Loose tile around shower drain [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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01-20-2002, 05:21 PM
My bathroom in my 1960 ranch house has 1x1 tile on the floor and 4x4 tiles on the walls that appear to be more modern. I recently noticed that one of the 1x1 tiles near the drain, which was cut very small to fit the shape of the drain, has fallen down. It is not completely detached, but I am convinced water can drop straight down on one side of the tile. I am afraid to pull it out or push it through until I know what I may be getting myself into. Any tests I can perform or advice. This is the master shower and it is used twice every day at least. Although the shower looks well constructed, the stories I have read about incorrectly installed shower pans has me especially concerned.

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01-20-2002, 05:39 PM
A loose tile around the shower drain is probably the result of consistent traffic on a tile with poor bond to the mortar bed from the start. This really should not be interpreted as an indication of a problem with the pan, which is under the mortar bed. Is there something else going on that may lead you to believe a more serious potential problem exists?

01-20-2002, 05:45 PM
No. In fact, the shower looks and feels solid except for the small tile "chips directly around the drain. If you could see the ugly 1x1's, you would know how much it pains me to say this. I would love to replace the tile, but it seems like too big of a job a this point in my renovation plans. Still, I am very concerned about this opening around the drain. Have you ever run into this before and how would I fix it?

John Bridge
01-20-2002, 05:46 PM
Hi Blue,

I think LD is correct. If it comes loose entirely, you may want to re set it with thin set mortar. You'd have to let the floor dry out a little.

You can also perform a shower pan test if you like, or you can hire a plumber to do it for you. I've posted a little article on the subject.


01-20-2002, 05:52 PM
Thanks. I have printed the article and am considering designating next Saturday for shower testing. If all goes well with the pan test, it sounds like I just need to reset the tile around the drain and forget it. Thanks. I just found your board and web page today. Great resource...you have already been bookmarked.

01-20-2002, 05:58 PM
With respect to "the opening around the drain", other than having to look at it, don't let that concern you too much. If the pan is intact, and was installed correctly over a preslope with a clamping drain and functioning weep holes, any water finding this spot still ends up at the pan, and ultimately the weep holes that allow this water to exit the system via the attached drain line. You have to remember that the mortar bed is getting wet, even beneath the intact tiles.

As John suggest, if your still concerned, perform a shower pan leak test. Generally, if the pan is leaking for any length of time, there will be obvious signs of water damage in the immediate vicinity. (Drywall stains, consistent mold/mildew where there shouldn't be any, etc)

John Bridge
01-20-2002, 06:30 PM
Since you mention it, re-tiling an old mosaic shower floor is not a big deal. The tiles will peel off readily. For the most part the grout is holding them in place. In the drain area the mud was not packed as tightly as it was out in the field. That's why the tiles are loose right there.

You can peel the floor tiles off the mortar with a flat chisel and hammer. Once you get a few out, you might be able to get under them with a putty knife or margin trowel and simply pry them up.

Once the tiles are out and the mortar bed has been cleaned up a little, you can allow it to dry for a few days and then install new mosaics with thinset trowelled onto the mud bed. Let the installation set overnight and then grout it in. This will also allow you to pack some extra mud in around the drain.

Do the pan test first. If there's a pan problem, we can help you deal with that also.

Latney, There's a spread in the Houston Chronicle today about Comal Country and Canyon Lake. Growth vs. No-growth.

Bud Cline
01-20-2002, 06:37 PM
If you find you have no leak and are left with only ugly tiles at the drain then maybe you should leave well enough alone.

Those ugly little tiles (if porcelain mosaics) are very very hard tiles and very hard to deal with. I would guess that eight out of ten showers with porcelain mosaic floor tiles are ugly around the drain.

Installers won't take the necessary time to do a nice looking job. When cutting those little tiles they just break in all directions, they have a mind of their own.

I would bet tho you could remove the floor tiles and redo them without any real problems except getting them to look good around that pesky drain.

01-20-2002, 08:46 PM

Well I don't know what the consensus was in the growth vs no-growth article, but I can tell you the place is growing, like it or not. Lots of rumors floating around about some additional high dollar commercial enterprises in the near future as well. There are some new subdivisions going in on the North end of the lake with houses that start at 3500sf and go up from there.

From my perspective, I guess its all good. If it gets too crazy I'll just have to move further up the road, maybe some river-front on the Guadalupe or Perdenales river further up Hwy 281!

BTW, what was the consensus?

John Bridge
01-21-2002, 06:40 AM
No consensus. Just a lot of "us" versus "them" back and forth. Developers want to build, and long-time residents don't want them to. Scare tactics such as running out of water and overpopulating the schools, etc.