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Unread 01-05-2021, 10:10 AM   #1
NJimmy
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How to properly seal corner of Tub where flange stops?

Hello,

I recently had our kids shower leak into the downstairs kitchen (not fun!) and discovered that the caulking around the tub had failed (admittedly, it was many years old). When I removed it to re-caulk, I discovered that there is a small corner of the tub where the tub "lip/flange" stops (it doesn't span the entire width of the tub) and that is where the water that go behind the old caulk went down the wall and finally found the kitchen ceiling below. Beyond simply filling the small cavity with a bunch of caulk again, is there something I can do to remediate any future problems if the caulk fails and water gets behind it so that I don't have water dripping down the wall behind it? I've attached a picture, it's hard to see, but I have circled in red approximately where the tub lip/flange stops in the corner of the tub.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 11:23 AM   #2
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Hi Jim,

I don't know of anything other than latex caulking that would work there. How wide is the gap further back on the tub deck?
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Unread 01-05-2021, 11:30 AM   #3
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Hey Jim,

It doesn't look like you have a tub flange at all from the pictures. but maybe just the lighting? a flange/lip would be about 3/4-1" tall behind the tile.


I've had a similar situation in some rentals of mine. All the tubs are cast iron from the 30's to 40's and were not meant to be showers, they have no lip at all, just a slight 1/8-1/4 inch "hill" at the edge of the tub.

When I did my most recent remodel of one, I didn't want to rip out the cast iron tub as it was in good shape, and would be a bear to remove, so I purchased some aluminum L bracket from the home store. I believe it was 3/4". I used Schluter's kerdi fix to adhere it to the outside edge of the tub. I was doing kerdi board for the walls so I had it on hand, and it is quite an amazing adhesive/caulk. I've since used it in many applications for closing up gaps, seams, and what not. Its very expensive, but worth it to me as it works really well.


In your situation, if you are not remodeling, you may get away using kerdi-fix or something similar back there. Its a bit of a pain, but you can actually build it up in layers and tool it somewhat flat just behind the tiles, then apply silicone caulking over it. I would do it this way, as further down the road when I need to re-caulk, I wouldn't want to be digging all that old caulk out.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 11:37 AM   #4
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Welcome, Justin.

Very common problem you have there. Biggest part of the problem is that the area should have been water tight well before any tile was installed. Also very common for that not to have been done correctly.

The ceramic tile industry has tried to get the tub manufacturers to extend those tiling flanges out to at least the where the horizontal portion of the tub ends and preferably all the way to the floor, but I doubt we'll ever see any real movement on that.

Best you can do at this point is to try to seal the area with a flexible sealant. I would recommend a 100 percent silicone rather than any latex or siliconized acrylic-type caulk.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 11:59 AM   #5
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how wide is that gap? most caulks say to fill no deeper than1/4". The idea is that the caulk should from a narrow bridge [1/4"] between the edge of the tile and the tub. this way it can stretch in one axis for the movement. I think if is to deep then it cant stretch in the vertical axis like you need. as to what product to use there are so many products out now. I've been leaning towards urethanes. but mostly for external widows and siding things. I like the DAP extreme stretch. It is a elastomeric urethane, it claims 600% stretch and it does adhere and cleans easily but is 100% waterproof. it says sticks to anything but it doesn't call our showers' or tubs specifically. its says seals joints up to 3"
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Unread 01-05-2021, 12:04 PM   #6
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I all - thanks for the comments so far. I have attached 2 more pics to show what (at least to me) is the bathtub lip/flange and where it ends to make things a little clearer (hopefully). I know the first two pics where not that great. The gap in the corner is about 1/4" from tub to top of tile.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 12:19 PM   #7
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Yes, you have a tiling flange. No it doesn't extend far enough to be useful for proper waterproofing. Very common situation and really must be addressed prior to tiling.

Do you know if any of your walls are waterproofed at all? I see no evidence of a moisture barrier behind the wallboard lapping over that tiling flange. The only other option would be to have a direct bonded waterproofing membrane applied to the face of the wallboard and if you had that you would likely not have the hole you've got.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 12:46 PM   #8
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Hi - I don't know if there is any wallboard behind the tile....if I look as close as I can and use a flash light to see what is beyond the open gap, it look like there is a brownish looking "wall" with gray plastic material coming off it (almost like whatever is back there had a plastic sheet attached to it which is now coming off the wall. Unfortunately I really can't get a picture of it but it sounds like there are two choices here:

1. fill the cavity with 100 silicone caulk (and just be sure to monitor the caulk around the tub for future cracks, gaps, etc. to to make sure caulk doesn't fail and water gets behind it

2. potentially remove some of the subway tiles in that corner to see what's really behind there and try to remediate problem fully before putting tiles back and re-caulking tub. Is it relatively easy to remove 2-3 of those corner tiles to get better access to the "gap"?
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Unread 01-05-2021, 12:54 PM   #9
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I wouldn't remove any tile unless I were starting to demolish the whole thing. I promise when you got a few of them off, there would be no good place to stop.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 03:46 PM   #10
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This is just another example of the stupid building industry. perhaps that tub had a longer flange but it is so easy to chip off in transport or installation.
Mst likely your tile is Just bonded to drywall , a bit better if painted with some magic goo that is supposed to be waterproof if applied during the full moon and in 3.5 coats at 20 mil thickness. You may have cement board.
The best would be a membrane that you could bond to the tub. What CX is saying is there is no way to fix it properly.
I would buy you a beer if you could get a tile off without chipping any or breaking any or finding that many are loose.
Do you have a picture of the caulk as it looked when you noticed the leak in kitchen? was it really directing lots of water in?
You need to assume that water is going through the grout and draining down the thin set. then hopefully it drips inside the flange but then it has no where to go and then it migrates and finds a way in and down at the missing flange area.
So My suggestion to use a backer rod is retracted. you really need to bond the drywall to the flange. meaning you don't want to bond the tile to the tub as water can still get behind, but not much. Not really enough to cause a big problem from one long shower. But I bet the caulk was open and directing wall water into the crack. I'm assuming this is the front of the shower near the head.
I'm almost thinking you need to really caulk up that missing flange area and however you caulk the joint you need to leave some weep hole openings
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Unread 01-05-2021, 04:28 PM   #11
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Hi Teddy - yes, this is the front of the tub where the shower head is. I should have taken a picture before i started removing the caulk. when I pressed on it (right after we saw the leak and had one of our kids get out of the shower) water came out as there was several visible seams where the caulk had (I am assuming) shrunk and was no longer totally bonded to the tub portion anymore and the back of the caulk (that was against the tub "lip") was still wet/moist 2 days after the shower when I started to remove it so I agree that water got behind it...and had nowhere to go but the gap in the corner where it then dripped down the wall and down to my kitchen ceiling below.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 05:38 PM   #12
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you may want to pull off the valve escutcheon plate and see if it is sealed very well.
I bet you can look right into the wall. Same for the hot cold valves if they are separate. They usually come with some wimpy open cell foam ring as if that will seal water I prefer to use caulk in an open upside down horseshoe pattern and make sure it is enough caulk to contact the tile and the metal cover.
As for your tile to tub crack I would clean it real well with acetone but be careful if acrylic tub or 90% rubbing alcohol. hen I would caulk real well near the opening in the flange so any on the tub wont run that way. if any comes down the wall above that you cant stop it but it should be almost zero. then maybe have a small 3/8" wide opening so water can drain if it does get back there. Then caulk the rest but you have to decide how best to do it because you can see what is behind the tile.
Today I think most guys would install the tub and then put on the drywall so it is over the flange or have a waterproof membrane come down the wall and over that flange.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 05:42 PM   #13
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Jim I ran into a similar issue in my last home, if it appears that your substrate is still sound enough that those tiles will stay adhered I might have an easier solution for you. Little triangular pieces between the tub and wall at ends, like this:https://www.amazon.com/Prime-Line-60...42247580&psc=1

I agree with Teddy that some way to allow the substrate to dry is good in theory, but if you have a shower curtain (and especially kids who don't pull the curtain all the way forward) you can really get some bulk water in the area.

If you remove the existing caulk between the tile and tub and then put in 100% silicone, you adhere the little triangular plastic pieces at the same time. Now you should have eliminated any bulk water in the area where the tile flange on the tub is and then you're only dealing with allowing any moisture penetrating the grout to dry out. You could in theory leave weep holes on the outside tub apron to wall interface, since you will never see a cascade of water out there. Hope that made sense.
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Unread 01-05-2021, 06:49 PM   #14
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backer rod THEN 100% silicone caulk
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