Thursday, 3 July 2008

Leaking Silicone Sealant - A Cultural Problem

One of the most common jobs our London handymen undertake is the resealing of baths and shower cubicles. People sometimes just want the old sealant replaced because it has become discoloured or mouldy, but mostly it is because signs of a leak have appeared on the ceiling below the bath or shower.

It must be said, it is not always the silicone, in some cases there are cracks in the grout or water is making its way behind a valve or tap. However nine times out of ten there is a gap or hole in the sealant. The cure is often simple, scrape out all the old silicone and replace it.

Leaking sealant is a very common problem in the UK. If you visit your local B&Q or Homebase you'll find a whole aisle dedicated to different kinds of sealants, sealing strips and sealing tapes. All offering new and improved ways to seal your bath or shower. But why are there so many baths and showers that leak, is it the sealant?

I spent the first 24 years of my life in South Africa and I had never seen a tube of silicone, a silicone gun or heard anyone complain about a leak due to a hole in their bath or shower sealant until I moved to London. I realise now when I go back to South Africa on holiday that all baths and showers are sealed with silicone exactly the same way they are in the UK. So why is leaking silicone sealant such a problem here and not in South Africa.

As with most blog articles, I pose the question just so I can answer it myself. So here goes.

I believe the answer lies in space, or lack there of. The UK, or London in particular, has a lack of space. Houses are split into halves, quarters, basements and lofts. Flats are shared, even rooms are shared. Everybody lives either on top of or underneath someone else.

If you have ever lived in a flat or house share you will know that the efficient scheduling of shower/bathroom facilities is the cornerstone of any successful house share. The shower is in almost constant use. Some flatmates shower in the morning, some in the evening, some in the morning and evening. My point is the average London shower cubicle sees a lot of action and a lot of water. If there is even the slightest hole in the silicone with a constant stream of water flowing over it day in day out. Of course there is going to be a problem.

I propose that even the best silicone job is susceptible to wear and tear and a shower or bath that sees constant use day in day out will need to be resealed every couple of years to ensure a permanent and good seal.

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