Can a water pipe leak cause my tile to delaminate and will the insurance cover the loss?


At our property 5 months ago a copper supply line that was installed below the Concrete slab broke. The water company in Cave Creek Arizona immediately contacted us 2 days after the leak and 27000 gallons of water had escaped below the home's concrete slab. This was confirmed by the plumbers Who did the work right after we had the flooding.

The ceramic tiles Were inspected for delamination after the loss on 3 different occasions. 1st inspection there were 15 tiles DE laminated within the flooding area. There were no tiles found to be Delaminated in outlying areas.

On a second inspection there were an additional 12 tiles found debonded in the flooded area.

3rd inspection 6 tiled were found delaminated in the flooded area and 15 tiles delaminated in the outlying areas. Could the cause of this progressive DE lamination be from the trapped water that is still underneath the concrete slab. Our insurance Company USAA Said all our damage is due to poor tile installation. Can you please help us. Thank you


ANSWER -  If the tile was installed correctly and had adequate movement joints installed, the water flooding should not have caused the tile to debond.  Unless the water leak in the slab created a hydrostatic condition, which is where the leaking water created an upward pressure causing the tile to debond.

If a tile is delaminated that means it is not bonded at all, which means they are loose and can easily be picked up.  This is the case when tiles tent up off of the ground from expansion in the tiles when there isn't adequate movement joints when the tile is subjected to moisture or thermo movements.  Just because a tile sounds hollow doesn't mean it is delaminated.  It could be an indication of other conditions that may or may not be defects.

Generally speaking insurance companies will cover resultant damages to tile floors whether they were originally installed correctly or not.  They don't cover pre-existing defects,  The key is whether the water loss incident resulted in damages to the tile floor.  If they did then they will pay to repair the floor if possible, which often it is possible, of they can't repair the floor in a practical manner and reasonably match the existing tile then they may have to pay for the full replacement.

Our company CTaSC does a lot of inspections of water loss cases both for insurance companies and for home owners.  We objective evaluate the conditions provide our evidence with our opinions and recommendations.

2 thoughts on “Can a water pipe leak cause my tile to delaminate and will the insurance cover the loss?

  1. Wayne says:

    Thank you for the above. I have a case were the unit was flooded with water and floor tiles lifted. We agreed to replace the floor tiles and subsequently the contractor has advised that the screed has now delaminated from the concrete substrate due to the saturation event that took place. Is this correct. Will we now need to chop out the old screed and lay new? Thanking you in advance.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Normally the screed (mortar bed) over the concrete slab is not affected by water if it was installed correctly.

      The question is if there are any resulting damages from the screed/mortar bed being delaminated. If there is no cracking or other damages, and the screed is stable, then it should not be a problem to bond to a delaminated mortar bed. It would be the same as being bonded to a non-bonded mortar bed which is where the mortar bed is applied over a cleavage membrane.

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