Another of our series of Blogs called “Ask the Experts” and this one is by Wet Room Materials.
It may appear counter-intuitive to willingly construct an area in a hotel or a house that has the potential to damage the surrounding fabric of the building it inhabits. Such is the reputation of some wet rooms, although in most cases it is undeserved. At Wet Room Materials we pride ourselves in efficient, leak free wet room design that provides comfort and luxury with minimal maintenance and risk. The uplifting sense of great luxury and bathing freedom that a well-designed wet room offers gives any hotel an indisputable wow factor!
Most Common Causes of Wet Room Leaks
Normally when leaks occur it isn’t due to a fault with the wet room unit or design, but with mistakes made during installation or room preparation. It makes sense to look at what can go wrong so these problems can be avoided.
The most important first step of any bathroom / wet room is the subfloor. It is crucial to have a strong and stable subfloor no matter how good your wet room system is, if there is too much movement the tiles, grout and waterproof membrane are liable to crack and cause leaks.
The most basic level of defence against water damage is tanking. When executed correctly, tanking will prove to be robust and long lasting, and will contain every drop of water within the room. That assumes that the tanking has covered an adequate area of the total wall and floor space, Skimping may save time in the short term but may prove very costly if a critical section has not been treated. An experienced designer or architect will know the flow characteristics of the brassware that will be installed, such as shower heads, and will ensure that tanking more than matches the areas that may potentially be drenched on a daily basis.
Faulty plumbing can cause problems in any bathroom and even more so in a wet room because of the higher volumes of water usually associated with them. Plumbing encapsulates both the water inflow and outflow systems. The drainage outflow is where most problems arise because it is less likely to become visible beneath floorboards. A leak may become obvious in the first couple of months or a smaller leak may take over a year to manifest itself. Like a traditional shower the outlet pipes must be of sufficient capacity to comfortably drain away all of the water that is likely to be produced by the shower head.
Badly Fitted Flooring
Decs (wet room formers) are often fitted on timber floors to ensure the gradient to the outflow (drain) is correct. However, if they are not of the appropriate type / size, not fitted properly or not supported properly underneath, it is highly likely that they will cause leaks into the floorboards due to movement of water migration.
Tiling can look great and add a finishing sparkle to a wet room. But it is important that the correct tile adhesives and grouts are used to ensure longevity. If not is possible that the tiles will become loose and may lift off away from the membrane.
Badly Installed Wet Room Drain
Critical fittings such as the drainage gulley itself are potential weak points that need extra care and attention to detail when they are being installed. It is important that the drains are fit for purpose, located in the correct position and that they are installed to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is important to use a compatible waterproof membrane. It’s a good idea to check the certifications of any wet room drain you are looking to install.
A quick search around the Internet reveals many horror stories of wet room leakage and the damage caused. It is very obvious from the vast majority of these that the installation was not carried out by experienced wet room professional installers. Botched jobs tend to be done by your inexperienced builders, handyman or by DIY enthusiasts. A wet room is a specialised installation and basic risk management principles dictate that only professionals should be entrusted with the task because of the potential downside of doing it on the cheap.
When installed correctly, a wet room will provide many years of trouble free usage. Design must be carried out correctly and then followed up with competed installation and commissioning. That way, the expected pleasurable long life payback is never tainted by problems.