for Action to Fix a Leaking Shower Pan

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > Guidelines for Action to Fix a Leaking Shower Pan

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Finding a Leak in the Shower

First, you need to pinpoint exactly where and when you are having a leak in shower pan. Make a note of the location of the leak. Is it from the ceiling? Maybe a wall? Can you tell by seeing which area of the shower is leaking?

Specifically, is the tiled shower floor leaking (leak in the shower pan), or could it be the wall that houses the shower controls? You can determine if you are searching for a plumbing leak or a tile failure by determining which area of the shower is dripping.

Does the shower always leak, or just when it’s running? Does it take a long or short time to observe signs of water leaking? All of these factors can help you identify the issue by providing clues.

You can also conduct some tests by carefully manipulating the direction of the water flow. How can you determine where the leak in your shower is coming from?

Start With the Plumbing When Diagnosing a Leaky Tile Shower

  • Fill a sizable bucket with water using the shower head, taking care not to spill any. Are there any drips visible beneath the shower? If so, there is probably a plumbing issue between the shower valve and the shower head. This issue ought to be resolved by a plumber.
  • If that wasn’t the issue, carefully pour the bucket of water into the center of the drain. Avoid spilling any water on the adjacent tile. (A towel surrounding the drain may help). If there is a leak below as a result, the drain line probably needs to be repaired. Once again, you’ll need to hire a plumber for this.
  • The weep holes in some drains might clog, resulting in the shower base being saturated with water. If you can clear them out, the accumulated water will be able to drain. This might lessen the amount of water that leaks from the shower. It may solve the issue momentarily, but it may also point to more issues with the shower’s structure.

Steps to Diagnose a Leaking Tile Shower: Shower Pan Leak Test

  • If nothing else is causing the leak, focus on the tile. You might start by examining how the waterproofing and drain are connected. The drain should be stopped, either with a test plug from the hardware store or a homemade fix.
  • The area around the plug should be covered with water, but not to the point where it reaches the shower curb. (You want to isolate the problem to the drain only.) After waiting a while, observe your leak.
  • Put some water close to the curb using your bucket or a hand-held sprayer, perhaps focusing first on one corner for a few seconds before moving on to the other. Check for shower pan leaks at the two corners. Is the issue clearly in one or the other?
  • A glass door has been fitted in your shower, right? Anywhere screws can be seen, especially if they are in a track, you should focus a stream of water on them. Once more, keep track of the time and location of the leak.
  • There are a few more options if your shower base is made of cast iron or acrylic and appears to be leaking. Very small fissures that allow water to pass can occasionally form in acrylic pans
Additionally, we’ve discovered pans that are positioned so unevenly that water on the curb will seep through the flange beneath the tile and over the side. Examining the path any water on the curb takes will help you find the problem. Does any water veer off to the side and toward the drain instead of following the curb? Place absorbent paper towels along the corner where the tile meets the curb to make sure. Put some water on the middle curb, far from the paper towels. Is there any water that gets along the curb and soaks the towels?

Shower Pans In General

Leaks from the shower base are a frequent but frequently disregarded source of water damage and mold in the house. Depending on the durable materials used and how much is used, the shower pan liner, which is typically constructed of thin, sturdy, and flexible plastic, can last anywhere between 10 and 40 years. However, a shower pan leak may occur earlier than anticipated due to a poor installation process or a faulty plastic liner. The thin plastic liner is the most vulnerable component of a shower base’s structure (see image below). It’s crucial to frequently check your shower base and make sure it’s installed and sealed properly to avoid water damage and mold.
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My Shower Is Dripping Through the Floor

Movement of the Shower Base

Water can leak into the adjacent floor through fractures and holes created by movement in the shower base. The weight of the occupants, vibrations from large machines, earthquakes, floor renovations, and other repairs to the house’s surrounding structures can all contribute to this. When you enter the bathroom, a correctly fixed shower base shouldn’t move around. This is so that shower pans stay in place and don’t leak water by being fastened to the floor with sealants and bolts. Any changes to the slope of the shower base or the shower floor, in general, can cause the tiles to become loose, the grout to become dislodged, and the grout to come free. The shower water can start to leak through the floor as a result.

Inadequate Shower Drainage

If the shower drain is clogged with too much debris, water may pool and leak into the shower’s floor from the space between the drain and the shower base. Also, water will leak into the floor through a drainage system that was built shoddily and carelessly.

Damage from Use

A shower pan can be easily damaged by the weight of the occupants, with breakage, splintering, and sealant loss being frequent occurrences in old or improperly maintained shower pans. These issues may be seen in showers used frequently by many people or in older homes.


The degree of structural element displacement caused by a load is known as deflection. The amount that the weight of a shower occupant affects the structure of your shower base is known as deflection.

The shower base ideally shouldn’t shift or become dislodged while being used. With such movement, the shower base can easily have leaking water into the floor below and around it.

These are factors that are simple to spot if you pay close attention. If you clean the shower pan regularly enough, you should be able to spot leaks and other problems.

How Should a Leaking Shower Pan Be Handled?

Shut Off the Drain

Duct tape, plastic sheeting, or a rubber plug can be used to create a watertight barrier around the drain.

Add a Predetermined Amount of Water

After adding enough water to the shower base to create about 2 inches of standing water, mark the location of the water level with a piece of tape or permanent marker.

Track Any Changes in Water Levels

After eight hours, go back to check on the water level in the shower base. If it has dropped below the level you designated, a shower base leak is probably present.

At this stage, you should also look to see whether there is any obvious water damage or stains on the floor beneath the bathroom.

How to Fix a Shower Pan Leak

There are a few DIY solutions you can use for temporary leakage prevention before hiring a contractor. All of these are temporary remedies, so to find a long-term resolution, you’ll probably need to go to a local plumber.

Repair the Plumbing in the Appropriate Places

The first action is typically to hire a professional plumber because a professional plumbing repair is a best-case scenario repair.

To address any plumbing problems, including those involving the drain line or supply lines feeding the shower, they can cut a hole in the wall or ceiling above or beneath the shower.

If that was the problem, after the plumber has made the repair, you’ll need someone to fix the drywall, then prime, texture, and paint it. The rest is quite simple, though.

Evaluate the Tile Installation Issue

If it seems that your plumbing is not the problem, move on to the next phase. Make an appointment with your tile contractor to have the shower pan and tile inspected if you see any issues with the walls surrounding your shower or the curb, or if your plumber thinks the plumbing is fine.

To further identify the cause of your shower’s leak, they might take off a couple of tiles, crack open the surrounding walls, and utilize a moisture meter.

The bad news is that there is no such thing as “leaking tiles.” Any leak beyond the tile is a sign that the system is broken. The purpose of the tiles is purely decorative and to offer a durable surface; the materials underneath are what make the shower watertight.

How to Fix a Tile Shower Leak

Let’s start by stating that adding sealer, re-caulking, or regrouting is not a permanent solution for a shower leak. There are businesses that promote these services to remedy shower leaks, but they should only be viewed as aesthetic upgrades.

At most, they might provide a short-term fix. If you use this technique to buy some time, be aware that the failure will eventually happen again.

Complete removal of the damaged region, followed by a rebuild, is required for a shower repair to be permanently effective. This entails, at the very least, rebuilding the shower’s base, which includes the pan.

By doing this, the leak will be fixed without having to spend money on remodeling the entire shower. Flood testing of the pan is a good idea after the waterproofing has been repaired.

Restore or Change the Grout

Over time, grout starts to deteriorate, so fixing or replacing it might help contain the shower pan leak. Apply a thick coating of fresh grout to the shower, covering the old grout and being especially careful to fill in any cracks or gaps.

Put Sealant or Epoxy On

To assist in temporarily holding everything together, apply masonry sealer or epoxy to any gaps or unsecured places. Although it is only a temporary remedy until the entire shower pan is replaced, this method will help control the damage.

Swap Out the Pan Lining

A replacement pan liner that fits the shower can be available for about $50 and $100 at a big box retailer. These pre-built pans won’t fit as snugly as a permanent shower pan replacement, but they might be sufficient to get you by for a while.

The best course of action is to find a shower repair expert in your neighborhood, because leaking shower pans can the ability to severely damage various sections of your home with water. A contractor may even need to tear up the surrounding floor or perhaps the foundation to replace the entire shower base, which is a more difficult task.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Leaky Showers

  • How can a leaky shower be fixed without taking away the tiles?
    There are only temporary fixes if your issue is a tile breakdown. The only long-term fix is to completely or partially remove the broken shower and install a new one.
  • Is it possible to caulk and seal a leaky shower base?
    This won’t work, sadly. To protect against stains, the sealer is used. Water doesn’t stop flowing through it; it just momentarily causes water to bead.

    Although grout and most tiles don’t have a waterproof coating, caulk may assist in preventing water from entering the corners of the tiles. Eventually, the water will pass through the assembly and down into the ground.

  • Can I use epoxy grout to regrout my shower to remedy the leak?
    Epoxy grout will allow less water penetration than regular cement grout, but it will still allow some. Over time, even a small fraction of the water you consume in a shower—0.1%—adds up to gallons in your walls and floors. Complete repair is preferable.
  • Is it risky to simply let the shower leak? I am now unable to repair it
    If you can’t fix the problem right away, try to reduce how frequently you use the shower. You should utilize your other shower or tub if you have one. Using a leaky shower regularly will eventually result in decay and mold, both of which are dangerous to your health.
  • Will my insurance pay for a dripping shower?
    When you have a shower leaking, many homeowners discover that their insurance will pay all or some of the replacement costs. Obtaining a shower repair/remodeling estimate is helpful so you can see what your insurance adjuster can do to help.
  • Who is able to fix a leaky shower?
    The first person you should call is a plumber if you’re unsure of what’s wrong. Contact a tile specialist if they don’t discover any issues.
  • Can grout allow shower water to seep through?
    Definitely, yes. Because grout is porous, water can pass through it. In a properly constructed shower, the drain beneath the tile is provided with a path for water to follow. However, if there isn’t a leak, you may prefer to seal any little gaps or fractures for aesthetic reasons.
  • Should I require a flood test as part of the construction of my shower?

Definitely a smart move. It’s a fantastic approach to make sure there is no shower pan leak motion before beginning the difficult work of installing the tile flooring.


A solid shower floor that channels water down the drain is called a shower base. But there are a number of reasons why you could have leaking shower pans. Shower pan leaks are frequently caused by motion, deterioration, a poor drainage system, and displacement.

Since they jeopardize a home’s foundation, shower pan leaks demand prompt maintenance and care. A leaky shower floor can be fixed by replacing the pan liner, using epoxy, replacing the shower grout, or even installing a prefabricated shower pan.

Peter, plumber

I bring over 9 years of dedicated plumbing experience to the table. As a seasoned professional in the plumbing industry, I've tackled a wide range of projects, from residential repairs to large-scale commercial installations.

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