Will residual water from a leak cause damage to my tile installation?

QUESTION

We discovered small amount of water coming up through our grout, long story short, we have ruled out any type of waterline leak and started removing all the tiles across the house... to find out it was actually a slow leak from rain water coming in from a door. The rain water was seeping through the side of the tile, and probably traveling through the thin set and concrete slab. Because we have never seen water coming in, this slow leak probably happened for about 3 years. Water would pop up at random spots in my house. (some were 25 feet away from the door) Our contractor says it's because the water went through the slab and since the slab is not monolithic, the moisture can come up at random spots. We will re slope the outside area by the door to make sure water can't come in again this way.

My question is, do we need to remove the tiles for the rest of the house to make sure there's no other wet spots? Our contractor stopped at where it seemed dry, but I can't stop thinking about what if there were random spots that we just can't see. If left alone, and without new moisture coming in, would that water go back down into the concrete and dry on its own?

ANSWER

ANSWER - If the tile was installed correctly the residual water/moisture should not harm the tile.  Tile is often installed in showers, fountains, and pools and the moisture should not harm them as long as installation isn't in an exterior environment with a freeze-thaw climate with a porous tile.

4 thoughts on “Will residual water from a leak cause damage to my tile installation?

  1. Helen Studdard says:

    I noticed water coming up at the tile seam in my Kitchen, not all just a few, I thought it might be the dishwasher, checekd it and NO leak, could it be ice maker hose behind refrid.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      It is hard to track down the source of the water at times. It could be a source like the ice maker. It could also be a pipe in the concrete slab if you have one. It could also be from the outdoor irrigation or from a high water-table or from water traveling to your planters and migrating into the concrete. Unfortunately no easy answer. You have to do the investigation and look for clues. When we investigate these type of situations we have infrared cameras and moisture meters that we use to help look for the water source.

  2. BetK says:

    We have lived in our home for 14 plus years here in south Florida. We had 18 x 18 inch porcelain tiles put down over six years ago. For the past couple three years I have noticed a couple seams that occassionally have had clumps of white powder in them, less than pea size. I clean them up and a while later they return. Just a couple days ago, I noticed an approximate four inch dark place in a seam just about three feet inside my front door. Unfortunately, it has standing water in it. I wiped it up and it keeps coming back. Any idea on this could be and how to resolve it? Secondly, what type of person or business would I hire to investigate this issue? Thank you for any advise that you may be able to offer.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Chances are that you have a high water table in South Florida and under certain conditions or when there has been heavy rains or a rising sea level the water table rises and water can migrate up into the concrete slab of your home. Particularly if there isn’t a vapor retarder membrane under the slab on top of the soil. You could try to put in french drains around the perimeter of the home to see if water can be diverted away.

      To fully understand the situation you would have dig around your foundation to look for evidence of water and where it is coming from. You might need to remove a tile to look for any underlying evidence.

      There are not many of us like CTaSC who know how to investigate these problems and be able to determine the source of the water and how to fix the problem.

      There are plumbers who specialize in leak detection but they are normally looking for leaking pipes. A landscaper can dig along the perimeter to look for the water source and install a french drain. A soils geotechnical engineer could evaluate the soil and water table.

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