It is rather a conundrum. Water is the main focus of a bathroom, but water is the leading cause of damage there. No matter how well you take care of your bathroom, over time there will be water damage. This really does not become prevalent until you begin tearing out fixtures and old shower stalls and tubs, and by then you are committed. Why do these problems occur? Mainly, it is caused by the shifting and settling of the infrastructure, allowing minute cracks to appear and water tight integrity to disappear. Grout can age and develop minute cracks, and by the time you notice them, staining or worse has occurred. Because the bathroom is typically the smallest room in the house, it is the most prone to water damage. Knowing what to look for before you start tearing out fixtures and walls will go a long way in being kind to your budget. This article focuses on water damage and mildew found in a bathroom during a remodel job, and ways to fix it before the budget gets out of control.
Inspecting For Water Damage
Before you begin, do a simple inspection of the bathroom and exposed pipes. Are there signs of moisture on the bottom of the toilet tank? Is the floor around the toilet damp or spongy? Check for any visible leaks. Move on to the shower. Take a close look at tiles, and grout around the enclosure if you have a one piece pre-fab shower stall. Check for water stains or soft areas around shower walls. Check closely under the vanity. Because this space is almost always full of supplies and other things, water might be dripping in there and you may not know it. Use a strong flashlight and inspect thoroughly.
If you have a full basement, a check under the bathroom area is in order. Here, you can view the pipes and drains, and can get a good visual idea of what kind of condition the flooring is in underneath the bath. Not only look for obvious leakage problems, but inspect for old water stains and possible damage. A leak might have been fixed, but after damage has bad been done.
If you are lucky, you will only see the inevitable water stains. If there are signs of more damage, though, the best bet is to call in an expert for a thorough inspection. A qualified inspector will check for warped or rotten boards, and run tests that the average home owner cannot. They will inspect for mold using sophisticated equipment, and advise you how to proceed.
In the worst case scenario, you may find that you have mold damage behind walls or under carpeting that is old and needs replacement. This is one reason why builders and contractors don't advise putting carpeting in a bathroom! Dealing with mold is best left to an expert, for they know the best ways to deal with it and insure that it doesn't come back again.
What Needs To Be Done?
Let's look at the worst that can happen. Water damage has caused floor joists and sub flooring to weaken considerable, or interior walls have damage to studs from water leaking behind walls. What needs to be done? There are several choices here. First, you can call in a flooring contractor to repair damage. Then, contact a builder and have damage to the interior walls repaired. A plumber would then be needed to fix any leaks or problems with the plumbing. Sound like a lot of hassle? It is. A much better solution would be to call a bathroom remodeler, get an estimate from at least three sources, and proceed. The last thing you need is to wait on several different contractors to get the job done. Remodeling a bathroom is inconvenient enough as it is, so why add to the inconvenience? Anyone who has ever had to wait on a contractor will know what I mean.
One of the most important things you need to do when beginning a bathroom remodel is to contact the city clerk in the town you live in, and get all information regarding permits and building codes for your project. Depending on locale, plumbing might need to be upgraded, and wiring will also need to be dealt with according to code. Be sure to get all permits for the project. It may not happen to you, but there have been cases where people have attempted a remodel on their own and have had to tear out the work because it wasn't either done by a licensed contractor or did not meet code. Don't let this happen to you.