Bathroom Repair

Bathrooms, the most important room in the house, well the kitchen is a close second. As I mentioned in the previous pages, water is our home’s biggest enemy and of course water is the bathroom’s main purpose.  Most bathroom repairs are, yes, driven by water damage.  Our goal here is to minimize that potential damage by preventative maintenance.

There are three areas to focus on in the bathroom:

Shower/ bathtub

Supply valves


Most average home tub configuration has the tub with either a tile or fiberglass type surround that meets the  top edge of the tub.  It is this joint that is the vulnerable spot in the tub/ shower area.  Discoloration and some peeling at this point indicates the seal is breaking down, especially if it has been awhile say 5 years.  This joint needs to be scraped out dried thoroughly to get good adhesion for the new caulk.

My personal preference if color and matching isn’t to much an issue is Acrylic Latex Caulk with Silicone, not pure silicone. Pure silicone is a mess to put in and even though it says 50 year on the tube, it doesn’t mean it is going to stick for 50 years. Plus the next time you have to do this, it is a whole lot easier to remove. I have resealed tubs for customers and it is a huge time consuming pain to remove the old pure silicone that never worked in the first place. The Acrylic Latex is water base for ease of applying but dries flexible over night. It can be made to look good with a wet finger and a damp clean white rag.

Shower doors need to be caulked to all the way up and down with same caulk with special attention to the lower corners. Sometimes I find doors out of adjustment which also allows water to exit the shower while in use. The best time to see if the doors are leaking is to observe the outside the shower while someone is in actually showering because water bounces off and splashes differently when some one is in there as opposed to just running the water with no one in there.

The other overlooked items in the bath are the supply valves under the sink/s and the valve that supplies the toilet. Take a flashlight if need be and feel underneath the valve and try to feel any water. Now turn that valve closed and open again and see again if any water is present. Try to do this once a year, it helps keep the valve workable when it is really needed to shut the sink or toilet off.

If you cannot turn the valve at all, it is time to replace it. while you are looking, check the supply lines. If you are putting a new toilet in, or a new floor, or a new faucet, this is the time to update these valves and supply lines, it will save problems later that can show up at that inopportune time.

I spent a little more time on toilets and floor repair in Home Repair Floors on one of the other pages, but the same applies to observing water. The main thing is to see if there is any discoloration around the base of the toilet.  The base of the toilet should be caulked and is code in many places, but if you do, be sure to leave a little  1 inch gap in the back as an indicator in case the seal begins to leak at some point. I would rather want to know if it is leaking than not, especially on a wood raised foundation floor.  Just use the same caulk that we used in the shower.

Tub drains and lines should have an access panel in the wall opposite behind the shower valve, but not always, if this is the case,  you may be able to get underneath the house or floor so you can inspect it there.

In all this inspection process, you will be looking for discoloration, mold, warped or rotted wood, stains. Sometimes, the leak isn’t wet when you see it but when you see these indicators you may have a very slow leak needing some attention soon.

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