Big problems arise after bathroom remodel: advice needed

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Flush, May 8, 2014.

  1. Flush

    Flush New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Oregon
    We had a contractor remodel our bathroom back in December. It was a nearly-gut job, with all new fixtures, flooring, tiled bath/shower combo, etc. There were ups and downs during the process, but we were over-all impressed with the company, especially how the owner promptly resolved a problem with the tile job. I don't have any reason to expect him to try to be unfair to us now, but I do need advice about what might be fair to expect and what I should do, now that major issues have come up. (This project is the first remodel we've ever done.)

    Since the bathroom was finished, the tub caulking has failed repeatedly. It cracks on the drain end and the long side after one or two baths. When full, the soaker tub (Americast) sinks about 1/8-1/4 inch - I attached a picture, below.

    Also, we've just had a big raised area (9 inches across X 5 inches approx) come up in the marmoleum floor, and a small crack in it, next to the tub. It looks like the flooring has come up from the underlayment. There's another less obvious uneven spot by the toilet.

    The company owner sent our project manager out this week. This time he went into the crawl space,under the bathroom. His conclusion is that our joists (I think that is the correct term: the beams that run parallel to the ground, under the bathtub) are too far apart to adequately support the weight of a modern soaker tub. He also said he thinks water got under the marmoleum, somehow, though he swears he installed it per manufacturer's directions. He is going to consult with the owner but said: "if we end up reinforcing the joists/supports under the house...we will also re-do your floor for free."

    I am still waiting for an email or call from the owner. It has now been three days. I'm trying to figure out what to say and what to ask them to do, depending on what he offers.

    My gut reaction is that it is reasonable for them to ask us to pay for additional reinforcement under the floor, if needed. However,since we had our project manager, his boss AND their plumber all in that crawl space before the project and they all missed this "issue," we expect to pay the same price as that work would have cost during the big project - no paying for it as a separate deal.

    Also, they need to replace our marmoleum floor. And we will need to see evidence that he did follow manufacture's instructions. We do not consider a new floor a favor in this situation because we had every reason to expect a waterproof bathroom floor! There was CLEARLY an installation problem.

    Please let me know if my response is fair, unfair, or too nice? And if I should be doing something additional? I'd also like to hear if professionals think these problems are understandable oversights, or a sign of incompetence. I'm an assertive person but unfamiliar with this industry.

    420 004.jpg
    Thanks!
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,943
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Normally the gap between tub and tile is Silicone. The tub will flex some being Americast and the Silcone allows for that. It's a little odd that there is a row of tile over the other tile near the tub.
    I like to caulk the tub spout, and face plate of the valve too.

    If there is flex in the floor joist, that can be an issue. You may want to pop down in the crawl and see if it can be supported.
  3. Flush

    Flush New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Oregon
    Thanks, Terry.

    The flex seems to be MUCH greater than ordinary, because it has torn the caulk apart repeatedly when we fill the tub. It is silicone, specifically marketed for use in tubs and showers.

    The contractor now believes the problem is joists too-far-apart and allowing for flex. He said the problem was obvious when he looked in the crawl space. I am frustrated, though, that he and the owner both looked at that space and the joists before the project started. Shouldn't it have been obvious at that point and the extra supports installed as part of the original reno?

    I would think that they would automatically consider supports when taking out an old small tub and replacing it with an extra-deep soaker. I'm trying to gauge how much confidence I should continue to place in these guys!
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,943
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Well..........Normally a home is built for plumbing fixtures. Many old homes had cast iron tubs weighing 300 plus points. The Americast is maybe 125 pounds. I don't know too many contractors that like to go in crawl spaces.
    I went to a flipping seminar two weeks ago. Mentors were going for $25,000
    The speaker, who does a lot of flipping said that one place he would never go, would be in a crawl space. He flips about 15 homes a year.
    I have to go into crawls, because that's my job. I'm a plumber. I have built home though. And yes I was in those crawls too.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    When we install a tub, we put a "ledger" board under the rim so it CANNOT separate from the tile. I am not sure why they put the "base trim" around the tug unless they just did not want to do a precise cut on the tile at the tub. Until they get back to you, ANYTHING we would suggest would be presumptuous. Your structure must be very "weak" if it cannot support a bathtub full of water.
    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  6. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    4,057
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    The chalking job looks poorly done as well. Does not look like any chaulk made it under the tile.

    Might also be because of water migration into the walls.

    Did you use any waterproofing on the walls?
  7. dhagin

    dhagin builder:anti-builder

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    oahu
    I'm with the Licensed Plumbers here, both Terry & HJ. The cracked caulk is a symptom of a larger problem it seems. The caulk also does not appear to be 100% silicone, which is what you need in that location. That said, you have way more movement than most tubs.

    If you can verify the framing below the tub, or post photos of it from below, maybe we can help some more. :)
  8. RCraig

    RCraig New Member

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Wow, I am very sorry to hear about this situation. Out of curiosity, how far apart are the joists?
    I had a somewhat similar problem with an old cast iron tub, the difference being that the flex in my case was not measurable -- but it still caused a huge problem. Water leaking through an essentially invisible crack in my case - it can go a lot of places and it probably got under your marboleum no matter how well is was installed. It will likely start rotting out your floor and subfloor, as it did mine.
    In my basement, someone had installed a piece of 2-by-4 across the joists under the tub. Don't know whether this would make any difference in your case.

    Also out of curiosity, was the floor replaced or solid before the new stuff was put in? Is the tub level?

    Finally, one thing that forestalled the damage in my case was to re-silicon the joint that is cracking WITH WEIGHT (WATER) IN THE TUB. I don't know whether this will help in your case because the movement is extensive. The reasoning here is that the silicon will then have more flex, such that when someone gets in the tub, it can flex and hopefully not crack.
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
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