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Leaking shower: common causes and fixes

A running shower that has just been fixed from a leak.

Although a common occurrence, a leaking shower can be a royal pain in the proverbial. Even though a leaking shower is an easy thing to resolve, sometimes the hardest part is identifying where that pesky leak is coming from. So to help you, we’ve put together a list of common causes and how to fix them.

Table of contents

  1. How to detect a water leak from the shower
  2. Why is my shower leaking?
  3. Preparing to fix a leaking shower
  4. How to fix a leaking shower
  5. Leaking shower FAQs

How to detect a water leak from the shower

Detecting a water leak in your shower can be a rather tricky task, but there are some telltale signs to look out for:

  • Mould or mildew building up in your bathroom
  • Paint peeling off the wall
  • Unsightly water stain on the ceiling below your shower

These are all common signs that there’s a water leak lurking somewhere in your shower cubicle or bath tub.

Why it’s important to get shower leaks fixed

Not only are shower leaks super annoying, but they can also cause a world of headaches later down the line if left unchecked. From water penetrating behind the bathroom tiles that causes them to loosen, to rust build-up that can affect water fittings and even mould that can cause health risks – leaving a shower leak to do its thing is more hassle than it’s worth.

If you discover a leak, but you’re not sure where to start to get it fixed, why not check out our guide to detecting water leakages at home?

Why is my shower leaking?

The honest answer is there could be a whole range of reasons for your leaky shower. From overworked shower heads to water supply leaks, solving a water leak issue isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. So to help, here are some of the most common culprits.

Shower head

Leaks in the shower head are typically caused by:

  • Mineral deposit build-up
  • If the cartridge becomes worn or cracked
  • If the handle is in the off position

Shower tray

Shower leaks can commonly occur in the joint between the shower tray and the walls. This could be due to:

  • Movement of the shower tray
  • Sealant issues – if a poor adhesive was applied, or if there’s mould in the sealant
  • Faults with the shower seals

Mixer valve

A dripping mixer valve can be easily resolved. Common causes of mixer valve leakages include:

  • A damaged or loosened tap washer
  • A damaged or loosened O-ring
  • Damage to the tap itself

Water supply leak

A leak to the water supply of your shower is another big offender. This is often caused by:

  • Incorrectly fitted or ageing solder connections to your tub or shower

Grout issues

Grouting problems between your shower and the wall tend to be the easiest to fix. Frequent causes of grout issues include:

  • Gaps or chips in tile grouting
  • Fractures and cracks in grouting between the shower tray and the wall

Preparing to fix a leaking shower

Before you even attempt to tackle your leaking shower, no matter what the fault is, make sure to always turn off the water supply at the main stop tap as well as the hot water supply before getting started – this will stop your hot water supply too. This might be in the same place or in a separate area if you own a hot water cylinder. If you have a hot water cylinder, you’ll likely find your hot water isolation valve in an airing cupboard.. After all, we don’t want any wet and costly mistakes!

How to fix a leaking shower

Now that you’ve found the cause of your leaky shower and you’ve taken the right safety measures, it’s time to get your hands dirty. In this section we’re going to breakdown exactly how to fix the following:

How to fix a leaking shower head

A leaking shower head is a fairly common problem and as a result, there are a range of solutions that can help combat the problem.

Soak the head in vinegar

Over time, hard water deposits can build up in the holes of your shower head, restricting the spray of the water and forcing it to back-up around the faceplate or out from the junction of the showerhead and arm.

To break up the hard water, remove the shower head by loosening the nut that secures it to the shower arm, then soak the head overnight in white vinegar to soften the mineral build-up, then give it a good clean.

Check for a worn seal

Washers and the O-ring form a watertight seal between the connections on the shower head, but they can harden or split over time, making ways for leaks. If you suspect a worn seal is the cause, remove and disassemble the showerhead to replace the seal.

How to fix a leaking shower tray

If your shower tray is the problem, you can take temporary measures by applying some masonry sealant around it, but this isn’t guaranteed to work in the long haul. For a permanent solution, you’ll need to call a professional plumber out to re-fit the shower tray.

How to fix a mixer valve

Fixing a mixer valve can be a fairly simple process, depending on your shower. To help, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide.

1. Turn off the water supply to the shower

You’ll most likely need to turn off the main water supply to your home to do this. Typically this is done via your stop tap, which is found under your kitchen sink.

2. Remove the mixer valve handle.

This is held on by a screw either under a screw cover on the front of the handle or by a small set of screws on the side of the handle. Remove the screw cover by carefully prying up the side of it with a flat-head screwdriver.

3. Remove the mixer valve faceplate and put it to one side

Once this is done, you’ll need to pull off the stop tube – if there is one you’ll find it behind the faceplate.

4. Remove the cartridge

There are several types of cartridges depending on the brand of the water fitting. Some cartridges are kept in place by a round metal ring. If this is the case, you’ll need to unscrew it anticlockwise. Others have a key which can be removed, by pulling it up and out vertically. After the retaining screw or ring is removed, grasp the cartridge barrel with water-pump pliers and pull it out towards you.

5. Insert a replacement cartridge of the same type

Shower cartridges can be purchased from most DIY stores and come in many different forms, so it’s always advised to contact your shower manufacturer to make sure you get the correct type.

Replace the key or ring that secures the cartridge in place. If the faceplate and chrome stop was removed, replace those too. Finally, reinstall the handle and screw covers – easy peasy, right?

How to fix a leaking tiled shower wall

If you find gaps in your grouting, then regrouting the area is the best solution. Once you’ve scraped out the loose or ageing grout, the repair should be relatively easy. Grout is simple to mix and apply once you’ve created a fresh surface to work on.

How to fix a leaking shower drain

If you’re a confident DIYer and have access to the area underneath the shower through a side panel, then fixing a drain leak can be simple. You may just need to tighten the nut that locks the drain in place. If this doesn’t work then you’ll probably need to replace the drain assembly. This can be a tricky job for a plumbing novice, so we’d recommend seeking the expertise of a plumbing guru.

If you don’t have access to the underneath of the shower through a side panel, you may have to gain access through the ceiling below. As you can imagine, this is a much more complicated task, and you may need the help of a professional plumber.

How to fix a water supply leak

An easy fix you can try is to replace the shower arm or spout. However, if that doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll likely need access to your bathroom pipework – which in most cases is a job best left to the professionals.

So there you have it, our handy guide to common shower leak causes and how to fix them. We hope you found this article helpful and are ready to tackle that annoying leak! If you’re still having issues with water leaks in your shower, or elsewhere in your home, don’t forget we’re on hand to help. And remember – leaking showers can cause damage if left untreated so it is best to get any problems fixed as soon as possible.

Leaking shower FAQs

Why is my shower leaking from the bottom?

A build-up of pressure can easily cause water to leak from the bottom of your shower. If your shower hose is blocked, this can cause the pressure to increase. Modern showers feature a pressure relief device. When the pressure in the hot water tank gets too high, it activates it, causing water to come out of the valve at the bottom of your shower unit. To help fix this problem, you can clear the blockage. In some cases, you may also need to replace the pressure relief valve once it’s been activated.

Is a leaking shower dangerous?

The sooner you spot a shower leak the better. Always act quickly to get it fixed, as the longer you leave it, the more damage it could cause. Plus, a light drip can result in an increased water bill and eventually bigger problems. The moisture could start to seep into the walls – and that’s where the trouble starts.

How much does it cost to fix a leaky shower?

According to Bivine: “Nationally, the average price range of shower and bath repairs in the UK is between £70 to £150”. Obviously, this is an average and many factors need to be considered. For example, your shower type, location and water provider can all play an important role in increasing or decreasing your repair bill.

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