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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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HomeTechnicalAsk the ExpertsWhy is the shower leaking?

Why is the shower leaking?

I have a shower I installed two months ago that is leaking.  I did my installation in the same way I have for the past 15 years in accordance to manufacturer instructions. I have never had a leak in the past and am not sure what went wrong. When I plug the shower and turned the shower on to run the water came through the downstairs ceiling. The homeowner is extremely upset and the GC wants me to tear it out immediately. Trying to figure the best course of action.

NTCA Technical Team: We have had many questions about leaky showers. Before you tear anything out it may be best to make sure there is not a plumbing leak. Or possibly a leak from some other reason than your installation. There have been situations where other trades could be responsible, and the situation deserves a thorough investigation.  

The source of a leak isn’t always where it manifests itself. Water runs downhill and can leak from one side of the shower then pool on the other side.  A moisture meter can sometimes help in these type investigations to find the origin of the leak.  

Sometimes, showers can leak-only when the shower is in use because water has gotten behind an escutcheon. They also can leak only when running from a poor connection between the mixer valve and shower head. A third possible reason is a screw or fastener could have punctured the water supply from the mixer valve to the shower head.  Has the plumbing been capped off and a high-pressure test done to look for leaks?

Many time people think it’s the pan because it only leaks while running. Performing a flood test by plugging the drain and filling with water from another source than the showerhead will tell you and the GC the soundness of your pan.

Some fixture and shower door installers can unknowingly puncture waterproofing.  The NTCA Reference Manual has a section that describes the risk of leaks when shower doors are improperly installed. It includes a letter you can copy and send to the glass door installation company to inform them about the waterproofing and their responsibility to protect the watertight integrity of the shower system you installed.  

There is also information in ANSI that explains that any damage to the tile work after you leave is not your responsibility,  

Removing and replacing a shower like this is very expensive. Double check every possible scenario you can, or you could waste time and money and the customer may still have a leaky shower.


Thank you so much. We discovered the leak was from the shower door installation.

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