Leaks in the shower surround, the cubicle that makes up your shower unit, aren't always immediately obvious. Knowing the signs of a leak can help you catch it so it can be repaired before there is major damage.
1. Mystery Water
There shouldn't be mystery water standing around after you use the shower. If you are finding puddles outside of the shower cubicle after bathing, even if you are sure there was no over spray over the lip of the shower pan, there may be a leak somewhere in the shower surround. This leak could be a result of a crack in the shower pan or in the surround, or there could be a failed seal around the drains or water taps. Sometimes seals between the surround and the wall give out, allowing moisture to get under the shower and then drain out onto the floor.
2. Water Stains
Water that gets behind a shower surround needs to end up somewhere. For showers on an upper floor, the water may run downward so that yellowish water stains appear on the ceiling beneath the shower. There may also be water stains on the floor around the shower from water leaking beneath the shower pan. If water is getting in through the walls of the surround, then you may notice water stains on painted walls bordering the surround.
3. Musty Odors
Musty odors are associated with mold and mildew. Those with respiratory sensitives may even have some difficulties breathing if there is a strong mustiness in the bathroom. The cause of the mold and mildew could be from a leak in the surround, especially if the room is otherwise well ventilated. You may not have any visible mold if it is hidden behind the surround. In some cases, you may notice heavy mildewing around the edges of the surround or on the grout.
4. Peeling Materials
Is the linoleum flooring curling up around the base of the surround, or is wallpaper or paint peeling away from the wall edges of the surround? If so, moisture is somehow leaching into the neighboring materials and causing them to warp and fail. Peeling materials around the surround are a very obvious sign that there is a leak somewhere.
5. Trickling Sounds
After you turn off the tap you may hear trickling water for a moment as the shower pan finishes draining, but then it should be fairly silent. If you continue to hear a trickle or a drip that sounds like it is coming from behind the surround walls, then there is a good chance that there is a leak somewhere.
If you suspect a leak in your shower surround, contact a plumber so that they can perform leak detection.