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Shower Tiles Falling Off Wall


shower caulk and tile resized 600Shower tiles feeling soft or spongy, or even falling off of the wall can mean big problems. Why are they falling from the wall? Most likely, water has found its way behind the wall and is causing the tile to come off of the wall.

You frequently see the damage starting at the bottom of the shower and moving upwards. In many cases, it is simply a maintenance issue that has caused the damage. Simply paying attention to the caulking and grout can save a lot of headaches. By the time you notice the damage it is too late. The wall may appear bloated or it may cave inward, and you may even be able to move the wet portion of the wall by simply pushing on it.

Typically you want to get back to dry solid material. That means removing tiles and green board, and even insulation if on an exterior wall. If you run into mold, I would suggest you have it investigated by a professional in the field.

Once you get to dry solid surfaces, you can replace the damaged green board and reinstall the tiles and grout. The last step is to caulk the shower, and as we’ve seen, it is probably the most important step.

Shower Drain Cover is Loose


shower drain coverA loose shower drain cover is one of those things that really bothers some people; others really don’t care much about it.

Drain covers should be in place enough where they don’t slide all over the floor when you are using the shower. However, they need to be removable for the times when you need to snake the drain. Some older drain covers are held in place with screws. You find these types with customer mud pans. Modern plastic drain covers can just snap into place. If you need to remove them, you can just pop them off with a small standard screwdriver.

If you can’t figure out how your drain cover stays in place, you can always use a small bead of clear silicone caulking around the perimeter of the drain cover. Just a little bit on the underside will hold it in place until you need to remove it because of a clogged drain. If you need to remove it, pry it up (you may need to cut the caulking in between the cover and the drain recess it sits in.

By the way, you probably want to handle the drain cover as little as possible. When you do have to handle it, wear rubber gloves as drains are a breeding ground for germs.

Removing Shower Doors From A Bathtub


replace bathtub doorsIf you plan on replacing shower doors from your bathtub, you will first need to remove them of course. You may just want to remove them and install a curved rod and shower curtain, but I personally prefer the permanent look of sliding doors.

Sliding shower doors are very easy to remove, but they can be awkward because of the typically flimsy glass doors.

Start by lifting the outermost door and swinging the bottom out. Once you lift the door’s rollers from the track you can remove each door. With the weight of the doors no longer hanging from the top track, you should be able to lift the track up and off of the side rails.

The side rails are held in place with screws and caulking. Look at the inside of the tracks and you will likely see screw heads. You may also find them in the rubber bumpers that prevent the doors from hitting the sides too hard. Remove the screws, and cut through the caulking.

All that is left is the bottom track. It is held in place with caulking. You can cut through the caulking with a utility knife, but be careful not the scratch the bathtub. Once you remove all of the pieces, you will have to clean up the old caulking.

Caulk Shower Door Track


caulk shower doorsWhether you are installing a shower door for a walk-in shower or a set of bathtub doors for a surround, there is a small step that homeowners overlook. Caulking the shower door track will help prevent water from getting under the track and leaking.

This important step is done at the beginning of the installation and creates a seal between the bottom of the track and the top of the shower lip or bathtub.

After you measure the opening for the bottom track and cut the track to fit, you will trace a couple of lines with a pencil on either side of the track. Remove the track and then you will lay down a couple of thick beads of caulking inside the two pencil lines. Replace the track setting it down into the caulking so that it lies inside of the pencil lines and compresses into the caulk. This will make it so that water won’t be able to get under the track and leak outside of the enclosure.

Once the track is in position, use painter’s tape and tape the track in several different locations to hold it in place until the side pieces are mounted to firmly hold it in place. Without the tape to hold it in place, the track will tend to move around until the caulking firms up.

Caulking A Shower


caulking a showerMany problems can be avoided with regular maintenance. Plenty of customers call to report they have a leak behind a shower wall resulting in a bulge.

 The problem is usually not a plumbing leak. Don't get me wrong, water has crept behind the wall and seeped up the drywall. On some occasions there's a leak from the plumbing inside of the wall. However, the cause usually results from a homeowner neglecting some routine maintenance, like caulking a shower.

The drywall used in your shower is water-resistant greenboard, but it's not waterproof. When drywall gets wet, it's like an old dry sponge waiting for water. When water hits it, the drywall bloats. That's why your wall is bulging.

Homeowners often neglect to repair cracked or missing tile grout, and to replace the old caulking. Water will find its way behind your wall if you let it. Grout will crack and chip out creating a void where water can enter.

If you see a gap in the grout, fill it in. A box of grout will cost about $8. Mix it up with water and stuff it in the gap. Wipe off the excess with a wet sponge.

Caulking is meant to create a waterproof joint between your shower pan and the wall. Over time or due to poor initial installation, caulking cracks or peels away from the wall. If the drywall was installed too closely to the shower pan, the water easily will wick up the wall and cause it to bulge.

Before you apply new caulk, remove the old stuff. This can be tough because the old caulk can be as hard as concrete. My tool of choice is a thin metal putty knife (about $6), -- just don't scratch the surfaces. Work the blade under the caulk on both the shower pan side and the tile wall side. I also like a tool called a "grout getter". Although it is intended to remove grout, it works well to scrape caulking off of ceramic tile.

Sometimes the old caulk will come out in one strip, and sometimes you have to ram the blade into the caulk to break it off. You can use alcohol to clean the surface thoroughly after removal.

I use a mildew-resistant silicone bathroom caulk (about $3 per tube) that remains flexible. 

After you load the tube in the gun (doesn't this sound exciting), use a utility knife with a sharp blade to cut the nozzle near the tip at a 45-degree angle. The opening should be about one-eighth of an inch. Make sure the cut is smooth with no burrs on the tip or your bead of caulk will have grooves in it. Use a long nail or a piece of wire and stick it down the hole to punch through to the caulk.

The key to a good-looking bead of caulk is applying it consistently. You want a bead that doesn't change much in size or shape.

Start at one end of the shower pan and continue all the way around with no stops in between. Use slow and steady pressure on the trigger. You may have to twist the gun or change the angle to get the right look. Once you have the right look, keep a steady hand. I usually caulk the vertical seams first, if they need it.

The last step is smoothing out the bead of caulk. Do this before the caulk has had time to skin over. Wet your finger and lightly drag it over the fresh caulk without stopping. If you have used too much caulk or too much pressure smoothing it out, you will push it out and have excess to clean up.

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