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I dropped something heavy and mildly pointed onto the bathroom floor.

The Bathroom is tiled with ~30cm square black "slate like" tiles, but where I dropped this thing, the surface has been badly (2-3 cm radius, ?1-2mm deep?) chipped, and underneath the tile is pale brown.

Since I chipped it, there has been moisture welling up, through the chip. Initially I assumed it was just from the object dropped (it was wet), but the chip is still wet, and if I pat it thoroughly dry with toilet roll, then it 'spontaneously' becomes wet enough to mark a mark on toilet roll again, in <10 seconds.

The rest of the chipped tile, the other tiles, and the grout between the tiles all seem fine; no darkness, claminess, or any other sign of dampness.

What have I done, and what do I need to do now?

I know nothing about the tiles in question and don't (to my knowledge) have any spares.

  • 1
    Can you provide a picture and give us an idea of how far away it is from water sources such as the shower, toilet, and sink? – MonkeyZeus Oct 17 at 12:13
  • Yep, in a bathroom I would suspect a leaky shower or a leaky toilet gasket. You need to figure out the source of the water and fix the leak. – Hot Licks Oct 17 at 16:56
  • If this in a basement you need a sump. Or just grout it and forget about it. – Mazura Oct 17 at 21:23
9

Get a dehumidifier running in there and see if you can dry it out, you’ll have to stop using the bathroom (if you can) and it might take a while (possibly days) Once it’s completely dry try using one fixture at a time and see if you can isolate the cause. The other posts have given you some good advice and you might end up paying someone to rip up that tile etc, but if you’re desperate to avoid doing that you might be able to avoid it and the dehumidifier will help prevent/slow down any mould growth that might be happening anyway.

  • 4
    +1, this question calls for an alternative to "tear it all up", since that simply won't be possible for everyone faced with this situation. – R.. Oct 17 at 2:27
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    This is what we're going with, for the moment. Thanks. We've stopped using the shower, but alas this is the only loo, so can't avoid that. – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 17 at 8:47
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    OP beware, it may take very very long time to dry the moisture with an air dehumidifier, and when done, it may take a long time again for the water to seep to the crack, invalidating any trials with one fixture at a time. Something similar happened at the building I live in, it took some tile removal, specialized vacuum dryers, $3,000 electricity bill and eight weeks to get the structure sufficiently dry (there was about 8 thousand liters of water in the structure before water even started to show itself above the tile line). Insurance covered all costs in this particular case. – Pavel Oct 17 at 17:55
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    These can be really hard situations and Pavels story sounds like a true life horror story, but I hope yours doesn’t turn into that. Are you able to see the floor underneath? Could you potentially cut some holes in the ceiling below to try and see where the leak is? Repairing dry wall is usually the better option but I realize it might not be possible. – Steve Oct 18 at 0:56
  • For the water to get so saturated through the tiles to squeeze water out when chipped... logically I know that's possible, but I don't even know how long a tile needs to be sitting in water before it'll soak right through and can "leak" water from the top... – Nelson Oct 18 at 3:50
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I think your cracking the floor is a blessing in disguise. Clearly there is water under the tile that needs to be dealt with.

I'd start by checking the obvious things like the toilet seal and the bathtub and/or shower drains.

But ultimately you're going to want to pull that tile up, dry it out thoroughly, replace any water-damaged materials, and replace the flooring. There is no way it will dry out on its own at this point.

  • 5
    balls. :( This was not the answer I wanted to hear :_( (Thanks for teling me though) – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 16 at 14:09
  • @Brondahl, do you have any in-floor heating system that could be leaking? – JPhi1618 Oct 16 at 14:23
  • Nope. But the shower (2 feet away) has been leaking into the wall it's attached to. The heavy object I dropped was the shower screen (which shattered on impact. Sigh), which I was removing in order to give access to the wall tiles whose grout had failed, thus causing the leak into the wall. – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 16 at 14:27
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    Is is plausible that that leak into the wall could be extending down across the floor? (and hence that once the shower is no longer leaking into the wall, the floor won't have an issue?) – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 16 at 14:28
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    FYI, the tiler who is dealing with the shower (whom I have used repeatedly, and trust) has confirmed that this is almost certainly the "proper" way to deal with this. (But also acknowledges that this solution is more expensive that is appropriate for us). – Reinstate Monica --Brondahl-- Oct 17 at 8:46
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It’s highly unlikely that “failed” grout would create the refill rate of wet flooring you describe. Most shower failures are generated by leaky or failing plumbing in the wall, behind the tile.

I have often seen the water damage extend to the framing, which necessitates cutting out and replacing that portion of framing. Your wet floor problem needs to be addressed ASAP.

Turn off the water to the shower and/or bathroom plumbing Pull up all damaged tiles and as mentioned, check toilet plumbing and seals. Allow all wet areas to dry out. The wet source must be identified and repaired or risk of much great damage can occur.

This is probably a job for a professional who does bathroom remodeling. I did it for 12 years.

10

Call a plumber immediately!
This is uncomfortably close to my recent experiences..

My kitchen floor had a damaged tile (similar story, something got dropped on it) and water was welling up from under it when it was stepped on.

We thought it might have been absorbed by water seeping into the damaged area, so it wasn't a huge issue, it would dry out, then it would become wet again inexplicably and we assumed water was just being spilled on it.

Then my neighbour in the flat below let us know that there was water coming through their kitchen ceiling (small amounts, but a steady dripping)

After some investigation we found that there was a slow drip from the new kitchen faucet that we'd had installed recently.
That water was flowing into a hole in the wall behind and under the kitchen sink, straight down into the neighbour's ceiling, soaking into the lining under the tiles as it went.

I got it fixed, the water stopped. As far as I know, problem solved with no permanent damage to the flat below. We were lucky to catch it relatively quickly because the tile was damaged.

At any rate. Just a guess, one of your pipes is leaking and it's getting under your bathroom floor-tiles.
Call the plumber, be prepared to spend lots on fixing it.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. – Daniel Griscom Oct 17 at 14:04

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