Please Help: Dark grout in master bath shower (pics included)

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Old 05-30-15, 06:37 AM
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Please Help: Dark grout in master bath shower (pics included)

Hi - I could use some help from some experts. We built a house and moved in Nov 2013. A few months after moving in we noticed that the bottom row of grout in our master shower was growing darker than the rest of the shower and never lightened back up. When we moved in, all of the grout was the same color. We did seal the grout when we moved in.

We've asked our builder to look at it multiple times and were originally told it was soap scum or something and just needed cleaned, although when they scratched the grout, nothing came off. We since shave bought $50 worth of cleaner including Finnazle and other soap scum and grout cleaners we found in these forums and nothing has helped. Most recently, the builder came out with the tile installer and they scraped off some of the caulking along the bottom of the shower pan (there is caulk all along the bottom of the plastic pan where the tile meets the pan, except for leaving the weep holes clear of caulk). They then stuck a paper towel back between the tile and pan and noticed some wetness. The installer said they wanted to recommend removing the bottom row of tile to investigate because they couldn't know what's going on without doing so; however, when the builder called to schedule the appointment they said the new recommendation was to just use a tile grout stain sealer to match the grout color that is now darkened to the rest of the tile. Sounds like a cove rip job to me, but not sure and I'm worried there could be a bigger issue.

Can anyone help or has anyone experienced this? I'm also concerned that there is dark color behind the caulk along the shower pan, which in past experience has been mold.

Please help...
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Old 05-30-15, 06:42 AM
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Welcome to the forums! The builder is in COPOUT mode. Have him send his best tile person in there to remove the bottom row of tile and investigate why the wetness is behind the tile. It appears what you have is ingrained mold and it goes all the way through the grout. Stop spending money on chemicals. They won't work. Whatever he suggests other than total removal of the affected area is not acceptable. Yeah, it will cost him money. Better him than you.
 
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Old 05-30-15, 08:34 AM
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Appreciate all the close ups, can you add a picture of the whole shower and reference where the discoloring is happening. Also, check that there is color matching caulking in the corners and where the bench meets the wall (both vertical and horizontal).
 
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Old 05-30-15, 09:19 AM
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thanks for the replies...here are some more pics of the cross section of the wall showing materials used (asked for in another forum I also posted the question). It appears to be concrete backer board attached directly to the stud, followed by an orange water barrier cloth of some kind, mortar and then tile. I don't know the mortar brand, but the grout is Polyblend(R) brand sanded grout.

Also see below for a full pic of the shower (when the grout color all matched). The darkest parts of the grout are when looking at the picture on the left side wall (where the shower head is) and on the back wall. The bench doesn't really have much discoloration, but a little. There is opaque caulk around the entire bottom of the shower pan where it meets the tile, except at the weep holes, and vertically in the corners.

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Old 05-30-15, 12:09 PM
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Love the "fish eye" view to get the whole shower in. The grout is not discolored because no water was used in advance of your moving in and starting to use the shower. It gives the appearance that there is moisture getting between the membrane and the tile/grout. The usual suspects are at the supply (are those recent pics or old ones?), the shower head or attachment to the handheld if you have one, or seepage past the grout in the corners where caulk was not used. The fact that moisture is present when they removed the caulk verifies that. They are hoping it will drain and correct itself. However, the source of moisture needs to be found.

The orange layer is Kerdi membrane and is a waterproofing membrane. Thus any moisture on the shower side will not go to the stud/cement board side it will stay on the side toward the shower. On top of that you have mortar and tile and grout working to keep the moisture from escaping to the open air side of the shower. The result is the grout is getting wet from behind and is discoloring as unsealed grout does when it gets wet.

Run the shower with the trim cover and handle off to see if any visible leaks are present. Check during operation the shower arm by pulling the cover plate forward and look into the hole in tile with a flashlight to see if a drip is present. Then look real close in the corners to see if any grout cracks are visible. Push on the wall near the corners to see if anything opens up. Lastly, return a good caulk seal to the bottom once dry and completely caulk, do not leave weep holes to wick up moisture. Put a fan in the shower and turn on the exhaust fan to try to dissipate the moisture.
 
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Old 05-31-15, 06:25 AM
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Thanks for the detailed replies. We were gone for two weeks on vacation and nothing changed. Sounds like consensus from everyone's posts here and othe forums is there is a moisture problem. Now for the fun of pushing the builder to find the problem and fix it instead of simply topically fixing it with a stain. Thanks everyone.
 
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Old 07-03-15, 06:10 PM
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So the builder is now saying that there's record that the bottom row of tile had been removed and replaced with new grout, which he claims he's confident is the reason the grout s discolored. Looking at the pics (and seeing in person), this doesn't at all look like a "different batch of grout".

He's "willing" to open the wall from the rear through the drywall to confirm there's no moisture problem, but from the above it seems like a moisture issue wouldn't be noticed going this route since the moisture would not be on the back of the cement board, which is all you could see by opening the drywall on the other side of the wall, but rather a moisture issue between the tile, grout, and water barrier, correct? If I removed some of the discolored grout, would I be able to notice a moisture issue that way?
 
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Old 07-06-15, 04:37 AM
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Any thoughts on the above?
 
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Old 07-06-15, 05:10 AM
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They then stuck a paper towel back between the tile and pan and noticed some wetness
I keep harping back to this line in your opening post. There is moisture back there, where it is coming from is the question. Part of me says this, let him re-grout and see if it changes things. Make sure that it is sealed after 72 hours of drying (and non-use of the shower).

except for leaving the weep holes clear of caulk
Have him caulk the "WHOLE" bottom between the base and tile - NO WEEP HOLES. My theory is that moisture is getting back there via the weep holes. I never install weep holes personally. If the shower is properly installed, they really should not be needed. Caulking around the whole base, caulking in all the corners, caulking where the bench meets the walls and any other corner (inside or outside corner). Finally, a very small bead of clear adhesive kitchen and bath caulk around the shower handle trim and where appropriate near the glass.

I would also remind him that this should not be a final fix if it doesn't solve the issue, maybe even ask for that in writing to give you some leverage.
 
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