Shower enclosures

Issues relating to shower enclosures and doors are commonly associated with the process of installation and component failures.

Common shower enclosure issues

Component failure

Component issues are commonly associated with the moving parts of a shower door such as hinges and wheels. Wear, calcium and soap deposits can all adversely affect the operation of a shower door or even cause components to fail. Wheel tracks should be cleaned regularly and periodically lubricated with silicone grease to ensure continued smooth operation.

For a shower door to operate correctly the base should be exactly horizontal and the wall fixing profiles should be vertical and parallel the each other, ensuring that the frame is square. If vertical and horizontal levels are not achieved moving parts such as wheels or hinges may be excessively stressed or ware causing movement or complete failure. Bifolding and sliding shower doors are particularly sensitive to correct installation. Replacement parts are often available from the manufacturer and easily replaced, however, the problem will remain until the shower enclosure is adjusted or reinstalled. Contact the manufacturer of the shower enclosure for technical assistance and advice.


The outer frame of a shower enclosure is made from aluminium either white powder coated or anodised to prevent corrosion and preserve its appearance while fixings and components are made from stainless steel or protected by an anti-corrosive coating. The aluminium frame and stainless steel components will not rust, however, if water is trapped in the base of the frame and the fixing screws are submerged for long periods, the anti-corrosive coating can be eaten away and cause rust coloured stains to appear on top of the shower tray.

The problem is usually caused by silicone sealant applied to the base or inside of the shower enclosure which traps water and impleads adequate drainage. In order to correct the issue the shower enclosure should be removed, the fixing screws should be replaced and silicone sealant cleaned from the base before reinstalling and applying new silicone sealant. Occasionally a shower tray with a very flat upper surface may not allow adequate drainage even though the shower enclosure is installed correctly. In this instance small holes may be drilled into the base of the vertical frames to allow extra drainage, seek advice from the manufacturer before any modifications are carried out as this will almost certainly invalidate the warranty.

Hard water or lack of cleaning can cause a build-up of lime scale deposits to form on the aluminium framework of the shower enclosure, usually at the base where water may remain for some time after use. Over time the lime scale deposits can attack the anodised protective coating and cause the aluminium to corrode, indicated by a black residue or stain on the shower tray. There is very little that can be done to rectify this issue although it may be worth contacting the manufacturer of advice.

The importance of vertical and horizontal installation

For a shower enclosure to operate correctly it must be installed on to a level base and the wall channels should be vertical and, most importantly, parallel. If the correct vertical and horizontal levels are not achieved the shower enclosure will not operate correctly and, as discussed in the component failures section, the moving parts may be damaged. The installation of shower enclosures is discussed in greater detail in the ‘How To’ section of Shower Advisor.

Common problems attributed to the installation of a shower enclosure include sliding or bifolding shower doors that do not glide smoothly and pivot or hinged doors that either catch on the outer frame when operated or fail to seal at either the top or bottom when closed, often the top or bottom of the door will seem to meet the outer frame before one another.

The issue of poor operation can be corrected by adjusting the shower door within the wall channels. Study the shower door from the outside, the inner door and out frame should be parallel with each other. Adjustments may be made by removing all but the bottom two fixing screws between the wall channel and shower door on the inside of the shower enclosure. By holding the upper frame of the shower door and pushing it further into either the left or right wall channel the door will move within the outer frame. Try operating sliding doors after each adjustment, the operation will either become harder or easier indicating the correct position for the door. Once the correct position is achieved drill new fixing holes into the frame and wall channel before refitting the screws.

To prevent pivot or hinged doors catching on either the upper or lower frame look at the gap between the top or bottom of the door and the outer frame, it should be parallel along its length. Move the top of the frame to the left to right until a parallel gap is achieved. Once the correct position is achieved drill new fixing holes into the frame and wall channel before refitting the screws.

If the wall channels are not parallel the shower door will not close properly. The problem can only be corrected by realigning the wall channels which may require the removal of the shower enclosure and one or both of the wall channels to be refitted which will require new holes to be drilled into the walls. Contact the manufacturer of the shower door for advice regarding alignment issues related to installation.

Rubber shower seals

The rubber seals on most shower enclosures are easily replaced and readily available from the original manufacturer. With time and use the seals on a shower enclosure may discolour, perish, tear or become mouldy. Soaking mouldy seals in warm soapy water may remove mould but otherwise will require replacement. Sealing profiles may also become dry causing the shower door to stick when opened and closed; rubbing a small amount of silicone grease onto the seal will prevent the problem.

Most shower door seals are designed specifically for each individual shower enclosure and replacements are often inexpensive and easily sourced from the manufacturer directly or from a good bathroom retailer.

Silicone sealant

Issues relating to silicone sealant are discussed in detail in the Water Leaks section of Shower Advisor.