Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile (https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/index.php)
-   Tile Forum/Advice Board (https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=1)
-   -   Strange Pop-Up Problem With Friend's Floor (https://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=49108)

Carol_in_FL 04-21-2007 09:50 PM

Strange Pop-Up Problem With Friend's Floor
Hi, I'm new to this forum. My friend has a strange problem with the ceramic floor tile in her kitchen which I'm trying to help her solve. About 2 days after Easter, two tiles about 4 - 5 inches off the end of the penisula containing her sink and dishwasher raised up about 3/4" at one end at the grout line. Within a day or so about 4 - 6 tiles in the vicinity sounded hollow when tapped. About a week later, parts of 12 tiles sounded hollow. We became very concerned (she is a woman living alone, living on a pension, and does not do any DIY herself).

Now a little about the house. The house is a little over 6 years old and she is the original owner. The tile was installed directly on a concrete slab. She also is not a clean freak that damaged the grout with cleaning products.

We've already talked to the builder and tried to see if they would fix the problem under the 10 year extended warranty. We've had the tile company that installed it come look at it. They wanted to see what the builder would say. The builder has been out to see it twice and basically told her it was a tile problem and her responsibility because it did not affect the structural walls of the house. She also has no replacement tiles and at this point we don't know if any more of this tile type is available. (Is there a source for discontinued tile on the internet?)

After the builder left the 2nd time on Thursday this week, I got sick of waiting around for these guys to find out what the problem was (and my friend was getting more and more worried as the days passed), so I took a chisel and mallet to the cracked grout and removed the 4 worst tiles. Lo and behold, there seemed to be NO PROBLEM THAT WOULD HAVE CAUSED THE TILES TO POP UP LIKE THAT AND BECOME HOLLOW UNDERNEATH!! One problem -- I broke the first 2 tiles until I started breaking the grout line only 1/4" at a time (and she has no replacements)!

The only noticeable problem was a little light grey staining of the concrete under the middle intersecting t-shaped grout line of the 4 tiles I removed. There was a small, closed shrinkage crack about 4" diagonally across one corner, but this was 13" away from where the grout line popped up and didn't appear to affect it. All 4 tiles came off the floor cleanly except for about a 6 square inch area in one corner where the mortar stuck to the floor (the rest stuck firmly to the bottom of the tiles). One strange thing I remember is that when I was cutting (I think) the last side of the 3rd or 4th tile, when it released it suddenly popped up about 1/8" - 1/4".

Anyway, I'm confused. I am a retired Civil Engineer who worked with highway design but had courses in college in Concrete and Soils. I really don't see what caused this tile to pop up suddenly like this. This grout line is probably over both water and sewage lines under the slab. (Looking down this grout line there is a bathroom sink and toilet on one end (behind a wall) and the kitchen sink with the dishwasher behind it on the other end). If there was a leak wouldn't the slab be wet? Also, the water meter doesn't run when everything is off. There is also no sign of any cracking or settling in any nearby (1.5' - 13' away) walls. Does grout occasionally just swell and cause tile to pop up and lift off a concrete slab for no apparent reason??

HELP! I don't want to advise her to get this floor re-tiled just to have the same problem re-occur. What's your opinion on what's causing this sudden pop-up along the grout line? If we get the rest of the tiles up without breaking them, can they be cleaned of the mortar by being soaked in some solution so they can be re-set or does she have to get 12 new tiles to replace all those that sound hollow? Does she have to replace all the hollow tiles or only the ones that are noticeabley raised up (maybe only the 4 I already removed + 2 more?)

Thanks for your time reading this and your advice.
Carol Hennessy

Tool Guy - Kg 04-21-2007 10:03 PM

Hi Carol,

Sorry to hear about the problem. From your description, it might be a case of "tenting" caused by expanding tile pushing tight up against obstructions and having nowhere to go but to force themselves up off the floor. Look around the perimeter of the tile job to see if there is an air space or if the tiles (and/or grout) is tight to the walls or tight to the baseboard. There needs to be a gap around the tiles to allow movement. You may need to remove some molding to see this detail. :)

ddmoit 04-21-2007 10:05 PM

Hi Carol,

Sounds like the tiles are tenting. My guess is that the tiles on the perimeter of the floor do not have a required space between them and the walls. Can you pull up some molding to check if the tiles are flush with the walls?

Here's a link on expansion joints and perimeters...


Carol_in_FL 04-21-2007 10:26 PM

Reply to Dan and Tool Guy Re: Tenting
I was just looking at the Expansion Joint article while you guys were answering me. No, I don't think there are any expansion joints anywhere in her house (or mine for that matter). She does have a lot of tile in her 1 story, 3 BR/2Bath house and almost no carpet and this problem occurred about in the center of the house near where a person would walk along the problem grout line and then turn either left or right to enter a bath or bedroom off the kitchen. I think the tile is tight up against the baseboard with about a 1/8" grout line running all around the room (the same as mine).

Tool Guy - Kg 04-21-2007 10:37 PM

How large of an area is tiled? It would be helpful to see a little sketch with the measurements on it showing all the tiled areas. Here is a link to posting photos that might help you post a sketch. And can you tell us if the tiled area with the problem is exposed to direct sunlight through windows or skylights? :)

Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:01 AM

Answers to Bubba's Questions
1 Attachment(s)

I have 4 pictures and a plan view of my friend Penny's house that hopefully will answer your questions. So here goes:

Picture 1 is the Plan view of Penny's house showing the tiled areas in yellow, with dimensions and highlighting the problem point where the tile first raised up 1/2".

(I guess I will have to post these one at a time even though I reduced them. )

Be right back with Picture 2.


Tool Guy - Kg 04-23-2007 12:04 AM

That's a pretty lengthy span with no expansion joints. So far this is consistent with a tenting problem.

Can you confirm that the tile and/or grout is tight up against the walls & other restricting obstacles? :)

Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:08 AM

Picture 2
1 Attachment(s)
This picture shows the problem area with the tile popped up 1/2".

Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:11 AM

Picture 3 -Problem Area with 4 tiles removed
1 Attachment(s)
Here's the same place with the tiles removed. As you can see there is only some light staining under the grout lines.

dave on his knees 04-23-2007 12:14 AM

Hi Definately needed some expansion joints for that lenght of tile. TCA recommends an expansion joint every 20 to 25 ft of lenght interior and expansion joint around the perimeter of all areas. 8 to 12' interior in direct sunlight. If no expansion tiles can just pop off floor which is what sounds like has happened. If your house has no perimeter expansion yours might pop too. The perimeter can not be grout has to be open or caulked. Good luck

Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:16 AM

Picture 4 - View along longest run of tile
1 Attachment(s)
Picture 4 - View along longest run of tile from the Nook (looking across the removed tile area).

dave on his knees 04-23-2007 12:18 AM

hi: just saw pic. Definately tenting sorry. Hi KG, Darn I missed a good party was planning to go but just have to much work. Sounds like alot of fun was had by all.

Tool Guy - Kg 04-23-2007 12:20 AM

As Dave Gobis would say, "looks like a lack of movement accommodation". The tile needs to be able to expand and contract w/o being subjected to enough force to cause the installation to fail.

If there is some kind of warranty after these years, I'd get the builder back to fix this. I wouldn't bother with the installer, as your friend paid the builder and the contract was most likely with the builder. So the builder is the one you want on the hot seat. This initially looks to be a simple case of installation error installing tight to the walls that kept the tile from moving like they wanted to. The builder may or may not understand what is going on. You might need the services of a tile inspector that can look carefully at a number of facts and issue a report that you can use to clearly state the problem.

If these tiles are just replaced back in position and nothing is done to alleviate the cause of the pressure (tight to the walls), it will happen again in the future. Probably won't be for years down the road. The tiles can't be installed tight to the walls and still expect them to expand like they will in a normal installation. :)

Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:23 AM

Picture 5 - View of Problem Area from Kitchen
1 Attachment(s)
Picture 5 - View of Problem Area from Kitchen in front of sink, looking toward bathroom. This is the area that has another 8 or so hollow sounding tiles.

Well, this is all I have for tonight and it's really late. I'll check back with you guys tomorrow morning. Penny has a tile guy coming at 11 am so I'll try to get back with you before that to see what you thought of these pictures.


Carol_in_FL 04-23-2007 12:29 AM

Short Reply to your Posts
What is the real remedy here for Penny and for my house as well? In areas where we exceed the long run limits would it be enough to try somehow to remove the grout near the walls and replace it with caulk??

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:55 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2018 John Bridge & Associates, LLC