Leaky shower floor pans can cause a myriad of problems. Signs of broken or brittle grout and tile are a sure sign of water damage. Often times, this water damage is coming from a leak in your shower floor pan. Replacement of shower floor pans requires some skill, but it can be accomplished by a do-it-yourselfer with moderate ability.
Replacing your Leaky Pan
Before tackling this project, first make sure that the water damage you are experiencing is originating from your shower pan. This is not a simple task, and you certainly do not want to proceed with the replacement of a shower floor pan if it is not necessary.
If you have an older home, it is likely that the shower pan is the culprit, as building regulations have changed dramatically over the years, and many shower floor pans are failing due to improper installation many years ago.
Your first step is to protect yourself adequately. Proper safety gear such as safety glasses, hearing protection, and gloves should all be utilized during this project. The replacement of shower floor pans can be dangerous, especially if you are cutting tile or fiberglass.
Once you are protected, proceed by selecting a grout joint that is 3-6 inches above the height of the dam and begin cutting. It is important to be at least 3 inches above the dam as current industry standards require shower floor pans to be at least 3 inches above the dam. Continue cutting horizontally all the way around the stall, and take extra care with the tile above the grout joint. You do not want to have to replace those too!
Removing Damaged Tile
Using a hammer and/or pry bar, carefully remove the tile and materials below you cut. You may have to use Viking force and just hammer the heck out of it to get it out. If you are dealing with a mortar shower pan, it is likely that you will simply have to break it up and scrape it out. Depending on the damage to the sub-floor, it may have to be replaced. With any luck you caught your leaky shower pan just in time, and this wont be necessary. Leaky shower floor pans are enough of a task on their own!
Replacement Shower Pan
New shower floor pans can now been installed over the current (or repaired) sub-flooring. Reinforcing wire is utilized to attach the pan to studs and backing, but caution should be exercised so that the shower pan membrane is not punctured with staples. Apply new wall mortar (seek help if this is a foreign task to you!) and reinstall your wall tile.
Once wall tiles are back in place, the floor mortar is applied, keeping in mind that the weep holes must remain open. Leftover crushed tile is a great way to accomplish this. Complete your project by tiling the floor and sealing appropriately.
Although certainly not a simple task, replacing leaky shower floor pans is necessary if you recognize damage. A neglected leaky shower pan will cause extensive damage, and ultimately cost you a lot more money than if you had repaired it, or hired a professional to remedy the issue. Always be mindful of any tile or grout damage, and in turn, maintain the appearance and functionality of your bathroom.