What is causing water to flow out of our Grout Joints and what can we do about it?

QUESTION

I live in Florida. We have water coming up through our grout. We’ve had plumbers rule out leaks. We’ve had several “experts” come out to try and figure it out, most feel its ground water. Spent a lot of money on consults and had metal pipes put in the side of the house through the footer and it didn’t help. Our issue has become worse and we feel desperate. The source seems to be under the house and it smells like vinegar. We need to make a choice on how to handle it. Trying to decide the first step. Should we have some one cut through our slab? Any advice would be helpful. One suggested we dig out the grout and replace with unsealed grout to allow evaporation. Today my husband started digging out the grout and in one spot, the water shot out about 2 feet in the air. It’s all very unsettling. I found your name online and see that you are familiar with this problem.

ANSWER

ANSWER -  If water squirts out of the removed grout joint 2 feet in the air, then that is an indication that the water is under pressure.  I assume that the water squirting in the air was only initially when the grout was removed and it isn't continuing to do so.

When water is under pressure that is considered hydrostatic pressure.  The only things that can cause hydrostatic pressure is either a water source from outside of your home at a higher level of your home is traveling down to under your home and creates a pressure forcing the water up through your concrete slab up through the grout joints.  Or if you have a high water table (water residing under ground under your home) it can cause the same effect.  Water table heights can vary at times.  If it rains a lot the water table can rise.

If this is the problem, then the only thing you can do is install french drains around the perimeter of your home.  This is where they dig deep trenches and install a perforated pipe and fill with gravel.  The placement is important because the idea is you want the water source to go into the trench drain to drain away from the house.

2 thoughts on “What is causing water to flow out of our Grout Joints and what can we do about it?

  1. Amanda Haley says:

    Hi,
    My mothers 1960s house in south Florida has a tile floor in the sunken living room which seems to ooze small amounts of liquid which harden into a white crust that smells like vinegar. This has been happening for several years.
    We recently had new gutters installed and have tried to regrade areas around the house. Have also added drainage rock to many areas too, all within the last month.
    Do you think this will stop the problem or do we need to pull up the tile in the sunken area, let the concrete dry, patch any cracks, add a moisture barrier like Ditra…any other suggestions?
    Thank you.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      The oozing material is called efflorescence. It is minerals carried by moisture that when the moisture evaporates it precipitates the minerals that is usually a calcium based material. If you stop the water source then you can stop the efflorescence.

      The water can be coming from under a concrete slab, assuming this is an on-ground installation such as from a high water table. Or it is coming in laterally from planters.

      If you can’t stop or divert the source of water you could consider replacing the tile and installing an epoxy moisture mitigation system. If you do have cracks in the slab as long as they are not structural cracks (one side of the crack is higher or lower than the other side) then you could possibly use an uncoupling membrane like Ditra, but that won’t necessarily prevent the water from coming up through the slab.

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