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Old 08-18-2018, 10:07 PM   #1
chemprof
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Potential problems with loose caulk

One of our showers has some areas where the caulk has pulled away a little in the corners. Can someone explain the issues if there is inadequate caulk in the corner areas where the walls meet in a shower? Other than mildew concerns, what are the potential problems if some water gets in any gaps in those corners? The shower has cement board and plastic behind the cement board. We really would like to avoid having to completely re-caulk.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:09 AM   #2
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Rob, is this the same shower as the one in this thread?

The caulk has nothing to do with the waterproofing. In your case, that is the plastic behind the cement board. The caulking is just aesthetic. There's no fixing it, just replace it with 100% silicone.
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Old 08-19-2018, 03:37 PM   #3
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One thing that can optimize a caulk joint is to use backer rod prior to installing the caulk. Filling a rectangular cavity when the joint may move means maximum stress on the edge bond to the tile since the caulk ends up being rectangular as well. If you use backer rod, the curve forces the back side of the caulk to be more of an hourglass (thinner) shape, meaning it's easier for it to stretch in the middle verses along the tile's edges, and tends to maximize it's ability to stretch without pulling away from the edges. Regardless, though, the edges must be clean to achieve a good bond strength.

Backer rod is available in various diameters and colors (color not as important) and it fairly cheap, especially when you consider that you'd be using less caulk to fill the cavity.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:10 AM   #4
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No, this is a different bathroom. It has silicone caulk, but there are a couple of spots where it looks like it has pulled away from the edge a little. Not sure if this is due to cleaning with a scrub brush, use of bleach cleaner or what. May just be shifting of the house. This shower is not used as regularly as our master bath, so it does not have daily water exposure. There is no evidence of mildew, and we try to always dry the shower walls after use, as per John's suggestion.

I understand the waterproofing aspects of the cement board and liner. My concern was if it is possible for the thin set to somehow be affected if any water did creep behind any of those loose areas in the corners because I have heard of people having tiles fall off the wall.
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Old 08-20-2018, 05:55 PM   #5
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Cement, once cured, isn't affected by becoming wetted. Some latex based modified thinsets, under some conditions can have issues, but that's mostly when being submerged, not in a typical shower, but say in a pool.
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