Can a leak in a concrete slab cause a travertine tile to crack?


We live in California and my parent's home recently had hot water slab leak. The home is built 1989 and it is a small one bedroom condo.
They first noticed a small crack before knowing what was happening. Eventually the plumber came out when my mother finally saw the water leaking around the
water heater out in the porch area. He determined it was slab leak in the living room. The cracks happened near the hot spot area. The temperature of the floor did get pretty hot. The floor is travertine and since the leak happened the crack spread to other tiles in a serpent like rows covering around 10 tiles. I would like to know if the crack can happen because of the hot water slab leak. Whole thing had happened around the same time so would like to ask the HOA to pay for the floor work. They told me I had to prove the crack does indeed come from slab leak. How can I do that? I am not an expert on stone or plumbing.
Its very difficult when I don't know where to ask or who to ask a question. Then I found your website.
Please help my parents since this will be their last home. My poor mom is very sad about the whole situation.
Thanks so much for reading this.


ANSWER - The only way to determine whether or not the travertine tile cracked as a result of the hot water leak is to perform a forensic inspection by a qualified inspector such as our company CTaSC.   The installation conditions have to be taken into consideration and tiles need to be removed to determine how it was installed and to look for evidence indicating whether or not the crack was the result of the leak incident.

If the travertine tile was installed properly so it was well bonded to the slab and had adequate movement joints in the tile, then the hot water leak should not have caused the tile to crack.

Although the hot water leak could have caused or contributed to the cracking of the stone.  The stone will expand when subjected to moisture and heat.  If the stone wasn't bonded well and didn't have adequate movement joints at the perimeter of the tile area and within the field of tile, then the water leak incident could have resulted in the tile loosing bond and then when someone walked on it, it could have cracked.

Another possibility is that due to the leak incident the concrete slab got hot and wet, and expanded that resulted in a crack developing in the slab or causing a pre-existing crack to move.  In either cause the crack could then telegraph up through the stone.

Again, the only way to determine if the crack was the result of the leak is to perform the inspection by a qualified and experienced inspector.  I would think that it should be up to the HOA to prove that it wasn't caused by the leak or their defective installation.

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