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Water on the floor next to the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom (tile floor and tile baseboard) was allowed to sit for a half hour, then I heard drip-drip-drip in the bathroom directly below it. We rushed to clean it up, but I was disheartened to see this:

ceiling damage

  1. What should I do now? I turned off my house humidifier and cranked the heat. What else?
  2. Should I fix it? How? Or should I leave it, figuring it is going to happen again?
  3. How do I prevent water on the floor from seeping through so quickly?
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    What are we looking at? The junction between a floor and the wall? – Tyler Durden Feb 21 '15 at 2:41
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    This is the ceiling above the shower, which is lower than the rest of the ceiling in the bathroom. – Patrick Szalapski Feb 21 '15 at 2:57
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    Take a look at this question – Tester101 Feb 21 '15 at 4:44
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Bathroom floors are not supposed to leak. You may want to pay to have the floor redone properly. I assume this is a new house that you are just discovering this.

The photo looks like plastered drywall. Normally wet drywall has to be replaced, otherwise it will grow mold which is bad. Theoretically it can be dryed out, but that would not be an easy operation and practically requires removing the drywall to get full access to it, so if you remove it you may as well replace it.

  • Tell me more about "bathroom floors should not leak"? My whole life, I've thought that I need to keep water off the floor... Is that not true? – Patrick Szalapski Feb 21 '15 at 3:01
  • @PatrickSzalapski A proper bathroom floor is always fully waterproofed and/or drained. There are two ways to do it. The old way involves tile with a drain pan underneath. The modern method is to use tile on a mortarbed with a membrane beneath. Both methods should be fully waterproof. – Tyler Durden Feb 21 '15 at 3:08
  • Sometimes in really cheap houses you might find vinyl flooring in a bathroom, but even in this case, it is supposed to be sealed with caulk to both the perimeter baseboard and to the toilet, so it should be waterproof. The main issue with vinyl is that as the caulk ages cracks can develop and leak. – Tyler Durden Feb 21 '15 at 3:20
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    There is no caulk in the corner edge between the floor tiles and the baseboard tiles. Should I just try caulking that? – Patrick Szalapski Feb 21 '15 at 4:19
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    @TylerDurden that's what should happen for a shower floor... I have never (yet) lived in a home where the floor was actually waterproof. Although in the new bathroom I'm making I am doing that... But I've never seen it, and the inspector in my area (Southeast PA, US) didn't require it outside of the shower. – DrewJordan May 22 '15 at 19:39
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Cut the damaged drywall out. With it out inspect the area between floors to see if there's any moisture or other damage. Dry it out, run a fan, spray with mildewcide, whatever it needs. See if you can see any light shining in from the upstairs bathroom now that you have access so you can identify the source of the leak. Repair the drywall with a drywall patch then tape, mud, prime and paint.

How much water are we talking about on the floor? Did you want to see if you could turn it into a hot tub? Did you not close the shower curtain all the way and a lot of water hit the floor? Or was it something minor like you didn't use a bath mat and your feet got the floor wet?

You really need to identify the source of the water. Normally tile, even a tile job that isn't done with an underlying waterproof membrane or sealed isn't going to result in significant water seepage through the tile for most normal things bathroom floors are used for.

It's more likely there's some sort of penetration somewhere. The toilet drain (toilet base should be caulked to floor), the tub/floor joint, joints where floors meet walls, plumbing penetrations etc. Is the caulking bad in any of those areas? If so replace or add it if not there using silicone caulk.

Is the grout cracked and allowing water to pass through? If so repair the grout and seal it.

If the caulking is bad is there some reason that it's bad like the floor flexes too much when there's weight on it? If so you need to address the framing before you reseal.

  • There was a lot of water on the floor from a child splashing it out in a long bath. I'm pretty sure it was from that. Before fixing it, maybe I should caulk the baseboard bottom edge and then dump some water again to see if it recurs? – Patrick Szalapski Feb 21 '15 at 4:23
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The perfect way to repair it is to slice out the drywall, reinstall, retape, replaster, and repaint; there is no guarantee that this won't happen again.

Most people will either ignore it entirely, or run a scraper along the popped paint to knock it off, put a little bit of drywall mud on it, sand it, and spot paint. It is very very hard to get ceiling paint to match, but relatively few people look over there.

I'd also throw an absorbent bath mat next to the tub and teach the kids that it isn't a swimming pool.

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