Using Silicone To Fix A Leaking Shower
What is silicone, and how does it relate to a leaking shower
To get started, we're going to be looking into silicone sealants and their use in houses around the globe. To find the silicone in your house at home, check your shower - see your vanities! The smooth white layer protecting the joint, that is silicone. You could use an epoxy sealer which would last much longer, but people don't. I would say the visual aesthetic of silicone, and the fact that before silicone is exposed to long term exposure to moisture, heat and bacteria it's an effective sealer that definitely has its place throughout the house. In terms of showers in the home, I would steer away from primary use of silicone unless a criteria is met. Think about it, let's say a brand new house was built 1998 since then it's been tenanted by the original owner 5-6 years, then rented out to three or four other family's to todays date. That'd be a hell of a lot of exposure to bacteria, different cosmetic products and wet conditions. By that point, it's no surprise that the silicone has deteriorated in condition, often times developing mould and discolouration and a leak in the shower. If the tenants of the house, were to clean the shower fortnightly and make sure conditions were at all times clean and hygienic - it would be no surprise to see silicone achieve an optimal level of longevity. But, I doubt would happen unless you were to monitor the hygiene of the house regularly. Keep on reading, and we'll dive further into silicone use in showers.
Is the silicone in my shower causing a leak?
There is a good chance that the silicone in you shower is in-fact responsible for a leak. When silicone starts to deteriorate, small gaps can often develop resulting in water penetration - and an ultimate leak. The longer the shower has been used for, and the more people that have used it are be contributing factors to whether or not the silicone is the cause of the leak. Though, don't get me wrong i've seen many times new builds often just a few years old where silicone has came away due to structural movement. Due to this - it's a good idea to get a professional set of eyes on-site. Here's some things you can look out for in your shower in regards to a silicone related leak. Silicone Peeling Away - If silicone is peeling away, meaning having become de-bonded from the joint it's protecting. Then water will have a penetration point to seep through that joint and to the shower bed creating an often times damaging leak. Silicone Discolouration - If your silicone is discoloured (*not mouldy) it usually means that the silicone is going through the beginning stages of disintegration. By no means is it urgent to replace silicone in this stage, though hygiene should be monitored. Discoloured Silicone is completely fine, but definitely something to look out for! Mouldy Silicone - Once your silicone has developed mould unfortunately there's no coming back. It must be stripped out, and where it was placed needs to be sanitised to a high standard before re-applying a new bead of silicone. There are many products which imply they will permanently kill the mould off silicone, but that is not the case. Once mould has developed in a silicone substrate, there's no way any product can effectively eliminate the mould without removal and sanitation of the joint it was protecting.
When it's best to use silicone to seal joints in showers
When a new house is built, tilers/caulkers pretty much all of the time use a silicone based sealant to seal exposed joints throughout the house. This is great, as silicone is an exceptional product when sealing joints that aren't exposed to high levels of moisture, bacteria or heat. In regards to our talking point, we're looking into silicone used in showers. Most people reading this article, probably aren't new home builders so we'll focus on silicone in the typical home-owners shower. If you're a tenant, and you've noticed the silicone has deteriorated in your rental - simply call your landlord and they'll book a professional to take care of things. For the more savvy home-owner, you can definitely use and replace the silicone in your bathroom in a DIY fashion. In that case you should keep reading through the article to gain a further understanding about silicone, and potentially doing the repairs yourself!
When it's best not to use Silicone
Silicone can be a great product! though there's most definitely times where it is simply the wrong product for the job. Let's say for example, in your typical rental property - or even an AIR BNB. Bad idea to use silicone there. Perhaps you're a busy lady with young children, and would prefer not to have to ever worry about your shower leaking, or becoming mouldy again - bad time to use silicone. There are superior sealing products on the market for these sorts of situations, and in that case - it's your best bet to hire a professional to take care of things. Not to say there's not a option to DIY but some people would definitely prefer not to deal with power tools, hazardous chemicals and have the peace of mind knowing the issue was taken care of by a pro.
Help! The silicone in my shower has gone mouldy
A bit of an inconvenience that is for sure. There's no other option but to strip out, sanitise and re-apply a new bead of silicone in replacement. Once mould spores have developed in silicone there is no possible way to sanitise the inside of the joint without removing the existing silicone. Mould produces allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions), irritants and at times toxic substance. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause allergic reactions, and have have caused fatal asthma attacks. If you care about your health, or have a family - it's crucial you replace the mouldy silicone in your shower. I mean, think about the water hitting the mould creating a sort of toxic steam if you will. Hire a professional shower sealing company like Platinum Seal, or do a DIY job.
Should I DIY or hire a professional?
Should you do-it-yourself or hire a professional? Definitely does depend on a few factors. It's important to assess these factors with an honesty factor - as a technician, i've attended various jobs where shower's have continued to leak due to a dodgy DIY job. Factors have to do with your general level of expertise with tools and home maintenance. Someone who has previous experience working in a trade will definitely pick up how to use silicone a lot faster compared to your average home owner. That's not to say it's not possible to do a great DIY job though. So if you're ballsy, try it yourself!
What do I need if I was to do it myself?
To perform an effective extraction and replacement of silicone sealant you'll need various different tools and products. Your local hardware store is a good place to start for sourcing products, though be weary as the quality of products vary to say the least. You will need: A Tube Of Silicone - When sourcing a tube of silicone, don't just buy the cheapest one. Look for a particular silicone, designed for wet areas. The best of the best contain mould preventing agents, have a high level of flexibility and can be more durable. https://ardexaustralia.com/product/ardex-se/ A Stanley Knife - Not a small little red one used to open letters. You'll need a retractable one, with a blade slot which usually comes with the knife. The blade will be used to extract existing silicone, to open the silicone tube, and to cut the nozzle to your preference. https://www.stanleytools.com/products/hand-tools/knives-blades/utility-knives/retractable-utility-knife/stht10479 A Safety Razor - These are small blades with a safety grip on one side, and flat razor on the other. It will be used to remove silicone residue, which is missed by the knife. Primarily to get the joint fully stripped and ready for the new bead. https://www.bunnings.com.au/craftright-scraper-blade-100-pack_p5760185 A Mould Killing Spray - Any strong mould killing product will work. Following silicone removal, you will need to sanitise the joint to prevent mould growth. Spray a decently large amount onto the exposed joint, and make sure you penetrate deep within. Leave it for five minutes or so before doing anything else. https://www.bunnings.com.au/selleys-750ml-rapid-mould-killer-remover_p0059099 A Silicone Gun - Silicone tube is placed into gun. Gun extracts product from tube applying the silicone product onto the joint. https://www.bunnings.com.au/makita-12v-300ml-cordless-caulking-gun-skin-only_p0039731 A Silicone Apparatus - Following application of wet silicone, the Apparatus will run along the joint creating a smooth straight silicone line. This is often where application DIYers mess up - and end up with a messy looking job. https://www.bunnings.com.au/monarch-17-piece-complete-caulking-kit_p1662537 Sugar Soap - Used to spray onto silicone before apparatus, so silicone doesn't stick and can be removed properly to create smooth silicone line. https://www.bunnings.com.au/selleys-1l-sugar-soap-wall-surface-cleaner-super-concentrate_p1230181 Vacuum - Used to remove dust from joint, and tidy up any mess made.
How to ensure my shower silicone doesn't start to mould again?
To prevent silicone mould growth make sure you keep a high hygiene standard in your wet area. Have a cleaning schedule and use strong cleaning products. It's the best way to prevent the chance of mould development.
How To Hire A Professional?
Usually the search term "shower repairs (insert your area)" will produce some results. Get in contact with one of their technicians, and arrange a suitable date to organise a time for them to come take a look, quote and complete repairs. If you can't find a shower repair technician in your area, try call the local plumbers. Sometimes they can help, or at least point you in the right direction of who to call! Platinum Seal Gold Coast provides leaking shower repairs throughout the state. Servicing commercial and residential clients. We maintain a high standard of work, and are passionate about helping seal leaks in wet areas. You can visit our website and contact a technician here.