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Wet under grout (shower floor)


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  • Wet under grout (shower floor)

    Hello, came across this forum doing a search on google seeking for help. I live in a apartment on the second and about a month ago the owner from the apartment below placed a complain about his bathroom ceiling being leaking water from our apartment. So I called a friend of mine that does sheet rock work, and we replaced a small part of the sheet rock. Now my problem is with my bathroom, when we opened his ceiling I couldn't trace where the leak came from, we even open our shower and let it run for 15-20 minutes and no leak, I do believe it could be a leak from the wall where the box is attached to, I remember one day I washed my sneaker with a bucket and that was too much water inside the shower that day and the complain came about 4 days later, but we also had some cracked grout but it was there from more than a year already.

    But anyway making long story short I decided to re grout the bathroom floor, went to home depot and got a grout removal scraper and tried to remove as much as possible, got it down to about 1/4" and my friend said he knew it how to grout it. Well it took about a month for the grout to dry and that worried me, and in some parts just by passing my finger on it after it was dry, it opened a small crack. So something was wrong with it and I started to remove it again but now I dont know if i'm getting it to deep or what but after a certain depth it's kind of wet and coming off easily.

    I was thinking about re tile, but I only know what i have learned from youtube so far.

    I have attached some pics please let me know what it's going on and the best way to fix it.

    Thank you.

    (sorry for my bad english)

    Attached Files

  • #2

    initially when the shower was put in, they installed a polyethylene liner or at best a copper shower pan.
    the shower floor consists of a pressure treated plywood 3/4 inch thickness nominal.
    then comes a dry layer of mortar and portland cement with a 1/4 inch hardware cloth embedded in it.
    this is allowed to dry [harden]
    then the liner goes in with the corners making up a reverse hospital corner [ sort of like making up a bedsheet]
    the liner goes up the wall 6 inches and is fastened to the studs through the concrete board.
    the sill gets a special treatment of over lapping the sill to the outside by 4 inches of poly.
    another layer of mortar and portland goes down but with no hardware cloth. this is tamped down with a hammer and 2x4 block so its nice and solid. - let to dry completely.
    it is at this stage that the drain connection is fastened to the poly and drain pipe. the two halves of the fitting are bolted together to form a water tight seal.
    next comes the quickset mortar for your floor tiles. back buttering the tiles work best. spaces are left for the grout.
    when the quickset cures, the grout can be applied.
    let the grout dry.
    now, when you run the shower the grout will get wet and so will the first layer of concrete. it will "float" on the poly. once a shower floor is wet it'll NEVER dry out. any grout you replace will wick up any moisture from that concrete layer.
    only recorse is to rip the whole thing up and start over.


    • #3
      Hi Erick,

      Well there is good news and bad news the good news is I can tell where your leak is coming from and that's around the drain, you can see the staining around the drain and where the water has dripped down on the pipes below it.
      Now the bad news, re grouting will never solve your problem grout is not water proof it just guides most of the water towards the drain but it also absorbs water and allows it to go down in the mortar bed that the tiles are glued to and then it heads under the tiles towards the drain that has little holes around it to let this water out and into the drain.
      Here is how the shower floor is constructed:
      Wood sub floor
      layer of cement with a slope towards the drain
      rubber sheet (waterproofs all below it)
      layer of cement with a slope towards the drain
      tile (with tile glue)
      So in all cases like yours the water that gets in the grout soaks in and hits the rubber sheet then runs towards the drain and through little holes (weep holes) and into the drain.
      In your case there is a leak in the rubber sheet and this is allowing moisture to drip onto the lower level ceiling.
      The fact that your new grout won't dry is because these types of showers hold moisture for a very long time below the tile level (in the cement) when you add new grout it's just sucking up this moisture, hence why it's taking forever to dry and even if you could get it to dry the leak in the rubber liner is still there.

      The only way to repair this is to remove the tiled floor and replace the liner , cement bed above it and tiles, this isn't a task for the inexperienced. On a 1 - 10 scale in difficulty it's around a 8.

      We both answered at the same time...
      Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
      Every day is a learning day.


      • #4
        Hello guys, I want to thank you both for taking the time and explaining to me what's happening... Well so I believe I'll have to call in someone to do this for me, any idea on how much I'm going to spend on something like this? Does it have to be done on the whole bathroom floor or just in the shower area? The shower area is about 2.5' by 4'.


        • #5
          Apartment shower issue....

          Why is the apartment complex not repairing it? That's not an issue for the renter unless the renter is responsible by damaging it. I'd refrain from repairing it myself as that incurs responsibility for any future leaks or other issues. The apartment complex should have maintenance repair men for this kind of stuff.


          • #6
            Unfortunately the owner is responsible for repairing it... in this case I rent from my brother in law, which makes him responsible but he makes a good price for me on rent which kind makes me responsible (guilt). =/
            I work in a paint company, so he asked me if I could find someone that could do the job and let him know, but as the apartment below only need sheet rock and some compound + paint work I said I could takecare of it. But tiling is a total different thing for me... but still, I fell guilt not taking care of it.


            • #7
              The only area that needs to be addressed is the actual shower stall foot print.
              It's not an easy repair but a good contractor should be able to remove the bottom row of wall tiles (or two as the rubber membrane not only covers the floor but also 6" ish up the wall) and then remove the existing shower floor area and rebuild it all. The biggest issue is actually trying to match the wall tiles and for this reason it sometimes makes more sense to redo the entire shower stall.
              While I personally prefer to replace the entire shower area, I've done floor pan only repairs numerous times as a cost saving measure for clients, there are a number of issues that will dictate just how much of a saving it can be, like ensuring the same doors are reusable.
              As for price that's a hard one because your location will kind of rule that, along will finding someone willing to do just a floor pan. I'd expect to pay somewhere not less that $1K and not more than $2K the materials are not the big cost, it's a time consuming repair.
              Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
              Every day is a learning day.