Leaking is one of the most common issues found in a shower. If you have this problem, you know how frustrating it can be to locate the source of the leak. There are plenty of reasons why water leaks through the mortars and bricks and surprisingly, many showers today don’t come with adequate waterproofing which only amplifies the problem even further.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of waterproofing your shower and the types of waterproofing available so you can ensure that your shower is moisture-free and devoid of any leaks.
Main causes of shower leaks
The first thing we need to address is the cause of shower leaks. Diagnosing a shower leak by yourself can prove quite challenging. But there are a couple of reasons that contribute to this problem and usually, it’s a combination of the following:
- Thin hairline cracks in the joints of the walls and floors. This is mostly due to structural movement which is prevalent in newly established properties.
- Silicone from the perimeter joints of the shower has separated. The life of silicone is usually around 12 months before it starts to separate. When this happens, water begins seeping in behind the tiles and causes moisture problems in your shower.
- The seal in between your tile’s floor waste has become weakened and non-existent. This especially true with plastic floor waste or with tiles that are near it, leaving no room for the sealant to catch on and do its job properly.
- Grout in between the tiles have become cracked or damaged. Harsh cleaning chemicals can deteriorate grout quickly and compromise its waterproofing properties.
- Cracked tiles can lead to severe moisture problems if left unaddressed. Poor grout placement, structural movement, and improper installation of an anti-fracture membrane can cause shower tiles to crack.
- Mitred tiles are usually laid tightly (or any other tiles that are laid closely together). As a result, there’s not enough room for tile grout to adhere to the tiles. This then creates holes where water can penetrate and cause moisture problems throughout your shower.
Addressing these issues early on is crucial before you plan on installing any form of waterproofing in your shower. That said, let’s take a look at the two most common types of waterproofing available today.
A waterproofing membrane is a thin plastic layer made of a water-tight material that’s used to prevent moisture from seeping through a surface. These membranes are usually installed underneath concrete slabs as part of a foundation. While waterproofing membranes are effective when used at low pressures, their moisture barrier capabilities are significantly reduced when exposed to greater PSIs (pounds per square inch).
It’s rare for waterproofing membranes to be subjected to high pressures, but accidents can still happen especially during flooding or when the floor surface is piled with heavy objects and furniture. Waterproofing membranes are great for homeowners and business owners who want a simple and reliable moisture protection system that will keep their showers moist-free.
As the name suggests, moisture barriers aim to keep moisture out of your shower and manage them in a vapour state. The barrier fills the pores of the substrate, typically with a polymer or epoxy, and prevents vapours from passing through with up to 75% relative humidity. Moisture barriers are well-suited for treating high-moisture slabs, or where there’s a concern of high moisture conditions that may present itself in the future.
A moisture barrier is a crucial part of your shower’s enclosure. For many tile installers, installing it is considered a best practice as it will help to protect both the structure and the surface. While you can build a shower and skip the moisture barrier installation, you may end up facing mould and mildew problems even if there’s a slight moisture buildup.
Choosing between waterproofing membranes and moisture barriers
Now that you know what waterproofing membranes and moisture barriers are, the question now is, which of these two products should you use to prevent leaks in your shower? The answer depends on whether you intend to stop water or water vapour.
If you need to prevent water from moving from one area or another (think of creating a basin to keep water in a fountain), then a waterproofing membrane is your best choice. However, if you’re working with a high-moisture concrete slab and you need to install solid-sheet vinyl, then a moisture barrier is the more ideal solution.
Ready to install waterproofing to your shower?
Do you have a leaking shower but you don’t know the exact cause? Or do you suffer from moisture problems like mould and mildew buildup? If you’re ready to install waterproofing to your shower, then look no further than Shower Repairs Perth. Our team of expert plumbers can help identify any shower problems and recommend the best long-term solution to fix it.
For more information about our products and services, feel free to contact us today and we’ll get back to you at your earliest convenience.