Why is My Shower Leaking From the Bottom?

You’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling and suspect that your shower may be leaking from the bottom but don’t know why? The truth is, a myriad of problems can cause water leakage. Water is a “clever” liquid that can find even the smallest of crevices and cause leakage.

In the chaos of finding cracks in your tiles or shower tubs, it can be tough to locate the true source of the water leakage. However, waterproofing experts will always say that it doesn’t matter which area of your home has this issue — water leakages always occur at the joints. 

Put into the context of showers, joints where water leakages frequently occur are:

  • Grouts
  • Shower door sealants
  • Shower drain
  • Shower tray caulking or sealant
  • Pipes

So, now that we’ve narrowed down the search locations, let’s get started!

Note: Repairing shower leaks by yourself is not advisable if you are a novice DIYer, and it is best to call a professional plumber. 

Common sources of water leakages

Grouts

Damaged grout lines are a common cause of shower leaks.

Credit: Home Decor Bliss

Grouts are cementitious or epoxy-based mixtures that fill in gaps and are part of the waterproofing system for that area. Builders frequently install grout between tiles, structures and for repairing cracks. 

However, improperly installed grouting can lead to chips and holes, as shown above. Another reason could be using low-quality or the wrong type of grout. As a result, moisture seeps through these cavities and form puddles under the shower. 

How to determine if damaged grout is the source of a leaking shower

Most of the time, grout lines work fine because of their durable properties. However, water leakages caused by damaged tile grouts can be seen visibly. You should look for any large strips of grout line with holes or missing grout. 

How to fix leaking tile grout

You will have to remove all the existing grout and install new grout. So, we recommend you check for other areas and determine whether tile grouts are the source of the water leakage. 

You can remove old grout with a blade or a power tool. Then, install the new grout with a grout float and remove excess grout with a wet sponge.

Read more: How to Install Epoxy Grout: A Complete Guide 2021

Shower door

Old shower doors or specifically, seal strips can cause water to seep through.

Credit: The DIY Life

Water can also leak through shower doors if they are ill-fitted or simply worn out over time. As mentioned, water almost always seeps through joints. In this case, you should look out for seal strips at the edges of the door. These seal strips are usually made of rubber or plastic and serve as a water barrier (when installed properly). 

How to determine if shower door seals are the cause of a leaking shower

Splash some water at the seal strips. If water shows outside of the shower or the puddle starts diminishing, then you’ve found the source of the water leakage. 

How to fix a leaking shower door

You have to replace the shower door seal with a new one. You can do so by pulling out the strip and removing any necessary screws. Then, clean the railing with a rag and ammonia and install the new strip according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

You can also install silicone caulking for additional protection and prevent further water leakages. 

Shower drain

Most causes of water leakage occurs at the shower drain.

When a shower drain is leaking, it means that the outer rings of the drain cover have been damaged. These cracks or improper sealing provide that little space for water to seep through instead of going down the pipes.

How to determine if the shower drain is leaking

Avoid using the shower for 24 hours to let the area completely dry. Then, remove the drain cover and pour some water around the drain’s edges. The water should remain dormant, so if it goes down, you have found the source of the water leakage. 

How to fix a leaking shower drain

The best way to fix a leaking shower drain is to replace the entire drain assembly. We recommend you hire a professional plumber to replace the shower drain. An improperly installed shower drain will lead to more damages and more costly repairs. 

Shower tray or floor

Look for cracks or chipped off grout and caulking to prevent water leakage.

Credit: Archello

Another common reason for leaking showers is cracks in your shower tray or floor. This usually happens when homeowners install cheap shower floors that cannot withstand continual bodyweight. These cracks can be very fine and difficult to notice since water can seep through even the tiniest of openings. 

Moreover, the sealant around the shower tray can also provide water an opening to seep through. Over time, caulking and sealant wear out as they are exposed to chemicals present in shampoo and soap. As a result, water leaks through and spreads throughout the ceiling below the shower. 

How to test for leaky shower tray

Thoroughly tape the shower drain to prevent water from flowing through it. Then, avoid using the shower for 24 hours to ensure that it is completely dry. Next, pour some water on the shower floor and observe if the water is going down within 10 minutes. If so, then there are cracks in the shower tray or floor. 

Note: It’s best to let the water sit for hours as some cracks may be extremely small. 

How to fix a leaking shower tray and floor

The only way to fix a leaking shower tray is to replace it entirely, and it’s best to hire a professional if you are a novice. In the meantime, you can apply some sealant around the shower tray as a temporary fix. Most shower floors are tiled and are a hassle to replace by yourself and therefore it is also best for you to call a professional.

Shower pipes

A broken pipe could also be a cause of your shower leaking from the bottom.

One common reason for leaking showers is worn-out pipes or pipe sealants. As water flows through the pipes over time, they can start to corrode and rust. This could lead to cracks along the pipes or deteriorated pipe joints. Besides, pipe joints can also wear out and loosen over time, allowing water to seep through them.

Moreover, clogged drains commonly caused by hair can exert high pressure on the pipes. When left unchecked, the pressure causes the pipes to burst and lead to severe water damage. Other obstructions such as tree roots or dropped items can also block pipes and result in water leakage.

How to determine if your shower pipes are leaking

The only way to know for sure if there are issues in shower pipes is to observe them visually. You can do so by removing the shower panel that is usually at the side or under the shower. If you do not have such access, you may have to cut a hole underneath the ceiling and poke your head through. This can cause a mess, but don’t worry because most ceilings are made of fiberboard, which can be repaired easily.

How to fix leaking shower pipes

You must first determine which part of the water piping system is causing the water leak. It could be the pipe itself, sealants or caulking around the pipes, pipe seals, etc. Then, completely replace that broken section by yourself or with the help of a contractor.

What happens if you don’t fix a leaking shower

If you don’t fix a leaking shower, the water will pool up and cause the ceiling to darken. It looks like a dark bubble and will expand over time. Aside from aesthetics, stagnant water can cause your ceiling paint to peel or, worse, cause water to drip on expensive furniture. 

Another common damage for leaking showers left untreated is the growth of mold and mildew. When water is left to build in dark spots such as inside the walls, mold and mildew can grow and spread. As they continue to spread, they will damage any wooden frames in the way and seriously affect the structural integrity of your home.

Moreover, inhaling mold spores as you shower every day can cause allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. In the long term, you could even develop severe coughing and asthma.

How to prevent leaks in your shower

The best way to avoid leaking showers and the damages that follow is to maintain your shower well. Regularly call a plumber to conduct a thorough check-up of your shower to ensure that there are no damages to be attended to. If there are, do not procrastinate and address them immediately. Moreover, look out for telltale signs of water leakage by learning about them.

At the same time, you should clean your shower regularly with mild products. Avoid using highly acidic or alkaline cleaning products as they may corrode the grout lines or sealants. One tip is to squeegee the shower walls, floors, and doors after every shower. This will prevent any moisture from seeping into cracks and cause mildew to grow.

Signs of a shower leak

There are several telltale signs of a leaking shower. Here are some of them that you should look out for:

  • Dark spots on the ceiling below the shower
  • Musty pungent smell that will not go away
  • Tiles next to the shower are loose
  • Mold growing on the shower grout or walls
  • Paint starting to peel or have bubbles
  • Stains on nearby drywall and ceiling

Key takeaways

Water leakage is a silent but deadly killer. Left untreated, it can cause damages that cost thousands of dollars to repair. In fact, the average water damage insurance claim per household stands at a whopping $6,965 annually. Above all, water leakage can affect the structural integrity of your home and put your life at risk.

There are many reasons why your shower may be leaking from the bottom. The most common areas to leak are the shower drain, grout lines, shower doors, sealants or caulking, and a cracked shower tray.

Found one of the telltale signs of water leakage present in your home? Don’t wait and minimize damages now by calling a professional plumber.

We hope you found this article helpful. Let us know in the comments below your tips on how you deal with leaking showers!

Written by Jason Beischel

Jason Beischel is a Remodeler by profession and is always ready for the challenge and surprise that the next remodeling job throws at him. And given his extensive knowledge in real estate, contracting, and interior design, he provides actionable DIY tips online and has consolidated extensive excerpts with details on how to go about the various home repair activities. Enthusiasts will also access information on the best products that they can use in the process. Jason leads a team of renovators, he loves traveling and does not shy away from challenging opportunities that present away from familiar ground. According to Jason, every human deserves a comfortable home from where they can build their future.

September 22, 2021

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