WHAT'S BEHIND THE TILE WALL?
Updated: Mar 2
CASE STUDY # 1
Starting with this first post and continuing with future posts I will be presenting actual case studies of a variety of defects that I have found during my many years of inspecting properties.
The first picture that you see is what I found in a recent home inspection in one of the homes bathrooms. You may not believe it but the image you see here is something we often find in many homes. In this instance you are looking at tile wall failure. When you see something like this you have to ask yourself -
"What's going on behind that wall?"
The omission of maintenance on the part of the homeowners to properly maintain both the floor tile and the wall tile - and in this case, especially the tub wall tile, has resulted in major problems!
It doesn't take much for water to penetrate the smallest minuscule crack in a tile joint. And when that water penetration continues to take place over a period of time the end result is disaster!
In no time at all the support wall behind the tile weakens and rots and mold growths, an uninvited guest, is all too happy to join in on the fun.
When I see something, as shown in the 1st picture, I carefully and lightly tap the suspect tile areas, making sure not to damage those suspicious looking tile locations.
What I am trying to determine, by very gently tapping the tile, is if what I see is actual tile wall failure or just a very bad attempt at some past tile repairs.
In some, but not all, instances what looks like tile wall failure is just plain old (pardon the language) crap tile repair work!
In the case of this house - it definitely was a combination of amateur tile repairs, as well as tile wall failure! I pointed out to my clients (the buyers) that this was one of many problems with this neglected and obviously not maintained property. And I explained to them the ramifications of what may be concealed behind this deteriorated wall.
After all was said and done, the asking price for the house was exactly what the buyers could afford and for that reason they decided to go ahead and buy the property, with full knowledge that they may be buying a potentially expensive and long lasting headache.
Knowing that they would end up buying the house, no matter how meticulously detailed my report would be, I included in my inspection report a cautionary statement that they should have a competent licensed contractor open up the
impaired wall in order to access the sub-surface areas, as well as to assess the conditions under it.
Several months had passed when out of the blue I received a call from these previous clients. They once again thanked me for doing a great inspection for them, but the real reason for the call was that they wanted me to come over to their home to see what their contractor had found after his exploratory inspection.
Always being of a very curious nature I readily agreed to meet with them the very next day. To be surprised, or should I say shocked, at what I would see is putting it mildly. My original comments to them during my inspection were confirmed by what I was now looking at.
The next picture which was taken in the adjacent bedroom shows the opposite side of the tiled wall. This wall shows what years of long-term water soaking into drywall can result in. Here we see not only a stained deteriorated wall, but also (as I had predictably surmised) mold growths.
To exacerbate the condition, from the very little that I could see in the next picture, the inaccessible chase facing the exterior showed blacken wall sheathing - which only could be surmised as a massive dose of mold growths and which only added to this grave dilemma.
My question is,
"How the heck do you remove this black mold from the wall framing? "
My answer is,
"You will need to gut the bathroom down to bare wall studs"
Not the most pleasant thing to look forward to.
As an after thought - look at the uninsulated shower hot and cold water pipes located in this chase. They butt right up against an exterior wall. What potential
negative condition exists? If you said, "possible freeze-ups," you would be right.
The next picture is a close-up shot of this wall and it clearly shows the problem with this wall. Heavy discolored areas of mold growths permeated not only the surface, but also the sub-surface areas. Clearly a major issue that needs to be addressed and corrected!
The long and short of it is, as witnessed in these pictures, that not maintaining a bathrooms tile joints can and likely will result in what you see here.
MY CAVEAT TO YOU
If you are in the process of buying a home that has either wide open wall or floor tile joints and what looks like deteriorated wall or floor tiles and your home inspector says that the tiles just need some caulking and some grout work.
Don't Believe It!
In a case such as this - just re-boot your memory of these pictures and visualize what nastiness may be lurking behind and under those deteriorated tile joints and those weak and loose tiles!
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