Knowing what is what, and why, can help us to understand the importance of something’s value! In this blog we will answer a few of the questions concerning, what exactly is the shower pan and what makes it so important?
The shower pan consists of the floor of your shower, both the visible and the unseen application below your finished product, basically the shower pan performs like a catch basin for all the water being used when using your shower. An average shower of 5 minutes can use up to 12.5 gallons of water. That is a lot of water that needs to be directed to go down the drain!
Without a properly installed shower pan, that will make sure all the water gets down too and out the drain, we will have a major problem on our hands! Water damage can be extensive in a very short amount of time and can remain hidden from view and detection for some time. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of water testing your shower pan (see blog) after the initial completion, and to monitor the trades that work over it, accidents and not following best practices can and do damage shower pan systems, retesting is fast and easy and can save you a lot of time and a lot of money, if a damaged shower pan is discovered before the project has reached its final stages.
The shower pans that most of us think about are what we see at our feet, the nice-looking tile, stone or other product on the floors and walls. That is not what this article is referring to!
The unseen barrier under the tile work is where the real protection starts! The foundation in any project is what gives it longevity and reliability. The shower pan is a major factor in getting the proper protection to prevent water damage to your structure, your subfloor, walls, floor coverings, baseboards, cabinets! The foundation of your shower pan includes proper framing, correct style drain and placement, trade and code approved pre-slope, curb heights or recesses that are needed for water retention. All these practices allow the needed path the water needs to make its way to the drain and weep holes. Water in means water once again! That is why the shower pan constitutes the most important role of your shower installation!
A little more on that unseen barrier and why it plays such an important role! The majority of the water used in the shower is channeled to the drain by the surface of the finish product of your shower, but not all! The surfaces and junctions, be it at the corners where the floor meets at the walls, curb, benches and especially at the grout and caulking joints, and all the other areas that are affected by the showerhead, rain heads, handhelds or even body splash. All these areas will let water through! Think of all the surfaces of your shower like an old sponge, it can still suck up and hold water but not very well! Kind of sucks up water and lets it out at the same time! This is how the shower is made to work. Again, water in water out! Hence the importance of having a fully functioning properly installed, tested, waterproof barrier in place for the water to be stopped (from just going wherever it wants) and to send it on its travels down to your shower pan barrier,( the catch basin) and into the drain weep holes! All unseen by us as we happily hum away while taking our shower!