Leaking Showers in Older Homes

Leaking showers creating damage to a home is something we often find when doing pre purchase property inspections. Although leaking showers can happen in any home they are particularly prevalent in older homes. This is especially true for homes older than 15 to 20 years of age.

The reason for this is that there have been progressive improvements in the standard of waterproofing required for new homes. The main provisions are contained in AS 3740-2010.  The Australian Institute of Waterproofing also provides technical guidance on how waterproofing should be implemented in wet areas including showers.

Signs that a shower is leaking

The signs that a shower is leaking is quite often clear. Signs include the paint on the wall lifting, flaking or simply peeling off. In addition, the wall and or plaster is damp or at worst wet, soft or flaky to touch. In extreme cases, mould is forming on the wall!

Another sign is that wall on the outer side of the shower stall has been painted. It is a dead giveaway in older homes that the only freshly painted wall is the wall on the outer side of a shower stall!

What are the causes of leaking showers?

In older homes, issues with leaking showers comes down to a breakdown of the water proofing provided by the tiles and the grout. In essence it can be caused by:

• Grout breaking down and allowing water ingress
• Expansion and contraction in the wall/floor tiles has allowed water to escape
• Adjoining walls have some settlement and or structural cracking which has allowed water to ingress past the tiles
• Pinholes in grout
• Poorly grouted tiles
• Leaking pipework behind the wall
• No puddle flange installed under the floor grate
• No fluid aprons installed around tap ware in wall penetrations
• Internal corners and bottom row of tiles not grouted with silicone
• Cut edges of tiles exposed in shower
• Structural movement of the building
• Waterproofing membrane not included in installation
• Tiles not correctly bedded into adhesive
• Silicone in corner joints has broken down
• Lack of plumbing maintenance.

How can a leaky shower be fixed?

When showers leak ignoring the issue will only make it worse. You must act!

There are two ways to fix leaking showers. They are:

  • Re-tile the shower
  • Re-grout and re-seal the existing tiles

Both of these options are expensive so don’t risk buying a house without getting a pre purchase building inspection undertaken before you make the decision to buy!

Can I make the vendor pay for the repairs to a leaking shower?

If you are buying an existing home with a leaking shower you will probably be left with the bill. This is because a leaking shower is not considered a structural defect. This means the structural defect clause in the offer to purchase contract will not come into effect.

If you have a question in relation to  leaking showers and the damage they can cause do not hesitate to contact us.

Our pre purchase building inspections will  provide you with peace of mind and potentially save you a lot of money.

Phone 1800 466 424, send us a message via our contact page or send an email

New Home Building Inspections are an independent inspection company specialising in inspections for new and existing homes. For new homes we specialise in all stages of construction. This includes pre handover inspections, house frame inspections, lock up inspections, pre paint inspections and slab inspections.  For existing home we do pre purchase inspections, pest inspections and combined building and pest inspections. We also do vendor reports and maintenance reports