A plumber has just repaired a leak in my shower tap pipes. To do this he had to smash out tiles from the shower wall, and now I am left with a big hole to repair:

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I could re-tile this hole but if I need to access the pipes again then its such a pain to go through this process again. So I was wondering if there are any watertight panel-type products which can cover the pipes and taps but can be easily removed for access?

I have seen access panels in drywalls on the other side of a shower wall, but my shower is up against the edge of the house (indoors) so I guess that is not an option. I thought about custom making a metal or plastic panel with quarter-turn latches to hold it tightly against the wall but I'm worried that it might not seal properly.

  • Your tub/shower plumbing is on an outside wall? – Tester101 Apr 8 '15 at 0:24
  • the plumbing is inside the double brick house-edge wall yeah. – mulllhausen Apr 8 '15 at 1:04
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    Showers should never have their plumbing installed on an outside wall like that. It makes it very difficult to gain access. Most builders put them on an inside wall and then have an access panel on the other side, so it is easier to gain access. As far as I know, there isn't any alternative besides retiling the area. Just make sure that the repairs are done properly so it doesn't have to be done again. Also consider installing a higher end tub/shower kit that has a replaceable cartridge so it will last as long as you are living there. – Jason Hutchinson Apr 8 '15 at 20:03
  • indeed. the house is from the 1970s in south australia. thanks for the advice. – mulllhausen Apr 8 '15 at 22:28
  • You could try the plate idea, caulking edges to seal it. Might not be pretty, and might need maintenance, but it would be easier to open up if necessary than cutting thru the tiles again. – keshlam May 11 '15 at 15:27

A tile guy I've been working with gave me a great pro tip recently: do all the plumbing in a shower in a vertical straight line, and use a single vertical line of accent tiles to cover them up, going floor-to-ceiling. This way, if you ever need to bust up tiles and access the pipes behind them, you only have to re-do that single line of tiles, not the whole shower.

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    How would you install backer, waterproof, and so on after busting up tiles? If this is a secret way to fix tile/pluming issues explain it in detail. This just confuses me because I don't see how you would reattach everything properly. – DMoore May 12 '15 at 2:20
  • I'll ask him but after thinking about this, I bet you could use a sawzall to cut along the grout lines through the backerboard, and then when you wanted to patch the hole, you would screw the new backerboard to wood shims like in a drywall patch, then apply the waterproofing, thinnest, and new tile. – iLikeDirt May 12 '15 at 2:42
  • I am not sure about that. I would need to hear about it in more detail. No way you are waterproofing that area after just cutting out a hole. – DMoore May 12 '15 at 4:06

Note that if you are retiling you will have to do that whole wall. There is no way to retile just that section.

Your plate idea will work. It will need to have a rubber/felt backing around the perimeter of the backing. Then just silicone around it.

I doubt it will look good but it depends on what you want.

Realistically if you did a good job of installing the new valve, there should be no issues in the future. So just take down that section and retile it. It wouldn't take more than 4-5 hours to put up new backer, take out door, and retile. It might take that long to find a custom plate.

The other option is just go with a fiberglass panel on that wall. You can take out the panel if there are plumbing issues in the future.

  • the fiberglass panel sounds promising. how would it attach to the wall? – mulllhausen May 12 '15 at 2:14
  • Take out tile and glue to wall. You would probably get a piece that has a corner lip that would install over the tile on your long wall. The tile to fiberglass seam would just need some silicone. – DMoore May 12 '15 at 2:21
  • ah ok. i prefer the idea of bolting something to the wall, then it can be unbolted easily later. has this been done before with fiberglass panels? is it a bad idea? – mulllhausen May 12 '15 at 2:28
  • Pulling it off the wall isn't hard. Just use less silicone behind it. You pry it off the top then pull.. – DMoore May 12 '15 at 4:05

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