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How to seal a leaky shower floor drain?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Mo Heat, Jun 9, 2007.

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  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    They say urethane caulk is good for concrete. I should do the cracks in the basement for radon reasons, but haven't done it yet. I already bought some for that and to stop some water coming in around the well pipe penetration.

    Where I had read about the discoloration with plumbers putty and plastic and marble, was when I put in a marble tile floor a couple of months ago. Then the ceiling below started sagging around 4:00 AM when we were trying to catch a plane. It was actually the paint sagging, luckily. I thought it was the toilet seal-I tried a new-fangled no-wax seal. But nooooooooo. I had put water in the tub before caulking the bottom-floor joint: I read that somewhere. Turns out there was a leak in the drain. The shower valve is operated with a tilting lever that moves a cylinder within a pipe that blocks flow of water from the tub. When there is water in the tub there is pressure in this pipe from the head of water in the tub. Alas, there is also a slip-ring type compression joint (like you have under your typical sink) that is required to hold this pressure. I've always thought those joints were kind of lame. It just needed tightening. Of course to get at it I had to remove the vanity that was on the wall in back of the shower/tub. I planned to use that borescope I mentioned in another thread to look at it from below, but alas, I had messed up the cultured marble vanity top (subsequently replaced with granite) with a stain (and subsequent failed stain removal) so the thing had to come out anyway. It was evident the joint had been leaking from the mineral stains. I hardly ever take a bath so that's why it wasn't noticed earlier.

    In re-reading this post, I seem to use the word "alas" a lot, alas.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Mo, you'll want to let that stuff set up very well. Unlike silicone sealant, it's water cleanup and dissolvable until it dries. I'm not sure how long that will take in concealed areas.
  3. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Wow! You're right BG. I just looked on the tube and it requires 72 hours to cure! That's 3 days! My driveway that was resealed this morning will be ready in less time than that!

    I guess this stuff must have some advantage over just using silicone or they wouldn't recommend it. Maybe it comes off easier than silicone after it's been in use for 15 years.
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    It's a female thing Mo... %-P The GF goes through more paper in one trip than I do in a week, and causes far more clogs. I've worked in various other jobs where I had to play janitor as part of the job, and I had regular clogs in the ladies rooms, never one in the men's, etc. (Not to mention about a 10-1 paper use ratio) Not all the ladies fault, their plumbing isn't as neatly designed so they need more cleanup... But it is a simple matter of big wads of paper being more likely to get stuck. It's worse with the 1.5 gallon modern toilets, I fully sympathize with those criminal types that insist on smuggling in the contraband 5 gallon "real flush" toilets...

    Gooserider
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It's advantages are: water cleanup, comes in white and colors, easy to work with, resist mildew. It's a good product, but not really the right product for the job. It's mean mostly for gap sealing where different surfaces meet. We used it at the bottom of painted base shoe and sink backsplashes. Silicone is somewhat denser, seals better, cures faster, long-lived and is non-soluble in water.

    Who recommended it?
  6. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Uhm... I read about it on the back of the plumber's putty cup. :red:

    You've got me thinking I should go up there and unscrew that drain before that caulk sets up (haha, in the next couple days) and use some of the 5 or 8 tubes of silicone I have stashed in the basement. I love silicone.

    I think I know why that drain eventually leaked the way it did. If everything seals back up the way it's supposed to, then I'll feel like my conclusion is accurate.

    The first time I put it back together, I put three small beads of the caulk on the bottom side of the part that screws down into the drain basket. I immediately noticed that caulk squished out of 3/4's of the ring, but not out of the remaining 1/4. And the drain was biased to one side to the point that I couldn't be sure there was caulk contact with the top of the sealing ring surface on that 1/4 portion without the squished caulk.

    I think there is a slight alignment problem with the stand pipe to the bottom of the shower drain hole. This is probably not uncommon since most all this stuff uses rigid tubing. And yes, all my PVC plumbing pipes are white. I have a whole lot of copper feeder tubes, but there's also quite a bit of white PVC for the sink, shower, tub, and toilet exit pipes. I even have a couple white pvc feeder lines that make quite a racket on the hot water side where they penetrate the sub floor during expansion and contraction. Spraying silcone lube on them helped a little, but they are still noisy.

    After thinking about my completed drain project for a while, I unscrewed everything and put a whole bunch more caulk in there, including a bead on the bottom of the shower mating surface as well as the part that screws in. When I screwed this back together, I got caulk squishing out all around and felt more confident about the seal.

    Now, maybe I should do it all again, using a healthy amount of silicone instead of this siliconized acrylic caulk stuff. Do you think it's worth doing over again with silicone, or would you leave it as it is, wait 72 hours, and see how it worked?
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Mo, I don't have much experience with acrylic caulk off label use. Exposed to air, it does set up well, usually within a day. But in captive areas I'm not sure. I have used silicone for some odd plumbing problems and so far, I've never had a well done silicone job fail. Your call. Do you have another shower? Maybe you can just not use this one for a week to allow full curing?
  8. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, we have another shower so it's only a minor inconvenience letting it cure properly. My concern is that this stuff may be inferior in its ability to seal compared with silicone.

    Have you ever tried DIS-assembling any of your silicone plumbing repairs? That stuff (silicone) can really stick to some things (and not much at all to other things) and I'm wondering if it would be a real bear to get off after a few years of drain duty.
  9. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    For now, I think I'll just let the current "Tub and Tile, siliconized acrylic caulk" cure and see how it works. If it leaks again, I'll break out the silicone.
  10. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Mo...
    Glad to hear you are making progress on your dilema. Sounds like the next time around it is going to be a real bear if you need to do repairs. While you followed the manufacturers recomendations (which is 'always good'...) you "Kinda really didn't have to."

    The generic "warning" from the plumbers' putty manufacturer was a "broad based CYA...on their part." It would have worked fine...but because some surfaces "might become discolored" they put that warning on their product to ward off "nuisance litigation". Necessary evil of todays' world unfortunately....good example perhaps, would be..your instalation for example. Was the area of the drain pan (in contact with plumbers putty) slightly a different shade or color??? :)
  11. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Doh! I think you are saying that the "siliconized acrylic caulk" I used is going to stick things together WAY more than plumber's putty. Is that what's you're saying? If so, should I run up there and wrench that thing apart before it makes a semi-permanent bond!?

    BTW: thanks for shaking me out of my false sense of serenity. :shut:
  12. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Uh, well... regarding discoloration...

    I'd have to say it all just looked...

    DIRTY. :sick:
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Don't worry Mo, neither silicone nor the caulk you used are solvents for plastic. I've take apart silicone joints with relative ease.
  14. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Hummm. So I read the entire 3 pages of posts on this thread, and I've nothing to add that hasn't been covered regarding the shower drain. I am curious about the leak from the ceiling below. Water damage is an awful thing. How much water came down? I'd be wondering if black mold were forming on the back side of the drywall. If so, I'd suggest taking out the ceiling. At the very least I'd make a little hole so you can stick a mirror into the ceiling to inspect for mold. Don't know if you are sentitive to mold or not Mo. Hope the drain fix works out.

    -Kevin
  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    BG, Thanks for sharing your dis-assembly experience with silicone and siliconized acrylic caulk. I'll let it be. It should be ready for a test tomorrow morning. That will have given it over 72 hours to cure.

    Kevin, I hope I'm not sensitive to mold. My bedroom seems to be full of it where the window sill rotted away over a few years (see: photo).

    I don't think much water from the shower drain actually contacted the drywall. It seems to have all adhered to the HVAC tunnel, followed it down to the register, and dripped out very slowly via a screw. Even if the drywall got wet, it was only subject to two short and what I believe were low volume water leak episodes, and I think it dried out pretty well and in short order. That's what I'm hoping anyway.

    I had some pretty serious water damage about 6 years back when it rained between 12 and 13 inches in a 12 hour period. It was like Noah's flood and the roof showed it's lack of quality workmanship or age, not sure which. The roof was only about 11 or 12 years old... and I had only been living here ONE year! That was an expensive lesson in real estate house inspectors. I won't be asking a Realtor for such a referral in the future.

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  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Mo, I'm sorry to see this. This house is showing a lot of shortcuts and poor workmanship. Have you addressed the cause of the sill rot?
    The issue will likely start at the top of the window with the flashing. Is this the only window acting up like this? Have you opened up the wall below the sill? I would, for the same concerns of mold development there. Even if you're not bothered by mold now, it can develop into a very severe allergy over time.
  17. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Hee, hee. If you're sorry to see it, think of how I feel. :shut: This will likely be posted in a new thread as soon as I get some of my others fires put out. By then I may know if I've really stopped the leaking. If so, I may be soliciting advice on repairs, but I've got a pretty good idea what I can do, so I'll go ahead and summarize below, in case it's all moot later.

    As I said, I believe I've addressed the source of the leak. I don't believe it is the flashing, although I've been wrong many times before, especially when it comes to crap I know so little about, but here's why I think I'm going to be ok.

    This is a bay window that was re-shingled about 6 years ago. This stuff all started about 3 years ago when I had the house spray washed (grrrr) and stained. The workers blasted water through the cedar siding all over the place, staining the finished garage ceiling, getting water and wood fibers in between many of the combo metal and wood framed, non-sealed, double paned windows, and likely blasted loose some of the caulking seals with their high pressure hoses. They did re-caulk most everything that needed it, but I suspect they didn't quite caulk well enough around this bay window area. After getting all the bad wood out of there and looking at the construction details of the windows, I also noticed that the manufacturer may have missed a couple sealing locations where the metal parts meet the wooden parts and where water might find a way to infiltrate under the right circumstances.

    This strange appearance of the paint on the window sill gradually progressed over those three years until I noticed that the paint went from looking slightly cracked and suspicious, but I was still not really understanding what was occurring, to WTF is going on with that freaking window sill! That's when I grabbed my testicles, slammed a cold one, pulled out the coping saw, hammer, and wood chisels, and things really got ugly.

    Good lord, I couldn't believe what I found under that cracking, bubbling paint! The sill wood was like a sponge and carpenter ants were busy moving little egg looking thingies as I was spraying the hell out of them with Raid and decapitating them with wood chisels! I've got Amdro all over the place now and I can see the carpenter ants carrying it off to their buddies. They were in the house the first week after razing their nest, but I haven't seen one in a week or two at this point. The window wood is all nice and dry, so I think they've mostly died or sought out damper living quarters out in the yard.

    Anyway, examining things closely, I've concluded that either the upper window frame caulk seal is leaking, or the mating surfaces between the metal and wood parts of the fabricated windows was leaking, or both. I sealed all the metal parts of the windows and am awaiting a big rain. A couple smaller rains looked good with no leakage that I could see.

    I'm still going to re-caulk the upper window where it meets the cedar siding. There are a couple suspect looking places right about where I think water may be infiltrating.

    Because of the way the water seemed to follow the outer portion of the window sill and the cutout part of the house frame, I think all the water mostly ran down the inside of the cedar siding. That area is well ventilated and should have dried out pretty quickly after each rain. The house boards that made up the framed rectangle that the window was stuck into are in great shape. No rotting and no molding at all. After soaking the window sill, it looks like the water somehow followed a path that pretty much took it right back outside. No apparent damage to much of anything else that I can see. Of course I can't see everything, but I am extremely reluctant to start ripping out drywall when it looks like everything is ok in there.

    Didn't mean to make this so long, but there it is. All suggestions welcome, but I'm hoping for a best case scenario with this issue.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I suspect that in part you are correct, but it sounds like surface caulking is being used to do what proper flashing and sequence of layers is meant to do. The window shouldn't have to rely on surface caulking to prevent this kind of problem. I can understand your reluctance to dig deeper, but repairing the sheetrock may be the easiest part of the job. Get someone who knows how to properly install and flash a window to take a look at this. My guess is that they are going to be as upset as you are. Gives the building trades a bad name when this kind of crap happens.

    I'll wait for Sandor to pick up on this one, but it doesn't sound at all right to me.
  19. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Those carpenter ants found or nawed their way in somehow. If the panes are not insulated between them, condensation will form inside and constantly run to the sill inside. I had similar problems in my old place. The seals on the double panes went to hell. Had a "ghosting in between the panes. In the winter especially, they would condensate real bad inside, and the sill was always wet. Caused the paint to crack & peel. Sounds like maybe time for a new bay window Mo. Are those windows single pane or double pane?

    On your bathroom repairs. It doesn't take much for mold to grow on drywall paper. Especially in a ceiling that dark and closed off. I had that similar shower leak, and when I cut the drywall out, I had to keep cutting past the mold I found. But of course outa sight, outa mind can always trump all else.
  20. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Leaky Shower Drain Update:

    I took a shower this morning and the repaired drain showed no signs of leakage. We'll put it through a typical routine tomorrow, but I'm thinking the leak is fixed.

    As far are mold on the dry wall goes, we only had two incidents on concurrent days, with very little water dripping through the HVAC register and no ceiling discoloration... and it's out of site... and for now, will remain out of mind. If I'm going to worry about that one little area then I should probably rip out all the dry wall in the entire house since we had some pretty serious leakage from the roof about 5 years ago that did some serious discoloration to the ceilings, which mostly have been re-taped, re-mudded, and sanded until I looked like the a ghost, and/or repainted, so I don't really want to open that can of worms. But I will keep it in mind.

    Bay Window Update:

    I took some shots of the Bay Window from the outside to give an idea of what I'm dealing with. While up on the big ladder taking pictures, I actually discovered some new spots of interest. I think I'll start a new thread with them. Hope to see you there. :gulp:
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yea!!
  22. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Day three and the drain leak seems to be a thing of the past. Thanks everyone, for all the help and suggestions. And for now, I'll assume there's no (or not much) mold between the floors. :blank:
  23. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Outa sight, outa mind :) Besides, mold needs moister to thrive, if you stopped the moisture feeding the mold, then I would think it will dry & die.
    Sounds like a good theory anyways ;)
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