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Question DetailsAsked on 10/14/2016

Do I need to remove bathroom tiles after a toilet leak that has been repaired but caused basement ceiling damage?

The toilet tank flex tube was leaking through the tile to the basement ceiling causing water damage that is being mitigated and dried out. The water traveled down the pipe and along the joists in the finished basement, approximately 16 feet out. A portion of the drywall ceiling in the basement was removed. A Dhu system and 2 fans were used to dry things out in the basement and another Dhu was placed in the upstairs (main level) bathroom. From below, the sub floor in the bathroom "appears" ok, but they left the Dhu 1 day longer as they detected more water retained.

There is obvious restoration needs in the basement ceiling, but I'm very concerned about not pulling up bathroom tiles to avoid future consequences. Is this standard practice to not pull up bathroom tiles after a leak was discovered that caused damage below the leak?

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2 Answers


If things were dried out fairly quickly, generally no. Check if they are visibly loose, grout is falling out, or they are "drummy" when you tap on them with your knuckle or gently with the end of the handle on a screwdriver (wood handle better, but be sure there is no metal shaft protruding through the handle that could break the tile). Also, if the drywall is not spongy (assuming tile is applied over drywall) then the tile bond is probably fine.

You say the water was running down the pipe to the basement - if there is no sign of rot or fungal growth in the subfloor (inspected from below) then probably no cause for worry - and if there was cause, it would be rot in the bottom of the wall behind the toilet, not the tile itself. A short-termm leak (days or couple of weeks) would not normally damage the wall - very long term leakage of course leads to dry rot or wet rot/fungal growth, but most likely the damaged area in the wall would only be around where the pipe goes through the wall and possibly the bottom plate of the wall in most cases. The bottom plate hsould be able to be checks from below - to be sure I would core a hole (about 3/4-1" diameter) up through the bottom plate of the wall near to the pipe (but no close as to hit it) and see if the bottom plate is rotted out - if so, then partial demolition of the tile and drywall near the floor might be needed if it was a long-term leak. Note I say rot - not just wet wood, which the drying out should have taken care of.

If any doubt, for about $25 a day typically you can rent a fiberoptic COLOR (B&W not worth it) scope and look up through your exploration hole to look into the wall space (assuming interior so probably uninsulated wall - of course, hole has to come into same stud bay as the pipe is in to see the worst of the conditions. Or if not squeemish - if you have normal or long length fingers, just stick your index or middle finger up into the hole through the bottom plate full depth and feel around and try fingernail on the top surface inside the wall, next to the hole - if rotten will be punky and soft to the finger, and if fungusy from long wetness will be punky and stinky slime in there that you will feel and will show on your finger when you pull it out. (This is the Plumber's and Water damage remediation contractor's version of Little Jack Horner). If squeemish, use a long pipe cleaner or a piece of wire with rag bit taped to it bent at the tip to reach beyond the hole.

BTW - what is a "Dhu system" - a brand name of a ventilation system for drying out walls and such ? Could not find anything on the web about it - or was that a typo ?

Answered 4 years ago by LCD



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