QUESTIONHello . . . Question for you:
With all of the flood waters receding around here, I’m getting a lot of questions about the effects of the flood waters on peoples natural stone and porcelain tile floors. In my mind, as long as the tile was installed correctly, whereby the trowel ridges were pushed down resulting in full coverage of thinset with no voids underneath, they should be fine with respect to bond performance. Would you let me know what you think?
I have one particular customer who has filled and polished travertine that was sealed and got flooded. A bunch of it. It appears to be bonded well, and looks really good, but he’s concerned about problems related to residual allergens, etc. that could cause poor air quality. Any thoughts you have about that as well?
You are right in that if the tile or stone was installed correctly with properly placed movement joints that the flood should not affect the tile.
If the tile wasn’t installed correctly in terms of having properly placed movement joints and the tile isn’t bonded as well as it should be then the tile installation can possibly be harmed. If the tile is installed over a wood substrate, the water can cause the wood to warp that can cause damages. The only way to determine if the floor sustained damages from a flood incident is to perform a forensic investigation, which we often do. Click on "Forensic Services" for more information on our services.
The other concern is the quality of the water that the tile was subjected to during the flood. If the tile is a glazed tile or porcelain tile it should not absorb the water, but a porous tile or porous grout will absorb the water. How much it absorbs depends on how porous the material is and how long the floor was submerged in the water.
If the quality water is:
Category 1 water - No problem with Category 1 water which is sanitary water that you can drink and wash with.
Category 2 water is water that is definitely contaminated and unsafe for either contact or consumption. Depending on what the water contains it could absorb into the porous tile or grout joints and be a problem. It can be tested for contaminates by an Industrial Hygienist. They could power wash the tile and grout and then re-test to make sure it was sanitized.
Category 3 water is water that is grossly contaminated and may be highly toxic and called Black Water. It may contain sewage, pesticides and etc. Unlike the first two categories, Black Water will have a foul smell and likely contain pathogenic, toxigenic, or other harmful agents. The water contains it could absorb into the porous tile or grout joints and be a problem. It can be tested for contaminates by an Industrial Hygienist. They could power wash the tile and grout and then re-test the floor to make sure it was sanitized. If it doesn’t pass, then the floor might need replacing.