How To Repair A Leaking Shower Door
Leaking shower doors are a common problem in many homes. A leaking shower door can lead to damaged to flooring, drywall, moldings, sub-flooring, and can cause mold to develop in the structure of the home. This is in addition to water and mildew problems inside the bathroom.
Most shower door leaks are caused by improper installation, inadequate caulking, or damaged or missing doors sweeps or gaskets. The leak may also be a result of water seeping out while the shower is in use or it could be from condensation.
Most shower door leaks are located in one of three places:
• The vinyl strip at the bottom of a swinging shower door.
• The metal track that provides the seal for the door.
• The metal frame around the door that is attached to the walls of the shower enclosure.
In many instances the homeowner does not see the leak while it is active. Most leaks are very small, but the water accumulates over time to the point that mold and mildew stains the ceiling and walls below, floor tiles becomes loose around the shower or tub, or baseboard is stained or mold or rot is present.
Shower door leaks can be repaired relatively easily by most homeowners with only a few tools and materials.
Most leaks that occur around the shower door are usually the result of an improper installation. A shower door and frame is made with drainage holes or channels that allow any water that enters the track or frame to drain back into the shower.
Often a bead of caulk is placed over these weep holes and cause the water to build up and flow outside the shower door assembly. Many homeowners actually add more caulk once a leak is discovered and make the initial leak much worse.
It is also possible for the drainage channels and weep holes to become clogged with soap scum or other dirt and grime.
Tools and Materials:
Razor blade scraper
Rags or sponge
1. Use a razor blade scraper to remove any and all caulking that is on the inside of the shower door frame.
2. Inspect the drainage holes and channels and ensure that they are not clogged with caulk, soap residue or other grime. Use an old toothbrush and warm water to clean the shower door track along the sides and bottom and clear any holes with a finish nail, needle, or thin wire.
3. Inspect the rubber seals around glass and framework and look for any damage. Some shower doors have a vinyl or rubber strip along the bottom of the door. These door sweeps can become brittle and tear and cause water to leak out of the shower. If your door sweep is warn you should replace it. Various sizes can be found in home centers or door and glass repair shops. Typically a Philips head screw is inserted on one end of the track to hold the sweep in place. Remove this screw and slide the old sweep out. To install the new sweep, spray a little lubricant on the part that slides into the groove on the bottom of the door, or you can use some liquid soap. Use scissors or a utility knife to trim the sweep to the proper length. Sometimes you need to leave a piece of the sweep longer than the length of the track to cover the gap between the door and frame.
4. Look for any gaps between the shower door frame and tile or surround. Caulk if necessary. Sometimes cracked tile or missing grout around the door frame are the source of the leak. When the doors are installed, holes are drilled into the tile and plastic anchors are inserted to hold the screws. These anchors can damage the tile if the pilot holes are too small or they are pounded in with a hammer. Replace any cracked or damaged tile around the door.
5. Remove any old caulking on the outside of the door track and caulk the outside of the shower door frame using silicone caulk. Make sure you use a caulk that is mildew resistant and matches the color of the tub or shower surround or the tile. Clear silicone can also be used.
In some cases shower doors are installed backwards so that they open in the desired direction. This places the drainage holes or channels on the outside of the frame, rather than the inside. If you should identify this as the problem, the frame must be removed and installed correctly. Many shower doors are not reversible due to the drainage requirements. If this is the case it may be necessary to replace the shower door with one that opens in the appropriate direction.
You may also have an improper seal under the door threshold that is allowing water to leak out of the shower. In this case you would need to remove the door and whatever shower door components to access the threshold. Remove the threshold and thoroughly clean the bottom surface of the tub, tile, or surround. Apply two parallel beads of caulking about ½ inch inside each edge of the threshold. Press into place and reinstall the frame.
You may need to replace molding and floor tile around the shower or drywall below the bathroom to complete the repairs.