Our shower leaks and we don’t know why

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Our shower leaks and we don’t know why

The Guardian, Saturday 13 June 2009

Our shower has leaked ever since we installed it three years ago, even behind our lovely wall tiles. Are plastic wall panels the only answer?

“There is absolutely no need for shower panels or glass,” says DIY expert Julian Cassell, author of DIY: Know-How With Show-How (Dorling Kindersley, £25). “If the walls are solid plastered masonry, make sure they have dried out before starting repairs. For a stud wall (plasterboard on wooden timbers), then you have to replace the plasterboard with cement board. A good cement board is Aquapanel water-resistant backing board, from Wickes (wickes.co.uk) at £12.69/sq m. Use Aquapanel ceramic screws (£6.74 for 100) to fix the board in place, and tape between the panel joints with Aquapanel jointing tape (£4.50/roll).

“As long as you’re certain that you used waterproof grout, and that it was applied correctly, the most likely cause of your leak is the joint between the shower tray and the tiles. With any tray, always silicone around the edge (next to the wall) when the tray is installed. Blocks of wood placed under the tray help reduce movement, which is often the cause of leaky gaps.

“When it comes to retiling, you could try scraping all of the adhesive off the old tiles, but it’s a tough job. After retiling and grouting, apply a bead of silicone sealant around the tile/tray edge once more, as well as along the vertical corner joints between adjacent tiled walls.

“Next, make sure the shower screen is installed correctly. Most screens require silicone sealant on the outside, not the inside, edges of the screen. Check for small holes around the shower controls, and plug gaps with silicone sealant. To be waterproof, tiles need a sealed surface, so check that, too.”

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