Where is my leak?

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gfw

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I've got a new shower. It's a solid surface (so, like Corian, half an inch thick). The solid surface walls come down inside a flange on the solid pan (and then it's sealed there with silicone).

I'm getting a small amount of leakage that seems to be coming from the back of that flange. I opened a hole in the other side of the wall and the backing board behind the solid surface is dry. (The backer board ends just above the flange.) The plumbing connections are not leaking. So it seems water is getting between the solid surface and the backing board, and trickling down into where the wall goes into that flange, then going horizontally to where the flange ends, which is where water is appearing on the floor. (The actual end of the flange is hidden by a door frame.)

So, the obvious thing to look at is the various holes in the wall, like say, where I attached a grab bar. But I put that grab bar on a layer of silicone, watched the screws drag a bit of that silicone into the wall, then covered the top of the screws with silicone ... you get the idea. Maybe I could have coated the whole screw.

But there's an even more obvious hole - the shower controls. I siliconed all around that *except* at the bottom where there is an obvious drain hole. I also didn't silicone where the actual controls come through the face plate, because the face place has a sorta rubber seal on the back that I figured was supposed to be good enough. Was this dumb? Should I silicone there on the face of the faceplate behind the knobs? Should I silicone over the "drain" hole? I'm thinking it's possible the drain hole is for tile applications where water is expected to get into the grout and come back out, but isn't needed or wanted for solid surface. Water would still have to flow uphill a bit (but maybe only a quarter inch or half inch) to get from that drain into the hole in the wall. Does it make sense that that's the problem?

Thanks!
 

SFLman

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I'd just be guessing to help you out, but it might help if you posted some pictures of this.
 

gfw

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Ok, the first shot shows where the water has been coming out. The discolored area on the plywood is where it has gotten wet, and that area looks like has spread directly out from the corner of the pan, which is where water that got into the pan flange would have to come out.

The second shot (taken before the glass went in!) shows the stuff on the wall. I don't have any close ups proving what I said about where I siliconed.
 

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gfw

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Oh, and all that plastic was from when I thought the water was coming over the edge of the pan, either getting under the door, or around the door. But that has been entirely disproven.
 

gfw

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If anyone is still following this, I tried to figure it out by process of elimination, taping plastic over places where there are bolts like the grab bar or the door hinges & over the controls (with a space to reach under to operate them). Anyway, it really seems like it must have been the controls. I don't know if the silicone hadn't held on the sides, or if the water was getting through were there are bolts in the faceplate. I removed the whole thing, redid the silicone around leaving it thicker this time, put silicone on the backs of the bolt heads when I put them in, etc. So far, so good, but more testing is needed.
 

SFLman

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Agree. If you start a thread it's best to document what happens, whether the problem is solved or you end up hiring a pro.
 

gfw

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Well, the saga continues because it's still doing it.

But I can now reproduce the problem on demand by aiming the handheld at the wall and running it. I just did that. Now I will narrow the problem down by the same process of elimination, but finer-grained to first confirm that it's absolutely definitely the controls, then to see whether it's the seal around the control faceplate (unlikely now!) the upper control (mode switch) or the lower control (temp and flow). Honestly I'm stunned that it still seems to be the controls because with the silicone I added under the bolt heads and around where the valves come through the faceplate ... it just seems impossible. But I will definitely find it now that I can repro on demand. (I should have tried using the handheld before - instead I was splashing water from a bucket.)
 

gfw

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Update!
It's not the controls/faceplate. It's the damn grab bar (vertical with slider). The lower attachment point is the leak.
You might wonder, as I did, how I could mess that up with all the silicone I used. Well, I pulled off the cover that hides the screw heads and the weld where the screw plate joins the actual bar is badly cracked!!
The seller is sending me a new one.
 

BuzzLOL

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Well, I pulled off the cover that hides the screw heads and the weld where the screw plate joins the actual bar is badly cracked!!
Reminds me of some safety jack stands for under a vehicle I was looking at. Two pieces were supposed to be welded together in a complete circle but 98% of the weld missed the gap between them. Must have been robot welded, can't imagine a human welder not seeing that. BTW, I didn't buy them. Might have taken them for free since I have a welder...
 
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