Will a cracked shower tray leak and what damage will it cause?

shower tray leak - hamilton shower repairs
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The Shower Doctor with over 40 years of experience in the home improvement industry, offers advice on cracks in a shower tray.

When you are happily showering away the last thing that you want to see is a crack in your shower tray. If you do see one you will probably wonder “will my shower tray leak?”

The answer to this question is complex.

The first question is how did the crack occur?

If you dropped something in the shower and caused the crack you might just get lucky. The crack may only be superficial and, whilst it looks distasteful, it may not penetrate the full thickness of the shower tray.

If this is the case then chances are, for now, your tray won’t leak. You can keep enjoying your shower trouble-free, but this could be short lived.

If, however, a crack occurs in your shower tray and you don’t know why… this can suggest a more serious issue that is likely to lead to a shower tray leak.

What causes shower trays to crack?

Shower trays are designed to withstand the weight of a human body, along with a constant flow of water. These two forces create a large amount of downwards pressure.

Over time, even the best-installed shower base will succumb to this pressure and warp or twist. This movement results in small fracture lines or hairline cracks.

Acrylic shower bases should last up to ten years provided they are properly cared for.

If you have a shower tray that is installed on a base that is not level, or it is not properly secured on all sides to the floor and the walls, this twisting can occur much sooner and the resulting cracks can be far more substantial.

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Will small cracks cause a shower tray leak?

Even if the crack in the shower base is superficial, it can quickly become a serious issue resulting in a leak in your shower tray. This is because every time you stand in your shower you will be creating stress on one side of the crack, potentially widening and deepening it until it becomes a more serious issue.

Another concern with cracks in a shower base is that when you look at them it may appear that they are not very deep, or very large. Once there is some weight on them (such as when you are in the shower) the gap or crack may appear far more substantial.

If you have a crack in your shower tray but it is not in an area where water pools, this does not necessarily mean that you won’t have a shower tray leak.

Even small amounts of water leaking through can over time, cause rot and mould. This can have catastrophic consequences for the integrity of your subfloor.

Water damage also occurs on concrete floors, not just wooden ones.

How do shower tray leaks damage my house? 

Having a water leak under the shower tray is not just an issue for the foundation of the house. It can also cause issues with the room below (if a two-story house) and the flooring in the bathroom.

Water can seep under lino or laminate flooring and cause buckling of the product. If water gets under tiles it can dissolve adhesive and cause them to lift and grout to crack. If you are unfortunate enough to have the water spread to a carpeted area the underlay and carpet can rot.  

Unfortunately, shower tray leaks can be slow and minimal which makes the damage they cause harder to spot than major leaks.

After investigation, you may even find that peeling paint, musty odours, or even damp wardrobes are caused by slow shower tray leaks, not insufficient ventilation.

Many people find out that a seemingly innocent crack in their shower tray has been causing hidden water damage for months or even years. If this is the case, by the time they discover the leak, the damage is significant.

How can I avoid a crack in my shower tray?

The best protection against shower tray leaks is, first and foremost, getting your shower installed by an experienced shower technician.

Builders and even plumbers do not install showers often enough to be experts. Some of the small tricks that shower installers learn along the way can be invaluable for the longevity of your shower.

What should I do?

The most important thing is to regularly inspect your shower base and to have a professional assess any cracks or fractures, no matter how small.

As a general rule of thumb, most professionals will recommend that any crack in a shower tray, regardless of size or if it is currently leaking, means the tray should be replaced.

Constantly monitoring a crack to see if it has begun to leak is time-consuming and small leaks are easy to miss, even for professionals.

Replacing a shower tray may seem expensive, but the cost is likely to pale in comparison to repairing any damage caused by a shower tray leak. And you will still need to replace the shower tray. 

Some companies will propose to fix the shower tray leak but we do not recommend this. Shower trays are subject to movement stress whilst they are being used as you move around the shower. This movement will quickly undermine any repair.

If you have a crack in your shower tray call the experts. The Shower Doctor can come to your home, remove the faulty shower tray and replace it with a new one, getting you back to showering in no time.

Contact us today and let us give you a shower you will love!

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