Cutting a hole in a ceiling (builderstrackworld!)

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  • Cutting a hole in a ceiling (builderstrackworld!)
  • T1000
    Member

    Is it a built in mixer?

    Once spent ages tracing a leak from a shower tray only to find it was the concealed mixing valve

    Premier Icon siwhite
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    We have lath and plaster in our house. Stud detectors are of limited use owing to the varied thickness of the plaster, and metal detectors to find plasterboard fixings are frustrated by the numerous lath fixings.

    My method is to drill a small (3mm-ish) hole and try to feel resistance as you drill. If you hit a joist the drill will offer resistance all the way in, but if you are clear of a joist there will be initial resistance followed by the drill freeing up as it reaches the air gap behind the ceiling.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Yes, it is a built in mixer. We cant get the damn front plate off the mixer – but have managed to peer behind it and looks dry – maybe we should have another go.

    TheBrick
    Member

    I had a similar problem.

    Before you cut a hole try and really narrow down the leak.

    First thing I did was ran the sower for as long as I knew it took for the leak to appear into a large bucket. Emptied bucked down another drain if needed. This eliminates the mixer.

    Pored water down the drain several time from a bucket being careful not to over flow shower tray up to sealant level. This eliminates the drain.

    Next ran show in each corner for as long as need. Starting low moving higher. Use a focused shower pattern not the wide spray one. This was where I found my fault. This eliminates each corner.

    I would have continued in similar fashion along each side. This eliminates each side.

    To cut a whole in a ceiling I use multi tool. Don’t worry about stud detection devices. First cut a rough hole in the middle of where you want to go then you will be able to peer in / feel when the beams are then mar and cut to a tidy bigger size. IF you are pulling down lime try to replace like with like.

    maxtorque
    Member

    This ought to do it:

    πŸ˜†

    Premier Icon footflaps
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    Cutting a hold will be messy whatever you do…

    Repairing is pretty simple, buy some modern plasterboard and cut to fit the hole, screw into the lathes / joists etc to hold it up. Make sure it’s set back a few mm from the existing ceiling. Skim over the new section to form a flush finish with the existing ceiling paint over the lot. You might need to repaint the whole ceiling to get a perfect match but the repair should be invisible once painted.

    For a small repair job, you could just buy ready mixed plaster finish – it’s no where near as good as proper stuff but quicker and you don’t need as much experience e.g. to know when the plaster is ready to apply etc.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    The shower in the en suite in our attic bedroom is leaking into my office below. It was all installed by the previous owner and since we have lived here we have filled every conceivable gap in and around the shower with sealant, we have fitted a new seal on the base of the shower door and have pulled up the floor boards in the neighboring bedroom to look underneath with an eBay inspection camera to look for damp (nothing found from what we can see). However, it still leaks. It now takes about 3 showers before you see new damp in the office below (so we have made some progress) but enough to stop us using it.

    Next step appears to be to cut a hole in the office ceiling to try and get to the underside of the en suite floor and look for any small leaks in the waste system or to at least try and work out the direction it is coming from. This is Victorian house and the office looks to still have old lathe and plaster and the ceiling feels very solid (good considering the damp) – and hard to identify the cross beams above. Any suggestions of how to go about this, and create as little as damage as possible so that a couple of people with limited DIY (but some common sense) can repair it again? As it is an office, and behind my head when at the computer, it doesn’t need to be PERFECT (I am a bit OCD, but trying to be realistic).

    Cheers

    The offending damp mark – currently dry as we have stopped using the shower. The visible crack in the middle of the damp is about 20 cm long.
    [url=https://flic.kr/p/XjdZbe]2017-09-09_10-47-08[/url] by Tasha, on Flickr

    timba
    Member

    Have a look at the floor above, the joists will be at 90deg to the floor boards (you’ll have to find original floor, floating wooden floors can be misleading πŸ™‚ )
    The first joist might be tight to the parallel wall, so don’t cut too near to the wall
    Either take a guess with careful* drilling ^^^, or measure between lines of nails on the floor to give a joist spacing

    *Be careful of drainage and cables that may be close to the ceiling

    Edit: leave the hole open for a few days to let things dry

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Thanks all. Some really useful pointers there. Will have another look over the next couple of days.

    Premier Icon pocpoc
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    If you’ve got the eBay inspection camera can you drill a hole just big enough to get it in the ceiling?
    From there you can either see where the leak is if you’re lucky or at least see where it is good to cut a bigger hole for access.
    We had to do this in to one of those ceilings finished with the spiky textured effect. It was fun trying to recreate that with polyfilla!

    Premier Icon grey
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    I made a hole in the ceiling last week with my foot, it was surprisingly effective :lol:.
    Still to finish plastering it up.

    We cant get the damn front plate off the mixer – but have managed to peer behind it and looks dry

    Is the leak water passing by the trim/face plate. It would run down the inner face of the wall or between tile and wall so you probably wouldn’t see much.

    bear-uk
    Member

    I did a leaking shower job where a hole was needed. The Lath and plaster was soaking wet so I cut a square section out and found the Shower tray cracked, but only leaked when stood on. Replaced the tray with ease do to the hole and fitted an oversized thin ply cover over the ceiling hole and painted it.
    Not perfect but it looked fine and the customer was very happy as very little mess created.

    Thing is, with these things is the leak could be coming from anywhere. My money would be on the water feed to the shower, behind the wall. Any chance of a pic of the shower itself?

    For science, obviously. I don’t have a shower fetish.

    fifeandy
    Member

    Check out youtube, there’s a couple of good guides.
    Still got a hole in ceiling over my bath from leak i’m having trouble tracking down.
    Anyway, don’t need to be too neat with what you cut out as new plasterboard comes in large sheets and you’ll be cutting to size.
    Doing a good job of the plastering looks like the hard bit.

    Good luck, and hope you have more joy tracking it down than me

    slackalice
    Member

    It’s possible that the floor is not level and may not be the shower itself, but a weeping joint in the pipework a little further uphill, so to speak.

    Check the level, either on the ceiling in your room below, or the floor of the shower room if it is the original boards.

    On a few occasions I have resorted to removing all the existing silicon beads, cleaning and renewing the silicon. This generally reveals the source of the leak, more often lack of sealant between the tray and surrounding walls.

    If it’s an acrylic tray, is it well supported? Flex can either crack it, as bear-uk commented, or a gap appears in the silicon bead between the tray and tiles/wall/panels.

    Removing lathe and plaster ceilings is a messy business too. Clear the room below, tape the door and wear a good dust mask πŸ˜€

    bear-uk
    Member

    And wear overalls 😯

    timba
    Member

    Just re-reading…you already know the joist direction 😳
    Once I’d made a hole in a safe zone I’d use a holesaw (you can buy them individually).
    Pulling lath and plaster ceilings down isn’t an option for me with the decades of mess above. Anything beyond the reach of a tube of mastic is likely to need to be achieved from the en suite
    The crack between ceiling and wall can be covered with a flexible acrylic caulk, and some stain covering primer over the whole area

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Thanks all. You have given us some things to think about. For one – we realise we dont know how the pipework gets to the en suite. It comes up through a cupboard on the other side of the house, and somehow must cross the stair void to get to the bathroom, but p20 doesnt remember seeing it when he had the floorboards up a few months ago.

    This is the shower

    [url=https://flic.kr/p/Xj1mR5]2017-09-10_11-09-46[/url] by Tasha, on Flickr

    I have put sealant in around it, and my Dad put masses around the plug, when stood in the tray, so hopefully that resolved the flex issue. The mixer valve itself is in the dial, but has been replaced as it didnt work properly. We havent managed to get to that front plate off.

    We are going to try some of the other suggestions above before we try cutting that hole, as sounds like we could end up a shower of s**t!

    Cheers

    Premier Icon P20
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    Ok. Update.
    I’ve ran about 90gallons through the shower and into a bucket, isolating the waste and any shower enclosure issues. There is a very, very slight weep on the hose outlet at the wall end. I’ve pulled that apart and the wall/plaster/insulation is all relatively dry. Certainly nothing like the problems we’ve been having. I’ll get that reconnected and resealed properly. Likewise I’ve managed to remove the face plate of the mixer, again all dry.
    Next job is multiple buckets down the waste. That can wait for another day.
    Thanks for all the advice so far, it’s very very helpful and very much appreciated

    Bear
    Member

    Very common for the tray to be sealed after the screen has been fitted leaving a section of the tray/wall unsealed.

    Was the screen sealed on the inside of the shower as a lot of screens you only seal the outside.

    Just pumping silicone into everything generally doesn’t work if it hasn’t been installed correctly in the first place.

    What Bear said!

    The most common shower leak i see as a bathroom installer is the shower screen/panel being installed before the tray has been sealed all the way along to the end of the tray.

    Also check that the enclosure has not been sealed inside. Shower enclosure’s should always be sealed from outside so any water getting in to the frame should drain to the inside.

    Also, those tiles have been installed incorrectly, shouldn’t be any spacers used with them, the spacer lines are obvious and should be closed up so the grout lines are the same thickness as the lines on the tiles themselves.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Have to admit I put sealant down the inside of the frame in desperation as it would piss water out the bottom of the outside of the frame when cleaning the shower. My sealant has stopped that and we don’t get any dampness in that direction any more. However sounds like I’ve just bodged a more fundamental error. This whole house is like this…the guy who owned it refurbed it from an old lady owning it, but it’s becoming very apparent there was a lot of bodging, which we are slowly having to undo. Fortunately the main house is solid and sound. It’s internal things.

    I wonder if we are getting to a point of needing to pull the shower out and refit. We were trying to avoid the costs of new tiles etc as we need to retile the main bathroom too. Hummm….

    Thanks for the help.

    Premier Icon footflaps
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    Also, those tiles have been installed incorrectly, shouldn’t be any spacers used with them, the spacer lines are obvious and should be closed up so the grout lines are the same thickness as the lines on the tiles themselves.

    That’s just a cosmetic issue. Highly unlikely to be the cause of the leak as grout is waterproof.

    Premier Icon ahsat
    Subscriber

    So we think that, as the good folk of stw suggested, the enclosure hasn’t been fitted properly as we have excluded everything else.

    As a result, we have decided to replace it. It’s not the best and we have wasted so much effort trying to bodge it to date. Plus with what looks to be now impending knee surgery, it would be good to get sorted rather than climbing out of the bath.

    So, we have costed up a new enclosure, tray, shower and tiles from Victoria Plumbing. The thing is we’d like to keep the existing slate floor tiles, mainly due to cost and liking them. Is it realistic to think we can get the old tray out and put a new one in (if they are both 900 mm quadrant trays) without needing to replace the floor?

    Make sure it’s all clean and dry then buy a grout aerosol sealer and seal all the grout, I’ve seen it passing through grout that looked perfect, kept sealing and resealing the tray to shower gap and all the time it was passing through the grout and down behind the tray, it can be very porus

    That’s just a cosmetic issue. Highly unlikely to be the cause of the leak as grout is waterproof.

    I never said that that could be the cause of the leak, was just an observation in true STW form, like when folk on here point out that tyres/logos etc are not lined up. πŸ™‚

    Is it realistic to think we can get the old tray out and put a new one in (if they are both 900 mm quadrant trays) without needing to replace the floor?

    Shouldn’t be a problem if you have a capable installer.

    andykirk
    Member

    We have the same problem with our shower. The moral of this story is always buy a properly designed shower unit that doesn’t need any sealant to maintain watertightness. Sealant (in this usage) is crap and is the botch job way of doing things cheaply.

    We have the same problem with our shower. The moral of this story is always buy a properly designed shower unit that doesn’t need any sealant to maintain watertightness. Sealant (in this usage) is crap and is the botch job way of doing things cheaply.

    Wrong! It’s all in the install. In 23 years of bathroom fitting i have never had a leaking shower enclosure as i was taught to install in the correct manner. If people who are installing shower enclosure’s would read the instructions properly there would be no problems.

    100% of leaking shower enclosure’s that i have attended over the years have been because of poor installation or damaged trays/screens, probably during installation. Even cheap showers from B&Q etc can be installed without leaks.

    rmacattack
    Member

    what above says. the amount of houses i’ve visited with leaky shower trays,mine included. if its not done right from day one by a fussy/tidy/expert installer it will never be right. unfortunately we had a hack install ours.

    Premier Icon ahsat
    Subscriber

    In 23 years of bathroom fitting i have never had a leaking shower enclosure

    Supremebean – you don’t happen to be West Yorkshire based do you? πŸ˜›

    Yes, we’ve decided to go down the recommended installer route, rather than considering trying to do it ourselves. Just trying to find someone who could do it before Christmas (operation date not yet know but trying to plan ahead) might be tricky!

    Supremebean – you don’t happen to be West Yorkshire based do you?

    I’m afraid not. I’m in the Black Isle, north of Inverness. Fully booked out till next April too.

    Although I have travelled to Sussex and Portugal to do installs. Both for the same guy who has a holiday home near me which i renovated. πŸ™‚

    andykirk
    Member

    Supreme – Right! We only need sealant because the junction hasn’t been designed well in the first place. I am not saying there is not a right and wrong way to install sealant, I am saying you should not need to use it in the first place.

    Premier Icon ahsat
    Subscriber

    Damn πŸ™„

    Great, thanks though that it sounds like it might be achievable…if anyone is available! Who knew how booked up bathroom folk get! Guess it’s typically not a spontaneous decision in most cases…

    Ok! Can you show me one of these well designed shower enclosures that don’t need silicone?

    Don’t get me wrong, i have installed silicone free enclosures, but there are reasons why most manufacturers don’t go down this route.

    Who knew how booked up bathroom folk get!

    It’s called Reputation. πŸ˜† The shite ones won’t be booked out for that long.

    95% of my work is through previous installs, friends and family of customers. I don’t advertise locally, have a website but it’s not something i really keep on top of.

    Premier Icon ahsat
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    Aye it’s good. My parents both run small businesses and it’s the best way.

    I’m just hoping a decent one locally get a cancellation… 8)

    andykirk
    Member

    Supreme – Kinedo, Coram, Matki all do them. Sealant has its place but not in high humidity/ high water/ high bleach/ high shampoo/ high soap/ high movement environments.

    dave28
    Member

    all of those manufacturers recommend sealant is used during install
    . all in the exterior of screen.
    and you need to use silicone internally where the tile meets the tray and the interior corners
    just use a decent silicone

    high humidity/ high water/ high bleach/ high shampoo/ high soap/ high movement environments

    Is exactly what it is for. What on earth are you thinking? Silicone is used on corners etc because it allows for movement, grout just cracks. Good quality silicone applied correctly and cleaned regularly will last for 15+ years. If silicon fails it’s always down to bad workmanship or poor cleaning regime.

    Silicone is used on those manufacturers you mentioned, maybe a little less than some others but by god they are ugly.

    andykirk
    Member

    Supremebean/ Dave – we will have to agree to disagree. Despite being marketed as such, this usage is not what sealant is for, and it is only ever a temporary fix. Using it horizontally to maintain watertightness at the exposed junction of tray and wall tiles is crazy. Why do you think people have so much trouble with leaky showers and black sealant? Bad installation using unsuitable methods, materials and junctions. The only reason it is so widely used is because people have come to see this as the norm, and it is the easiest and cheapest way of doing things. But after a while it will always fail. The enclosing walls and panels should be finished with a proper drip channel which directs all water into the tray. It’s a bit like kitchen worktops, proper worktops have a splashback as part of the actual worktop with no exposed junction that can allow water ingress.

    lambchop
    Member

    Check the tile grouting for cracks. Water can seep behind the tiles and track down.

    dave28
    Member

    andy kirk , can you send a link to the coram mira units that say not to use silicone .
    proper worktops with splash back ? i am assuming you are talking about the small up stand, that also will need to be sealed as water can ingress in and damage wood.
    out of interest how do you suggest you finnish of internal corners in shower where tile meets tile, or where tile meets shower tray ?..

    andykirk
    Member

    Dave – have a look at this page for Kinedo showers – the right hand side explains the general idea.

    Why Kinedo

    To answer your query about how to finish such a junction, well, you are forced to use sealant aren’t you. What am I saying is that the whole wall tile/ shower tray junction is daft in the first place.

    Yes I am talking about worktops (not timber) with upstands that are integral to the worktop. They don’t need sealant as the upstand is part of the worktop and therefore there is no join. I guarantee most ‘modern’ kitchens will have dirty rotting failing sealant behind kitchen sink areas.

    As an aside I once had a meeting with one of the managers from Poggenpohl. I was involved in kitchen installations in a large supposedly high-end residential building, and the developer wanted to put in granite worktops, which we advised him against as they are really not up to the job. Off the record, I asked the Poggenpohl chap what the best material was for worktops. In a very quiet voice he said ‘vinyl, but don’t tell anyone’.

    Why do you think people have so much trouble with leaky showers and black sealant?

    I remove and refit 35-40 bathrooms per year. Pretty much every time the showers have been leaking the problem was as bear said further up the thread, especially in new builds. I have removed plenty of showers that have been fitted for 20+ years which have never leaked and have reasonably clean silicone. There’s no point trying to convince me as i have seen the evidence myself that properly applied (tooled with no water or finger involved) silicon will stand the test of time.

    Top Causes for silicone going black and silicon failures? Tradesman licking his finger (introducing bacteria, most common problem) and using saliva to smooth out silicone bead. Cheap non anti-bacterial silicone. Applying to wet or dirty surface. Homeowner not cleaning silicone enough. Movement in shower tray because lack of bedding and not being sealed to wall before tiling.

    Again, those showers in that link are bloody ugly. I can imagine their main customer base are pensioners, nursing homes and building companies that have had lots of problems in the past with their shower installations because they can’t do them right. I get local building companies emailing me regularly asking me to do their showers for them because their tradesmen don’t know how to do a proper install. There is a sequence in which it all has to be done, any part of that sequence missing it will most likely fail. The problem with new builds is there may be 3 or 4 guys involved in that sequence.

    I always tell my customers to call me if any problems with silicon.
    Never had a call back yet in 12yrs SE, and have revisited a few as i’m a plumber to trade so also do general plumbing and heating for my customers.

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