My shower grout is dissolving?

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Old 07-11-08, 07:45 PM
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My shower grout is dissolving?

I am new to this forum so hope I am posting this in the right place. I have a 6 year old house. This week I noticed the grout in between the tiles of my shower is dissolving. I can rub it off and in just a few days some of it has completely disappeared between a few of the tiles. It feels gritty/sandy. I am not sure what to do. If I dry it out can I regrout the missing parts and reseal it or is this a bigger problem? Any information would be helpful. I don't want to call in a professional if I don't have to. Thanks.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 07:06 AM
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Hi!

It sounds like the original grout was not mixed to instructions. Dig out the grout and start over following the manufacturers instructions.

What size grout lines are they? If they are 1/8" or smaller, use a non-sanded grout, if 1/8" or bigger, use sanded.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 12:45 PM
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Is this the only solution?

Is this all I can do? Is there no way to harden the grout. It feels hard when it is dry. There is tile all the way to the ceiling and the whole bathroom is tiled with the same tile. It is only the tile below the water line that is the problem but I am concerned if it does not match that the whole thing will have to be done which will be a very big job. I also know the tile is no longer available so if there is any damage to the tile in the process we will be in bigger trouble.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 01:32 PM
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What probably happened was when they were grouting, they started from the top, and by the time they got to the bottom, the grout was already setting up.

There is nothing you can do to "harden" it.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 09:44 PM
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why did it last for 6 years?

Is there an explanation for why it would have been fine for 6 years and then suddenly soften? I have cleaned it regularly, even with a scrubbing brush, many times over the years with no problem. This has developed in a few weeks. The only thing that changes occasionally is the cleaning products I use although they are all regular products you'd normally use in the bathroom. I have already started removing the grout this afternoon but would like to avoid this happening again. Also, are there any advantages or disadvantages to using premixed grout instead of mixing it myself? I've never done this before but I have done many projects around the house and this doesn't seem particularly difficult. However, I don't want to make it more difficult by picking the wrong product.
 
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Old 07-12-08, 09:48 PM
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grout lines

I forgot to add that the floor of the shower is small tiles with narrow grout line around 1/8" but the sides of the shower have big tiles and the grout lines are about 1/4".
 
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Old 07-13-08, 07:11 AM
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Premixed grout is a adhesive, which we have seen some pretty bad failures.

Get the stuff that comes in the bag or box. You can use sanded grout.

All this is also making me wonder what they set these tiles on...i.e. cementboard, drywall, etc.
 
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Old 07-13-08, 08:13 AM
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Erica

Have you been in this house since it was built? What do you know about the construction of the shower? Do you know what was used behind the tile? Was it drywall, greenboard, cement board, something else? Do any tiles appear to be loose or hollow as well or is it just the grout? Is this the entire shower area below the water line or just some isolated spots? Do you know what kind of thinset (or adhesive) and grout was used?
 
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Old 07-14-08, 07:50 PM
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soft grout

I don't know anything about the construction of the shower. I bought a "spec" home and everything in the shower has been fine until recently. Actually, now that I have worked on the grout I am finding some very soft areas, but fairly small areas, where the grout just disolves away like dust when I scrape it. Most of the rest of the area below the water line releases some sandy residue when I scrape at it dry, but still feels mostly hard. Above the water line the grout is rock hard.I am not sure whether to just scrape off everything that comes away easily or make an effort to take out everything below the water line. I'm going to wet some of it again(I've let it dry out the past few days) to see if it softens when it is wet. There are no loose tiles. It feels quite solid otherwise and I believe the tiles in the bathroom were done by a reputable contractor . The builder has built many homes in the area.
I read somewhere in the forum(I think) that you shouldn't use metal to get the grout out but when I went to the hardware store the only tools were all metal. The soft grout comes out with the bristles of a toothbrush so that's no issue, but if I have to remove the rest of it it will take something hard.
I will forget the premixed grout but as soon as I am sure of the next step I want to get this job done so I can get my shower back in operation. I appreciate the advice. Thanks.
 
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Old 08-06-08, 12:32 PM
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Since the grout has started dissolving just in the last few weeks, I would say it might very well be due to the change in your cleaners. My son-in-law is a contracter, and he said that they have to re-due lots of bathrooms because of the cleaners that people use. Two of the biggest ones that are problems is Lime-Away, and that spray after you shower stuff. I use green cleaners through out my whole house, including the bathroom, they work really well and do not do damage to me or my home. Most store bought cleaners of all kinds have lots of harmful chemicals in them, bathroom cleaners are really toxic to you and the surface you put them on.
 
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Old 08-17-08, 08:43 PM
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I can second the fact about the cleaners used breaking down the grout. I have found w/ living in and repairing in my past 3 homes that any chemical can break down well mixed grout and grout jobs not mixed well or bad ready mix jobs just start to break down after the chemicals actually start to remove the bond between the joints.
 
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Old 08-18-08, 11:12 AM
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OTOH I've used after shower soap scum spray (Clean Shower)for years and I haven't had a problem with grout. I use it every day. I have 3 tiled showers, two of which see daily use. One is 3 years old and the other nearer 20. The grout in all 3 is fine. I seal the grout twice a year. I don't know if that makes a difference.


I probably wouldn't use a product like Lime Away on a cement based material.


I think either the grout was not properly mixed or applied or you may have some movement of the wall. If the tile is in good shape, I would just bite the bullet and regrout. A good rainy day weekend project.
 
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Old 08-18-08, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cwbuff View Post
OTOH I've used after shower soap scum spray (Clean Shower)for years and I haven't had a problem with grout. I use it every day. I have 3 tiled showers, two of which see daily use. One is 3 years old and the other nearer 20. The grout in all 3 is fine. I seal the grout twice a year. I don't know if that makes a difference.


I probably wouldn't use a product like Lime Away on a cement based material.


I think either the grout was not properly mixed or applied or you may have some movement of the wall. If the tile is in good shape, I would just bite the bullet and regrout. A good rainy day weekend project.

Sealing also helps and also not using lime away as a regular cleaner. I learned the hard way that lime away is for worst case scenarios and once in a blue and using sealing on the grout helps it out very much so I think. Others may have other opinions. Bleach and water can do quite a bit.... I would have to agree to just re-grout and know that it is done right you will feel much better once you do it yourself...
 
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