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Unread 09-02-2011, 12:53 PM   #1
glider90
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New guy, hoping to learn. Shower leak detection and new tile floor.

I will try to keep the text brief, but I stumbled on this great site researching options to repair/remodel my bathroom. After a couple days of research I hope I am ready to ask for advice in a somewhat competent manner.

When we purchased our house the upstairs bathroom had carpet. It was always on the list of things to do something about, and since it is a small area of under 40 square feet I decided it would be a perfect place to learn to tile. I have always done my own work, but tiling is not something I have done yet.

Some mold developed in the carpet near the corner of the shower door, and I noticed it was much wetter than it should be. Out came the carpet. Further tests revealed I was getting about a 10" puddle near the corner of the shower wall with the fixtures after ten minutes of use. Closer inspection of low tiled revealed cracks in the grout. After a quick internet search (before I found this place) I figured I can seal the small cracks with white silicone to verify the issue. It certainly helped substantially, as now I get a slight drip (1/2" puddle perhaps) after a long shower at the same corner.

I believe my remaining slight leak is through the tile grout in other areas as well, and into the wallboard behind. I want to fix this, and fix it right before I do any further work so I can move forward knowing I am not doing damage to the structure every time I use the shower.

Pictures and captions are available, but I cannot post them yet per forum security, which I understand.

My options as I see them, but second third and fourth opinions welcome
1) Remove existing grout and regrout the offending wall, and likely the entire shower. The house was built in 1989, and I admit I have done no maintenance to the tile or grout in this bathroom since I have owned the house.

2) Remove the lower portion of the problem wall completely, (tile and drywall included) up to the existing wallboard seam just above the shower valve. This would give me the opportunity to better survey the damage, replace the damaged board with a better backing, and replace the obsolete "Mixet" valve with a current valve.

What would you do? Is removing and regrouting about the same amount of work as just removing the lower half of the wall? What are the concerns? My concern is how well I will be able to get the corner tiles of the fixture wall only out without damaging the adjacent wall. Another concern is matching the tile. Never having done this, what other pitfalls await?

Once the shower is back to where it is bone dry, I would (as well as my wife, yeah, especially her) like to put down something a little bit cool in the way of tiles on the floor. Perhaps a border, maybe a couple diamond biased tiles on the floor as we remodel the rest of the bath. I have dome some research there, and I think my structure is good. The floor is 3/4" plywood, on 2X8"s, 16" on center. I can put a porcelain tile on that with some type of backing it seems. Substrate suggestions welcome.

Thanks. I think the hardest part (after checking out the gallery) is trying to stay focused on just fixing what needs done rather than taking on a one year tiling extravaganza
Thanks
Jim
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Unread 09-02-2011, 01:00 PM   #2
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Welcome, Jim.

There is no restriction on attaching photos to your post. Use the little paper-clip icon above the Reply dialog box and follow the prompts.

I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding that is clouding your plan. The tile and grout and caulking in your shower is purely cosmetic and no part of the waterproofing in a properly constructed unit. No part. None.

If you're shower is leaking water to the outside, you need to replace at least the leaking portion, which will be the pan. There is no really good way to replace the pan and have adequate waterproofing between said pan and the existing walls.

The proper and necessary repair of a leaking shower unit is replacement. Yeah, you gotta bite the bullet. Anything less is generally just putting lipstick on your pig.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 01:10 PM   #3
glider90
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Thanks, for the reply, I hope to attach the overall image here.
Hmmh, I did a pan test, assuming it was the problem to begin with. I put water in the shower pan to about 1" below the edges and waited, flash light in hand looking at the bottom corner. Nothing.

Here's the first shot, hopefully. An overall of the bathroom. Note access panel door above toilet, some later pictures of behind the wall are taken from there.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 01:14 PM   #4
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OK, that worked, so I can show pictures now, thanks for the heads up!
Here are the wall tile gaps I had, my repair kit, and the results.
This helped substantially. I reasoned that water was getting in the cracks in the wall tile, running down the wall, and out the bottom of the wall behind the pan. Perhaps my reasoning is all wet though too...
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Unread 09-02-2011, 01:18 PM   #5
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Here's a closeup of the damage area. The water first appears from between the tile and the wallboard, then runs out in the valley formed by the small white vertical lip on the pan (best seen in first picture) and the tile.
The second picture (on the right) was taken from behind the shower fixture wall through an access panel. This is the bottom foot otr so of the fixture wall you are seeing, with wallboard damage behind the tiles.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 02:39 PM   #6
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We do so love pichers.

Because they point out so many things we didn't know. Like the fact that you have a prefabricated shower receptor instead of a traditional tiled shower pan, and that you have tile directly over sheetrock walls with no apparent waterproofing.

Given that, your shower is in much better condition than might be expected. But that hardly counts as good news. The bad news is that my earlier advice is changed only a little. Rather than saying there is little that can be done short of complete replacement, I'll now say there is nothing that can be done short of complete replacement.

Yes, filling those holes in the grout may buy you a little time, but you need to be contributing heavily and rapidly to the shower replacement fund.

The visible water at the outside corner is likely due to just what you described, but that's not really a part of your bigger problem. And the water there could be getting behind the shower door frame and draining out at that corner. That particular area is one of the first points of failure on any tub/shower (or prefab receptor) installation. You needed to have your waterproofing (had you had any) continue past the edge of the receptor and down to the floor. This "tub leg" is generally covered with tile just like the shower walls.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 03:02 PM   #7
glider90
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Okay, one last reply as I researched the shower pan. It is a Florestone 4832-1, which is detailed in the link here:
http://www.florestone.com/downloads/rec/rec_install.pdf

Here is what I was thinking regarding the path of water as I drew in blue...
Through the "finished wall covering" in this case the tile via cracks in the grout
And either into or between the "water resistant backing" and the tile, down the wall onto the black bead, which I surmise is the lower joint caulking, which is a bead of silicon. I was thinking it would then run along that and drain out over the threshold.

The "water resistant backing" in the case of my install appears to be regular drywall. Is that correct?
~Jim
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Unread 09-02-2011, 03:12 PM   #8
glider90
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Thanks CX, your reply came as I was posting the shower pan information, as I was thinking you would not know I had one of those easy way out prefabbed shower pans

I guess the original installation counted on the tile to hold the water out, as I had expected since that is all that I saw. (For clarification, I have done none of this work, it is as it was when I bought it in 2001, house built in 1989). Is the exterior tile as a waterproofer acceptable but not preferred, or was this shower unit never installed to code...some 22 years ago?

I am really not looking forward to what you are suggesting, because I know exactly how it ends. No more for me for quite some time.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 03:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim
The "water resistant backing" in the case of my install appears to be regular drywall. Is that correct?
Well, yes...and no. What's happened in the case of your shower is that someone used regular drywall instead of a "water resistant backing". Drywall, used alone, is not water resistant.

And I'll let one of the pros correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like that instructions for installing your receptor do not specify anything between the "water resistant backing" and tile...instead you just have the tile on top of your backing, then a bead of caulk at the bottom. As cx pointed out grout is not waterproof, so when water does find its way back there, it's going to want to go either through your backing (into the wood), or sideways somewhere (which is what it looks like it's doing now).

There need to be something that channels the water into your receptor - it might be something as simple as a poly liner draped just inside the receptor.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 10:23 PM   #10
glider90
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Well I am *really* glad I removed that wall. It was nothing but nasty underneath. It was 'greenboard', but it was ill prepared for the leakage it saw. I was able to remove without damage just the area I wanted. However my next inclination is to remove the other two lower walls as well, who knows what lurks behind there.

My only fear in that is, it will give us the opportunity to really do something nice with new tile all the way around the shower. Then that old fiberglass shower pan will really look out of place...

Need to sleep on it.
Jim
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Unread 09-02-2011, 10:32 PM   #11
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Jim, you could beat me and make me say otherwise, but there ain't no way I'd stop where you are and not remove the rest of that shower. You'll work as hard trying to make that repair look decent as you will if you tear it all out and start over. And the repair still won't make the rest of the shower any more waterproof.

If you decide you don't like the looks of the existing receptor, tear that out, too. The materials for constructing a traditional shower pan are well under a hundred dollars and the labor's free. Make you a really nice shower and never, ever, hafta even think about having a problem with it in this life.

Someday Mrs. Jim won't like the tile any longer and you might get to re-do it, but you'll be trained then and it'll be even easier.

Indeed, it's even obvious your little dinosaur agrees.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 09-02-2011, 11:38 PM   #12
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I agree with CX. I wouldn't stop there. Those other two walls surely have some nasty stuff growing in there as well. If it was built (incorrectly) in '89, it really has come to the end of it's useful life. I've seen a lot worse only after 10 years of use.
Yea.. that dinosaur looks like he wants to tear into that back wall.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 12:02 PM   #13
glider90
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You guys were right, and I pretty much knew it before I went to bed. The dinosaur went to town on the other two walls today. I am glad I did. There was mold starting on the lower 1/3 of both other walls.
I did leave a few rows at the top, as my initial plan was to only replace the areas that have been damaged.
I know asking this forum if I should go ahead and remove the rest is like asking a fish if he likes to swim

I probably will go all the way up, then Mrs. Jim can go nuts on her tile choice. (It was interesting to see her irritation with this "repair" turn to excitement when it started shifting to a "remodel"...

Regarding the shower receptor, I looked at the local big box store, and a tile ready pan was in the range of $600. Not in the budget for this project with the other things we want to do. However the idea of doing a "traditional" shower pan myself for around $100 is of interest. How much labor is involved in that, and can someone point me to a well detailed thread on the process?

Thanks guys, I know this is all pretty basic stuff so far, but I am appreciate the support.
~Jim
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Unread 09-03-2011, 12:12 PM   #14
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TAKE OUT THE WALLS, JIM. C'mon, man, why make more work for yourownself and get a mediocre job?

Look in our whirl-famous Liberry under the Shower Construction section for good information on building a traditional shower pan.
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Unread 09-03-2011, 12:34 PM   #15
glider90
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Do I want to remove the greenboard all the way up to the ceiling, or just up above where I plan to tile? That said, should I plan on retiling higher? All the way to the ceiling?
Thanks
~Jim
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