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Archive for March, 2012

A Reason to Weep…

Hi there,

I just had a look through your blog and realized that you are the man to answer this question.
I have got a simple aluminum frame shower door and enclosure that is attached to the wall with ‘u’ shaped aluminum channel.
Progressive leaking over 5 years has had me on my knees this Sunday morning ripping out the surrounding rotten tiling and timber.
Standing on a chair and shining a little torch down the channels from above I can see the water filling up inside the channel at the base when the shower is on.
Even though I know it would be the best course of action I do not want to rip put the whole unit as this will be a major operation.
I am considering a serious DIY intervention, or as we describe it here in the UK ‘a bodge job’, and I wanted to run it past you to see what you think, and give you a giggle.

Dry out the base of the channels with a heat gun.
Drill some discreet holes in the lower section of the chanel.
Using either top quality silicone or water cured expanding foam FILL UP the aluminum channel from the base up.
Just keep on pumping the gear in with a mixture of vengeful cursing until I find myself whistling Dixie, all delighted with myself.

I realize that this sounds like the work of a crazy person, call it unconventional. I think it might just work. What do you think?

Kind Regards
Carl Smyth

London, England

         

 

Hi Carl,

You sound like you are on the right track. If you are willing to disassemble the entire enclosure in order to solve the problem, then there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to completely resolve the issue once-and-for-all. The best solution, one that you have already cited, is to drill holes at the bottom of the aluminum channel that will allow the water that gets into it to “weep” back out into the shower. This is something that can be done in place, but you need to be very cautious not to nick the edge of the glass in the process. With tempered glass, the edges are the most vulnerable, and even a comparatively small impact there can cause the glass to explode into a million tiny fragments.

One important thing to remember about weep holes, is that they need to be large enough in order to work. The rule of thumb on this is that a ¼” round hole is NOT big enough to allow the air and water enough room to displace each other, and will not be effective. The best way to approach this is with multiple, oblong shaped holes, that are wider than they are tall. Once again, if the glass is out of the channel you can “drill-baby-drill” all you want! If the glass is still in there, be very careful. Filling the entire channel with caulk of some sort may or may not work, but anything you do in conjunction with the weep holes is a winning strategy.

Best wishes for much success!

-Chris

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Attaching Enclosures to Cast Iron Shower Pans

Chris,

I have a Kohler Salient Porcelain enamel cast iron shower pan. My wife wants a frameless pivot door for this. With a 60″ opening, is there adhesive strong enough to bond to the pan without a mechanical screw connection? One installer claimed he “routinely” screws into the cast iron base. I am concerned about chipping and rusting. Any suggestions?

Jeffrey

         

Hi Jeffrey,

Your shower opening is going to require a fixed panel and a door. The door will not pose any problem, as the hinges will be anchored to the wall, and not to the shower pan. The fixed panel is the part that is going to be at issue. You have a couple of standard options for your fixed panel… it can be attached using glass clamps, or it may be attached using a channel. I would say that, in my experience, people are evenly divided between these two options. There is no doubt that the channel offers a more waterproof solution than the brackets, but many people feel that the clamps give the enclosure a more “frameless” look. Either way you should be able to avoid drilling your pan, if it’s really important to you to do so.

If you decide to use an aluminum “U” channel to secure your fixed panel, you can definitely have the bottom channel glued into place with silicone or a high-strength epoxy. That is providing the vertical channel is anchored to the wall using screws. If using glass clamps, you can place them on the vertical wall edge only, and use clear silicone to secure the bottom edge. A third option is the “saloon door” style enclosure. In this configuration, both panels are hinged, eliminating the need for any bottom attachment.

Now, all of that being said, I also routinely use screws in cast iron tubs and pans. Using stainless steel screws and plenty of silicone to keep the area dry is the key. You shouldn’t have any issues, providing the installation is done properly.

Thanks for writing,

Glass Ceilings; Sometimes They’re a Good Thing.

Hi Chris,

We are looking to install a frameless shower in our bathroom that has very high ceilings. I was hoping to put a glass ceiling on it to get more of a steam room effect.

Is it possible to do this?

Brad

         

Hi Brad,

Yes, we did a project just like that in Carmel, California a few years back. The bathroom had open rafters, and the homeowner wanted to contain the steam with a glass ceiling. The “lid” needed to slope a little in order to allow condensation to run-off into one corner. That posed a couple of other challenges as well.  We accomplished this by having a custom unit made that was comprised of two 1/4″ pieces of clear tempered glass laminated together.

The result was a single unit that was 64-1/2″ X 43-1/4″ and 9/16″ thick. Having the glass both tempered and lamented insured that if it was ever to break due to an earthquake, the glass would not fall into the shower. The panel fit perfectly, and the result was more incredible than we had imagined. The house we were working in was just beautiful, and the homeowners were so nice. It was a great experience.

Thanks for your question, Brad… It has brought back some really nice memories.

-Chris