Water Damage: When a Bathroom Remodel Can’t Wait 

You fantasized about renovating your bathroom with the latest features—an egg-shaped bathtub, a glass basin, a granite countertop. But you never imagined having to remodel your bathroom because of toilet leaks, falling tiles and musty smells.

When your bathroom is ravaged by water damage, remodeling can’t wait!

Many homeowners know their bathrooms have water problems but don’t do anything about it, says Alex Reyes, president of AC Remodeling, a home remodeling company based in Gaithersburg, Md.

“Ignoring early signs of water damage in your bathroom can be detrimental,” he points out. “A water damaged foundation is expensive to repair and can lead to mold growth, rotting wood and structural damage. It must be treated promptly to avoid further damage.”

Before a bathroom remodel

Bathrooms are prone to water damage, Reyes says. Steam from showers and baths expose bathroom walls to higher levels of moisture. Water dribbling underneath tiles can damage the floor underneath. Water vapor seeping into walls through old grouting can cause deterioration. Pinholes on water lines can splash onto inside walls.

Water damage can be so pervasive that bathrooms must sometimes be gutted before renovation begins. Reyes recently demolished  the wall and sub-floor of a customer’s bathroom because  the drywall behind the tiles was water damaged.  “The drywall was not waterproofed,” he explains. “The customer ignored a leaking toilet for 10 years.”

Reyes said that waterproofing in wet areas is “vital.” When he remodels bathrooms, he exposes all the walls surrounding the shower or tub and treats them with waterproofing.

After a bathroom remodel

Renovating a bathroom involves the use of many specialists such as electricians, carpenters and plumbers. As general contractor, Reyes manages remodeling projects, acting as the main contact and ensuring the work done complies with current codes and specifications. 

Waterproofing will safeguard your bathroom from water damage. But Reyes also suggests homeowners consider the following tips to prevent water damage from taking hold:

Sink: Check the supply lines and drain traps under the sink regularly for any signs of small leaks. Replace sink seals if cracked or loose.

Toilet: Check the base of the toilet for signs of leaking or stains and ensure that the toilet is screwed on tightly to the floor. Make sure the toilet tank has no cracks and that that the water supply hose is not twisted.

Tub or Shower:  Look for stains on the floor or drywall. Make sure the drywall is dry, shower pan has no cracks and tile flooring is firm. Seal grout lines to ensure they are moisture-proof.  Inspect and replace cracked caulking at the joints, where the wall meets the floor or bathtub.

Shut-Off Valves: Change shut-off valves to the bathroom sink and toilet so you can quickly stop the water from running if a pipe bursts.

Exhaust Fan: Install an exhaust fan that blows air outside the bathroom to keep the bathroom ventilated and dry. Turn on the exhaust fan while showering to prevent excess moisture build-up.

Windows: Repair any breaks in the weather-stripping or seals surrounding windows. Ensure locks and closure mechanisms work properly.

Have you see the other “after” shots in the Bathroom Remodeling Gallery?

 Telltale Signs of Water Damage

  • Leaks under sink or around toilet
  • Discolored walls, moist to the touch
  • Dripping faucets
  • Loose tiles
  • Warped wall around windows and door frames
  • Corrosion around pipe connections
  • Musty smell of mold or mildew
  • Gaps in grout or caulk in tub and tile
  • Soft floor and floor stains
  • Unstable, shifting toilet
  • Breaks in weather-stripping or seals
  • Stains or flaking on painted surfaces

About Alex