Orange build-up on showertile grout

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Mike from Brier, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    Orange build-up on shower tile grout

    I submitted a similar question on a ceramic tile advice forum and got a couple suggestions, but thought I'd post it here also in hopes that some of you in the plumbing trades (or anyone else for that matter) can help narrow down what this problem is caused by, and how to clean and prevent it from coming back.

    When our contractor built our shower stall a couple years ago, he used QuartzLock-2 urethane grout on the wall and floor tiles...I think the color was "Wasabi", a kind of khaki green. Most of it still looks great, but over time, some of the grout color turns from that light green to sort of orangish. I assume it's soap residue or something like that, as most of it comes off with a vigorous scrubbing using comet and a scrub brush. However, lately it comes back quicker, and takes more effort to clean it.

    The enclosure is 3x5', and it's a double-headed shower, one on each end wall. One shower head rarely gets used, and that's the end where most of this orange film builds up, down low on the walls, maybe the lowest five rows. I'm thinking the build-up is happening because the walls on that end don't get nearly as much direct water spray as the rest of the shower.

    So my questions are:

    1. Any ideas what might be causing this orange build-up?

    2. Can anyone recommend products for cleaning this that might work better than what we currently are doing?

    3. Is there a way to slow down or prevent this from recurring once we get it thoroughly clean?

    I have attached a photo that shows the issue quite clearly. Hope this helps!

    Orange on grout.jpg

    Note: Our other bathroom shower is fiberglass, and it also gets this buildup. The only difference is that it happens all over the lower part of the shower, not just in the areas that get less direct water spray. But it's still a PITA to clean!

    Might we need to soften up our water supply, and if so, how is that done? Any other ideas?

    Thanks!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2014
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I do not remember the name of it, but it is likely a mold...quite common, and a pain to get rid of completely. It forms a slightly slimy coating that protects it from some chemicals and abrasion when trying to clean it off. I see it in my toilet as a ring near the waterline, and sometimes in the shower.
  3. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

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    IL
    Iron deposits (rust) are orange. A water softener can remove some iron plus regular hardness compounds.

    Get a water test. If you have city water, you should be able to get a test from the water group. That does not account for iron added by pipes in your home and on the way to your hom.

    Super Iron Out can remove rust stains.

    If it is mold, expect a bleach solution to deal with that.
  4. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

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    Location:
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    QuartzLock-2 Urethane Grout - SUCKS

    I have QuartzLock 2 Grout on my kitchen Island and it sucks. Totally stained and looks like shit.

    Let me know if you find a solution. I would love a fix.

    We bleach the crap out of our counters and they look better for like a week. I found that the urethan grout does become stain resistant but the texture is not as dense as epoxy grout so it's kinda pouris. Wish I never got talked into using it in the first place.
  5. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    If it turns out to be iron deposits, how do we add water softener to our home system?
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

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    1,918
    Location:
    IL
    Step 1 is to get a water test. http://www.watercheck.com/ AKA http://www.ntllabs.com/index.html is a good place. You can also get test kits. Hach 5B is tops for hardness. Hach also offers an iron test kit. I like my Seachem multitest iron test.

    You can get a salesman come out and test your water free, and sell you a system. That is most convenient. Just write a check.

    Alternatively you can find your needs, select a system, and buy it. Select a spot to put the softener. Get a plumber to install it for maybe $300 depending on your situation.

    Are you asking how to choose a properly sized system for your 4-toilet 7-person house after you get your water test? Are you asking how to get a water test? That would depend. Your water company may give you some useful test info. Or are you on a well? http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm is a good place to start on sizing. Rigorous, but it is worth the work.

    The Fleck 5600SXT and Fleck 7000SXT are very good controllers, and they allow people to buy replacement parts if needed.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
  7. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    Thanks for the feedback, Reach4!

    We are on a municipal water system, so my first stop will be with the water district to see if they have the data needed to determine if a softening system is required. If necessary, I'll then start looking into sizing a system for our 2-bath, 3-person home. Thanks for the link to the sizing chart....much appreciate that!

    Cheers, Mike
  8. eurob

    eurob In the trades

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    I like your French.....LOL
  9. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    Well, interestingly enough, our municipal water supply is considered soft according to the water quality expert from our water district. It has negligible amounts of iron, and in fact they aren't even required to quantify how much is in the water, but have tested for it to answer questions like mine. When I told him why I was curious, he quickly indicated that it sounded like I was dealing with a Serratia marcescens bacterial infestation.

    From Wikipedia:

    Due to its abundant presence in the environment, and its preference for damp conditions, S. marcescens is commonly found growing in bathrooms (especially on tile grout, shower corners, toilet water line, and basin), where it manifests as a pink, pink-orange, or orange discoloration and slimy film feeding off phosphorus-containing materials or fatty substances such as soap and shampoo residue.

    Once established, complete eradication of the organism is often difficult, but can be accomplished by application of a bleach-based disinfectant. Rinsing and drying surfaces after use can also prevent the establishment of the bacterium by removing its food source and making the environment less hospitable.


    So, his suggestions are to stop using bar soap because they are mostly fatty acids (use liquid body washes instead), thoroughly and continually clean with chlorine bleach until all noticeable traces are eradicated, wipe down the shower with a shammy or dry hand towel after use, and spray bleach on the walls weekly to prevent recurrence. It's a lot of effort, but the aesthetic alternative, as well as some nasty potential adverse health effects, make it necessary.

    I hope this helps anyone else dealing with this issue!
  10. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Humm, seems like my original suggestion!

    Try this:
    1/2 gal. white vinegar
    1/2 gal. hydrogen peroxide-common peroxide available from your *********
    1 cup boric acid
    Mix well - use in a spray bottle on a dry surface. Shake well and spray area well. The vinegar/peroxide kills active live mold and the boric acid keeps them that way.
    Keep this solution in a bottle that can be capped off tight.

    The hydrogen peroxide acts like a bleach. The boric acid (weak) shreds the cell wall of the mold, allowing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to then kill it.

    The hassle with this particular mold is that it grows a slimy covering, so some scrubbing is required.
  11. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    You're right....sorry I forgot to acknowledge that. I like your "solution" better than some others I've been reading about, so I think I'll try it! I'll post results on its effectiveness in the coming days.

    Cheers!
  12. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    Location:
    Brier, WA
    After I originally sent you a PM to clarify this solution, it dawned on me other readers might want to know your answer as well. Should the 1 cup of boric acid be diluted (and if so, to what ratio), or added to the other ingredients in powder form?
  13. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Just measure it out, and mix it into the liquids. Others have had good results with this, let us know yours. The important thing is the proportions...you do not need to mix a large batch. While it will keep, you need to keep it out of the sunlight, or you'll lose the 'action' from the H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide with turn into 'normal' water when the extra oxygen is 'knocked' off, and it doesn't take much to do it).
  14. Mike from Brier

    Mike from Brier New Member

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    24
    Location:
    Brier, WA
    Thanks, Jim. Will do.
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