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Is Your Shower Leaking?
5 Red Flags to Watch For

by Susan Gast

Leaking showers can be more than just annoying. They can cause serious water damage and expensive repairs if not fixed quickly. Many people don't notice the signs of a leaking shower until it's too late. Knowing these signs early can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Leak on living room ceiling from leaky shower aboveA wet mess on their living room ceiling from the leaky shower above

5 Common Signs of a Leaking Shower You Shouldn't Ignore

Water Stains on the Ceiling Below

Red Flag #1

If you notice water stains on the ceiling directly below your bathroom, or on walls next to the shower, it could be a sign of a leaking shower. These stains often appear as discolored patches. They may grow over time if the leak isn't addressed. These stains often look darker and may get bigger after using the shower.

Mold and Mildew Growth

Red Flag #2

Excessive mold and mildew around the shower area can indicate a persistent leak. Mold thrives in moist environments. Its presence could suggest water is seeping into places it shouldn't. If the area around your shower stays damp or you notice a musty smell that doesn’t go away, it could mean a slow leak. Moisture trapped in walls or floors can cause mold and mildew, leading to these bad smells.

Loose or Missing Tiles

Red Flag #3

Tiles that are loose or have fallen off can be a sign that water is getting behind them. This can cause the adhesive to weaken and the tiles to detach. This leads to further issues. Water getting behind tiles can make the adhesive and grout break down, causing loose tiles or crumbling grout lines. This not only shows a leak but also lets more water in, making the problem worse.

Damaged Grout or Caulking

Red Flag #4

Cracked or deteriorating grout and caulking can allow water to seep into the walls and floors. Regularly inspect these areas. Repair any damage immediately to prevent leaks. Check out the grout repair kit here.

Unexplained Higher Water Bills

Red Flag #5

A sudden rise in your water bill can be a sign of a hidden leak. If you notice an increase, check your shower and other plumbing for leaks. Keep an eye on your bill. Investigate any unexpected spikes. This happened to my neighbor across the street. By recognizing these signs early, you can take action to fix the problem and avoid costly repairs. Regular maintenance and prompt attention to issues can keep your shower and bathroom in excellent condition, and no more wasted water!

Understanding Shower Leaks

Common Causes of Shower Leaks

Common causes of shower leaks could be due to bad plumbing, old waterproofing, or cracks in the shower valve or cartridge parts.

  • Bad Plumbing: Problems with the pipes or connections can cause leaks.
  • Old Waterproofing: Over time, the waterproofing can break down, letting water through.
  • Cracks in Fixtures: Cracks in the showerhead, faucet, or tiles can let water escape.

Why Early Detection is Important

Finding a leaking shower early can stop damage to your home and save money on repairs. It's important to check your bathroom often to find any leaks before they get worse.

Regular Inspections

Inspect your shower

Checking your bathroom often can help you find leaks early. Look for signs of water damage, like dampness, stains, or loose tiles.

Swelling of Base Boards or Door Frames

Wooden parts like base boards or door frames in your bathroom can swell and change shape if they get too wet from a leaking shower. This swelling is often seen at the lower sections near the shower.

The small product images (coming up) are from Amazon.com and they use my affiliate links. Thanks.

DIY Home Improvement Tips

How to Fix Minor Leaks

Grouting is a quick way to fix leaks fast. Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions, and note that one Amazon reviewer said they failed to wait 24-hours before using the shower and didn't allow sufficient grout-drying time - and they washed it all down the drain! Don't let that happen to you...

PentaUSA Tile Grout Repair Kit - Grout Filler, Triple Protection, Fast Drying Formula

The PentaUSA Tile Grout Repair Kit offers a comprehensive solution for restoring and renewing grout lines. This fast-drying formula provides triple protection and acts as an effective grout filler. The kit includes a convenient scraper tool to assist with application. Whether you're touching up old grout or filling in gaps, this repair kit aims to simplify the process of maintaining and refreshing your tiled surfaces.

Should I get it... or forget it?

Amazon Reviews: Key Takeaway

PentaUSA Grout Pen has garnered mixed reviews from users, with experiences ranging from highly satisfactory to deeply disappointing. Many users found the product easy to apply, especially when the tube is full, and praised its effectiveness in filling gaps and fixing old grout. The clean-up process was generally reported as straightforward, with the grout drying to a finish similar to traditional sanded grout. Some users considered it an excellent value for their money.

However, several drawbacks were noted across reviews. As the tube empties, application becomes more challenging. Color discrepancies were a common complaint, with some users reporting that the color was darker than expected or even completely different from what was advertised. The price point was considered high by some, especially for larger projects requiring multiple tubes. A few users experienced issues with the applicator tip clogging or hardening during use, and there were reports of cracking or the product washing away in high-moisture areas like shower floors.

To get the best results, users recommend applying the product generously, as excess can be easily cleaned off. Using a magic sponge for cleaning was suggested as an effective method. It's crucial to note that for shower floor applications, a full 24-hour drying time is recommended, contrary to the 8-hour period mentioned in some instructions. For larger projects, purchasing multiple tubes might be necessary to ensure consistent application throughout the job.

The manufacturer has shown responsiveness to customer concerns, offering refunds in some cases and providing additional guidance on proper use. While some users found the product to be a great solution for small repairs and touch-ups, others experienced issues with durability and color matching. Overall, the effectiveness of PentaUSA Grout Pen seems to vary depending on the specific application and user expectations. It may work well for certain projects but may not be suitable for all situations, particularly in areas with high moisture exposure without adequate drying time.

For small leaks, you can often fix the problem yourself. Replacing old seals, regrouting tiles, or tightening loose fixtures can often solve the issue.

Replacing a stiff Pull-In/Pull-Out shower cartridge

In my current home, both bathrooms needed to have their shower cartridges replaced. I have the older cartridge that pulls out to turn the shower on, and pushes in to turn it off. It was getting so bad, I was afraid that one day I'd not be able to shut the shower off!

After doing research I took note that a special tool might be needed to extract the old cartridge which must be done with care as any broken pieces left behind will hinder the installation of the replacement, or worse - ruin the new cartridge.

I called in our trusty plumber, Paul. But if you want to have a go yourself, here's a great YouTube video from "jeffostroff":

Get The Right Cartridge!

Make sure you get the right replacement, read this quote below from "The Shower Head Store":

The 1225 is the updated version of the original 1200 single handle cartridge with a brass shell and brass piston. That is the original cartridge that Al Moen invented decades ago. The Moen 1225 has a clear plastic shell with a brass piston inside of it

The biggest difference between the Moen 1222 vs 1225 cartridges is how the shower valve handle turns the water on.

Shower valves with the Moen 1225 cartridge are turned on by pulling the handle out and then adjusting the temperature by turning the handle to the left or right for hot or cold water.

So, you could say that the Moen shower valves which have the Moen 1225 cartridge offer volume control. You can effectively pull the handle only as far out as you need which is a nice feature.

Pressure balancing is an important feature of a shower valve as it reduces the risk of you getting scalded with hot water if someone flushes the toilet while you are showering. The pressure balancing of the Moen 1222 Posi-Temp cartridge has a spool in it that effectively closes down the hot water side if it senses a reduction in flow from the cold water side, preventing you from getting scalded with hot water.

1222 Replacement Cartridge

"Aftermarket replacement compatible" cartridge with one-handle posi-temp faucets & Moen tub shower of durable brass and plastic. As I said earlier, I had my plumber change out both of our shower cartridges as I did not have the handy-dandy "extraction" tool, nor the necessary muscle-power to pull the cartridge out!

Should I get it... or forget it?

Amazon Reviews: Key Takeaway

Based on these reviews for the aftermarket replacement cartridge compatible with Moen 1222, here's a summary of customer experiences. Positive aspects:
1. Significantly more affordable than OEM Moen cartridges
2. Generally fits well in Moen fixtures, including older models
3. Some users report good performance and leak-free operation
4. Includes lubricant (red capsule) for easier installation

Negative aspects:
1. Water hammering issues reported by multiple users
2. Some users experienced reduced water flow compared to OEM parts
3. Doesn't always include a retaining clip, which may be needed for older fixtures
4. The rear design may differ from the original Moen 1222, potentially causing issues
Installation tips:
1. Watch YouTube tutorials for guidance on installation
2. Consider using a cartridge puller to remove old cartridges
3. Clean the valve body thoroughly before installation (some users recommend a ball hone)
4. Apply the included lubricant to the rubber sides before inserting

Overall, while some users have had success with this aftermarket replacement, others have encountered significant issues, particularly with water hammering. The product seems to be a hit-or-miss alternative to the more expensive OEM Moen cartridge. Some users found it to work better than the original, while others had to replace it with a genuine Moen part to resolve problems.

For those considering this product, it may be worth trying due to its lower cost, but be prepared to potentially replace it with an OEM part if issues arise. The decision often comes down to balancing cost savings against the risk of potential performance issues.

Moen 1222 One-Handle Posi-Temp Faucet Cartridge Replacement

Moen 1222 One-Handle Posi-Temp Faucet Cartridge Replacement for Moen Tub Shower and Shower Only Configurations, Brass and Plastic - OEM.

Should I get it... or forget it?

Amazon Reviews: Key Takeaway

The Moen 1222 cartridge is generally well-regarded as a reliable replacement part for Moen tub shower and shower-only configurations. Many users find it easy to install, especially with the help of online tutorials. The cartridge is praised for its solid construction, combining brass and plastic materials, which contributes to its durability. Effective at stopping leaks.

Key benefits reported by users include:
Improved water flow and pressure
Consistent water temperature (Posi-Temp technology)
Smooth handle operation
However, some users have experienced issues:
Difficulty removing old cartridges (though this is more a problem with the existing installation than the replacement part)
Occasional problems with rubber components falling off during installation
Concerns about authenticity and longevity compared to original parts

Tips from users:
Stick with genuine Moen parts rather than generic replacements
Clean the valve body thoroughly before installing the new cartridge
Consider applying plumber's grease to O-rings and gaskets for better performance

Some customers noted having to replace cartridges more frequently than expected, even in newer homes. This could indicate potential quality control issues or problems with contractor-supplied parts. Overall, while most users find the Moen 1222 cartridge to be a reliable and effective replacement, proper installation and maintenance are crucial for optimal performance and longevity.

When to Call a Professional

f you can’t find the source of the leak or if the damage is big, it’s best to call a professional. They can find the problem and fix it properly.

Preventing Future Leaks

Proper Shower Maintenance

Regular maintenance can help stop leaks. This includes cleaning the showerhead and fixtures, checking for cracks, and making sure the waterproofing is good.

Upgrading Shower Fixtures

Upgrading to good-quality, leak-resistant fixtures can lower the risk of leaks. Look for fixtures with good reviews and a solid warranty.

waterproofing the right way

When starting a new shower install, take a look at these tips for installing a new waterproofing membrane for tile shower pans.

Waterproofing Solutions

Investing in waterproofing solutions, like a new waterproofing membrane or sealant, can give extra protection against leaks.

Shower pan liners should never be cut in the corners to make it “fit.” They should be folded over and tacked or stapled into place at the top edge. (See Photo #6 over at my SOURCE by clicking on the IMAGE). Also make use of outside corner waterproofing items, too.

See these excellent instructions with more images here at JohnBridge.com

Oatey 41620 PVC Shower Pan Liner Roll and Kit (2 Corner Dams)

Here is a 5 feet by 6 feet shower pan liner by "Oatey" and it comes complete with 2 corner dams that are used at the entrance to the shower. These are used for tiled showers and the liner is made of a durable, abrasion-resistant 40 mil thick flexible PVC for long-lasting use.

Should I get it... or forget it?

Amazon Reviews: Key Takeaway

The Oatey 41620 PVC Shower Pan Liner Roll and Kit is a 40 mil thick, 5' x 6' grey liner designed for waterproofing shower installations. This product has received mixed reviews from customers, with both positive and negative experiences reported.

Many users appreciate the high quality of the Oatey brand and find the liner to be durable and easy to work with. The product generally comes with corner pieces (although some customers reported not receiving them), which are helpful for areas where cuts can't be avoided. The included instructions are highly praised for being clear, detailed, and useful throughout the installation process.

The liner's size is suitable for standard shower dimensions, providing enough material to cover the floor, go up the edges, and over the curb. Its thickness makes it resistant to punctures, though this can also make it somewhat challenging to cut with a utility knife.

However, a common issue reported by customers is the way the product is shipped. Many received the liner tightly folded, resulting in creases and wrinkles that are difficult to flatten out. This can potentially affect the liner's ability to lie flat during installation, which could lead to air bubbles under the concrete when pouring a shower pan.

Some users recommend laying the liner out in the sun for a short period before installation to help remove creases. It's also worth noting that the product has a strong odor when first unpacked, so some customers suggest allowing it to off-gas outside for a day or two before use.

In summary, while the Oatey 41620 PVC Shower Pan Liner is generally considered a good quality product with helpful features, potential buyers should be aware of the potential creasing issues due to shipping methods and be prepared to take steps to flatten the liner before installation.

Fix Your Showerhead, Fix it!

Happy couple fixing their shower headHappy couple fixing their shower head

Upgrade your bathroom's style and functionality by swapping out that dated small showerhead for a luxurious rain shower. You'll not only enhance the visual appeal, but you'll also feel like you're showering in a high-end spa every day. And who doesn't want that experience, every day?

wrapping It Up

Leaking showers can cause big problems if not fixed quickly. By knowing the common signs of a leaking shower and taking steps to prevent and fix leaks, you can protect your home and save money on repairs. Regular maintenance, upgrading fixtures, and investing in waterproofing solutions are key to keeping your bathroom in great shape.

How can I tell if my shower is leaking?

Look for signs like persistent dampness, musty smells, water stains on ceilings or walls, loose tiles, and a sudden increase in water bills.

What are the most common causes of shower leaks?

Common causes include bad plumbing, old waterproofing, and cracks in shower fixtures or tiles.

How can I prevent my shower from leaking?

Regular maintenance, upgrading fixtures, and investing in waterproofing solutions can help prevent leaks.

What should I do if I find a leak?

If you find a leak, try to find the source and fix it if it’s a small issue. For big damage, call a professional.

Can I fix a leaking shower myself?

Yes, small leaks can often be fixed by replacing seals, regrouting tiles, or tightening fixtures. For big leaks, it’s best to call a professional.

When should I call a professional?

Call a professional if you can’t find the source of the leak, if the damage is big, or if you’re not sure how to fix the problem.

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