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Unread 07-24-2020, 03:47 AM   #1
Juliet
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Does anyone know what this is?

Hi, I'm Juliet...my home was newly constructed and will be 2yrs old in Sept 2020. In March a milky white substance appeared on the metal shower drain and increased in size, also the tile next to drain started holding water and leaving the same milky substance. Ashy white spots are collecting on the surface of the tile and water is seeping up through the grout lines of the shower floor. The builders FINALLY sent the Tile people 7/13 to unclog the weep holes. Im sure mold has grown under the floor and behind the walls since moisture has been detected by an outside Co I called. The warranty should cover this but only if there is a deficiency or if caused by construction related materials. The Builders have only had weep holes and drain unclogged and an acid wash that didn't fully remove all of the white ashy substance. Tile Co claims its grout, hair and soap that clogged the drain, but no one wants to remove any tile to see what's really going on in the shower floor and walls. From what I've read, I'm suspecting Effloresence, but Idk, this is out of my depth. I need to find out what this is so that I can pursue a proper remedy before the warranty expires. These are the pics I took. Desperate for help....experience and knowledge is appreciated.
Does anyone have any idea what this is and the cause?
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Unread 07-24-2020, 01:51 PM   #2
sanantoniotileinstallatio
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Calcifications

Hi Juliet,

To me this looks like some sort of calcification. Without the use of a water softener, water has (sometimes high depending on where you live) levels of calcium and magnesium that can cause calcium deposits anywhere where water often flows. Have y'all looked into that at all? That's what it looks like to me.
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Unread 07-24-2020, 01:59 PM   #3
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If water is seeping up through the grout then the pan is full of water. The weep holes are underneath the tile, its physically IMPOSSIBLE to clean them without removing tile since its outside the drain and part of the clamping assembly.

Assuming everything you have stated is correct and it's not soap scum, it certainly appears that way, it would need to be torn out.
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Unread 07-24-2020, 10:33 PM   #4
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Madison,
I would think that the entire sub-division would be having the same issues since we all have the same water source, and no one else seems to be having this issue.

Jeff,
I think I need to have a General Contractor pull up a few shower floor tiles to identify the problem and the source. The Builder are twiddling their thumbs right now and have not communicated with me since they cleaned the drain and weep holes on 7/13. I need all my ducks in a row because we may end up in court!
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Unread 07-25-2020, 06:09 AM   #5
jerrymlr1
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Is that "milky" substance in the drain hard or soft? What kind of soap is being used in the shower?
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Unread 07-25-2020, 06:14 AM   #6
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And.... can you get a couple pics of where the walls meet the floor? The grout joint with the efflorescence is a good sign that the mortar bed is not draining properly. The water is exiting thru the joint depositing the minerals.
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Unread 07-26-2020, 11:19 AM   #7
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I agree with the others and like Jeff said in post 3, you can't clear the weep holes without removing tiles. To me, it looks like soap but could be water deposits also. I agree that there's water standing on the pan liner, due to no preslope and clogged weepholes, or both.
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Unread 07-26-2020, 12:13 PM   #8
Juliet
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I uses Caress Body Bars of soap. The top layer was soft, but just below that was a hard white substance that they had to remove with what looked like the edge of a box cutter. They had to scrape it out of the drain. In the pic where it's been placed on the floor, you can see its almost curling. The drain is a 2 piece drain. The weep holes could be seen inside the drain after the hard substance was scraped off the inner walls of the drain. I think some kind of construction material blocked the weep holes and that caused soap to build up on top of it. Water is still seeping up through the grout lines since the drain was cleared. Can the cause be determined if I have a few floor tiles removed? Any idea how much should I expect to pay for the removal?
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Unread 07-26-2020, 04:40 PM   #9
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If you have any of that white stuff left, drop some into a cup with some vinegar and leave it overnight. If it's calcification, a lot, if not all of it will dissolve in the weak acid.

I don't remember if you mentioned, but a bit more on how the pan was constructed might be illuminating. Since you have a liner, do you know for sure if the liner was placed on a sloped mud bed, or is it flat on the floor? If it's flat on the floor, the only fix is probably tearing things out. Plumbing code requires the waterproofing to be sloped, and that is not the tile or grout...it's the liner.

The tile will be sloped to the drain because the stuff underneath is sloped (because of the pre-sloped mud bed, not the setting layer which is just installed parallel to it, and thus sloped).

Without the liner being sloped, water will accumulate in the pan.

If the white stuff is somewhat resilient versus hard like crystals, it might be that they used a mastic, which, nobody makes suitable for use on a floor in a shower (walls, yes, pan, no). The only materials suitable for use on a shower pan for adhesive are epoxy and cement-based materials, no mastics (i.e., one-part materials).
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Unread 07-26-2020, 10:38 PM   #10
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With you saying that the tiles around the drain are now holding water, that would indicate tile movement. Between that, the somewhat wide caulk joints (indicates inexperience), and the somewhat splotchy grout color (sometimes due to using mastic which can react with the grout to make it discolored in some situations), my first thought is an inappropriate setting material. I know you don’t have much time on this warranty, so I’ll throw a few things at you...

I’d use a handle of a broom or something to press down on a tile next to the drain. Press down with 20# of force. If a tile moves enough for your eye to see, it’s a dead giveaway that the setting material isn’t rock solid. It would make me think mastic was inappropriately used to set the floor tiles.

If the tile seems solid and you don’t want to do any sort of destructive test, I’d do a different kind of test. Immediately switch to a liquid soap, as it doesn’t leave residue like bar soaps do (you want to eliminate your bar soap as a possible bogus explanation). Continue using the shower. If the pan is indeed saturated with moisture...and there’s something funny oozing from the pan (like mastic, latex, or efflorescence), it will continue to occur, irrespective of the soap you use. Take photos now...and at one-week intervals. If the problem returns, you’ll have photo documentation that something under the tile is oozing....which would give me a fair amount of confidence to remove a tile and know that I’d likely find a smoking gun.

In the mean time, the more info you can give, the more likely we can zero in on the problem without waiting and testing. That leads me to asking if you have any progress photos from the shower build or if you know of any of the materials used.



P.S. What is the disk on the bench?
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Unread 07-28-2020, 07:07 AM   #11
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I didn't quite catch the distinction of the results I should expect using the vinegar. What happens if it is calcification and what happens if its not? I know nothing about the construction of the shower/shower pan. Sorry, and at this point, I'm not sure the company would be forthcoming with answering any of my questions. The substance they pulled out of the drain had no crystals. The top layer looked creamy but under that was a tough solid substance with a very different consistency, plastered to the walls of the drain and weep holes, requiring it to be scraped out with sharp tool.

Tonto Goldstein
No info on how the shower was built nor the materials used. The disk you see in the picture is a hair drain catcher that is placed over the shower drain. I purchased it to prevent my nephew's long flowing hair from going down the drain when he visited me from London. I am not a hairy person (have NEVER had to shave my legs, bald eagle here) and my hair is locked (small dread locks called Sisterlocks), so I am having a hard time believing that my hair could have possibly been a factor in blocking the drain. I will try some of the things you mentioned. I told the builder that I thought the tile had shifted since a depressed area popped up near the drain and the water started pooling. Also the drain became somewhat slanted. Their response was that if the tiles were moving, cracks would develop in the tile.
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Unread 07-28-2020, 10:11 AM   #12
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not a professional, but I bet it was installed with mastic that is now somewhat liquified
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Unread 07-28-2020, 04:28 PM   #13
jadnashua
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If the material was calcification...it would be hard and crumbly. It would also dissolve when put in an acid solution. Vinegar, while generally considered a weak acid, will dissolve calcium (acid rain is less acidic, and look at what happened at say Carlsbad Caverns!). A mastic won't dissolve, but will become softer, like a paste.

If it is 'squishy' on the surface, it's probably mastic. There is no mastic manufacturer that I'm aware of that allows for its use on a shower floor. They do allow it (well most) on a shower wall, but not on a shower pan. Most mastics dry, it is not a chemical reaction like concrete. So, if it sees too much moisture, it can soften and wash away, loosening things, and gumming up stuff. If the layers build up enough, it could get hard underneath, with only the top surfaces still softer. Cement, when it cures, will NOT soften if it gets wetted afterwards. Cement curing is a chemical change that is not reversible, at least at room temperature.

One thing that confuses many is the use of the word thinset...it is not a specific product, it is actually a method of attaching tile. FWIW, a mastic often is applied and may be correctly called a thinset material. Many think of thinset as a cement-based material, but that is technically incorrect (but it is installed as a thinset material!?).

If they used a mastic, and you can afford to not use the shower for awhile, they could probably plug the drain, fill the pan with water and let it set. After a few days, the tile could probably be lifted right off of the surface. MIght take a bit longer, but the mastic will become soft just like it was in the bucket when it came from the store. If they used mastic on the walls, the bottom row might get soft, but if you didn't mess with them, the mastic would solidify once the pan was drained.

FWIW, mastic, while maybe easier to use since you don't have to mix it, usually ends up costing lots more than a cement based thinset material. It can be good for small projects in dry areas, but isn't a good idea for use in a shower, IMHO, even where it could work (walls).
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Unread 07-28-2020, 05:31 PM   #14
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This white stuff is right under the grate. I've been wrong before but I think it's soap.
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Unread 07-28-2020, 06:12 PM   #15
jerrymlr1
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I agree with Davy. The mush on the top looks to be soap scum, residue. There is also efflorescence coming thru.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Juliet
I told the builder that I thought the tile had shifted since a depressed area popped up near the drain and the water started pooling. Also the drain became somewhat slanted.
I'm missing something. Is there already tile popped up and loose? I think the only way to correct this is to remove and redo the floor. Or live with it. I would try some liquid soap if you can. Much cleaner allaway around.
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