Posts

Leaking tubs and showers…Why?

We often get calls for tubs and shower leaks, most of the time the leak starts slow and is undetected, until some visible damage has occurred. One of the most common spots for damage to occur is outside the tub or shower in the corners. The main reason this happens is the caulk around the tub splits, cracks or separates from the tub and tile allowing water to get behind the caulk. Bathtubs and fiberglass shower pans have a one inch lip that runs all the way around it that the tile hangs over and covers. So the water channels along that lip behind the caulk, behind the tile, and behind the shower door frames, unseen. People often think their damage outside the shower is caused by careless family members not be careful with shower curtains and such, not usually the case.

This is an example of caulk that has split allowing water to penetrate it.

This is an example of caulk that has split allowing water to penetrate it.

Inspecting your showers and tubs on a regular basis will greatly reduce the chance of structural damage. If you see any cracked, loose or missing grout and or caulk, take care of it asap. If left unattended the sub-floor under the tub will rot, becoming soft and allowing the tub to move when someone stands in it. If this happens, it will be difficult to maintain a caulk bead around the tub that won’t crack. At that point, the tub would have to be removed and the sub floor repaired, this can be quite expensive.

The key to getting a good, long lasting seal is the preparation. All the old damaged caulk and grout must be removed, dried and properly cleaned. Making sure the cracks and crevices are dry is super important, the new caulk will not adhere or set up correctly if there is any moisture present. This is the number one reason for failed caulk jobs. We use toilet paper to find, and wick out moisture in hard to reach spots, shop vacs can be used if there is a substantial amount of water trapped.

Once the old, damaged caulk is completely removed, we need to make sure the crevice is completely 100% dry.

Once the old, damaged caulk is completely removed, we need to make sure the crevice is completely 100% dry.

Then a heat gun is carefully used to further dry the area. Some custom shower floors that have a hand made shower pan with tile & grout can take a very long time to dry out enough to re-grout. We have had some that took a month, with a dehumidifier in the shower before we had acceptable numbers on our moisture meter.   Once all the necessary preparation is done we install a mold and mildew resistant silicone caulk.

It is very important to use mild cleaners to gently clean the surfaces, harsh chemicals such as bleach and abrasive cleaning sponges or scrub brushes are a sure fire way to damage your grout and caulk. People that tend to be obsessive about cleaning, can be doing more harm than good. Yes, you can overclean!

After the surfaces are properly prepared, new caulk is installed, making this tub water tight once again.

After the surfaces are properly prepared, new caulk is installed, making this tub water tight once again.

Tile Backsplash

Installing a tile backsplash

Pristine Tile & Grout Restoration specializes in cleaning tile, grout, carpet and concrete however we occasionally stray off the beaten path for some of our regular customers. In this case we installed a tile backsplash to add a nice touch to their kitchen.

Installing a tile backsplash

The first part of the job is removing all the switchplate covers and outlet covers. We then check the wall to make sure there are no high spots that need to be scraped down. The next step to any tile job is the layout, in this case it was pretty easy and straight forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installed tile backsplash

After we installed the tile we let it set up for a day or two before we can grout it. When we came back to grout we found a nice surprise, my favorite customer was happy with our work once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile & Grout

This photo shows the job completed, the color of the grout is Platinum, which is a light gray. It looks a little dark here because it is still wet, once dry it will look much lighter.

 

 

Pet soil

Do you think your tile is clean?

Pristine tile and grout restoration offers free tile & grout cleaning demonstrations in the Fredericksburg Virginia area. Call 540-841-3907

Pristine Tile & Grout Restoration Yellow Pages Ad

 

Missing Grout

A minor shower repair could save thousands.

Small spots of missing grout

Missing Grout

The first picture shows a half inch of  missing grout, more than enough to allow water to seep in and cause big problems.

This next picture shows a small piece of missing grout directly above the soap dish, After a short period of time the soap dish will be history. It is common to see these problems in the lower front corner of the shower, the area that takes the direct water assault every day.

The third photo shows how the caulk has separated from the tub, once this happens water gets trapped behind the caulk causing it to turn black from the inside out. This also creates the problem of the water running along the lip of the tub, behind the caulk and tile, finding its way to the floor outside the shower, ultimately causing floor damage as well. Missing grout in Stafford Virginia shower

Inspect your grout and caulk periodically

It is a great idea to inspect all your tile work from time to time as most of these minor problems can be fixed easily and inexpensively, but putting it off will surely result in thousands of dollars in repairs.

What causes these problems?

There are many reasons grout and caulk fail, the main reason is poor installation. Grout is a cement based product that has no elasticity at all, so if there is any movement in the wall, floor, or tub, the grout will crack for sure. It is common for the grout to crack along the corners and edges after installation, when this happens we usually caulk those areas. Caulk has the elastic properties needed to handle the expansion and contraction that happens in all homes. Just filling a bathtub can be enough weight to compromise the joints between the tile and the tub if the subfloor, floor joists or tub installation does not meet code requirements.

Other common reasons for failure is improper mixing of the grout, over working the grout with too much water,  or not preparing the surfaces for grout and caulk. Caulk will not stick properly to surfaces that have moisture, soap scum, body oils, mold, mildew ect…

These additional reasons still fall under the improper installation category. The only reason that doesn’t fall under that category is faulty products. Bad grout and caulk is not common, but we do come across it from time to time. Just like grocery shopping, always check the dates on the product, I have come across many out of date products in the home centers across the Fredericksburg area. Never use grout or caulk that has been opened or laying around the garage for a long time. These products are inexpensive and it is definitely worth buying fresh sealed product for every job.

The last two photos show the same tub and shower I worked on, in Stafford County Virginia last week. Both were minor repairs that took less than an hour, and will save this rental property from big repairs and even worse…down time.

cracked separated caulk in stafford va

Cracked separated caulk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stafford county shower repair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

caulk job in stafford virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replacing cracked or loose tiles.

Why are my tiles cracking and grout falling out?

There are many reasons why tiles crack or become loose. The most common reason is poor installation. There are many short cuts installers can take to save time or money, most may not be noticeable for a year or two, long after the job is done. By this time the installer is nowhere to be found. Before tile can be installed the floor should be prepared with a suitable cement backer board. The board should be layed in thin set, and screwed down as well as making sure all seams are taped.

After the sub floor has been prepared with backer board the tile can be set in thin set. For larger jobs there should be at least 2 installers to ensure the thin set does not start to set up be for the tile is placed on it. It is also advisable to butter the back of each tile, another step that is often skipped because it just takes more time.

Pristine highly recommends using a company that specializes in installing tile, not just a handyman or a family member. You will be much happier with your floor in the long run. Pristine has two personal favorites J & J tile and Marble or quality carpet and floor(Bob Mcdonald or Scott Busby can help you). Please trust me on this, I get call after call from folks who’s floor is failing because they tried to save money on the install.

So… after all that has been said, can we fix your floor?

sometimes… it depends on the severity of the problem. If it is just a few tiles or a small area that has become a problem we can carefully remove the tiles, grind down the old thin set and re-set the tiles, as shown in the photos. If the problem is widespread through out the majority of the floor, chances are, it was a really poor installation job and needs to be done over.

One last tip on installing floors…always, always, always save some leftover tile for repairs and even take note of the grout color and where it came from. This makes certain that any future repairs will look great! The biggest problem we face is that people have cracked or broken tiles and no spares. Once the floor is installed the tile will become obsolete and nowhere to be found in less than a year.

When the grout and caulk need to be replaced.

 

Many times we get calls for shower tile cleaning, but sometimes the caulk and grout are just too far gone for cleaning alone, as shown in the photos below from this home in Fredericksburg Va.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yuck! who would want to get in that shower? (Sorry for the thumb)

It is always a great idea to inspect your showers, tubs, and sinks for signs of a problem, such as missing or cracked grout and/or caulk. Often small problems can be rectified before they turn into big expensive problems. In the case above it actually looked a lot worse than it was. The grout and caulk were in bad shape but miraculously the water had not penetrated to the wall board just yet. Pristine was able to go in and clean the tile, remove and replace all the old grout and caulk and make this shower look new and inviting once again!

Some folks are not quite as lucky and repairing or replacing often are needed.  If the tiles are loose and the walls feel spongy you can bet damage has taken place. Sometimes we can cut out a bad section and make the necessary repairs, if the damage is not too extensive.

The photos below, believe it or not, are the same shower fully restored!

The picture below is of a counter restoration project we did in the city of Fredericksburg Va 22401,

old tile counter top looks new again