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Waterproofing an existing shower without tile removal

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  1. #1
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    Default Waterproofing an existing shower without tile removal

    Hi, I have an old house but it looks like the bathroom was installed in the early to mid 90's. The shower appears to be leaking to the outside, which is evidenced by a stream of water running along the side path of the house when someone takes a shower (weatherboard house). The floor in that part of the house is a slab. Bathroom is tiled - small tiles.

    It's a hobbed shower, in the corner. I've had the plumbers do a leak test and they advised that it's definitely a leak from the shower itself, not from the plumbing. They tell me that they checked everything plumbing-related in the shower.

    I don't want to pull up the tiles and re-do the shower area for a bunch of reasons, those being: 1) We may sell up soon and 2) Lack of $$ and 3) If we don't sell up we will re-do the bathroom at some point anyway, I'm just not ready for it now, and 4) It's probably going to be hard to get those tiles.

    I have seen that there's a couple of products that can be applied above tiles to provide a semi-permanent (ie. couple of years) solution which I'm willing to give a try. Any recommendations here? Product and/or technique? I'm reasonably handy but I'm not a tradie. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Member wspivak's Avatar
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    There are a number of sealers that you can get that will make the grout (and maybe tiles if they're porous) water repellent or waterproof. However, the grout and tiles must be in good condition (ie, no cracks or holes).

    Alternately, you can remove the existing grout and use an epoxy grout as a replacement. It's a bit more work, but it has a higher chance of success - this is what most companies that claim they can waterproof your shower without removing tiles do.

    If you choose option 1, do the following:

    1. Repair and/or replace damaged grout and/or tiles. Entirely replace any grout that may be in the vertical and horizontal joints with a good quality bathroom silicone (has to be mould resistant) - or if there is silicone there already, probably a good idea to replace it anyways.
    2. Clean up all grout and tiles with a decent acid type cleaner such as Kemclean from Construction Chemicals - allow to dry.
    3. Treat all porous substrates with a sealer such as Sealcote from Construction Chemicals or Sealtight from Scientific Waterproofing Products
    The WaterStop Shop
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for the great advice wspivak,

    What silicone do you recommend for grout replacement? Is removing grout an easy thing to do? I've used the Selleys bathroom silicone which is supposedly mould resistant before but it has gone mouldy so I'm not keen to trust their stuff in the bathroom again.

    Seems to be a 4 step exercise - remove the grout, replace with quality silicone. Let it dry for 12-24 hours. Then clean. Then seal.

    I've worked with epoxy quite often, is the epoxy grout replacement compound available to DIY'ers or is this something that professionals have to do?

  4. #4
    Member wspivak's Avatar
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    Hi Simopimo,

    Yeah, I'd generally avoid the cheap brands like Selleys. If you can get your hands on it, Soudal is a good brand, so is Maxisil. It's also important to avoid using saliva in an effort to smooth the silicon...a decent smoothing tool is a better option coupled with either a sealant solution or soapy water.

    Generally epoxy grout is a trade only item, however, you should be able to pick it up from any trade store such as ours with a pre-order.

    Yep, you're right on step 4, I got interrupted whilst typing...
    The WaterStop Shop
    waterproofing supply professionals
    Oakleigh, VIC

  5. #5
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    If you sell, a building report will pick up the leaking shower, even if it's not leaking any more, there will be tell-tale signs of this.
    Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

  6. #6
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    Default Waterproofing an existing shower without tile removal

    Fair point Metrix but it's a 125 year old house so if it's been fixed I would assume people would accept that considering the age of the house?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    A stream of water on the path when the shower is running is a major leak, and therefore almost impossible to fix with a cosmetic covering of silicone etc., so not sure how your plumbers tested but what I would do is as follows.
    Get a 15mm brass cap from h'ware/plumbers supply along with a roll of thread seal tape.
    Remove shower tap handles and flanges so you can see inside the wall(remove any silicone seal from around taps)
    Remove shower head/hose and run some thread seal around brass thread then fit brass cap, and it does not have to be tight, just enough to seal.
    Turn on cold tap and see if you can hear/see water escaping in wall or from taps.
    If not, turn off tap and listen and see if there is still pressure at cap as you undo it.
    If there is still pressure, then no leaks from inwall plumbing or taps.

    Next, get some glad wrap and place it over the waste grate, the fill the shower tray to about 10mm up the wall.
    Leave it like this for half an hour while checking for water on the path outside.
    If no water outside, then no leak from tray, which could, by now, only point to a waste leak which no amount of cosmetic silicone covering will ever fix.

  8. #8
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    Thanks cyclic. Yes this is how they tested it, I watched them cap the shower head outlet and they spent a good hour or so doing leak tests... But hey, it wouldn't hurt for me to do this again anyway, so thanks for the information.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by simopimo View Post
    Thanks cyclic. Yes this is how they tested it, I watched them cap the shower head outlet and they spent a good hour or so doing leak tests... But hey, it wouldn't hurt for me to do this again anyway, so thanks for the information.
    They ??? you mean it took more than one to test a shower ??

  10. #10
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    Default Waterproofing an existing shower without tile removal

    Hahaha yeah. It was a grizzled old plumber and his apprentice. The old bloke was instructing the apprentice as he went. They didn't charge because I'd had $3k of pipe replacement and concrete cutting by the same company 2 days earlier ) I guess they felt sorry for me.


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  11. #11
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    It happens sometimes when you can't handle such problems. So, in that case you should ask the professional first because they use the advanced tools to handle the entire situation.


    UltraShield NZ

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