Shower Pan Leak Detection Expert and Inspections
For those of us who have tiled shower pans installed in their home, we love them. However, that is until they leak. So, leak detection Los Angeles is a big business. With anyone who’s ever played in a water puddle performing water intrusion testing, its hard to know who the real players are. First of all, all we do is water intrusion testing throughout Los Angeles. Almost all other so called water intrusion or leak detection companies in Los Angeles perform repairs. In contrast, we do not repair anything we test. Therefore, we remain completely impartial.
Indications that you may require expert leak detection
- Look for stains below the shower stall on the ceiling if you have a 2 story home.
- Observe the corners of the wall adjacent to the shower pan for water stains in moldings, on the wall or in floor coverings.
- Pull back any carpet with may be adjacent to the shower pan for stained wood tack strips and rusted nails.
- Water may drip from light fixtures, registers or other penetrations in the ceiling below the shower stall / pan when the shower is being used.
Shower Pan Testing | Los Angeles
Similar to the testing procedures set for by the ASTM 5957 standard and mentioned here deck testing, the shower pan is a very similar system. The shower pan or receptor as defined in CPC (California Plumbing Code) describes the shower receptor in detail as seen below.
Overall, the shower pan is essentially a waterproofing system which one is able to shower without the worry. Moreover, the system is a safeguard against having water enter into the building finishes unnecessarily.
Essentially, the shower receptor is made up from a simple liner system or a more in-depth layered system such as the “hot-mopped” shower pan. Again, this hot mopped system is formed by the systematic waterproofing by way of a modified bituminous tar paper. The tar paper is sandwiched between multiple layers of a bitumen material.
The Hot-Mopped Shower Pan System
The life expectancy of a hot mopped shower liner is one of the most popular liner systems today. The hot-mopped system is essentially a built-in-place shower enclosure constructed from tar, tar paper and mortar. Unlike the shower liner system which utilizes a PVC material as its waterproofing, the hot mopped system requires hot tar to be used as a sort of glue, between layers of felt paper. Together, this system is extremely effective and has the potential to last up to 30 years or more.
I find that this isn’t most cases, the shower pan liner will fail within this 30 year time frame. To that point, we’ve even found brand new homes with failed liners.
Some determining factors may include;
- Failure to mop into the corners or wrap the corners effectively
- Movement within the building which damages the pan
- Blocked weep holes
- Lack of a copious amount of material applied
- Nails or screws in liner
The most common failure point for these systems usually lies within the drain connection, covered weep holes or the corners of the shower pan.
Plastic Liner System
Nowadays, there are countless systems used as an alternative to the hot-mopped method. There are PVC liners, Red-guard liner systems, Schluter Systems and durock systems just to name a few. These systems have a lifespan range from 30-50 years. The durock system comes with a 10 year warranty according to their website literature.
Do these types of shower pan liners leak? The easy answer is yes, we find these shower pan liners leaking all the time. Are they are fairly reliable system? Sure, like anything they are only as good as their installer.
What are some vulnerable areas of the shower pan liner alternative to tar?
- Incorrect installation
- The liner installed too low
- Drain systems leak or have blocked weep holes
- Tears or nicks in the liner
- Nails or screws in the liner
Building Permits For All Shower Pan Liners installed In Los Angeles
No matter what type of shower pan liner you choose to have installed, they all require building permits. Building permits are actually a good thing. in a nutshell, a building permit is effectively have a person of authority, (a building code enforcement officer) inspect the work of your contractor to ensure the work is performed in accordance with minimum building standards. Rather than doing the work ones self.
Testing The Shower Pan
Understanding how a shower pan is constructed helps to better understand how they fail. Shower pan testing in Los Angeles is what we do and we do a lot of them. Our shower pan testing methods utilizes three different methods.
- Drain plug test
- Drain Stopper test
- ASTM E5957 testing standard
All of the tests which we administer are effective. For the most part, the differences between the tests are whether the test is required to follow a nationally recognized test standard such as the ASTM 5957. On the other hand, you may wish to have your shower pan tested if you suspect a leak in the pan, and wish to confirm this with a shower pan water intrusion test.
The Drain Plug Shower Pan Water Intrusion Test
The correct test of the shower uses a plug, inserted just below the weep holes of the drain. After, water is applied to fill the receptor just below the sill, in an unfinished shower pan. Water is suggested to sit within the receptor for 24 hours.
The Drain Stopper Shower Pan Water Intrusion Test
The drain stopper is a simple tool made of silicone. The tool is roughly 3″ in height and possess a round hole at the top to allow water to pass through it during a test. The stopper is placed on top of the existing drain and the shower is suggested to run. When the shower fills to the top, the hole in the plug allows water to run into the drain, maintaining a 3″ mean depth. In some cases, the shower test can run up to 3 hours to confirm a test.
The ASTM E5957 Shower Pan Water Intrusion Test
For this test, the shower is essentially blocked with the use of the plug. Afterwhich, the pan is filled to approximately the top of the sill dam. Because the water is to stay within the pan for up to 72 hours it must be watched. This is done with periodic surveillance intervals. For more information on the ASTM 5957 test, visit here.
Damaged shower receptors are extremely costly to repair or otherwise replace. In some cases, the lower 1/3 of the shower can be removed to the wood or cement floor. Afterwhich, built back up to the existing level of the enclosure. The worst part about this type of repair is that most of the time and in many cases, the tile is difficult to match.
In some cases, the prescription for repair may just be a complete replacement of the existing shower pan as well as the enclosure. This is mostly the case when there is a bench, or cut-in which leaks within the shower pan enclosure.
The cost of repair for a shower pan is in the thousands. However, some might get away with spending about $1200 to $1500. So, the is done by replacing just the lower 1/3 of the enclosure. On the other hand, if the entire enclosure need to be replaced now you are talking about a repair that can easily top $10,000. Depending on the size and materials.
Infrared thermography, and the use of it during the evaluation of a shower pan which may be suspected of leaking is not only a good idea, but I’d go as far as saying it’s necessary. Not only are we level III Thermographers in Los Angeles, we’ve performed countless of thousands of scans of shower pans and know exactly what to look for in way of leakage.
Moreover, using thermography while conducting shower pan leak detection allows us to be able to see leaks as they happen. This is especially helpful when tracing leaking shower pans. Probably while keeping the ceiling or wall intact, without removing drywall or wall coverings.
California Plumbing Code CPC 411.6
Above all, the shower receptor shall be an approved type and be so constructed as to have a finished dam, curb, or threshold that is not less than one (1) inch lower than the sides and back of such receptor. In no case shall any damaged or threshold be less than two (2) inches or exceeding nine (9) inches in depth when measured from the top of the dam or threshold to the top of the drain.
Each such receptor shall be provided with an integral nailing flange to be located where the receptor meets the vertical surface of the finished interior of the shower compartment. The flange shall be water-tight and extend vertically not less than one (1) inch above the top of the sides of the receptor.
The finished floor of the receptor shall slope uniformly from the sides toward the drain not less than one-quarter (1⁄4) inch per foot, nor more than one-half (1⁄2) inch per foot. Thresholds shall be of sufficient width to accommodate a minimum twenty-two (22) inch door. Shower doors shall open so as to maintain not less than a twenty-two (22) inch unobstructed opening for egress.
When the construction of on-site built-up shower receptors are permitted by theAuthority Having Jurisdiction, receptors built directly on the ground shall be water-tight and shall be constructed from approved-type dense, nonabsorbent and noncorrosive materials. Shower pan receptors shall be adequately reinforced, shall be provided with an approved flanged floor drain designed to make a water-tight joint in the floor, and shall have smooth, impervious, and durable surfaces.
Shower receptors shall have the subfloor and rough side of walls to a height of not less than three (3) inches (76 mm) above the top of the finished dam or threshold shall be first lined with sheet plastic,* lead,* or copper,* or shall be lined with other durable and water-tight materials.
Lining materials shall be pitched one-quarter (1⁄4) inch per foot (20.8 mm/m) to weep holes in the sub-drain of a smooth and solidly formed sub-base. Such lining materials shall extend upward on the rough jambs of the shower opening to a point not less than three (3) inches (76 mm) above the horizontal surfaces of the seat or the seating area, the top of the finished damaged or threshold and shall extend outward over the top of the permanent seat, permanent seating area, or rough threshold and be turned over and fastened on the outside face of both the permanent seat, permanent seating area, or rough threshold and the jambs.
411.8.1 Tests for Shower Receptors. Shower receptors shall be tested for water-tightness by filling with water to the level of the rough threshold. The test plug shall be so placed that both upper and under sides of the sub pan shall be subjected to the test at the point where it is clamped to the drain.