Professional home inspectors know that shower leaks can be tricky to trace back to the original source. Leaky showers often cause gradual, unseen water damage that progresses for some time before it becomes conspicuous. By then, structural damage may have occurred. The help of a mold remediation specialist might be required if mold growth is triggered due to hidden areas where wood and other surfaces get chronically wet. Be alert to these signs of shower leaks and take action ASAP to correct the problem to minimize water damage and avoid future mold remediation services.
- Water pooling on the bathroom floor during a shower. This is often the easiest fix. If it's a shower stall with a sliding or hinged door, a defective door seal may be allowing splashes to escape the stall. The seal is usually a replaceable item without installing a new door.
- Dampness affecting the wall adjacent to the shower stall, above floor level. Leaks in plumbing supply lines to the shower, the valve assembly, or the shower arm supporting the shower head usually occur inside the wall. Wetness gradually spreads, saturating the wall and causing the tile to fall off or the paint to peel. This is frequently noticeable at a level higher than the floor, distinguishing it from water leakage through the bottom of the stall.
- Stains on the ceiling of the room beneath the bathroom. Usually, this indicates leakage causing water damage through the floor of the stall. Shower stalls incorporate a drip pan or membrane underneath the unit to catch leakage through tile grout, the shower drain gasket or cracks in a fiberglass stall. Old-style drip pans may deteriorate with age and allow leakage to soak through the subfloor, rotting and deteriorating the plywood, then penetrate the ceiling below. If the shower is on the ground floor, water damage may be visible from the crawl space directly under the stall. Replacement of a defective shower pan usually entails substantial work to remove the stall. However, unlike original equipment pans installed in older homes, new flexible PVC or chlorinated polyethylene membranes have virtually unlimited service life and help prevent shower water damage for the long term.