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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.

Expert Tile & Grout Cleaning

cleaning tile & grout floors

How we do it:

There are actually 4 components working together in harmony that allow us to achieve these superior cleaning results.

Emulsifier – We use a non toxic, environment friendly spray that is applied to the tile & grout floor to quickly loosen up the soil.

High Pressure – Our advanced patented equipment produces water pressure that can be adjusted between 200 and 1500 psi to penetrate even the toughest areas!

Heat – Our powerful truck mounted steam cleaner is capable of maintaining temperatures over 230 degrees throughout the cleaning process.

Vacuum – Our Vacuum process surgically lifts the soil and dirty water off your floor.

Other amazing videos at real job sites

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile & Grout Cleaning

 

Do I have to seal my grout?

Yes!

The two main types of grout are sanded and unsanded, sanded is used in larger grout joints and unsanded in smaller joints. The sand is added to the grout to give it strength, but also leaves a rough texture. This porous rough texture absorbs spills, dirty mop water, outdoor soil and so on, making it difficult to clean. In no time the grout will be stained, discolored, and just plain ugly. Using a quality sealer on the grout will help prevent permanent staining, as well as make cleaning easier. The misunderstanding is… people think sealer will keep their grout clean. The fact is sealer will only provide a barrier, thus making cleaning easier and permanent damage less likely, soil will still find its way to the floor, if I had the answer to preventing that, I would be a hero, and probably out of business. The unsanded grout ussually found on walls, and in showers, is much less porus, but still can benifit from sealer especially in a shower. There are often minerals in the water that can even leave unsanded grout stained after time, especially white grout.