How to Avoid Plumbing Disasters

I recently had the pleasure of staying with a great friend of mine. She and her husband (a great friend of my beaux) bought a big Victorian house in Peterborough, which they have been modernising for a couple of years now.

As you might expect with great friends, the conversation flowed almost as smoothly as did the wine as we laughed and joked in front of the open log fire.

Bedtime came and after a restful night we found ourselves awake and laughing again, this time over breakfast, until we really did need to head for a shower. At this point our hosts rather embarrassingly explained that we would need to use the shower in their en-suite as the shower in the main bathroom was out or order – it was only installed a year ago and cost a lot of money to boot. Of course, the conversation now turning to this disappointment we traipsed off to see what had gone wrong. I didn’t think it was right to take a photograph, but think damp floors, raised tiles and a shower pan, which was now in pieces standing up by the side of the bath. I couldn’t believe this “mess” was their lovely new bathroom, but lets move swiftly to what was very clearly the problem.

I have to say that firstly (in my opinion) they had made the mistake of grabbing at the cheapest quote and now to everyone’s regret are suffering as a result. It transpired that the so called plumber, had not even the most basic understanding of tiling and brought in his friend to do the tiling – the tiler in turn seemed not to have the most basic understanding of plumbing or the purpose for which he was tiling.

The walls it turns out had been tiled before the shower tray was fitted meaning that the shower tray was fitted by pushing it up against the tiles and sealing around it – a method absolutely guaranteed to leak and leak it did, slowly seeping under the floor tiles where they hadn’t been fitted on a stable foundation and meant they quickly became loose and lifted from the now warped floor underneath – I stood looking in disbelief at this dreadful mess and decided at the time to write this simple blog on what you should consider.

  • Do not go for the cheapest quote. Always get references and ask how they propose to do the work.
  • Critically if you are fitting ceramic tiles to a suspended floor (i.e. a most often wooden floor upstairs) you first need to very securely screw some form of base on top of or instead of the floor boards. There are specialist boards available, but marine quality plywood of at least 5/8” as per the photograph is a must, as is the appropriate glue.
    solid foundation for tiled bathroom floor
  • Thirdly; as shown in the next photograph, if you are fitting a shower tray, it is equally critical that you first tile leaving space under the bottom tile for the shower tray to fit UNDER the tiles, so that even without sealant, water will tend to run down the wall and into the tray. Run a line of sealant behind the shower tray before you push it back into place before you cut the bottom row of tiles to fill the gap. After it’s fitted, run another line of sealant between the bottom tile and the shower tray.Leak free shower tray installation
avatar Name: Alexandra Eager
About: Formerly Finance and Operations Director of anmarketing agency. Now luckily semi-retired. Amateur interior design buff, constantly experimenting on my own home (much to the chargrins of hubby) and passionate about anything to do with home interiors and improvements. Wish my house was bigger!

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Posts by Alexandra Eager (49)