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Here’s What To Do if Your Shower Drain Doesn’t Line Up

Bad things can happen when the shower drain doesn’t line up. You will likely deal with overflow issues when the drainage is off-center and an adjacent tile can break completely. All those mildew smells at unexpected times can make your home an unhappy place. 

Thankfully there are simple solutions.

Shower Drain Doesn’t Line Up

Find Out Why Your Shower Drain Doesn’t Line Up

The first thing that you need to do is find out why your bathroom drain isn’t lining up. There could be several reasons your bathroom shower drain doesn’t line up with the main sewer line.

Improper Installation

If the plumber did not put in pipes properly during installation, it might cause the drain line not to line up. They may have laid the pipes at angles rather than straight lines (if your P-trap doesn’t line up, read our guide here). Thus, water flowing down through these pipes might encounter resistance and flow back up rather than straight down.

An Old House

You may not have noticed when the plumber installed your drain lines, but they can shift or even sag in some areas over time. Another way that drains can move is if your house settles over time.

Your Drain Is Sagging

Your drain may sag if the floor is not level. In this case, the drain line will be lower in one area than another, and it could cause your bathroom floor to leak or overflow.

Multiple Drains Are Close to Each Other

If multiple drains are nearby, check whether each pipe connects to the same main drain line. If that’s the case, the lines can get elevated, making it impossible for any sinks or tubs to drain efficiently.

Use an Adapter To Extend the Shower Base

A crooked shower drain can be a significant source of frustration for homeowners. Showering can suddenly become a nightmare when your drain stops working or won’t line up with the base. A drain adapter can help you get your shower back in order.

Choose the Right Adapter

The first thing you want to do is decide what type of adapter you will need. There are two different types of adapters, one that is a slip-on and another that has a screw on top. The slip-on is recommended for curved drains, whereas the screw-on is for straight drains.

Measure the Drain Pipe 

Once you have decided what type of adapter, go to your local hardware store and purchase the appropriate size for your drain pipe extension. Make sure it does not exceed ¼ inch over the bottom of your original drain pipe fitting. Otherwise, it will be too large and leak when you put it back together.

Remove the Shower Base

For adapter installation, start by removing the shower base. You can do this by unscrewing a few screws on one side of the base and then lifting it up and out of the way. The exact process will vary depending on your specific model.

Once you have access to the pipes, look for where they connect to the drain hole. The most common place for these connections is at floor level, but some showers are set up differently, so it’s essential to check before starting work.

Remove the Shower Base

Extend the Drain Pipe

Measure how much pipe needs extending and cut a length of flexible PVC pipe, so there’s enough room for an elbow fitting at both ends of the extension piece. You may find it easier if you cut several short sections rather than one long section. This way, you can thread it through tight spaces in your plumbing system easier.

Attach the Adapter

Use a wrench to unscrew the cap at the top of your drain fitting. The cap will screw off easily and reveal a threaded portion underneath it. Insert an adapter into this threaded area, then reattach the cap to secure it.

Screw the adapter to the top of the extension piece fitting it over the bottom of the drain pipe. You may need to turn on the water pressure for this step so you can test for leaks or drips. If there are no leaks, tighten down all connections using wrenches (see our guide on a shower head that continues to leak here).

Place the Shower Pan Back on Top of the Drain Pipe

Place your shower pan back on top of the drain pipe and line up its corners so that they’re flush with those of your floor. Slide it forward until it’s even with where you measured for your drain pipe earlier.

Apply Caulk Around the Drain and Let It Dry for 24 Hours

Apply a bead of silicone caulk around the inside edge of the shower base and let it dry for 24 hours before installing the rest of the shower components. The goal is to keep water from leaking through the joints where your new shower base meets the walls (see our post on leaky shower heads for more simple solutions).

Turn on your water supply and check for leaks. If you see any leaks, tighten any loose connections or caulk joints as necessary.

Level the Base Using Wood Shims

If your shower drain is tilted, then you may notice that it does not line up with the floor. A tilted shower drain will eventually cause water to pool on one side of the base, instead of draining. This moisture pooling causes hazardous mold growth. Luckily, there’s an easy fix using just a few tools and wood shims.

First, Remove the Drain Cover

The first step is to remove the drain cover. Use a flat-head screwdriver to loosen the screw at the top of the drain cover. Once it is loose, gently lift it off the drain cover and pull it off the shower drain. Next, use pliers to remove silicone caulk around your shower drain.

Undo the Screws Holding the Drain to the Floor

Then, undo the screws holding the drain to the floor. This task might take some muscle power, so be prepared! Once those are out, remove any old caulk around the base of the drain opening.

Clean off any debris that might have been hiding there before reattaching everything again (you might need a wrench and some plumber’s tape to help get everything loose).

Redo the Fittings Underneath the Base

The best way to level out the base of your shower is by using wooden shims between the tile and subfloor. These will raise or lower the height of your shower base so that it matches up with the rest of your bathroom.

If you don’t want to use shims, you can use leveling compounds sold in many home improvement stores. These products come in different strength levels and are easy to apply with just a small amount of water added.

Screw the Shower Drain Back Into Place and Reconnect Everything

Screw the Shower Drain Back Into Place and Reconnect Everything

Once you have leveled the base, screw the shower drain back into place (have you ever wondered why shower drains and tub drains are different sizes, find out why here). Make sure that you don’t over-tighten the screws, or you will strip them out of their holes. Once the drain is secure, connect all your plumbing lines and turn on the water to check for leaks.

Use a Shower Tray

A shower tray may be an excellent solution if your shower drain doesn’t line up. It will ensure that your shower drain lines up with the rest of the plumbing in your bathroom and that you can use it without any problems.

Why a Shower Tray Is a Good Solution

A shower tray works for a crooked shower drain because it comes with its drain, ensuring that the water flows down into your new bathroom flooring correctly. It is also easy to install because there’s no need to drill holes through your existing flooring and create more mess in your bathroom.

Measuring for a Shower Tray

When installing a shower tray, there’s no one-size-fits-all product. The best way to decide on the right size is to measure the hole in your floor and then measure the height of your current tub or shower. Once you have those two measurements, you can look at the specs for each model.

Choosing a Shower Tray

Many different materials go into the making of these trays, including ceramics, fiberglass, and acrylics. Each material has benefits and drawbacks, so you must choose carefully based on your needs and budget.

For example: if cost is an issue, a fiberglass or acrylic model may be better since they’re cheaper than ceramic models. But if durability is essential, then a ceramic model may be preferable. They’re stronger than fiberglass or acrylic models.

Shower Tray Installation

Lay the tray on the floor. You can use a spirit level to ensure it’s completely level. But don’t worry too much about this as long as it’s not noticeably sloping.

Mark where the outlet pipe will go. Align the outlet with your shower drain and use masking tape to secure it.

Attach side panels to each corner of your new shower tray using clips or screws. Then seal it by applying silicone sealant around all joints between panels and walls before sliding.

Inspection Is Key

If a shower drain doesn’t line up, the first thing to do here is to inspect the bathroom and talk to your contractor or builder. They will be able to sort out what has happened with this installation and if any solutions can be implemented. If you have to do it yourself, follow the above guide to align your crooked shower drain.

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