Spring is just around the corner, and it is the perfect time to make necessary repairs on your home. Now is the right time to check your shower and tub tile to see if there is any hidden damage behind them. Older homes built between 1965 and 1990 are at particular risk for water damage behind tiles because older construction put tiles over drywall. That isn’t a good idea because moisture destroys drywall. While tile typically resists moisture, unsealed grout absorbs it over time. Even newer homes that have cement boards backing the tile can still sustain water damage. This can be a pipe that is leaking or water seeping through grout. As the years go on, water seepage or a slow leak causes unseen damage. The damage can be pretty severe, and include mold and mildew, by the time it becomes obvious to you. There are professional services that can make these repairs, but it is good for you to try to access the damage before calling.
First Sign: High Water Bill
The first obvious sign of a water leak from a pipe is a higher than normal water bill. The typical procedure for checking for a leak is to start with your outside line to your water meter and work your way inward. This involves turning off water at the meter first, then turning it back on and turning off water to the house. After that, you turn water to the house back on and turn off water to each sink and toilet. That will eventually bring you to the tub or shower. Before calling a plumber, check for damage behind the tile.
Second Sign: Water Damage
There are several signs of damage, whether it is caused by a leak or water seepage. Spotting damage is easy once you know where to look. First, look at the bottom of the wall where the tile meets the top of the tub or shower. These are the areas where water is mostly likely to pool and cause damage. Look for loose tiles or eroding, stained grout. Gently press on the tiles and see if they give. If they do, you have water damage.
Third Sign: Loose Tiles
Loose tiles are one of the first symptoms of damage behind them. Check to see if any of your tiles, especially along the top or bottom of your shower or tub, are loose. Also look for cracked or chipped tiles. Cracks are one way for water to get behind the tile to your wall. A wall repair may not mean all the tile needs to be replaced. It depends on how extensive the damage is and where the problem lies. In some cases, only a few tiles can be replaced after the wall is repaired and that can save you thousands. This is particularly true if the damage is caused by water seeping through the grout. In those cases, a section may only need repairing.
I’ve Found the Problem – What’s Next?
Some handy homeowners can replace the tile and regrout the damaged area if it’s a small section, but it will take a professional to handle extensive damage. Those uncertain of the damage or who have never done this type of repair before are advised to call a professional tile-grout company to access the damage and do the repair. Most repairs can be done quickly and with little mess. Professional companies clean up afterward and leave you with a fresh looking bathroom. Hiring a professional has one other advantage. They can look at the rest of your tile and grout and fix potential problems before they occur. That includes regrouting or resealing the area.
You can then jump into spring with bathroom that functions as it should without worries about what is going on behind the walls.