Adventure once again struck the Bermuda household, and between a busted laptop, a motorcycle needing wheels, building new websites and household maintenance, I've been busy. But, again, when am I not?
This latest adventure started when my glorious mother came down for a quick visit, some shopping and a delivery of Alberta's finest Angus beef. Early in the morning I was having my shower, and my ma was in the washroom downstairs doing whatever it is that mothers do in the washroom. After I was dried and ready for action she told me, in a rather matter of fact way, that I had a leak. I believe she said that water was pouring from the ceiling but I don't want to misquote. I trudged downstairs and sure enough there was still some water leaking from the ceiling into the bathtub downstairs.
I debated for a while, but in the end couldn't nail down where it was coming from, and I needed to get to work. I was graced with visions of busted copper pipe, leaking faucets and walls filled with green and black mold all day until I returned to determine to what extent I was going to have to destroy my house before putting it all back together again. The difficulty is that I either needed to pull tiles off one wall, then regrout, or cut holes in a finished wall. Since drywall and mudding is much easier than waiting for grout to dry and cure, I went with the drywall approach. I knew that as Murphy was handing me my saw, I would be cutting a hole in the wall about as far away from the leak as possible. I decided to cut just a little above the faucet on the other side, and with several careful measurements, I plunged my screwdriver into the drywall to get the party started.
It doesn't take long to chew through drywall, and very quickly I had a 1 foot square hole into which I could look for my plumbing demon. With flashlight in hand, and water flowing on the other side, I peered into the hole, braced for the worst. Was I ever surprised to find out that everything on the other side of the hold was bone dry.
Something wasn't right, and I went downstairs, and sure enough there is still water coming from the ceiling. Back to the bathroom, I had to proceed with the other option, and I pulled a tile off the wall below the top of the tub, and could see a small trickle of water flowing down next to the tub, right towards the floor. Where was that water coming from?
I started inspecting the silicon connecting the tub to the tile, and it appeared to fine. I sprayed water straight into the bottom of the tub, and the water slowed and eventually stopped. I was on to something, but what? After some more shower head inspections, I finally stumbled upon what was causing the water in the basement.
The cracks in the grout were the culprit. My bathroom is against an outer wall, and when in the shower you can gaze out the window to watch the traffic going by. The cool window, hot water, and poorly sanded grout all colluded to hairline cracks in the tiling under the window. Cracks so fine you'd have to carefully look at the grout to even find them. Could that much water be coming from the cracks? As it turns out it, yes.
Because the tile is sealed to the tub by silicon. The water that made it past the tile was stopping at the cement board and then gravitating towards the tub. Once it hit the tub it out start to pool, kinda like a 1/8 thick tank or water, and start filling up and overcoming the grout in neighbouring tiles. Slowly the water level would rise, and eventually would make it to the low end of the tub, where it would run down the side between the tile and the cement board. Once the cement board ended, it would pool on the floor under the floor tiles and eventually penetrate to the ceiling below. I looked at the tile, and realized that I would have to grind out all the grout, and then re-grout, cure and seal every spot where there was the slightest hint of a crack. I was looking at a front end load of a labour with over a week of waiting, spritzing and sponging until I could use my shower again.
And, was I ever excited that I didn't have to do any plumbing.
Over two days I spent many, many hours grinding out grout with my dremel (they even have a bit for it). Following was a cleanup of epic proportions before we could head to Rona and pick up the much needed supplies. We stocked up on some high sand grout in hopes that it would better survive the bigger crack; that is what it is intended for, after all. It didn't even take a half an hour to complete the grouting, but then we started the constant spritzing to ensure that it would not dry to fast and crack. We religiously sprayed the grout and examined it to validate that no cracks were forming, and after many moons of spray bottle madness we had well cured, non-cracked grout. Next we started sealing, and again we went with a high gloss in the shower, and a matte finish on the floor. Apply, dry, apply, dry, apply, dry, etc. Our last application of sealant went on Wednesday night, and this morning was the first time in over two weeks that I could use the shower upstairs. It was glorious.