Shower Pans

The shower pan helps protect the tile floor of a shower. Here's how to take care of it.

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The shower pan is a waterproof barrier made of either lead or vinyl that is formed into the shape of a pan. It's placed under the tile floor of a shower. The purpose of the pan is to catch any water that may seep through the tile and grout and direct it to the drain. But as a shower pan ages, it can sometimes deteriorate, develop cracks or holes, resulting in a leak. That was the scenario for our homeowners in Hawthorne, Calif.

Replacing the shower pan is a big job. In a tile shower, the entire floor and part of the wall has to be torn out and replaced. If your shower develops a leak at the base, there's a good chance the shower pan needs to be replaced. Here are some signs that may indicate shower pan problems:

  • Water leaking into the room or space below a shower is often the result of a faulty shower pan. Gapping where the wall and floor meet is an indication that water may be leaking through the pan, rotting the bathroom floor.
  • Mold or missing grout near the base of the shower can also mean the pan is failing.
  • If you suspect you need to can your shower pan, consult a professional and prepare for sticker shock. Depending on the labor involved, replacing the pan can cost more than a thousand dollars.

Still, that's a lot less than replacing an entire bathroom floor or cleaning up the moldy mess a leaky pan can cause.

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