How do I remove Loose Tiles without Damaging the Floor Warming Wires?


A few of the tile in the middle of our kitchen floor have come loose from the mortar and this has caused the grout to crack. We also have heated flooring under the tile, it is the wire type of heated floor. My husband did not want to have a transition between our wood floors and the tile floor, so he took up the wood with several layers of linoleum and left the subflooring. He then installed cement board. I have never installed tile before, but I watched some YouTube videos and felt confident that I could do a fairly good job. We did not in case the wire in a floor leveling medium, I just use the mortar on top of the cement board to install the tiles. Now I am worried that I will ruin the heated floor if I try to remove any tiles. The tiles that are loose are not broken, but I have very few tiles to replace any if I do break them. What is the solution to this problem? Or is there a solution to this problem?


ANSWER - The first question is why did the tiles come loose?  If installed correctly tiles should not come loose.  Once you remove the tiles to repair you can evaluate the conditions underneath to help you figure that out.  Hopefully it is an anomaly and not a systemic issue.

To remove the tile, first remove the grout around the tile.  Assuming the grout joint is wide enough there are had tools for sawing the grout out or you can use a dustless grinder with a dry diamond blade, but be careful not to damage the adjacent tiles.

Next I would get stone or glass suction cups to see if you can carefully pull the tile up if it is that loose.  If it isn't that loose, you can carefully cut a diagonal cut along one of the corners about 3 inches in.  Then carefully remove that piece with your chisel and hammer.  Don't cut too deep or you will damage the floor warming wires.

If the tile grout joints are too narrow, then use the dry diamond blade in a grinder to cut along the inside edge of the perimeter of the tile.  Then cut a diagonal cut at the new inside corner and remove it and use the chisel to remove the balance.  The remaining perimeter tile can be partially cut into short pieces so they will be easy to remove with a chisel and hammer.  If the tile is bonded very well, then cut the surface of the tile into small segments to make it easier to remove with a chisel and hammer.

Be careful not to cut too deep and chisel too aggressively.  After removing the tile and prepare the substrate, test your floor warming out before you replace the tile to make sure you didn't damage any wires.  If you did damage wires then you can repair them.

2 thoughts on “How do I remove Loose Tiles without Damaging the Floor Warming Wires?

  1. Joe Minnici says:

    How do I remove tiles without damaging the tiles underneath. The tiles underneath are old art deco ones which I would like to bring back to the former glory

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Trial and error is what you need to do. If you used a good thin-set mortar adhesive to bond the newer tiles to the old tiles then you probably will damage the older tiles. It the new tiles were not bonded well maybe you can preserve the other tiles.

      Best approach is to get a grinder with a 4″ dry diamond continuous rim blade and cut crisscross along the face of the top tile so you have maybe little 2″ x 2″ squares. Don’t go too deep. Then get your chisel and hammer and from an angle carefully chisel away. This will normally do less damage to the underlying material.

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