Shower leak in wall - mold present, how bad? General repair advice?

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by ohiohomeowner, May 28, 2011.

  1. ohiohomeowner

    ohiohomeowner New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ohio
    Found this forum when researching bathroom problems and repairs - lots of good advice, thanks in advance for the help.

    We purchased our house (built in 1979) about two years ago. I won't go into all the details but it was sold by a realtor who flipped it. Had it inspected, some major issues were fixed and overall it's been in good condition. However, let's just say that we have also found a few "homeowner level" repairs/remodel project that left plenty to be desired.

    Not that I can probably do anything about this now, but it does appear that the realtor/flipper attempted some repairs. The drain out of the master tub/shower is white PVC, whereas the original drain pipe is black. There's also a slight-but-noticeable shift in the color of the tile on the inside of the shower... it looks like the first 3 rows were replaced, as they are slightly brighter white than the rest of the surround. You can also see where the drywall was repaired around the access panel in the hallway. While I don't know that I can definitively say all of this was done in the 8 months she owned the house, it does match up with some other "homeowner level" plumbing and tile work in other parts of the house I know she did with certainty.

    Important note - the house is built on a slab, there is no crawlspace or basement.

    -------------------------

    The problem at hand is a leak in the plumbing for the master shower. It appeared as a damp spot on the carpet in the hallway (which the bathroom/shower back up to) and mold on the baseboard. This morning I was able to cut into things and see how bad the damage is.

    It looks like the cold water into the shower is what is leaking. Specifically, the 90-degree elbow connecting the water pipe to the faucet. It's dripping from there down the pipe and hitting the 2x4 stud plate at the bottom. I can't see any signs up inside the wall cavity of leaking from the shower head connection so I'm pretty confident it is the faucet. Obviously I need to have a plumber come out and fix the leak.

    You can also see that the new drain (white PVC) out of the master tub/shower is the simple threaded connection type. It doesn't appear to be leaking but they couldn't even manage to take the time to properly screw on the connections - the coupler is mis-threaded!

    Anyway, I'm also quite concerned about two things - the mold on the drywall and the mold(?) and possible rot of the wood base plate. I know that either could entail a very expensive repair job that could/would have to involve professional assistance. There appears to be mold on the backside of the drywall (which is the backer for the new shower surround tile - looks like drywall/gypsym, maybe someone can confirm as the UPC is visible in the photo, and yes I know this is also not good! :mad:) as well as what was on the hallway side. I am capable of drywalling but am worried about proper disposal/removal if the mold is toxic! In addition, replacing part of the base plate is beyond my skill level - especially since I believe that wall may be load-bearing for the roof trusses. It doesn't feel squishy/rotted through but it's certainly wet for approx. 2 ft of length centered around the leak.

    One final concern - there appears to be some old water damage to the drywall (hallway side) behind the guest shower. The bathrooms/showers are back-to-back with the drains facing the hallway and they have access panels next to each other. I don't feel any signs of moisture under the guest shower, just see the stained drywall. Not sure if I should just tear it all out while I'm doing the other work.

    So, after all that, I could use some advice...
    - Any thing else I should search for in terms of leaks? The shower head?
    - Should we open up behind the guest shower?
    - Thoughts on mold testing/removal and re-drywalling?
    - Comments on shower surround tile backing?
    - How does the base plate look? Do you think it needs replaced?


    :confused:

    Photos below... thanks again in advance for the help!

    Wall below master shower after removing baseboard:
    [​IMG]
  2. ohiohomeowner

    ohiohomeowner New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ohio
    More photos...

    Wall below guest shower after removing baseboard:
    [​IMG]

    Overall view of the problem area:
    [​IMG]

    Left side of the problem area:
    [​IMG]

    Right side of the problem area:
    [​IMG]
  3. ohiohomeowner

    ohiohomeowner New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ohio
    More photos...

    Leaking 90-degree connector on cold water into faucet:
    [​IMG]

    Drip point - cold water pipe down lower:
    [​IMG]

    Dripping onto the base plate:
    [​IMG]

    New drain:
    [​IMG]
  4. ohiohomeowner

    ohiohomeowner New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ohio
    More photos...

    Misthreaded connector on new drain:
    [​IMG]

    Looking at the faucet inside the wall cavity:
    [​IMG]

    Looking up inside the wall cavity:
    [​IMG]

    New backing (behind newer surround tiles) with mold on it:
    [​IMG]

    Thank you again in advance!
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,903
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I doubt that the tile was replaced on the lower rows, unless the old tile had completely fallen off.
    Normally, the only way to remove tile is to cut the backerboard out with a sawzall.
    The tub is original; old and rusty.
    I would replace the tub, the faucet and the tile.
    I would remove anything with mold on it.
    A bearing wall? You can remove quit a bit and the roof won't even notice for that short period of time while you are cutting out a stud or two.

    Or course your home could come down like this building too.
    Keep in mind, it's always better to be safe. This building was evacuated before being brought down.

    [video=youtube;Atbrn4k55lA]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atbrn4k55lA[/video]
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  6. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    Wipe it down with bleach and move on.
    If you are really concerned paint all the wood with copper green.
    Michael
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,452
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Mold, Wood, & Bleach, is not a good combination!
  8. ohiohomeowner

    ohiohomeowner New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Ohio
    It may not have been replaced - just interesting that the color is noticeable different there.

    How bad do you think the tub is from the photos? I'd prefer to not have to replace it because of how tight the bathroom is - that would be quite a chore fitting it through the doorway and I don't want to remove a wall unless absolutely necessary.

    We're only planning on staying in this house another 5 years max. so we're trying to avoid any giant investments aside from normal maintenance. However... if the tub/surround needs to be replaced, I'd rather do it right once and be done with it!

    Nice. ;)

    Not trying to be a complete moron here, but are you serious...?

    Related - would wiping down any drywall that's not at all damp/saturated (obviously all that will be replaced) with bleach actually take care of mold issues?


    Thanks again for the help, everyone.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,917
    Location:
    New England
    I saved this from another site...you may find it useful.



    This is an excerpt from a thread about mold. The auther is a member and an official with the Dallas Housing Authority. 4. so what works? According to the instructor of the mold class I attended, try a spray bottle with the following in it: 1/2 gal. white vinegar 1/2 gal. hydrogen peroxide-common peroxide available from your ********* 1 cup boric acid keep closed tightly 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. (Note: uncapped peroxide loses it's oxygen molecules to the air when not capped tight and becomes H2O [water], so keep this solution in a bottle that can be capped off tight). Instructor stated that boric acid works on mold bodies like it does on roach bodies - cuts them and they bleed to death because they cannot "coagulate" (snakes and snails and puppydog tails). I guess we all know that there are some very beneficial molds, too. One last note on the above solution. This solution will not "bleach" out the mold stain. After mold is under control, then you can bring out the bleach and whiten the mold stains.

    If the wood is not 'punky', i.e., soft and no longer structural, suppressing the mold and fixing the leak may be all that is needed.

    Drywall should never be used as a tile backer in a wet area. CBU (aka cement board) is designed for this. Once drywall gets wet, the paper can become mold food, and it gets soft and can fall apart.
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