In the house we are getting ready for sale, my clients had paid a tradesman to redo their master bedroom ensuite not that long ago. I noticed when I first saw it that the tiles were a little crooked and that the tub didn’t seem to be level. However, it wasn’t until the tradesman I use, Alex Martinez, poked his head in during the other renos, that we saw a bigger problem: the tradesman had installed a wood trim at the top of the tile surround, instead of extending the tiles all the way to the ceiling.
The problem, of course, with installing wood in a shower is that it’s not waterproof. I brought it to the attention of my clients and they agreed it was a problem and that the surround needed to come down. Alex came back and removed the tiles and this is what we found:
That black staining shows that water had already got in behind the tiles and into the insulation: it’s black mould. Ugh.
It turns out that there was no waterproofing behind the tile surround – no Schluter membrane, no greenboard– which is a kind of drywall that is mold-resistant– just regular drywall. And for some peculiar reason the tradesman (or someone before him, we don’t know who did it) had insulated the interior walls with fibreglass insulation. (If you’re going to insulate interior walls to reduce noise, you should use spray foam or rigid insulation: it can take a very long time for fibreglass insulation to dry out if it gets damp.)
Anyway, you can see where the leaks had occurred; I’m surprised, frankly, that there wasn’t drywall damage on the other side of this wall.
If you look to your left in the above photo, in behind the copper plumbing, you can see another potential problem. There is drywall there too (which is the party wall between the two properties) that has a big gap between the two boards, meaning that wall was wide open to leaks as well.
We then discovered yet another issue. The tub had not been secured — if you sat on the edge of it, it rocked. The only thing holding in place was the bottom row of tiles. This can be a real problem, because if the tub moves like that, eventually, the pipes or drain connected to it will come loose and cause a major flood. (I had this happen to clients: it was over $ 10K to repair the damage.)
So my poor homeowners agreed to redo all the work they’d already done and paid for. This whole fiasco really points out the need to use trades who know what they are doing and who are properly insured, and when it comes to anything to do with plumbing, use a licensed plumber.
They’re getting a new tub, and Alex is going to install greenboard and a waterproof membrane and get rid of that yucky insulation. I’ve picked out the tub for them as well as the new tiles for the surround – they will be using 3″ x 16″ white subway ceramic tiles, which will be installed in a stacked pattern. Stay tuned for more pictures!