BLOG: How Long Can I Leave a Leaking Bathroom?
Bathrooms have several common points of failure. The first to look at is the plumbing inside the wall cavity. If you have a slow drip inside the wall cavity, it can quickly cause severe damage to the structural timbers and adjoining rooms. You can usually detect these leaks if you have damp carpets, a mildew smell in adjoining rooms or loose tiles around the bottom of the shower area.
As the leak is behind the waterproofing, there is no barrier to stop the water from finding its natural course out of the building. If your home is on stumps, you may see the buildup of dampness or even a drip underneath the house. In a home built on a concrete slab, you may detect a faint odour or notice moisture outside the wet areas in an adjoining room. This kind of leak needs to be addressed quickly as it can lead to severe issues down the track.
Slide for before and after
Grout is also a common failure point. Your grout fills the joint between each tile and comes in two types. Epoxy grout is a two-part product that dries to a hard cure and is resistant to mould and staining. Cementitious grout is a water-activated powder and requires regular cleaning.
Hairline cracks and missing or chipped grout areas can lead to water ingress between the tiles and cause issues over an extended period. If the bathroom is still fashionable and has no other issues, you may be able to have the caulking and grout removed and replaced. Caulking is the silicone in the corners between two surfaces, such as floor and wall tiles or shower screens, and will need replacing every five years to maintain an adequate seal between the two surfaces.
Evidence of a leaking bathroom. And what to do about it.
If the bottom tiles around your bathroom appear loose, but there is no evidence of damage to the adjoining rooms, your waterproofing may be intact and doing its job correctly. In this case, your bathroom was waterproofed professionally, and most tilers will be able to rectify the damage by removing, cleaning and replacing the loose tiles. Hopefully, you have a few spare tiles as they can be hard to match, and there is a chance your tiler may break one or two in the removal. They can then address the grout and silicone to bring the space back to working order.
Damp in an adjoining room.
If you notice damp or water staining on a wall or floor outside your bathroom, your waterproofing has failed. You will need to remove most of the tiles in the shower and re-waterproof the area. In this circumstance, a complete bathroom renovation is the most effective way to ensure the issues are fixed, and you have peace of mind moving forwards. In addition.
A full bathroom renovation will have all the walls stripped back to the framework to assess the damage, and you will have the freedom and flexibility to re-arrange the room’s layout. As a minimum, you will require a licensed electrician and plumber to certify the work, along with glazing and waterproofing certificates. Still, engaging a builder to design and construct your new room is more common.
Using a registered builder to oversee your project will ensure you have a warranty for the project and that all your trades are scheduled and complete the work to the relevant standards. In Victoria, builders are licensed by the VBA, and you can check their registration is current here: vba.vic.gov.au/tools/find-practitioner
No matter which way you discover your bathroom is leaking, it is a good idea to identify the cause and rectify it as soon as possible. Leaving even a tiny leak can lead to costly repairs in other areas of the home.