/ Plumber fobbing us off?

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MikeR - on 08 Jan 2019

Hi all,

Back in March we got our bathroom redone while we were away. We got a plumber to project manage it while we were on holiday. However, when they ripped the old bath out there were no joists left underneath. Luckily we never filled the bath otherwise we might have ended up in downstairs bathroom! There must have been a hairline crack letting moisture through and rotted away the joists over the years. The plumber did a good job organising a joiner to replace the missing floor joists and the finished bathroom looked great. We had got him to install a rack at the back of the shower for hanging up drysuits to wash after kayaking.

However, once it was all finished, whenever we washed our kayaking kit, downstairs said water was coming out of their light fitting. We got the plumber back about four times before he found the source of the leak, the tiler hadn't properly sealed the edge of the shower tray where it met the tiles. Finally this seemed to fix it for the last few months. However, last weekend we washed out kit after a paddle and downstairs reported water streaming out of the light fitting.

We got back in touch with the plumber, who said we shouldn't be washing kit in the shower as the water doesn't drain down the shower tray properly and causes spray. This sounds like bollox to me.

We also asked him to remove the shower tray as we're worried the floor space under the tray will be sopping and could damage downstairs ceiling and want to let it dry. The plumber is not keen.

Is he just fobbing us off? Would you insist he removes the shower tray?

What avenues have we got if he refuses? We have a one year guarantee. 

pec on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Water has an incredible capacity for finding its way through any weakness. I've fitted a lot of bathrooms and in ripping the old ones out you see a lot of leak damage that went unnoticed.

Similar to yourself, I've twice removed a bath to find it was the floorboards holding the joists up the joists were so rotten! That's two kitchens that nearly had an en-suite bath.

The lesson is you must trace and cure the source of the leakage. The entire shower cubicle should be totally waterproof from top to bottom so washing anything in it shouldn't be a problem.

I feel the pain of your plumber, tracing leaks can be a very difficult task as the water can track a long way from its source to where it emerges and I've spent many an hour lying in awkward positions trying to feel for damp between bouts of spraying water in different place one at a time.

Are you expecting him to trace the leak for free or pay him for his time? It could be expensive for one of you unless he hits upon the source quickly. In the long run it will be more expensive if your shower ends up in your kitchen, although you might have moved house by then.

I'm afraid I have no idea about guarantees. Good luck.

 

Timmd on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

It strikes me that a guarantee includes water not somehow finding it's way through the light fitting of downstairs, even if it is a PITA for the plumber to sort it out. Dig your heels in.

Post edited at 21:36
MikeR - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to pec:

Thanks for your reply pec. I appreciate it's not easy to find the leak, but given I paid for a functioning bathroom in my opinion he hasn't finished the job so am not willing to pay extra for him to sort it out. Thankfully he's not tried charging for the additional work, yet.

Would you recommend I insist he lifts up the shower tray to dry out the joists? He doesn't seem to think it's worth it, but I just think it more likey he doesn't want to do it.

MikeR - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to Timmd:

Thanks, that was our opinion. The main disagreement is whether to lift the shower tray.

Jenny C on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I feel to see how water sprayed off a drysuit will somehow cause a leak, when water sprayed off a naked person (normally the primary fiction of a shower) won't. 

pec on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Taking out an in-situ shower tray means taking out the shower cubicle and some retiling which is a very big job. Sorry I didn't reply to your OP fully, yes it shouldn't be leaking under any circumstances and he shouldn't be charging for curing it. How easy it is to enforce a guarantee I have no idea.

Has this second leak actually been fixed (as far as you are aware). If you are confident the leak has been sorted out then lifting the shower tray wouldn't be necessary, the wood will dry out and in the short time its been leaking won't have suffered, it takes a lot of years to rot a joist.

The problem is knowing the leak has been solved permanently and that the plumber doesn't just bodge something to get past the 1 year mark. I suggest you aggressively spray water around the shower for a long time and look thoroughly for leaks and repeat that until the guarantee expires.

 

 

Post edited at 22:03
Neil Williams - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

> Thanks, that was our opinion. The main disagreement is whether to lift the shower tray.

I can see why he's trying to avoid that, as you just stick them to the wall with several cartridges of silicone (that's what the instructions say!) and so it basically wrecks everything to remove them.

Is it a ground-level tray, i.e. you can't just remove the access surround to dry it out?

I agree that there should not be any leaks.

Neil Williams - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to Jenny C:

> I feel to see how water sprayed off a drysuit will somehow cause a leak, when water sprayed off a naked person (normally the primary fiction of a shower) won't. 


Well, quite.  The person will also cause it to be sprayed around rather more widely than washing kit in the tray.

MikeR - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to pec:

Thanks, wasn't sure if the floor joists would dry out or not.

Thought it had been solved as neighbors downstairs hadn't reported any leaking for a few months, but started leaking again on Sunday. Plumber is coming round next week to look at it.

MikeR - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

Yeah, ground level, so whole shower would need to come out unfortunately.

wintertree - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to Jenny C:

> I feel to see how water sprayed off a drysuit will somehow cause a leak, when water sprayed off a naked person (normally the primary fiction of a shower) won't. 

When showering myself I spray away from the tiled wall (where the shower is mounted) towards the glass door.  Any water that misses me hits the door and runs down in to the tray.

If I was spraying clothes I would be in the middle of the shower, and the natural direction to spray— given where the shower hose is - would be against the tiled wall.  So now water would be missing the clothes and running down the tiles to the seal against the floor tray.

Not that this excuses the tiles or the floor pan <> tiles interface being badly sealed!  

jkarran - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

The tray doesn't really need to come up to dry the floor if the leak gets fixed but it might to find the leak. Is it only when washing gear that it leaks? Is it leaking much or just the odd drip? Could be your weight in the tray seals a joint that leaks if the cubicle is empty?

Jk

Post edited at 22:53
Snyggapa - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to jkarran:

Did you just call MikeR fat

Ridge - on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to jkarran:

> Is it leaking much or just the odd drip? Could be your weight in the tray seals a joint that leaks if the cubicle is empty?

I'd have thought it would be the other way round, as the additional weight (sorry MikeR) would be more likely to push the tray down and widen the gap between tray and tiles?

Doesn't help the OP, but you can now get shower trays with raised edges that go flush to the wall and the tiles (I prefer the showerwall sheets) fit over the edge and effectively sit in the shower tray. Then even if the sealant goes between the shower tray and tiles the water doesn't escape.

 

teh_mark on 08 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I'd expect that any reasonable person would consider the water from your shower taking the scenic route to ground a fault.

What on Earth does he think happens when a human showers in it compared to a humanless drysuit?

Dax H - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Ahh the leaking shower tray, bane of my life for many years. Both my mums shower and ours started leaking. No matter what I did to seal it the leak would return within a year, it's a right pain in the arse removing and re doing silicone.  I tried the stick on strip seals ypu can buy and various other things on the market and had no joy. Finally I sealed both using plastic angle strips, they were long strips of plastic bent at 90 degrees and about 20mm wide, cut to the length of the shower tray and apply a bead of silicone on the wall and on the tray then press the angle in to it. Both have been sealed for 5 years now, the greater surface area between the angle and the wall and tray seems to be the trick. 

1
MikeR - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to jkarran:

> Is it only when washing gear that it leaks?

Yes. There's a slight lip to the shower tray, so figured that normally the water accumulating in the tray doesn't get deep enough to go over the lip and reach the seal, but when washing kit you're in longer plus the odd bit of sand allows the water to get deep enough to reach the sealant.

Is it leaking much or just the odd drip?

Not seen it but the neighbors said there was quite a bit of water coming through. We've asked them to film if it happens again.

MikeR - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Snyggapa:

Haha! Never been called fat before!

MikeR - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Dax H:

Thanks Dax, I'll look them up. Sounds like they are worth a try.

jkarran - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Ridge:

> I'd have thought it would be the other way round, as the additional weight (sorry MikeR) would be more likely to push the tray down and widen the gap between tray and tiles?

It probably would if that's where the leak is but it could be in the Plug/u-bend/drain.

> Doesn't help the OP, but you can now get shower trays with raised edges that go flush to the wall and the tiles (I prefer the showerwall sheets) fit over the edge and effectively sit in the shower tray. Then even if the sealant goes between the shower tray and tiles the water doesn't escape.

Worth checking the grout as well for cracks and movement.

Another possibility is the actual shower fitting, if it's being swung around more when washing gear than when showering the movement/pressure could be causing a joint in the wall to weep.

jk

Snyggapa - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

on a slightly serious note, when the guys fitted my shower tray and bath, they filled the bath with water before applying silicone round the edges and left it 24 hours and for the shower used an acrow to push the shower tray down (and the ceiling up by equal amount..) to simulate a person being in - the theory being that the tray and bath will slightly rise once the weight is taken off compressing the silicone into the joints and when weight is reapplied it will deform back to it's natural state, which is better than having it stretch every time someone gets in.

Has been good for 7ish years so far , the leaks have been where water tracked along the screws holding the shower frame on into the wall behind, running down the back of the plasterboard and out on top of the skirting...

jkarran - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

> Yes. There's a slight lip to the shower tray, so figured that normally the water accumulating in the tray doesn't get deep enough to go over the lip and reach the seal, but when washing kit you're in longer plus the odd bit of sand allows the water to get deep enough to reach the sealant.

Ah. So the leak occurs only when the tray 'fills up'. It's not just overflowing out a corner or under the door seal is it?

Sounds like you need to clean all the old silicone out and get a thick new bead put on in one go around the whole perimeter. It doesn't stick to itself once cured so it's a one shot job that needs to go onto clean substrate. Makes for an annoying repair. Sorry to say it doesn't sound like a very robust design, I suspect you'll be getting good at reapplying silicone.

jk

steve taylor - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

I had something similar last year.

Plumber #1 replace an old, cracked, non-leaking shower tray. A couple of months later it started leaking, damaging the ceiling below. I called him and had to threaten legal action to make him come out and remedy the problem. A couple of months later it started leaking again, he refused to fix it this time. 

The house has very good tenants in it, and I'm 3000 miles away, so I called plumber#2 in who fixed the problem quickly - plumber#1 hadn't tiled around the shower tray properly.

I'm now several hundred quid out of pocket (plumber#2 costs, plus repairing the ceiling below), and it's pi$$ed off my tenants a bit too. At the moment I'm leaving it, but may recourse to negative CheckATrade/Google reviews.

If I'd been living in the house myself, I'd have probably taken more serious action. I could possibly take him to small claims, but that's a massive hassle when I'm not there. You pay these people a premium as they are supposed to be the experts - but sadly that's not always the case.

 

 

 

oldie - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

> ,,,,, but when washing kit you're in longer plus the odd bit of sand allows the water to get deep enough to reach the sealant. Not seen it but the neighbors said there was quite a bit of water coming through. We've asked them to film if it happens again. <

If water above the level of shower tray to cubicle wall junction seems to be the difference between showering and washing kit (which causes leak) why not temporarily plug drain hole, and fill above this level to repeat and investigate? If very lucky might see movement of water on surface towards a leaking area.
I'd also be a bit worried that ordinary showering causes no huge leak but may be slowly causing damage beneath shower. 

 

steve taylor - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to steve taylor:

PS thanks for the reminder about this - I've put a complaint in about my plumber via CheckATrade.

Rigid Raider - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

FWIW the only shower system I've see that's properly designed is the waterproof shower boards by Mermaid; they are expensive but look better than tiles, don't need grouting that goes mildewey and come with a very good sealing bead that goes along the bottom. I installed two in our house and neither is leaking, I know because I check under the tray and the bath from time to time.

bedspring on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

You say you got the plumber to project manage?
Did you pay them for this service?

I have no idea about plumbing, but I suppose this comes down to whats causing the leak and whose fault it is, the Tilers or the Plumber or faulty goods.

You say you have got a 1 year guarantee, have you got a paid invoice as well?

Who supplied the goods, you or the plumber?

Do you know where he lives and if you sued him do you think you could get anything out of him?

1
Eric9Points - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

When you stand on the shower tray does it flex a bit?

If so that may be the root cause of the problem. Plumber fixes leak and all seems fine. Repeated flexing of the tray damages the seal somewhere and leak returns. If that is the root cause then the remedy is to replace the tray with a stiffer one or put some spots of cement under the tray when fitting it to add support and limit deflection.

jess13 - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

If it was leaking round the shower tray there must be a break where the tray is siliconed to the wall. To remedy- bottom layer of tiles off,resilicone showertray to the wall ,repair any water damaged wall, use tanking tape and fluid(bought as a kit) to seal the area and overlap-- the edge of the showertray. Retile and seal grout with a spray on grout sealer and resilicone the joint around the showertray. All showers should be taped and tanked- a belt and braces approach saves a lot of pain later. I;ve tiled many showers and only had one leak and that turned out to be leaking from the metal frame although the plumber who had installed it tried to blame me- so check the box sections if you have metal shower cubicle.

Ridge - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

> Yes. There's a slight lip to the shower tray, so figured that normally the water accumulating in the tray doesn't get deep enough to go over the lip and reach the seal, but when washing kit you're in longer plus the odd bit of sand allows the water to get deep enough to reach the sealant.

TBH if you're actually overflowing the shower tray to the point that the sealant between tray and tiles is regularly submerged then I'm not surprised it leaks, especially if it's to the extent that water is streaming out of the light fitting downstairs.

If you want the gap between tiles and tray to be fully waterproof, rather than to deal with normal domestic shower splashing then you need to do a proper waterproofing job as described by jess, which you should really have told the plumber about. From your description it sounds almost akin to overflowing your kitchen sink on a regular basis and then complaining to the kitchen fitter that waters getting down the back of the worktop.

Apologies if I've misinterpreted your post.

Dax H - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Can't post a link but look for plastic angle strip on ebay. Clean the old sealent away completely using silicone remover. Cut the angle carefully and miter the corners, jobs a badger. 

captain paranoia - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to Eric9Points:

> When you stand on the shower tray does it flex a bit?

The other thing I considered was the need to replace the joists; how well was that done, and how stable is the floor under the shower tray? If the loaded shower tray is causing the floor to shift to any significant degree, that will affect the ability of the silicone sealant to provide a seal.

MikeR - on 09 Jan 2019
In reply to all:

Thanks for all the replies. Not got time to read them just now, but will have a proper look tomorrow.

Cheers.

MikeR - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to various:

Thanks for all the replies. Sounds like removing and replacing the silicone seal is the way to go. The belt and braces approach sounds good.

No water leaking through the door, it's totally dry on the floor outside of the shower.

Just for clarification, we're not regularly filling up the shower tray. Every now and then (maybe once a couple of months, more often in summer) we have a longer shower when we was our kit, and the water is a bit slow to drain, so builds up to a few mm.

No obvious movement of the shower tray, but I'd expect it flexes a bit.

Thanks for all the replies, plenty to think about.

Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Builds up to above the level of the tray?  If so, you really shouldn't do that and I'm not surprised there are some leaks - silicone is not perfect, nor is tiling - tile grout is actually not 100% waterproof and will not contain water in that way.

If it builds up *in* the tray that's fine and would not cause any leak unless the tray itself was cracked.

It's a good reason not to buy one of those super-low-profile trays that seem all the rage.  I would personally recommend a Mira Flight medium-level tray as being the best combination of looks and practicality in this regard.

If you do have one of those super low profile trays, the drain needs to be able to keep up with it being completely empty for any length of shower.   If not it is not the correct drainage system/shower head combination.  But equally this could be caused by items being washed in the tray blocking the drainage?

Post edited at 09:41
Ridge - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

Pretty much my thinking too. If the OP still has a bath that would be a better kit wash facility than the shower.

Post edited at 10:34
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Ridge:

That or the kitchen sink.  But standing water should never be allowed to come up above the level of a shower tray, as the tiling and surround are not designed for containing standing water in that manner, they are just splashproof.  If you want tiling to be able to do that, it needs to be tanked as a wet room, which will cost a *lot* more - but you're better off just using something more suitable to wash your kit in.  Certainly a shower tray waste should never be plugged, it isn't designed for it, a shower tray is not a basin.

One last thing to check would be if the waste is fitted properly - there could I guess be a leak from there.

Post edited at 14:57
MikeR - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Neil Williams and Ridge:

Hmmm.. that's annoying. The plumber knew full well what we wanted to use the shower for. I even held up my drysuit so he could measure the height to mount the rack to hang them off.

Unfortunately it is one of those low profile trays, and had the bath removed as we never used it. I guess we could try showering then washing kit seperately and making making sure any water didn't build up too much

P.s. don't think its leaking from the drain pipe as then it would leak all the time.

Post edited at 16:38
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Hanging it would be absolutely fine as that's basically the same as a person showering.  What you can't do is fill up a shower above the level of the tray, and that that isn't OK is probably so obvious to a plumber that he wouldn't think to ask if someone intended to do that.  There is basically no conventional shower you can do that for.  If that's a requirement you want a shower over a bathtub, or an old-style deep shower tray (typically about 6" deep).

You'd be fine putting your suit into a medium depth shower tray and moving it around under running water - I'd be surprised if that leaked, as the splashed water would just run back into the tray.  But filling one up above the level of the tray is not in any sensible use case for a low profile shower tray.  No shower at all is designed for having a plug put in and used as a faux-bath - there is something that is designed for that - it's a bath.

What I'd do is to wash your kit in the kitchen sink then hang it in the shower cubicle to dry.  But I must admit the issue of things flooding in the event of a very small drain blockage is the reason I went for a medium-height tray (about 3" deep), and much as they look good I just wouldn't consider a low-profile one.   A small blockage and 10 seconds later you've got water pouring through the ceiling.

Post edited at 16:44
Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Oh, regarding leaking from the drain that's probably true, though bear in mind that if you fill something with water that water is under pressure from its weight, whereas splashes that drain immediately are not under pressure.  That's why tiles resist splashes but not standing water of any depth.

MikeR - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

We're just giving them a quick hose down while they are hanging up rather than sloshing them around in water. I just hadn't expected it would cause it to drain so slowly.

The drysuits and BAs are too big to realyr wash in a sink. May have to change shower tray then which would be annoying, but less so than constantly worrying about pissing off the neighbors.

Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

So they're not lying in the tray, all you're doing is turning on the shower and giving them a spray then leaving to hang, but the tray is filling up over its edge and therefore leaking?

If that's correct, the drainage is inadequate, and that is the plumber's fault.  A tray's drain needs to be designed such that the tray cannot fill up and overspill onto the tiles if the shower is left running for any period of time, and I can't see that residual water dripping from the suits would come close to the output of the shower head left running with no suits there.

If you just turned the shower on and left it, would the tray overspill?  If so, the drainage is inadequate or the flow of the shower head too great.  That's a quite important design element for a low-profile tray because they have so little capacity to hold water while it drains.

Actually, stupid question - has the drain just become blocked with hairs etc?  They do need cleaning frequently - depending how much you moult (!) possibly after each shower or two.  Most of them have a little basket to catch hairs and the likes which you can remove and clean.

Post edited at 17:09
MikeR - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to Neil Williams:

Yes that's correct, sorry wasn't clear enough earlier.

I'm off out shortly, but will do an experiment tomorrow and leave the shower running to see if it fills up the tray.

We do clean the filter on a semi regular basis. Could try doing it daily and see if that helps. Didn't think I moulted that much!

oldie - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to MikeR:

Obviously a  strong solution of washing soda in boiling water poured directly down the plughole (some shower trays can be damaged by the alkaline solution) and left for sometime before flushing out should break down hair etc. We use a filter but also need to do this about twice a year.

Neil Williams - on 10 Jan 2019
In reply to oldie:

Cheers, I might try that - mine is starting to block a bit.  I put bleach down regularly but it isn't enough to break some things down.


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