Author Topic: One piece shower cracked...what to do?  (Read 4285 times)

tyleriam

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One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« on: December 05, 2016, 11:38:25 AM »
This is the exact shower I have in my master bath in my house.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Aquatic-Everyday-Smooth-Wall-48-in-x-33-1-2-in-x-72-in-Center-Drain-Right-Seat-1-Piece-Shower-Stall-in-White-1483OSR-WHHD/207038979

It has a soft spot in the floor and a crack.  I am debating what to do.  I have never replaced or worked on a shower but I am handy and have tools for anything.  My current plan is to replace it with one of these two showers:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/STERLING-Ensemble-35-1-2-in-x-48-in-x-77-in-Curve-Shower-Kit-in-White-72220100-0/202952109?keyword=72220100-0

or caulk less version
http://www.homedepot.com/p/STERLING-Accord-Seated-36-in-x-48-in-x-74-1-2-in-Shower-Kit-in-White-72280100-0/202925578

I don't think it will be too terribly hard.  The instructions say I should set the base in mortar.  I have never done this but I'm sure I can figure it out.

I keep thinking maybe I should do a tile shower, hire someone to do tile maybe?  Expensive.  Then I think dang I wish I could just fix the crack but I don't think the repair kits will last since it is soft in that area.  I have seen services that come in and drill holes, fill with foam and then glue on an overlay.  I would do that but can't find anyone in my area that offers that service.

Looking for any thoughts, ideas, alternatives or suggestions before I go ahead and order the shower.

Thank you!
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 11:48:03 AM by tyleriam »

Goldielocks

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 12:07:19 PM »
The nice thing about a new shower replacement is the opportunity to see what is happening behind / under it, to clean up any moisture damage.  If it is an older unit, the new materials for waterproofing work so much better now.

The challenge is the tile or drywall around the outside edge of it... these usually set behind a tile border, so water runs off that and into the tub.   Be prepared to replace up to 12" around the perimter of it.

Also, ensure that you have a draining slope to the drain and it is levelled correctly for no puddling before moving to then next step or finishing it.  Check it as you install, AND the next day after it dries.

Good Luck,

CatamaranSailor

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 02:33:14 PM »
This is a pretty straight forward project. Chances are your unit is attached directly to the studs, with the drywall or greenboard running up to the edge of the fiberglass. You'll need to cut around the perimeter of the shower stall and pull back the drywall that's covering the lip of the fiberglass unit and the nails or screws that's holding it in place. A Rotozip works well for this. Once that's done, pull the nails and the unit should come out in one piece. If not, you may need to get out the saw and take it out in pieces. Wear a mask!

Once it's out, check for water damage. You may need to replace sub-floor depending on what you find.

Your original unit probably developed a crack due to no reinforcement between the fiberglass and subfloor.  You'll need to go over the directions from the manufacturer of your new shower unit to determine if you'll need to add reinforcement under the fiberglass or not. A plumber friend I know always sets his shower pans in a bed of mortar regardless.

There's a ton of how to videos out there like this one : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TEVf4DubtI

Just take your time installing the new unit. Make sure you measure carefully! No one will take a fiberglass shower unit back because you drilled the holes in the wrong spot.

This is a great DIY project. You will probably want to finish off the edges with tile, but that will be dictated by the type of shower unit, the materials, the design of the shower stall and your own taste.

Good luck and post pics when you get it finished!!

tyleriam

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 03:14:22 PM »
Thank you!

The sub floor is concrete slab so I'm crossing my fingers on the damage underneath.  Hoping it did not get out to the edges and under the shower.  I haven't seen any sign of that but with water I suppose anything is possible.

Any thought's on using the replacement Sterling unit I posted versus trying to do something with tile?  I am not confident in my ability to do tile (this would be my first time) but I thought about doing everything but and then hiring someone to just come and and do the tile only.  I would probably use a prefab base if I went that route, get the green board and everything ready for the tiler.

Goldielocks

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 03:25:46 PM »
4" x 4"  basic square white (cheap) tile is exceptionally easy to work with....  something like this, and all you need is a simple score and snap cutter, mastic, grout.

Done.  Covers up the drywall cuts, too if needed.   

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Daltile-Finesse-Bright-White-4-in-x-4-in-Ceramic-Wall-Tile-12-50-sq-ft-case-FE0144HD1P/207204079

tyleriam

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 04:31:39 PM »
Wow, that would be cheap.  Maybe $100 in tile plus other materials and tool rental.  It's tempting.  I think that would give me a little bump in value versus just going back with the same type of fiberglass shower walls.

Hmmm.

Goldielocks

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2016, 04:39:03 PM »
Wow, that would be cheap.  Maybe $100 in tile plus other materials and tool rental.  It's tempting.  I think that would give me a little bump in value versus just going back with the same type of fiberglass shower walls.

Hmmm.

Oh, you don't understand -- keep the fiberglass one piece, as intended, but trim out the edge (over the drywall) with tile for 1-2 rows down each side and and along the top...

Goldielocks

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2016, 04:40:07 PM »
The tile cutter needed is just a score and snap type, so just buy the $15 thing, no rental needed for the easy, cheap tiles..

tyleriam

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2016, 07:15:32 PM »
Oh okay gotcha. 

paddedhat

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2016, 07:32:18 AM »
Another option is to have the thing professionally repaired. All fiberglass manufacturers have factory authorised repair services that do on site repairs. The reasons are many, but it's often to repair factory defects where they  failed QC, and a unit was shipped with a very thin spot.  I have had repairs done on four or five occasions, while building new homes.  Some were covered by the manufacturer, others were a result of dropped tools, or gouges caused by careless construction workers.

The guy I use had a pretty cool job. He worked out of a little Nissan, and only need a small set of tools and repair materials. He is a factory guy for a bunch of manufacturers, and covers a huge area of the northeast. It usually takes a few hours and runs under $200, if it's not a warranty job. Way cheaper and easier that replacing a built in.

Check google, or call the manufacturer for a recommendation. Good luck.

lthenderson

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2016, 09:33:27 AM »
I'm guessing the reason for the soft spot and crack is because there wasn't a mortar job underneath the pan or at least it wasn't done well. This means you will probably have to tear the thing out to replace it. In all my remodels, once I have torn out a plastic/fiberglass shower unit, I have always put a custom DIY tiled one in its place. I've never regretted doing so and think they add a lot of value to houses, especially if you add a couple extras like body sprays and temperature controlling valves.

paddedhat

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2016, 11:52:30 AM »
I'm guessing the reason for the soft spot and crack is because there wasn't a mortar job underneath the pan or at least it wasn't done well. This means you will probably have to tear the thing out to replace it. In all my remodels, once I have torn out a plastic/fiberglass shower unit, I have always put a custom DIY tiled one in its place. I've never regretted doing so and think they add a lot of value to houses, especially if you add a couple extras like body sprays and temperature controlling valves.

Although there MAY be the occasional outlier, when it comes to tubs that the manufacturer recommends, or even requires, a mortar bed installation, it's been at least thirty years since this was standard procedure in the industry. Generally, new tubs and showers are built on a  structural sheet, like 3/4" particle board, that is fiberglassed in place, and well supported. I have seen installation instructions that specifically warn against installing the unit on a mortar bed, since it was designed to be supported otherwise. Having installed countless units, and dealt with factory defects, As I stated, they typically crack, or fail, since they were poorly built in the first place, not due to installation issues.

tyleriam

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2016, 12:09:23 PM »
The other consideration here is that I may not be in this house long term so even if I can have it repaired and it works for a couple years it would be helpful.

I called two local plumbing supply places and each of them recommended a repair company.  I have reached out to both.  One told me on the phone he would drill it, foam underneath soft spots and repair and resurface the floor.  If this can be done well for a good price I would be all about it.  That would let me focus on the flooring.

TrMama

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2016, 12:21:20 PM »
We've had to replace 3 different shower and tub surrounds in 2 different houses. We  ended up replacing 2 of them with tile instead of the 1 piece acrylic units because those units are always (?) larger than a standard door frame. The old damaged unit has to be cut into pieces to get it out of the bathroom and the only way to get a new unit in is to rip out the bathroom door frame (and any other door frames it has to go through) to make it larger.

I despise cleaning tile showers and much prefer the 1 piece acrylic ones, but demolishing several door frames just to get one in the house is unrealistic. If you want to replace your damaged unit with acrylic, it will probably have to be one of the multi-piece kits. These look cheap and still run the risk of leaking at the seams.

lthenderson

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2016, 09:01:04 AM »
I'm guessing the reason for the soft spot and crack is because there wasn't a mortar job underneath the pan or at least it wasn't done well. This means you will probably have to tear the thing out to replace it. In all my remodels, once I have torn out a plastic/fiberglass shower unit, I have always put a custom DIY tiled one in its place. I've never regretted doing so and think they add a lot of value to houses, especially if you add a couple extras like body sprays and temperature controlling valves.

Although there MAY be the occasional outlier, when it comes to tubs that the manufacturer recommends, or even requires, a mortar bed installation, it's been at least thirty years since this was standard procedure in the industry. Generally, new tubs and showers are built on a  structural sheet, like 3/4" particle board, that is fiberglassed in place, and well supported. I have seen installation instructions that specifically warn against installing the unit on a mortar bed, since it was designed to be supported otherwise. Having installed countless units, and dealt with factory defects, As I stated, they typically crack, or fail, since they were poorly built in the first place, not due to installation issues.

I haven't done any new installations so I'll take your word. I have torn out many that have mortar and it has shrunk or was incomplete which left "soft" spots in the tub when stepping in it. I've heard old timers used to use plaster of paris which doesn't shrink but has a short working time. I agree though that any new tub should be installed to factory recommendations whatever they may be.

paddedhat

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2016, 05:09:53 PM »
I'm guessing the reason for the soft spot and crack is because there wasn't a mortar job underneath the pan or at least it wasn't done well. This means you will probably have to tear the thing out to replace it. In all my remodels, once I have torn out a plastic/fiberglass shower unit, I have always put a custom DIY tiled one in its place. I've never regretted doing so and think they add a lot of value to houses, especially if you add a couple extras like body sprays and temperature controlling valves.

Although there MAY be the occasional outlier, when it comes to tubs that the manufacturer recommends, or even requires, a mortar bed installation, it's been at least thirty years since this was standard procedure in the industry. Generally, new tubs and showers are built on a  structural sheet, like 3/4" particle board, that is fiberglassed in place, and well supported. I have seen installation instructions that specifically warn against installing the unit on a mortar bed, since it was designed to be supported otherwise. Having installed countless units, and dealt with factory defects, As I stated, they typically crack, or fail, since they were poorly built in the first place, not due to installation issues.

I haven't done any new installations so I'll take your word. I have torn out many that have mortar and it has shrunk or was incomplete which left "soft" spots in the tub when stepping in it. I've heard old timers used to use plaster of paris which doesn't shrink but has a short working time. I agree though that any new tub should be installed to factory recommendations whatever they may be.

You're spot on, when it comes to why mortar bed supported tub/showers faded away.  I have been told that there were nothing but problems for manufacturers, due to mortar that shrank, froze, or had voids, resulting in warranty VS installer incompetence battles. When I first got into the trades they were fading away, and my drywaller would complain of idiot plumbers who would steal five gallon pails of his drywall compound, dump it on the subfloor and try to bed tubs in the mess. I tried plaster once, and looked like a monkey trying to screw a football, so I gave up on that pretty quick. I'm no fan of fiberglass, since they are pretty fragile, but IMHO, spend a few hundred more for a quality acrylic unit give you a sweet, durable product.

tyleriam

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2016, 11:12:59 AM »
Well, I just had a guy come out and he repaired the crack and resurfaced or repainted the floor.  Looks really good right now.  We will see how it holds up.  He insisted I did not need foam underneath the floor and said if it cracks he will come back and fix it.  It was only $100 bucks so we will see.  If I get a few years out of it will be well worth it.

paddedhat

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Re: One piece shower cracked...what to do?
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2016, 11:42:19 AM »
Well, I just had a guy come out and he repaired the crack and resurfaced or repainted the floor.  Looks really good right now.  We will see how it holds up.  He insisted I did not need foam underneath the floor, and said if it cracks he will come back and fix it.  It was only $100 bucks so we will see.  If I get a few years out of it will be well worth it.
Cool, you should be just fine. I stay in touch with one customer of mine that had a warranty claim after a huge crack opened in the bottom of a new tub. It's been 5-6 years now, and the repair is still trouble free. Repairs are usually stronger than the surrounding area.  $100 was dirt cheap, BTW.