Leaking showers are pretty much a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Why? Because they tend to insinuate that you’re going to have to remove shower tiles in order to stop the leak. When you do that, you may need to find a matching tile, or you might end up finding mold underneath the tile if the leak’s bad. Ever wonder if there’s a way around fixing those leaks?

Assuming that you are not dealing with a massive leak caused by a burst pipe or anything similar, there is a way to fix a leaking shower without removing the tiles. To do this, you will need to apply a waterproofing sealant that’s cleared for showers, grout, and tiles to the area. 

Though waterproofing sealants can go far when it comes to both leak fixes and leak prevention, it can’t always be used. Before you go shopping for supplies at the Home Depot, it’s a good idea to get the scoop on this fix so you don’t waste money.

Before You Begin: Is Your Leak Fixable Without Removing Tiles?

Any plumber will tell you that there are leaks, and that there are leaks. If you notice that the leak in question is showing any of these signs, don’t use this method:

  • You’re noticing that there are water stains on non-tiled parts of your walls. This suggests that there may be a leak behind the wall. This needs to be addressed immediately, since it can cause serious damage to the inside of your home’s structure as well as surrounding areas.
  • The amount of water leaking out is alarming. Most sealants are only meant for small to medium-sized leaks. While you can try to do something using sealant, the chances of getting it to work for you are very low. In some cases, it still can work, but it’s not something you should rely on.
  • You suspect that something is going on behind the wall, too. Does the water run very low? Is your shower just a trickle? Is the water cold, too? You probably should remove tiles to see what’s going on.
  • Your home experienced a flood. Obviously, if you had a flood occur, a leaky shower will be the least of your worries. Even so, you might have sustained water damage you weren’t even aware of. Removing the tiles to see if there’s anything else to fix can’t hurt.
  • You’ve had a professional appraiser or construction pro tell you that something isn’t right with behind those tiles. If you recently had your shower inspected, this could be a possible outcome. Unfortunately, if a professional tells you that fixing the leak with caulk isn’t going to be enough, you need to listen to them.
  • There’s a distinct smell of mildew in your home’s bathroom. This suggests that the leak has already done damage to the interior wall of your bathroom. You will need to fix this before it gets worse. If you believe your bathroom may have a mildew problem originating behind the walls, call a plumber and mold specialist immediately.
  • You witnessed water damage in other rooms of your house. At this point, it should be pretty clear that something is very wrong behind the walls. If there is mold or water stains in the rooms adjacent to your bathroom, you will need to call a plumber as well as a water damage specialist to fix this.

How To Fix A Leaky Shower Without Removing Tiles

Now that you know whether or not your shower’s leak is a good candidate for a sealant, it’s time to get started on fixing things. Unlike many plumbing projects, this fix is easy enough for a novice to do. All you need is to get the right sealant, a caulk finisher, and maybe a scraper if you need to remove older sealants.

What Kind Of Waterproofing Sealant Do You Need?

Most of the sealants that work for this project actively advertise themselves as ways to fix a leaky shower without removing tile. A good example of this would be to use waterproofing caulk or shower sealant. A silicone-based caulk will be your best bet here, if you can’t get a shower leak-specific product.

Your ideal sealant will have the following qualities:

  • Waterproof. Not being waterproof makes the entire point moot.
  • Mold-Resistant. This should go hand-in-hand with any material that you’re using to fix plumbing, especially when it comes to showers.
  • Durable. If at all possible, try to find a sealant that is made to last for years.
  • Tile, Grout, Metal, and Glass-Friendly. Since your sealant will be expected to adhere to these materials, you should find a sealant that can do work with all these materials.
  • High Adhesion. The gripper and more solid that sealant is, the less likely it is that you will need to reapply later.

Is This An Expensive Project?

Nope. Most of the time, this fix will cost under $30 for all supplies. It also won’t take very long, with most people wrapping things up within an hour. Most people would agree that this is a DIY project that is doable for novices.

How To Fix Your Leaky Shower

Now here comes the fun part: actually fixing the thing. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Take a close look to see where the leak is. Is it around the side? The bottom? Make a mental note to reinforce that area later on.
  2. If you have any kind of existing caulk or sealant around the leak, remove it. You can use a scraper to get rid of most of it. After that, using a sanding block can help remove any additional grime from the area.
  3. Grab a bleach bottle and clean the surrounding area. Since you are going to be locking in sealant, you want to make sure that there aren’t any mold spores around the area. Bleach will kill any mildew that grew there, and will prevent it from locking. Once you’ve sprayed down the area, let it sit, then rinse it and wipe away any excess residue.
  4. Grab your sealant and apply it to the cracks and crevices around your shower. Make sure to pay extra attention to the areas where you spotted the leak happening the first time around. Clean up the edges using a caulk finisher if necessary.
  5. Let the caulk cure, then do a test run. If you don’t see a leak anymore, then you have fixed your leak. Otherwise, you may need to do another pass of sealant before you can claim victory. Keep testing your leakproofing until you can safely say the leak is gone.

Our Final Take

Though you might not hear it very often on DIY boards, there is a way to fix a leaking shower without removing tiles. However, there are limitations as to what it can and cannot do. Assuming that you have a small leak, you might be able to fix it by using a waterproof, mold-proof sealant like a silicone plumbing sealant.

To fix your shower, just clean up the surrounding area and add caulk around the shower’s leaking point. The more careful you are with applying the caulk, the better your fix will look. If you need to, you can also use a caulk finisher to clean up any scraggly edges.

If it sounds like this fix is an easy one, you’re not wrong. It is, and that’s why it’s such an efficient way to take care of most minor leaks in your shower. So, don’t worry too much about this one. It’s one of the easiest projects out there.