Why is my shower enclosure leaking?

By
Home Inspector with Charles Buell Inspections Inc.
http://actvra.in/n4f

All the caulk in the world may not prevent your shower and glass door enclosure from leaking.  In fact caulking can make it worse.

I have done posts in the past about not caulking the connection where tile shower and/or tub enclosure meets the tub or the one-piece shower base.

In the following picture one can see a typical tile shower and its one-piece plastic base.  
Shower enclosure
These types of shower assemblies are very common in modern construction and perform very well when installed properly.  

While I don't want to get too technical, suffice it to say that if the connection is caulked, any moisture that eventually finds its way through the grout lines (and some will over time) will not have a route of escape.  The moisture is then trapped behind the tile.  

This results in unsightly mold growth behind the caulk around the base of the shower (or tub) and in many cases will result in the water being directed "outside" the shower where it can find its way into the wall and floor outside the shower.  

Damage to the baseboard visible in the picture below is very common with this caulking mistake.
Damage outside of showerHighlighted area of moisture
It is best practice to only grout the wall/shower base connection.  It is also important to make sure the weep holes built into the shower base is left open---as an escape route for trapped moisture.  

caulked weep hole

Tubs do not have these weep hole details so not caulking over the grout on a tub/tile wall connection is even more important.

It takes considerable attention to detail to get these connections sealed properly. 

This improper caulking detail is not the only cause of damage like this to the walls and floor outside of the shower---but those other reasons will be the topic of future posts.



Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector

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Re-Bloggged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Vickie Nagy 11/14/2011 11:15 AM
  2. Chris Smith 11/14/2011 03:12 PM
  3. Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi 11/21/2011 01:04 PM
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Tags:
shower enclosures
showers
tile showers

Comments 17 New Comment

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Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Mike, yes---there is for sure a reason for the weep hole

Don, I know---I am such a spoil sport

Jay, sorry----I forgot :)

I thought about sending it to the Best Practices group but figured this was more about how "not" to do it than an example of its having been done well.

November 15, 2011 10:21 AM
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Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi
Palm Harbor Florida Residential Real Estate
Charles Rutenberg Realty

Caulking can make it worse??? Who knew?!

November 21, 2011 01:02 PM
Rainmaker
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Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Good stuff.  I still link to your  blog about not caulking at the base of tiled walls all the time.

November 21, 2011 09:55 PM
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Charles Buell
Seattle Home Inspector
Charles Buell Inspections Inc.

Barbara, it is all in knowing "where" to caulk and where not to caulk

Reuben, thanks

November 22, 2011 01:26 PM
Anonymous #17
Anonymous
Erin

I'm weeping about my weep holes. Thank you! Now I need to go scrape the bottom bead off my tile/tub connection and open some weep holes.  Good bye mold.

October 22, 2012 05:11 AM
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My blog is intended to provide information related to home inspections in Seattle, surrounding communities and anyone else interested. Sometimes I will provide information that has nothing to do with home inspections. Enjoy!

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