Tub Leak / Removing Old Caulk


Old 11-29-14, 02:09 PM
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Tub Leak / Removing Old Caulk

Somewhere around my tub is leaking. It is leaking into the basement. It's an old, cast-iron tub with 4" ceramic tile as the surround (on 3 sides).

When I examine the leak from the basement it is dripping directly from underneath one of the walls (the wall that is adjacent to the long side of the tub). But this is not the wet-wall in the house. So it's not pipe leak.

I looked at the caulk where the top of the tub meets the ceramic tile and it is cracked in a number of places. The texture also seems a bit dry to me. It doesn't have that flexibility that cured caulk normally has. In addition, the caulk is also really moldy.

So... I figured I would first try to re-caulk around the tub and see if that takes care of the leak. But I don't know the best method to remove the old caulk.

Any advice?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-29-14, 02:27 PM
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Mostly just pick at it. If you are lucky a long string will come off but sometimes it's just aggravating little pieces Be sure to get it good and dry/clean before you apply the new caulking.
Old 11-29-14, 03:13 PM
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Far more likely it's a drain, tile installed over drywall, plumbing leak, or where the tub meets the floor that's leaking then the seam between the tub and the wall.
There's suppose to be a lip on the outside edges of the tub about 1" tall, so unless the water is able to run up hill that far it's not going to leak there.
There is no magic trick to removing old caulking, utility knife and a single edge razor should get it done.
New caulking is not going to stick to the old.
If it's hard then someone may have used grout instead of caulking, big mistake.
Old 11-30-14, 06:54 PM
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Well... It's not the drain because I can see the drain clear as day in the basement. And the leak is nowhere near it. It's not plumbing because there is no plumbing in that wall.

It's 4" tile over plaster/lathe. I suppose that could be leaking. But from my experience plaster gets extremely soft and brittle from moisture damage. I haven't located any weak areas in the surround.

The house is 80 years old. I'm sure the tub is also. I've demo'd some old bathrooms before and don't recall those old tubs having a 1" lip like new tubs have. I could be wrong though. It's not something I look for when demo'ing.

Anyway, I figure recaulking is the logical first step since it'll only cost a few bucks for caulk and will not require me to open up a wall. There's no sense in creating more damage if it just happens to be something I can fix with a tube of caulk and a couple hours of elbow grease.

Also, it is caulk... Not grout. I know the difference and I know the person that caulked it. I have no doubt they used bathroom caulk. The caulk has simply dried and lost it pliability. Hence all the cracking.

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