WHAT IS A PUDDLE FLANGE FOR?
Technically, every shower should have a puddle flange . Admittedly, we’re not sure why you’re reading this blog or where you’ve heard about a puddle flange, but for whatever reason, you’re thinking to yourself ‘what is a puddle flange’?
So the actual thing itself is a white plastic fitting, which is basically a very short piece of pipe with a wide flange or brim around one end of the pipe. See here for a picture of one of them. Interesting? Not really. But what is interesting is how and why they’re used.
In a shower – tiled floor shower bases is what we’re mainly referring to here – all the water drains to a point where the outlet is and then down into the wastewater system and away from the home.
Every shower base has a gentle slope on it (it better have, anyway!) and during a shower, the drain or outlet is always the wettest. Yes, we know we might be stating the obvious, but what’s not so obvious is that when you’ve finished the shower, most outlets will have a little puddle around them.
Some puddles are very small and imperceptible, and you may not realise that the zone around the outlet stays damp 24/7. And of course, other puddles are quite noticeable. But due to the nature of tiles, tiling, etc, it’s almost impossible to set up a shower base so that the area around the outlet drains away every drop perfectly. This may be why you’ve heard about people using a towel to dry the shower base after every shower.
Hey presto, enter the puddle flange.
You see, grout, tiles, silicone and the manpower to put it all together – it’s never infallible. Grout is porous and can eventually break down. Tiles can crack. Silicone can deteriorate and lift. And there’s always the guarantee of human error every now and then!
So what can happen is that instead of the water going down the drain like it’s supposed to, especially in a situation where there’s always a puddle lying around the drain year after year, it seeps down beside the drain and under the tiles, and can eventually get into the substructure of the home.
And this is bad news – the last thing you want is a wet substructure – whether it be concrete or timber. Moist concrete can move and crack and the snowball effect of this causes all sorts of problems. Wet timber rots, moves, eventually loses its structural integrity and also attracts termites.
So the way to prevent this – or at least minimise it – is by installing a puddle flange under the tiles and waterproofing, right at the beginning when the plumber starts their work. This means that if water gets where it’s not supposed to be, the puddle flange ‘catches’ it, and directs it back into the wastewater system which the end of the puddle flange is connected to. This makes sure that the substructure stays dry, which is a jolly good thing.
Ok, you say, but if the grout breaks down and the tiles crack shouldn’t I get them fixed so the water’s going down the correct route?
Yes, fair enough, but how do you know when the grout has broken down and waters getting underneath? It’s very very difficult to determine when this actually starts, and even industry experts can’t tell when water seepage is happening in the early stages. But hey, isn’t it better to fix grout and tiles knowing that the substructure is untouched? It might seem bad news if a tile ‘lifts’ but it generally means that the water is pushing the tile up instead of soaking down into the substructure.
Yes, we know that in a perfect world the water should always drain away down the correct channels, but as we mentioned earlier, nothing’s perfect and sometimes the inevitable happens, and prevention is better than cure, so always make sure your builder installs a puddle flange on your shower base!
Disclaimer. This blog is our opinion only. The information provided in our blogs is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. The information presented in our blogs is for informational purposes only and we are not professionals, so the content we provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a professional before taking any sort of action. We reserve the right to change how we manage our blog and we may change the focus or content at any time.
Keen to find out more?
Reach out to us. We’re here to help.