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Unread 07-25-2011, 07:36 AM   #1
New House Shower Problems
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One Year Old House - Shower Moldy and Tiles Popping

My family and I recently built a new custom home, and have been living in the house for a little over a year. Our master shower has always seemed to have more mold growth than one would reasonably expect and recently the tiles on the damn began to pull away from the damn/wall.

I called my builder, and he brought the tile sales/installation company out to inspect. They tried to tell me upon inspection that the problem was settlement of the house, which I took issue with, as no other portion of the shower or bathroom tile was cracking or showed signs of settlement. When they came out to repair the problem (I was at work), the said they discovered that we had hardwater build-up (calcium & magnesium) in the drain that the two inch drain was diminished to one inch. They said that the initial installation was done correctly, and that the problem was that the hard water caused the "weep holes" in the shower pan to hold water, which in turn caused the moisture build-up for mold growth and eventual tile problems. Now, they are trying to get us to pay for the repair after living in the house just over 12 months.

I have had Culligan to the house and we do have hard water. We're installing a water softener to avoid any further problems over time. The Culligan rep has been working with water softeners for 25 years and he said he had never heard of a case that a shower drain caused such problems in a little over a year. I am not inclined to pay for anything, as I find it really hard to believe that the hard water was the issue resulting in our shower problems. I still think there was a flaw in the installation method that caused the problems.

Can anyone give me some feedback to let me know if I'm crazy or if I'm correct?

Thanks,
Ryan
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Unread 07-25-2011, 08:16 AM   #2
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Ryan,

You're in the right spot, and we aren't charging anything.

Can you do us 2 favors;

1- Take a few pictures, some closer, some differing distances away so we can get an idea of what is happening. We need to see the surface under the tiles, the back of the tiles and the complete area.

2- Can you add your location to your profile? That would help us make recommendations for materials and methods.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 08:16 AM   #3
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While I suppose it's technically possible for hard-water buildup to clog weep holes, I think it unlikely in only a year. Also very unlikely that it could cause a backup to the degree that water would travel back up the wall and make the tiles pull loose.

Sounds to me like the install is highly suspect. Probably mastic over greenboard and an insufficient or no preslope. Pictures could help here....

I think you need to get a tile Pro in there to evaluate the situation.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 08:47 AM   #4
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Unfortunately, they have already ripped the tile out and have prepared the area to re-tile. They're supposed to be out here tomorrow morning to begin the install.

I unfortunately didn't take pictures on my own (although the tile installer did), and trusted that my builder and tile installer would make it right. I just left a message with my builder to send me the pictures, so I'll post them on here as soon as I get them.

I'm located near Louisville, KY. Can you help me with the proper questions to ask and the red flags to any subsequent answers? I'm set to have a meeting with my builder and the tile company to discuss billing.

Thank you so much for your help.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 08:57 AM   #5
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Start taking pictures NOW and all along the way. Have someone there to take several pics of each step. Post those pics here. We can monitor what they do.

If they simply re-do what they did wrong the first time.....
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Unread 07-25-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Here are some pictures that show the current condition of the shower. They've prepped it to install the new tile, which was on order and should be in later today.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 09:15 AM   #7
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here are a few more...
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Unread 07-25-2011, 09:16 AM   #8
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Also, the tile guy is now saying that it might be a type of shampoo or condition that has accelerated the calcium build-up in the drain that would cause the water to enter the weep holes and stand causing the mold and moisture. It sounds like B.S. to me...Thoughts?
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Unread 07-25-2011, 09:21 AM   #9
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Did it have Kerdi before? If so, that's a whole 'nother Bear. Kerdi doesn't use weep holes. It's a surface-applied membrane with their own drain.

If this WAS a conventional shower before...with a rubber liner and a pre-slope and final slope, then this is an excellent way to resolve your problem. Keep the pics coming.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 09:36 AM   #10
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What Laz said plus,

If they are only kerdi ing the bottom then that is all that will be water proof and nothing else. The normal course is to kerdi to the shower head or higher.

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Unread 07-25-2011, 02:37 PM   #11
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Good point, Paul....but the problems typically occur on the pan or lower on the walls. If he uses the JB Method of shower maintenance, (dry the walls after use) he might be OK....

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Unread 07-25-2011, 03:13 PM   #12
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Here is my question:
if the walls are not waterproofed on the surface, where is the water that WILL get into the CBU going to go? I've long tried to think through a way to use kerdi for shower pan repairs (I get a LOT of calls for them) but I can't see how it will work unless the wall runs down INTO the pan.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 03:40 PM   #13
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Nathen~I imagine that, if Kerdi isn't used over ALL the walls, there would be a certain amount of "leakage" that might penetrate the walls. Now, I doubt that TOO much water or vapor will go through Durock or any good CBU, a varor barrier behind is still a good thing. Failing that, a liquid-applied barrier on the front of the material should certainly take care of business.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 04:05 PM   #14
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Nathan,

That is why I stopped doing repairs / patch jobs decades ago.
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Unread 07-25-2011, 04:26 PM   #15
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I here ya Paul, but I live in a rural area, I take the jobs that come and thats how I built a customer base that refers the good jobs Sometimes that means fixing a shower for someone who can't afford (or is to cheap ) to do a new one.

Laz, I still can't see how that shower (as pictured above) will not leak if it's used daily.
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