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Old 02-06-2018, 10:32 PM   #1
real_cozzy
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Shower water puddling

I am having major problems with the contractor I hired to tile my bathroom, especially with the tile in the shower. After about 6 or 7 attempts at fixing bad tile attempts I am now stuck with a shower floor that puddles a lot of water. The shower floor is a one square foot river rock pattern on mesh and they messed up in three ways. Number one there are areas along the wall where the shower is sloped towards the wall not the drain. Secondly they did not put enough grout in the joints and water puddles in most of the grout joints. Lastly, there are a few big dips in the tile as if they stepped on the mortar and or tile before it was dry and made dips. The dips fill up with quite a bit of water and are very uncomfortable to stand on.

I had a second tile guy inspect the job and he said that the problem with standing water is that it will seep down through the tile in the grout joints and will eventually cause some "not so minor" issues. He said in some places the grout will crack and that the water seepage will lead to a future mildew and mold problem. There is a "hot mop" that was tested that is suppose to be a last line of defense for water getting into the substrate (slab) and causing problems with the foundation. He also noticed that the weep holes in the drain are all clogged so as is none of the seeping water will ever be able to escape.

His proposition is to leave the tile in and to put a new tile on top of the old tile. He would (I am not a subject matter expert on this lingo) red guard the old tile and then put a new layer of thin set and feather it out and make a proper slope then place the new tile on top. He would also unclog the weep holes and put in a drain extender since the floor level would be slightly raised.

Any thoughts on this? Does the current tile problem seem problematic? And does the fix seem thoughtful?

RC
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Old 02-06-2018, 11:57 PM   #2
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I see problems. How would he tie the new layer of waterproofing in to the drain? The weepholes are an inch or more down beneath that top layer.

FWIW, it is often recommended to have nearly twice the minimum slope when using pebbles so that they do drain. That won't necessarily help if there are dips or depressions.
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Old 02-07-2018, 01:37 AM   #3
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So you would recommend taking out the original shower floor tile (and mortar)? He told me this was option #2 but that the drawbacks were, 1) it would cost more due to demo and 2) there would be the danger of him accidentally damaging the hot mop during demo.

Not sure how much (2) is true.
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Old 02-07-2018, 02:03 AM   #4
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Any time you start banging on the liner, there is the possibility of damaging it. But, prior to building it back up, whomever does the work should redo a flood test to verify it is intact which will give you the opportunity to fix it if it needs it.

While the liner is exposed, you should verify that it has a smooth slope to the drain with no puddling. The liner is the waterproofing...neither the tile nor grout are, although they do channel most of the water to the drain, the liner takes care of the rest. If it isn't sloped, you'll continue to have problems.

Pebbles can look good, but they can be a pain to set well so that things drain and they are comfortable to stand on. There's a huge variation in the materials. Considering they are a natural, therefore random item, how well they work out will depend a lot on the skill of the person that first makes up the mat, and second, the person that sets them. How they are grouted will make a big visual difference, but if you try to make a level surface, you'll end up with mostly grout showing, and only the very center of the pebbles showing. They often look better in the showroom!
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Old 02-07-2018, 09:52 AM   #5
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Hi RC,

I suspect your pebbles are of the rounded variety, and I've always found them hard to stand on. For this reason I've recommended the sawn stone type which are flat.

I think the second guy might not be much better than the first. I would never try to cover rounded river rocks with other tiles. At the very least, the stones should be removed and the mud surface smoothed and shaped so that it will drain.

Post a picture.
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:31 AM   #6
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In case I didn't explain it well, the second tile guy wasn't going to put the new tile directly on the round pebble floor he was going to put a new layer of mortar (or whatever it is called) on the round pebble floor and feather it out from the drain and make a new slope and then put the new tile on top of that. He has some red guard somewhere in there to waterproof it.

What kind of pictures would help? Here is two I took. One shows how deep and wide one of the dips is. It is easily the depth of five quarters/coins and with a diameter of around four inches. The water puddles in that hole really bad along with pretty much everywhere there is grout and also along the side walls where the tile definitely slopes against the wall. The other picture just shows some balls that I can lay against the wall and they don't roll to the drain. I can take a basketball (I have it on video) and roll it randomly in the shower and it will almost never stop on the drain.
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:10 AM   #7
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Typically a fabric is used to tie liquid waterproofing into a drain assembly when used on a pan. It would prove to be difficult to tie everything together just going over what you have.
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Old 02-08-2018, 09:43 AM   #8
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He said he would use a drain extender to raise the drain level.
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Old 02-08-2018, 10:03 AM   #9
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Its obviously up to you, but that's just not a route I would go. When the water that gets behind the wall tile travels down to the pan it will then be trapped under the redgard will no way to evaporate since it is sealed topside. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 02-08-2018, 12:12 PM   #10
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Sorry if this question is dumb (I am not a subject matter expert but am learning quickly), in a normal shower setup (with a hot mop) how does the water that seeps through the tile grout (or behind the wall) normally escape?

What path and what does it have to do to get to the pan?
What path and what does it have to do to get to the weep hole?

What are you trying to avoid to keep your grout from cracking and from getting mildew and mold from underneath your tile?

Thanks.
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:45 PM   #11
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Neither tile nor grout is waterproof.

The setting bed is made up of a lean, sand and cement mix (i.e., mostly sand with enough cement to hold it together). As a result, that deck mud is quite porous - done correctly, it is very much NOT like a cement slab - good in compression, but weak because there's not much cement in the mix - the sand is barely held together with lots of 'holes' in it for moisture to move through. If the waterproof liner is properly sloped (and not flat on the floor), any moisture that gets beneath the tile will percolate through the deckmud, then reach the liner, and because it is sloped, reach the drain. There are small passages in the clamping drain called weep holes, that allow that moisture to flow into the drain at the level of the liner (not at the top). If the weep holes are clogged, liquid water will need to get much deeper (and become more stagnant in the process) until it reaches a level where it can eventually reach the drain. Putting in a waterproof layer on top of all of that would typically require a different type of drain, or the use of the divot method, to allow that moisture a path to escape. That is not easy to do with a tile over of the existing shower pan.

Because it's almost impossible when just doing a tile-over to seal between the pan and the wall, there will be some moisture that will get beneath from the edges, and then, with a waterproof layer below and the RedGard (in his example) on top, it can't evaporate, and the path to the weep holes you know are already compromised...that layer will get wet and never be able to dry out. Painted on waterproofing layers do not work well if they have moisture from below.
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Old 02-08-2018, 04:55 PM   #12
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There should be a hot mop layer with mud on top, then the pebbles. Water getting through the grout hits the liner and is directed to the drain, assuming there's a proper slope.

I would remove the pebbles and check the slope of the mud bed. Fill or grind the areas needed to make the floor sloped properly, then retile. Again this is assuming the hot mop layer is properly sloped, and if it isn't, you would need to fix that.
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Old 02-08-2018, 05:37 PM   #13
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Thanks.

What is the liner? Is the liner the hot mop or something else?

My hot mop was inspected by city and passed. But I am not sure if they tested anything more than "does it hold water". Is the hot mop suppose to drain to the weep holes?
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Old 02-08-2018, 06:58 PM   #14
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Depends on if was sloped toward the drain. Hot mop is a regional thing and isnt done in most parts of the country. I dont have any experience with them so I'm not sure if presloping the hotmop layer is standard operating procedure or not
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Old 02-08-2018, 08:03 PM   #15
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I've heard of hot mop installers layering the tar paper and tar to be thicker at the walls to give the surface a pitch. A good inspector will know that the hot mop should have enough pitch to get the water to the weep holes. A good inspector will also know to make sure the weep holes are open and not clogged with tar. A good tile man would know the same.

Since the shower floor has the wrong pitch, I would have the stone and mud removed. He can be careful and not damage the hot mop. Once removed, he can check the hot mop surface for pitch and make sure the weep holes are open. Flood test it and tile it back.

I don't know if a hot mop pan can be patched. It might be possible in case it is damaged.

If your installer can't even get the floor to pitch the right direction, makes me wonder what else he couldn't figure out. What's did he put on the curb before tiling it?
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