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Unread 10-10-2019, 02:15 PM   #1
MichaelGia
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Thoughts on best way to replace ceramic tile from a hot water radiant heated floor?

I just purchased a home in suburbs of Chicago and the master bath has porcelain tile over a hot water radiant heated floor. The floor is in bad shape so I would like to replace all the tiles. Worried as to how best to remove all the old 12x12 tiles without damaging the radiant heated flooring. Some things to note:
* House was built in 1927 and master bathroom remodeled with radiant heating in 1990.
* It is hot water radiant heat from boiler in basement
* Plastic/pex tubing is embedded in cement and depth of cement appears to be 1 1/2" with plastic/pex tubing being approx 3/4" .... so not sure how much space between tile and tubing?
* Don't want to put new tile over existing tile.
* Source of heat is from boiler in basement. This same gas heat boiler also supplies hot water heat to baseboard heat throughout the home. But this heat to master bath radiant heat is on a separate line.

Thanks for any suggestions.
Michael
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Unread 10-10-2019, 03:05 PM   #2
speed51133
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so you have self leveling cement or gypsum poured over pex?

I would use a demo hammer with a 4in paddle chisel on it. how well are they bonded??
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Unread 10-10-2019, 03:08 PM   #3
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Welcome, Michael.

"The floor is in bad shape" in what regard? The tile installation has failed, as in cracked grout or tiles or loose tiles or..........other?

Have you removed any of the tiles to inspect the radiant heat system? Clearly, the heating system is not original to the house, but do you know just how old the tile installation is?

Do you know what's under the mud bed installation?

Let's start with that.
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Unread 10-10-2019, 04:57 PM   #4
MichaelGia
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The floor has some cracked tiles ... just ugly tile!
But bonded pretty good. Won't know how good its bonded until I try. But just checking with you all ... so thanks for giving me your input.
Re: what is all there ... it looks like 3/4" plywood and then the cement with the pex tubing in the cement ... and then tile on top! So just wanted to see if I could take old tile off and put new tile on top?
Thanks again!
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Unread 10-10-2019, 05:35 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum, Michael.

Are you sure this is cement and not gypcrete? Gypcrete will be a lot softer.

I'm wondering why your tile cracked. If the substrate has cracked and caused the tile to crack, then setting new tile over the crack will just give you the same result.
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Unread 10-10-2019, 06:06 PM   #6
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How are you able to see the cement if you haven't removed any tiles? Sometimes the tiles will pull up off the cement, sometimes the cement wants to come up with the tiles, so you won't know for sure until you try. A picture of what you have might help us.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 11:17 AM   #7
MichaelGia
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Thanks.... updating with pics now ... but not 100% sure if tile laid over cement or gypcrete. Haven't removed any tile just quite yet as trying to get help to make sure I don't bust any of the PEX pipes laid in the cement or gypcrete. Curious ... if laid in gypcrete ... will it be easier to remove tiles?
Thanks again for any help.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 11:42 AM   #8
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Here is side shot pic of tile and cement or gypcrete or whatever else it may be under tile ... in which pex tubing is in for the hot water radiant heating to flow.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 11:52 AM   #9
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Do you know the thickness of the plywood underneath?
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Unread 10-11-2019, 12:03 PM   #10
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I believe there is 2 layers: initial one on joist guessing is 1/2" plywood .... and then 3/4" plywood in which the cement/gypcrete/etc/tile is on
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Unread 10-11-2019, 12:06 PM   #11
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or both could be 3/4" (it appears)?
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Unread 10-11-2019, 08:02 PM   #12
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I don't think they're the same thickness. I couldn't even tell that's what that was on top of the first layer. I can't help but wonder where this is that you're getting the picture from. Typically, there is blocking around most every opening, and I'm not seeing it there in the lower portion of the picture.

It's an interesting makeup of the floor, whatever it is.

I don't think anyone here can give you a guarantee that you won't break up any of the concrete/gypcrete underneath. That's just something we can't know.

What I can tell you is that the smaller the pieces are, the less likely that'll happen.

And also that if you already have a crack in the tile because of a crack in the substrate, there's possibly a structural problem you won't be able to fix very easily. But until you actually start some demolition, we won't know for sure.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 09:37 PM   #13
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I can't tell just what you've got there, Michael. Could be helpful to know the various thicknesses of whatever materials are in there, but I'm not sure it matters much. And I got no idea what the white stuff is for and I don't see any reinforcing metal anywhere in the mix.

I can tell you what the tile industry requires for such hydronics over wood framed floors, but that's only gonna apply if you've removed what you have. And I agree with Kevin that we're not really gonna know what you're dealing with until you break out at least a little of it.

As for tiling over what you've got after you remove the tiles, all I can say is that if the existing installation has failed, it's for sure the substrate has not improved any since then and I'd be reluctant to tile over it even if you find the existing tiles easily removable.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 10-11-2019, 10:31 PM   #14
clifton clowers
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Some new PEX is going to be the least expensive part of a tiling project (and the least expensive part of a radiant heating job), and the effort to save what's there will almost certainly not be worth it. And the way radiant heat is done now is surely an improvement over how it was done 30 years ago. I'd gut the whole thing, fix what needs fixing, and redo it.
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Unread 10-21-2019, 12:03 PM   #15
MichaelGia
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Thanks for the responses.
Just to update ... I don't think the issue is with the flooring or joists or material used. The cracks in tile(s) were done by homeowners dropping heavy object. The rest of tile is is good shape. Only reason to replace tiles is for new updated look. So main reason for post was to see how best to remove current tiles and if ok to set new tiles in same place. Just was concerned about how to do in safe manner with radiant heating under the flooring. Thx again
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