So, now what? Have you been aware of this situation at your own home? It’s not uncommon, particularly in bathrooms. It occurs usually from moisture where it’s not supposed to be: around the base of the toilet bowl, and along the front edge or corners of a tub or shower. There can be other places also, like below window’s sills, inside the bottom corners of exterior doors, below kitchen and bathroom sinks, laundry areas, under bidets (what’s that?), and maybe where rainwater gets into the home through a roof’s plumbing vent or a chimney that penetrates the roof above somewhere.
Bathrooms are the most common places though. In the case of the toilet, the wax ring under a toilet might not be sealed well to the flange below, or settling may have occurred underneath the toilet. There is also the possibility of a crack in the toilet or in the flange. A crack can occur under the bowl where the water sits and you won’t be able to see this without pulling the toilet up first.
At the tub or shower, often it’s lack of attention when running the water or using the fixture. When water splashes over the edge it should be dried up to prevent damage. There should also be caulk installed at any joints between dissimilar materials, like: tub/flooring, tile/flooring, baseboard/flooring, sink and the countertop it sits into. I like to install sheet vinyl scraps under kitchen sinks to prevent water damage there if the sink, faucet pull-out, air gap, or anything else leaks into the cabinet.
There is always a chance of a leak under the tub also, or under the shower pan, as well as at the plumbing in the head wall of the fixture (around valves and shower arms). Water has a way of migrating to other places farther away than where it started from. When something gets wet once and dries out quickly, it usually doesn’t have time to start any damaging effects on the materials that get wet. The problem occurs when things stay wet for long periods of time, or maybe don’t get the opportunity to ever dry out.
So, what to do? Call the professional and get an assessment of the situation. You may be able to spot it yourself, but often it means removing something to really determine what’s going on, and how much damage has occurred. There are a number of things that could be removed to check: trim (escutcheon plates) at shower and tub valves; escutcheon at the shower arm; tub’s drain ring; sometimes lifting a heat register in the floor nearby is helpful; you can also get the little flexible light/camera combinations at many stores that allow you to see things deep within the walls, floors and ceilings, if you can locate an access for viewing. If the damage you’re seeing involves a soft floor in the bathroom, and it’s near one of the fixtures I mentioned, there’s a good chance the substrate is needing replacing, and maybe the sub-floor and framing are damaged underneath.
You may think about looking in a crawl space if the situation is above one. (See my posts at: https://rdyoungscontractor.wordpress.com/ April 2012) A knowledgeable contractor can probably determine quickly what is needed and what it will cost. Not all of these leaks mean opening everything up, but it is possible. Most times I’ve found that I can perform selective demolition and save most of the existing floor and wall systems; you would never know I was there. I’ve even removed much of the floor system under tubs that have been tiled in place, without having to pull the tub out or to remove tile on the walls. Many fixes are possible, and most will save money over a full remodel of the space. But then, maybe it’s just time to pull out that “old stuff” and start a room remodel.
(Continued at: My Floor Was Soft)
Other moisture issues are another story . . . .