How to Fix a Leaky Shower Drain

By |Last updated on |Bathroom, Featured, Shower|72 Comments

How to fix a leaky shower drain by tracing the water stain on the ceiling to the shower, take apart the drain and replace the cracked shower drain body and rubber gasket. The repair cost about $30 for new parts.

How to Fix a Leaky Shower Drain

I noticed a water stain on the drywall ceiling in the finished basement. I’ve learned to always look at the ceiling when I walk into a room because I’ve had other shower leaks – see How to Fix a Shower Leak Behind the Wall. The copper water pipes and PVC drain plumbing runs under the floor joists in the ceiling crawlspace, so something must be leaking. Time to get the ladder and flashlight to find the leak.

I quickly traced water leak to the shower drain plumbing below the master bath where water is dripping from the U-bend onto the basement ceiling:

Leaky Shower Drain Water Stain on Drywall Ceiling

Leaky Shower Drain Water Stain on Drywall Ceiling

I placed an aluminum pan on the under the U-bend to catch the drips. This is the view of the crawl space between the basement ceiling and main floor of the house. It’s not possible to walk or crawl on the suspended drywall ceiling because the drywall won’t your weight and will break.

Water Leak from the Shower Drain Plumbing

Water Leak from the Shower Drain Plumbing

Aside: Also see this related article for cutting an access panel in the drywall to diagnose and fix a leaking shower arm on the fresh water supply side.

I worked my way around the crawlspace to get a better view of the shower drain. Water stains are evident around the drain body, plywood subfloor and floor joist.

Leaky Shower Drain: Shower Drain and PVC Plumbing

Leaky Shower Drain: Shower Drain and PVC Plumbing

Here’s a closer look at the leak source around the shower drain body. The water leak is between the drain body and bottom of the shower pan.

Leaky Shower Drain: Shower Drain Body and Water Stains

Leaky Shower Drain: Shower Drain Body and Water Stains

A dusty-white evaporation trail from the shower leak is visible on the floor joist to the left.

Leaky Shower Drain: Gray/White Color Water Stains on Floor Joist

Leaky Shower Drain: Gray/White Color Water Stains on Floor Joist

Now that I’ve identified the source of the water leak, how do I fix it?!

Shower Drain Installation Diagram and Parts

Shower drains are made somewhat differently depending on the construction of the shower pan, either a preformed pan or a pan that is built on-site with a vinyl liner over a mortar bed. The Sioux Chief Mfg Co. has a nice range of screw on, snap-in, no-caulk, modular, etc shower drains. For an overview of a shower drain for a tiled shower pan with a vinyl liner, click here.

I have a preformed fiberglass shower stall in the master bath that has a modular screw-in solvent-weld shower drain like this model by Sioux Chief.

Here the drain strainer body is removed to show how it fits into the drain body:

Shower Drain Repair: Solvent Weld Shower Drain

Shower Drain Repair: Solvent Weld Shower Drain

This shower drain installation diagram shows how the shower drain is put together and installs against the shower pan. My shower is leaking between the shower pan and rubber gasket. Click on the image for a larger view.

Leaky Shower Drain Repair: Shower Drain Installation Diagram

Leaky Shower Drain Repair: Shower Drain Installation Diagram

My drain is a “solvent weld” model, meaning the drain body is glued to the PVC pipe with PVC primer and glue.

Bottom of Solvent Weld Shower Drain and 2-inch PVC Pipe

Bottom of Solvent Weld Shower Drain and 2-inch PVC Pipe

This repair is continued in How to Fix a Leaky Shower Drain – Part 2.


Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2018   Reproduction strictly prohibited.


  1. Walter M. Ligon July 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the information. Easy to fix if you know what to do. My drain leaked due to the plumbers putty drying out after being gone for two weeks. A nice way to come back from vacation.

  2. Scott G March 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Great website and photos. Really helpful. My shower developed a leak due to a cracked strainer body and NO gasket between the drain body and shower pan. I think I understand why the installer did this (although I don’t agree). On my shower, the pan is so thick that the strainer body threads barely engage the threads in the drain body. The strainer body threads should be at least 1/8 to 1/4″ longer, in my opinion. In my case, the installer evidently omitted the gasket to allow for slightly more thread engagement. Unfortunately (and not surprisingly) this resulted in a poor seal, especially if there is any type of blockage in the drain pipe which allows water to back up and stand in the drain body. If anyone knows of a solvent weld shower drain with a longer threaded portion on the strainer body, I’d love to hear about it so I could swap mine out. I installed the rubber gasket this time, of course its extra 1/16″ thickness reduced by that much the thread engagement. I did not install the friction gasket, and don’t think it serves any purpose for the type of repair illustrated here. It is needed for initial installation, if you are rotating the drain body against the rubber gasket. However, if you are re-assembling the joint by tightening the strainger body you should leave the friction gasket out, because the friction that develops between the drain body, rubber gasket, and shower pan actually helps carry the applied torque. If the friction gasket is installed, then nearly all of the installation torque must be carried by the PVC pipe and solvent weld to the drain body.

  3. K Chute August 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    What if the leaky ceiling is the kitchen and the shower stall is on the second floor where you cannot get to the plumbing???

  4. Jerry McMillan January 10, 2011 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Hello Bob,

    I have tried to repair this three different times and it still leaks. I replaced the friction gasket with a plastic one. Once things were tightened I noticed that the rubber gasket was off set and this was leaking. The drain itself is not centered so I held it while someone else screwed the drain back in. That seemed to work at first, then it started leaking again. I have tried a lot of putty and a little putty. I noticed that either way with the putty it is pushing out between the gasket. I even tried some automotive gasket seal on the plastic friction gasket to keep it from moving. Any last words before I have to make the dreaded call to a plumber? I notice that you are in the Atlanta area. I live in Acworth, how much would you charge to come out and fix this since it is giving me such trouble? Thanks again, love the site…Jerry McMillan

    • Bob Jackson January 10, 2011 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Hi Jerry,
      Plumber’s putty shouldn’t be squeezing out between the rubber gasket. It may be assembled incorrectly or the leak could be coming from somewhere else.

      I’ll help you repair it for free this weekend in exchange for documenting the repair for publication on I’ll e-mail you offline. Should be interesting!


  5. Chuck Nowlin March 9, 2011 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Excellent repair post. I feel like you saved me big $$$$$. I too, had to go to 5 different plumbing supply stores to find the piece with the right thread size. But once I did, I had it repaired in no time. I just have to repaint the stain on the ceiling below this weekend and I’m done.

    Thanks for your help!

    Chuck N.
    Boston, Ma

  6. edward c. hildebrand October 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    (phone number removed for privacy) read your repair comments and have been doing that. still have leak. no freeplay to slide drain body, back and forth as you said. cleaned drain body and shower pan lip with pvc cleaner as best i could. bought new offset valve for the gaskets. paper gasket now replace with white looking plastic? gasket. put that gasket on bottom and rubber gasket on top. used some silicone sealer Menards was pushing. Will use plumbers putty tomorrow. This am wife took shower and i watched drain entire time no leaks. this pm i took shower and leaked badly. silicone was junk and waterproof caulk around drain plate was a waste. how to clean shower pan lip underside completely?

    • Bob Jackson October 13, 2011 at 7:20 am - Reply

      Did you find the cause of the original leak before the repair? Was the strainer body cracked like mine? I’m wondering if something else is cracked – maybe the shower pan such that it only leaks when your weight is on it. For example, the silicone seal held for the first shower, but your weight caused the shower pan to flex breaking the seal and it leaks during following showers.

      Can you see the plumbing under the shower pan similar to this photo?

      My recommendation is:
      1) Take the drain apart and closely examine the drain hole in the shower pan for cracks with a bright light while pressing your weight on it. I think a crack here is unlikely.
      2) Clean all surfaces thoroughly – especially the top of the drain body and bottom of shower pan where the black rubber gasket will lay. Any dirt or old gasket material here can cause a leak. This was the problem of the failed homeowner repair that I corrected in this follow-up project.

      You said there is “no freeplay to slide drain body, back and forth” which will make it difficult to clean the top of the drain body and bottom of the shower pan – so I think this is more likely the cause of the new leak. If you can access the bottom of the shower pan from the basement or crawlspace, you might be able to carefully pull downward on the plumbing to allow 1/2″ of clearance to clean the surfaces. If the pipe won’t allow for wiggle room, you’ll need to saw the vertical PVC drain pipe in two, clean everything now that you have unobstructed access and glue in a PVC union.

      Since you’re making an “old work” repair, you can omit the clear plastic PVC anti-friction gasket and only install the black rubber gasket for a better seal.

      Let me know what you find.

  7. T. Sparks October 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Hello Bob,

    I live in a loft with concrete floors and it has a small shower stall up on wood. My shower starting leaking about a week ago and at first I thought it was the caulk around the shower so I replaced it but it still leaked. So I took off the step in front of my shower to get underneath and ran water and found the leak coming from the drain body. So after finding this wonderful site, I tried to repair it but I am having trouble getting the strainer body to release. I’ve tried channel locks and a long screw driver but still no luck. I was wondering if you have any other tricks or tips.

    Also mine does look slightly different from the one pictured, it has two square pegs cutout and those are what I’ve been trying to use for leverage.


    T. Sparks

    • Bob Jackson October 16, 2011 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Do you have a fiberglass shower pan? It could be the strainer body was sealed with silicone caulk to the lip of the shower pan. Silicone caulk holds much stronger compared to Plumber’s Putty and it may be very difficult as you’ve found to unscrew the strainer body without breaking it.

      Before undertaking destructive repairs, try to figure out your exact style of shower drain. Tile shower drains are made differently than those for a fiberglass shower pan. Take a look at the Sioux Chief Mfg Co. screw on, snap-in, no-caulk, modular, etc shower drains and the installation instructions for each. Look under the shower stall to help determine your drain style. For example, does your drain have a lock nut under the shower pan that should be loosened first? You can tell because there will be screw threads on the drain body below the nut as opposed to a solvent weld drain.

      If you’d like to send photos of the drain from above & below the shower pan, I’d be happy to take a look.

  8. T. Sparks October 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm - Reply


    I believe I have a plastic shower pan but it does have some texture to it. And after taking the photos I believe you are correct with the locking nut. I will let you know but in the mean time I would like to send photos just not sure how to without your email address.

    Thanks again,

    T. Sparks

  9. mike January 15, 2012 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Hi Bob,

    Thank you for the excellent article and photos. A very well put together howto.

    I have a shower drain leak on a second floor fiberglass shower tray. I noticed it from a ceiling stain on the first floor. Before I open up the ceiling, I wanted to figure out what type of drain I have and perhaps fix it from above and avoid opening the ceiling from below.

    From the Sioux Chief link you provided I believe I may have a push joint module like the 829-S2. My strainer certainly looks like the 829’s but I’m a novice and would appreciate your help in identifying the drain type. The drain doesn’t have any manufacturer stamps on it but the strainer has a stamped “JS” logo.

    Below are links to photos of the drain with the strainer removed, the strainer and the manufacturers logo on the shower tray.

    Shower Drain

    Shower Drain Strainer

    Jacuzzi Shower Pan Base

    Mike, Marietta GA

    • Bob Jackson January 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      The shower drain photo really helps. The JS stamped on the strainer indicates the drain was made by Jones Stephens Corp. that is marketed under the PlumBest product line. Your drain appears to be similar to the PlumBest Drop-in Shower Stall Drains – 2″ Solvent outlet with SS strainer model D41007, but this is just a hunch.

      What’s clear is the inner body unscrews by engaging a tool like the Pasco 7099 Shower Drain Wrench in the notches as shown in Figure 2C on Page 2 of the Jacuzzi Shower Base Installation Instructions.

      Hope this helps!

    • james June 20, 2016 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi Mike,

      I have the same problem with leaking, and I don’t have access to the underside of the shower as many folks on the forum (shower is on the first floor).

      If appears that you do have the 829-S2. If you have access to the underside you may what to change it to any other non push system or replace it with the 829-S2.

      If you don’t have access the the underside like me you may want to look into the WingTite Shower Drain SD1000. It’s a top install system.

      • Bob Jackson June 20, 2016 at 9:12 pm - Reply

        The WingTite shower drain installs from above the shower pan. It can save the day if there’s no access to the bottom of the fiberglass shower pan (sits on a concrete slab floor) or if you’d have to cut a hole in the ceiling.

        WingTitle installation is straightforward if the old drain is a no caulk type that hugs the drain pipe with a rubber gasket. Just remove the old no-caulk drain and install the WingTite.

        WingTite is distributed by Lasco on

        If the old drain is the solvent-weld type that’s glued to the pipe it will have to be cut off with an inside pipe cutter, glue a PVC coupling on the drain pipe followed by gluing a short section of PVC pipe and then install the WingTite. Careful measuring and dry fitting is essential before gluing the PVC coupling and pipe stub.

  10. mike January 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the info and links Bob. Much appreciated and yes the info did help.

    Before I ordered up that Pesco tool, I thought I would try and unscrew or at least move the inner body of the drain by lightly tapping on it with a screwdriver and rubber mallet. It came off as small ring with a slow thread into the body of the drain :-

    Shower Drain Sealing Nut / Caulking Nut

    Now the drain looks like the image below and you can see the thread where the ring went in :-

    No Caulk Shower Drain – Sealing Nut Removed

    I am beginning to think I have a non-standard drain here.


    • Bob Jackson January 16, 2012 at 11:02 am - Reply

      I believe we can identify your shower drain. It’s probably an Oatey no-caulk shower drain or model that is very similar.

      This Oatey product photo of a PVC drain is similar to yours, but the sealing nut (a.k.a. “caulking nut”) details are better seen in the brass model.

      See these Oatey no-caulk installations instructions and these color photo instructions for how your shower drain is assembled.

      What’s probably happened is the locking nut on the bottom of the shower pan has worked it way loose over time, relaxing the pressure on the ring rubber gasket against the bottom of the shower pan and the cylindrical rubber caulking gasket that fits over the 2″ PVC pipe. The caulking gasket is what you see around the PVC drain pipe in your pictures.

      The challenge your going to have to replace the shower drain with a new no-caulk drain is getting access to the bottom of the shower pan to replace the old locking nut. You’ll have to cut an access panel in the 1st floor ceiling to get at the bottom of the shower pan and drain. Check the alignment of the shower pan with respect to the 1st floor ceiling because the leak stain on the ceiling could be a few feet away from the shower if the water traveled along the drain pipe or floor joist before dripping onto the ceiling.

  11. mike January 17, 2012 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the help Bob.

  12. Mrazz February 11, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Any suggestions how to effectively break free a metal strainer without busting the fiberglass pan?.

    • Bob Jackson February 11, 2012 at 11:52 am - Reply

      Shower drain strainers are attached with screws or snap-in. The snap-in models should have a small notch to insert a screw driver to pry it off. If this doesn’t solve your problem, please send a photo.

  13. mike February 20, 2012 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Bob you were totally right about the type of drain I have as an Oatey no-caulk type, with a lock-nut securing it to the underside of the shower pan.

    I finally got around to cutting into the ceiling and identified the leak coming from the point where the lip of the drain body meets the underside of the show pan. It wasn’t much, just a small droplet forming and then dripping. You were also right about the lock-nut, it was loose. As soon as I removed it the old drain popped right off the end of the pipe with little effort.

    I bought a new brass Oatey no-caulk drain, the lock-nut type, No 421503. $20 at Lowes. From the shower stall, I was planning to use 100% silicone to seal around the drain lip where it meets the top side of the shower pan. Then put the drain in from above, pushed onto the top of the pipe, then tighten the lock-nut from below. Should I use plumbers putty to keep the lock-nut secure?

    The shower pan is 5/8″ thick at the point of the drain (not including the lip), with the overall pan thickness of 3/4″. It is braced with the floor beams pretty well but I may put an extra cross brace in.

    Ceiling cut out:
    Drywall Ceiling Cutout - Shower Drain Repair

    Photo of damage to sheetrock:
    Drywall Ceiling Water Damage - Leaking Shower Drain

    Ceiling cut out showing the faulty drain :-
    Shower Drain Underside through Ceiling Cutout

    Old drain removed:
    Leaking No Caulk Shower Drain after Removal
    Shower Pan and Drain Pipe

    New shiny oatey brass drain, $20 at Lowes:
    New Oatey No-Caulk Shower Drain from Lowes

    Thank you so much for the expert help.


    • Bob Jackson February 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Nice work and excellent photos!

      Cutting into the ceiling was the only way to do the job. You could install a plastic access panel and save the bother of finishing the drywall.

  14. Mike Madd May 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I don’t usually write comments on forums; however, your detailed visual instruction regarding a leaking shower drain repair warrants this comment. Thank you Bob! In this tight economy you have saved my family a costly repair job. GOD BLESS You. Keep up the good work.

  15. Don August 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Bob.
    I have a one piece fiberglass shower stall in the master ensuite on the second floor. About 2 1/2 years ago we detected a stain on the popcorn ceiling on the first floor. A plumber was called. He said the ceiling needed to be opened and a new drain installed. As a quick fix alternative, he cleaned out the area around the drain in the shower and filled it in with silicone caulk. That solved the problem for about 1 1/2 years , when the stain reappeared. On that occassion I decided I would repeat what the plumber did. That held for about 1 1/2 years, until this week. The stain is much larger this time. I wouldn’t mind cutting into the ceiling if it weren’t for the fact it is popcorn surface. I found this site and I’m very impressed with the detailed descriptions and outcomes for others who have tried this fix. I decided I would try the repair. I now need help identifying my situation. I cannot find any markings/model numbers. I will be happy to provide photos if you opt to help me out. Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson August 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

      I’d be pleased to help you. E-mail the pictures of your drain to bob (at) – replace (at) with the @ sign. I’ll post them here if we figure out a solution for you.

  16. Tom Guidera March 2, 2013 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Hello, Bob Jackson,

    I want to thank you for this wonderful explanation of the leaking shower drain issues. It was a great help to us in trying to diagnose the problems, and deal authoritatively with a contractor (who had at first glance proposed cutting the shower pan out . . . yikes.)

    Keep up the great work.

    Best wishes,

    • BobJackson March 2, 2013 at 10:32 am - Reply

      You’re welcome and thanks for writing!

      • barbie bolton March 27, 2015 at 10:31 pm - Reply

        a young grandma thanks for all your help and mostly for your kindness and knowledge of repairs and plumbing

  17. A.D. June 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    This is a great forum but my situation is a bit different (although it could be the same result). My second floor shower stall leaks very slowly down to my kitchen dry-wall ceiling. However, it ONLY leaks when someone is standing in the shower. We experimented with just standing back in the stall to ensure water splash was not causing the leaking (its not). Does the weight causing the leak lead you to believe the drain and/or the pan is actually leaking? We cut into the ceiling and the water is NOT directly from the drain area … its coming down a floor joist which makes this unprofessional DIY-er think its the pan. The stall is tile so I’d like to know what I’m getting into prior to rippin’ it up. Thanks for you help!

    • BobJackson June 3, 2013 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      > Does the weight [of a person standing in the shower] causing the leak lead you to
      > believe the drain and/or the pan is actually leaking?
      Shower pan liner is very tough material and let’s assume the shower pan liner is installed correctly.

      I believe the weight of a person standing in the shower causes the shower pan to flex, which opens a crack in the PVC drain base body or along the solvent weld between the drain base and the PVC drain pipe. If the crack is in the flange of the drain base (refer to the Oatey shower drain diagram in the above link), the leak could run horizontally along the subfloor and down the floor joist.

      What concerns me is a tile shower pan built on a mortar bed should not flex. Flexing suggests the mortar bed is not thick enough and/or additional cross bracing between the floor joists is needed to support the subfloor. Try this: lay a steel or aluminum yard stick on edge across the shower drain. Shine a flashlight behind the yardstick along the tile to illuminate the gap between the straight edge and tile floor. Watch carefully as a helper stands close to the drain. Does the shower pan flex downward? Repeat the experiment at different areas of the shower pan to see if it flexes elsewhere.

      > We cut into the ceiling and the water is NOT directly from the drain area
      Can you get a really close look at the entire shower drain and hole in the subfloor with a bright flashlight? A water leak can be hard to see. Use a piece of toilet paper to blot around the drain and exposed portion of the shower pan through the hole in the subfloor. Toilet paper is an excellent leak indicator. Run the shower with a person standing inside to cause the leak.

      Photos of the drain, joist, subfloor and leak trail would be very helpful. E-mail to bob (at)

      Depending on the actual source of the leak your options are:
      * Replace the shower drain; requires chiseling out the tile and mud pan around the drain, replace the drain, foundation mortar, shower pan liner repair, top mortar layer and new tile. Less work than rebuilding the entire shower stall.
      * If the tile shower pan itself is leaking, you’re looking at tearing out and rebuilding the entire pan.

      Let me know what you find.

  18. Vivian W. June 17, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

    First let me say thank you for the repair instructions. They are by far the best instructions I’ve read on the Internet.

    However, my drain connection spins when I screw in the fitting. I used PVC Cement but its not holding. I have a shower enclosure on a slab so I can’t get under it. I’m at my wits end as I’m attempting this repair myself. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for your help!

    • BobJackson June 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      The drain body is turning on the drain pipe? That’s highly unusual for a solvent weld drain.

      I’m wondering if you have a push-joint compression type drain? If so, you have a new problem because there’s no access to the lock nut below the shower pan.

      Either way, we can figure out how to fix your shower drain. Pictures would help tremendously. Take apart what you can and lay out the pieces. E-mail photos to bob (at) replace the (at) with the @ character.

  19. Robert Damuth September 29, 2013 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    I live in a 100-year-old house. Ten years ago I noticed water damage on the ceiling of the room below my shower stall. My plumbers pointed out cracks in the grout around the shower floor drain and suggested I re-grout the area around the drain. I did and all has been well for 10 years. However, day before yesterday water damage on the ceiling re-appeared. I checked the grout again and noticed a tiny hole, so I decided to be more thorough in removing the old grout in the area around the drain before re-grouting it again.

    I’ve noticed dampness in the grout as I get closer to the bottom of the half-inch thick floor tiles and I’m wondering why. Any advice?

    Also, I am wondering how floor tile grout cracks can lead to water leakage and damage to the ceiling below the shower floor. Seems it could only happen if the shower pan is leaking. Can you help me understand this better?

    • BobJackson September 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Grout is not waterproof and won’t stop a shower drain leak. The rubber (actually vinyl, PVC) shower pan liner provides the waterproofing. The shower pan liner seals around the shower drain to prevent leaks. See the shower pan liner installation instructions for a really nice diagram.

      > I’ve noticed dampness in the grout as I get closer to the
      > bottom of the half-inch thick floor tiles and I’m wondering why.
      Water is soaking through the grout and following the shower pan downslope towards the shower drain; this is why it’s wetter closer to the drain. Because the shower pan liner is set beneath the mortar bed of the tile shower, water can seep through the grout and mortar bed over time. Shower drains for tile showers have weep holes to catch the seep water and direct this water down the drain.

      Sealing the grout with grout sealer can prevent or greatly reduce the water seepage into the mortar bed… if there are no cracks in the grout or separation from the tile.

      > Also, I am wondering how floor tile grout cracks can lead to water
      > leakage and damage to the ceiling below the shower floor. Seems it
      > could only happen if the shower pan is leaking.
      > Can you help me understand this better?
      Cracks in the grout suggest the tiled shower pan is flexing when you stand in the shower. This could could cause the shower drain base crack, which will cause a leak. Or the PVC glue joint between the shower drain base and drain pipe may have failed.

      Do you have an idea of how old the shower is since it’s a 100 year old house? Hopefully a shower pan liner was installed, if not, the shower pan should be torn out and rebuilt. There’s no way to know without removing the tile and mortar bed around the shower drain. But let’s not go there yet.

      Your shower drain repair options are:
      1. Since you already have water damage to the ceiling below the shower and will need to fix the ceiling, cut an inspection hole in the ceiling to get a good look at shower drain and leak. Toilet paper is a great tell-tale for finding the smallest leak as you dab it around the drain. Consider installing a drywall access panel in the ceiling to close off the inspection hole. You’ll also be able to check for hidden water damage to the wood framing see how well the shower stall is supported.

      If the find the drain body is cracked or the PVC glue joint has failed, you’ll have to replace the drain. If you decided that’s needed (it involves pulling up tile and chiseling out part of the mortar bed), write back and I’ll explain the process.

      2. I personally wouldn’t be satisfied with this approach, but you could repair and seal the grout. This will probably just slow the leak to the point it doesn’t drip onto the ceiling of the room below the shower. The risk is the slow shower leak may be rotting the floor joists and/or subfloor beneath the shower. That would be really expensive to repair. This is why I’d cut an inspection hole in the ceiling (Option #1 above) to see what’s going on. You can e-mail photos to bob (at)

      Let me know what you find.


      • Kathy mielke May 17, 2014 at 5:03 pm - Reply

        Your instructions and information are wonderful, we have a solvent weld strainer body. I have removed the screen and unscrewed the strainer body, which was cracked ( over-zealous plumbers apprentice?). I purchased a new one and was having a hell of a time getting the strainer to screw in, turns out the threads are wide. 5 trips to various big box stores and plumbing suppliers yielded nothing because I don’t have the part number or manufacturer. Using a hand made mirror, all I can see is N. C, USA. And it is black. Any idea who this manufacturer is? I really don’t want to tear out the popcorn ceiling below.

        • Bob Jackson May 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

          Hi Kathy,
          If your shower drain has course or wide threads and is stamped with a North Carolina identifier, it was likely made by Plastic Oddities in Forest City, NC.

          My 2 inch shower drain with wide threads turned out to be a Plastic Oddities model PFG600. I later bought a PFG600 shower drain direct from Plastic Oddities (1-800-438-5327) and it was an exact replacement.

          The PFG600 has a white PVC body. Since your drain is black it was probably the BFG600 made of black PVC. The parts are identical only the color is different.

          The details are illustrated in How to Fix a Leaky Shower Drain – Part 3.

          Let me know if that’s the right part.


  20. Sid May 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Fantastic instructions. I have a leaky shower drain. It is not gushing or anything but has made an ugly spot on the first floor ceiling now from the small drips.

    Can you please suggest what type of shower drain I have
    Here’s the picture.

    I think it is SiouxChief 829 series. Here are the links

    The top strainer body ring is not coming out. I think it is held by the locknut.

    Any suggestions on how to fix the leaky drain without cutting the drywall at the first floor.


    • Bob Jackson May 20, 2014 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Sid,
      Your drain is a Sioux Chief No-Caulk Shower Module Drain model 828 with a brass body and compression lock nut – at least it looks like tarnished brass in the photo.

      You’ll need a drain wrench to remove the compression lock nut. I’ve outlined in red three of the eight lock nut teeth in your photo for clarity.

      I have a BULLDOG shower drain wrench and it’s a very good tool.

      Fixing your leaky shower drain may be easy while replacing it could be difficult…

      Easy Repair: Try this first
      Hopefully the compression lock nut has become a little loose and the compression gasket hugging the PVC drain pipe is leaking. Tighten the compression lock and see if the leak stops.

      Better Repair: Replace the Compression Gasket
      Buy a new Sioux Chief 828 compression gasket; you might have to buy a whole new drain module to get the gasket.

      Remove the compression lock nut and pull out the old compression gasket. Clean the outside of the PVC drain pipe so there’s no dirt to interfere with the new compression gasket seal. Install the new compression gasket by sliding it over the drain pipe per paragraph 4 of the installation instructions. Install the compression lock nut and tighten with the drain wrench.

      Last Resort: Replace the Entire Shower Drain
      If the above repairs don’t work then the leak is at the large flat rubber sealing washer against the bottom of the shower pan that’s held tight by the outer lock nut. The problem with replacing the shower drain module is the outer lock nut is located below the shower pan and can’t be reached unless a hole is cut in the 1st floor ceiling. Once you saw an access hole in the ceiling the job is straightforward per the Sioux Chief installation instructions.

      A bauco drywall access panel is needed to finish the ceiling hole and it will take care of the ugly water stain.

      Let me know which repair works for you.


  21. Sam June 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Hello. I have a brass flange and I’m sure there is a nut holding it from the bottom. Just wondering is there any way to remove the show drain flange without me cutting a hole in my ceiling? I tried to hack saw the drain but not working out too well.

    • Bob Jackson June 24, 2014 at 5:49 am - Reply

      Can you e-mail photos of your drain? I might be able to identify the drain type and better advise you. Send to bob [at]

  22. Mary Rose August 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Would the issue still be the shower drain if the shower has not been used since 8:30am and it is currently 8:08pm?

    • Bob Jackson August 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      Can you describe in more detail what’s you’re seeing?

      But “yes” a shower drain leak will wet the subfloor and ceiling below which will stay damp for days because there’s no air circulation.

  23. Willie Ramirez November 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I found your repair instructions after searching the Internet. My second level shower began leaking (16 year old home). To my delight, the photos used in your instructions for “How to Fix a Leaky Shower” are the identical to shower. The exact Sioux Chief drain, screw-in model and sub-floor/pan fixture. It was as if your instructions were made for my shower.

    Many thanks to your for this post! I’m assuming I should expect the rubber gasket will fail again (10-15 years). This must be common given the movement the shower pan will experience over time.


  24. oregon October 15, 2015 at 11:04 am - Reply

    I am trying to fix a 12 yr old walk-in fiberglass shower drain which is leaking, the shower is on the 2nd floor and the leak is in the garage underneath it. I am unable to remove the shower drain following your instructions, is this welded shower drain? pls help in how to remove this and replace with a wingtite or other quality drain.

    • Bob Jackson October 16, 2015 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Your photo is low resolution 640×480 pixels so I couldn’t read the numbers on the flange except that it’s an Oatey drain.

      Notice the four square notches inside the drain? The notches are for a shower drain wrench to unscrew the strainer body. The drain may be difficult to unscrew because the drain flange is sealed with silicone caulk to the shower pan or maybe Plumber’s Putty. To unscrew the drain:
      * Heat the strainer body flange with a blow dryer to soften the caulk. It may take 10 mins to get it very warm.
      * Set the drain wrench in the notches. Hold it firmly in place and unscrew the drain. It may take some effort to break the initial bond.

      If you’re still having problems unscrewing the drain use a sharp utility knife to very carefully cut pie-slices in the drain flange – say at 12, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 10 o’clock positions. Take care not to cut the shower pan. Now pry up the drain flange slices with a thin flat blade screwdriver just enough to break the caulk bond. Protect the shower pan with a piece of cardboard under the screwdriver. You should be able to unscrew it now with the drain wrench. Slow and careful wins the day.

  25. Rhonda Stone December 2, 2015 at 10:03 am - Reply

    have a shower fiberglass shower and a fiberglass tub shower in house that leak from the bottom and i have concrete floors when i use them to take a bath water pours from under the bottom and runs all over the floor.. how can i repair that myself without calling a plumber have talked to serveral and they tell me it will be real expensive and may need to completely take out both of them and replace them.. major repair.. after reading your posts i realize that i may can do that myself.. just have to get the right tools my house is 30 years old roughly

  26. David April 24, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply


    I have a fiberglass shower from the 80’s. The drain is leaking. I had a plumber reapply plumbers putty and it worked for a little while but started leaking again. I cut the old PVC drain connection off and tried to install a brass no caulk one. Again it worked for a little while but has a small leak. Tearing into to it again, I noticed that the underside of the shower pan appears to be conically shaped instead of flat. I think this is why it continues to leak. The flat gasket won’t seal against the cone. Is there a product that will work to fix my drain and do the big box stores sell it?

    • Bob Jackson April 24, 2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Hi David,
      Remove the drain and all plumber’s putty. Reach inside the shower pan drain hole and clean the bottom of the shower pan where the rubber sealing washer will contact the pan. Polish the bottom of the fiberglass pan with steel wool. The bottom of the pan must be clean and smooth.

      You will need access to the bottom of the shower pan to tighten the brass locknut. This is critical to compress the rubber sealing washer against the bottom of the shower pan to prevent leaks. It may require cutting an access hole in the ceiling below to put a wrench on the locknut.

      Plumber’s putty works good tends to be messy and doesn’t grip as well as silicone. I now prefer a bead of silicone under the drain body flange because it’s less messy and holds more firmly to prevent the drain from loosening over time as the shower pan flexes under a person’s weight.


  27. Alisa August 29, 2016 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Hi Bob,

    We have a shower pan with a leaky drain. The drain cover is just a plastic piece floating on the drain. Under it I found that a rubber donut had been wedged between the outer wall of the drain pipe and the inner wall of the shower pan drain. Unlike everything I have found online, our shower pan has a deep cylinder wall to a smaller hole at the bottom rather than just a lip fairly even with the pan bottom. I am unable to find this type of install anywhere and don’t know the best way to fix it. Can you help?

    • Bob Jackson August 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I heard of this problem before. It’s likely your shower only accepts a custom drain made by the shower pan manufacturer. Are there any manufacturer labels or markings on the stall, pan or old drain? You can e-mail photos to bob[at], replace the [at] with the @ symbol. I might be able to compare photos with various pan and drains.

  28. Tom November 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Thanks for you posting this Bob, it was a great help. Just like you, I could not find a shower drain that would fit my situation but eventually I found this youtube video that identified my particular shower drain and the guy, Joe Jackson who put this video up provided the part number. Here is the link for those folks with older showers which might just need this part.

  29. joann calvetti June 16, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    I have metal or copper shower drain with ceramic tile shower floor// The drain at top where it meets floor has a rusted hole and water running on to ceiling below// Is there (ANYTHING) out there that i can use for a patch//

    • Bob Jackson June 16, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

      Maybe JB WaterWeld Epoxy Putty would work?

      • Joann June 23, 2017 at 7:49 pm - Reply

        Thanks Bob but rust was not the problem /I found that the water was NOT coming from the shower drain or the tile floor// or the spout or the divert er// OMG// where could it be coming from// It’s dripping close to the ceiling wall under the shower//a good drip// I see leaks ONLY when i turn on shower// has a one handle divert er/ Pushed toilet paper all around diverter and nothing// the hole is dry// How could this be// where is the water coming from// the spout pipe is dry//

        • Bob Jackson June 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm - Reply

          Try removing the shower arm again, clean the threads on the arm and inside the drop ear elbow. Rewrap the shower arm threads with plumber’s tape and see if that fixes the leak. Add one or two extra wraps with the tape than before.

          If that doesn’t fix it the leak could be coming from the inlet pipe joint at the bottom of the drop ear elbow. It’s typically a solder joint where the copper supply pipe enters the elbow. To fix that you should call a plumber because an access hole will have to be cut in the drywall to repair the joint. See for shower plumbing details. Note that I used a SharkBite drop ear elbow which has a push-joint connection that doesn’t require soldering (

  30. Andy W July 31, 2017 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    I went to Lowes, for the same 2″ drain flange and gasket repair. The Oakey ones in stock were the wrong threads, but the Oakey off-set shower drain ($7, part number 42787) was different for some reason, and matched mine perfectly. Worth a look if you’re in a pinch.

  31. Penny Hague August 31, 2017 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Hi Bob, I hired a contractor to install the floor in my shower with a rubber liner. I used a rubber because of the size. I watched him install the floor. The guy did not use any type of glue or adhesive. The drain is leaking. My question is do I have to take up the whole floor or can I chip the drain out of the concrete and put a new one in.

  32. Ron May 12, 2018 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Hi there,

    I have developed a leak from my second floor shower pan. I’ve cut through the ceiling on the main floor to access the area to assess the problem. The leak appeared to be coming from around the rubber gasket area. I removed the strainer body from above, inspected it and the shower pan for any cracks. There were none. I cleaned the strainer body and area on the bottom of the shower pan where the gasket sits as well as the top of the drain body where the other side of the gasket sits. The rubber gasket was in rough shape and slightly dried out (but not cracked).

    I installed a new gasket into the assembly and tightened it. During a water test it was quite evident that the problem wasn’t fixed as there was a fairly steady drip (flow) of water coming from the same area.

    I repeated the whole process again. What I noticed is that when tightening the strainer body it bottomed out before applying hardly any pressure on the rubber gasket. In my infinite wisdom I decided to double up on the rubber gaskets since they are the flat type. The strainer body still bottoms out when it is tightened with the two rubber gaskets in place, however it does seem to put a bit more pressure on the gaskets to get a seal.

    Now when the water is running there is no leak until someone is moving around on the shower pan. Then only about a drop every 5 to 10 seconds.

    My question is how to get a good seal on the gasket before the strainer body bottoms out when screwed into place? I’ve tried to find a thicker rubber gasket to no avail. I’m already using two rubber gaskets together. Not sure that I should try to add a third.

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    • Bob Jackson May 13, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Is there a lock nut on the bottom of the drain? If so, the nut has to be tightened too. Solvent weld drains like mine don’t have a lock nut.

      A solvent weld drain should tighten before bottoming out. Are the drain and strainer body threads in good condition? You said there aren’t any cracks in the strainer but I’d recommend replacing it anyway. You’ll have a buy a new drain to get the strainer body. The old strainer body might have small hairline cracks or possibly warped. It may not be evident until the drain is tightened.

      > Now when the water is running there is no leak until someone is moving around
      > on the shower pan. Then only about a drop every 5 to 10 seconds.
      The pan and drain is flexing under a person’s weight. Minor shower pan flexing is normal but the drain should stay watertight.

      You can e-mail photos to bob[at], replace the [at] with the @ symbol.

  33. Mrs. BJ Holloway (Peachie) June 27, 2018 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    I am trying to avoid a ripoff. I was told my shower liner had a leak by two plumbers. However, a third person said it was a drain leak. I don’t mind paying for a repair but I don’t want to be ripped off. What area are you in? I read this entire article through 7 and it makes sense but as a woman whose talents run more to accounting than Plumber repairs, I need help.

    Are you available for questions or recommends for a dependable person to do this job for me.? I am lost. Any assistance will be appreciated.


    Mrs. Holloway, Senior Citizen

  34. BJ Holloway July 2, 2018 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I lost my place. I am back now Bob. When you say a tiled shower pan, can you explain? I have a tiled shower floor and surrounding. Is this what you mean?


    Mrs. H. The Senior Citizen

    • Bob Jackson July 5, 2018 at 8:15 am - Reply

      It helps to understand how a tiled shower pan, liner and drain are installed. The YouTube video in this project is very helpful. The Sioux Chief tile shower drain instructions has a nice diagram.

      A solid or inflatable test plug set in the drain to determine if the drain pipe or pan is leaking. Insert the test plug and fill the shower pan with 2 inches of water. Wait 30 minutes to see if the water level is dropping or if the leak is immediately evident.

      If the pan is leaking along the edges where it meets the shower walls, it will have to be torn out and rebuilt.

      If the drain is leaking, it can be replaced by chiseling out the tile and mud pan around the drain, install a new drain, foundation mortar, set a donut-shaped shower pan liner around the drain that is sealed to the old liner with vinyl glue, add the top mortar layer and set new tile. Less work than rebuilding the entire shower stall.

  35. Mrs. BJ Holloway July 7, 2018 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Thank you, Bob. I am going to print your last instructions and show to my brother in hopes he’ll be able to follow and bring a great result. I’ll only trust him.

    Mrs. H.

  36. Marcus September 13, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Bob,

    I have a copper shower drain (about 18 years old) in a fiberglass shower stall that I think is leaking around the compression gasket. There are no visible markings on the top of the drain to indicate the manufacturer or model, and the underside is inaccessible unless I cut open my ceiling below. I plan to try and tighten the compression nut, but I was also thinking of applying some type of sealant (such as caulk) between the PVC drain pipe and the drain body (i.e., along the top edge of the compression gasket). However, I’ve read that silicone can corrode copper. Any suggestions on a sealant for this purpose? I do not know how I can replace the compression gasket without knowing who made the drain. I would sincerely appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you might have.

    • Bob Jackson September 13, 2018 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      I’m not aware of a copper to PVC caulk product and doubt caulking would be a permanent fix. I’m guessing a copper drain is the “no caulk” style with a flat sealing washer *and* a compression gasket. The flat rubber washer seals against the bottom of the shower pan, where the compression gasket seals against the PVC drain pipe. After 18 years it’s better to replace both.

      If you want to keep the old copper drain, you’ll need to cut a hole in the ceiling to remove the drain. You can compare the old washer/gasket with new no-caulk drains at the home improvement store for a fit, then reinstall the copper drain.

      The WingTite Shower Drain installs from the top of the shower (no cutting into the ceiling below) and is available from

      You can send photos to bob[at], replace the [at] with the @ symbol.

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