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A Leaky Pipe Needs a Fix

This condo’s upstairs bath needs new floor tile, a new vanity top, and some little fixes such as new caulk and some drywall repair. A facelift. Unfortunately we found an issue along the way.

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The Leaky Pipe

Taking out the baseboard behind the toilet, there was a little moisture damage in the wallboard and baseboard, and it looked like it might have gotten into the floor as well.

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We are pulling up the vinyl to replace it with tile, so we did a little exploring.

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Indeed, something is going on there.

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And it had been for long enough to rot the subfloor (plywood) around the toilet. What we found was a pinhole in the solder joint there. An invisibly tiny hole that let out a few water molecules at a time, just enough to keep the area slightly damp. Vinyl is waterproof of course, and trapped that dampness in the floor where it decayed the wood slowly, patiently, for years.

This needs to be fixed. In the photo above, the pipe had already been fixed. Now that the cause is fixed, we need to repair the floor.

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We had to take out a good chunk of the subfloor, wallboard, and the baseboard. The bottom plate in the wall (the structural 2×4 at the base of the wall) is dark from a little bit of mold, but is still strong, so we can keep that.

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There’s our new framing. Here’s the new subfloor.

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And after a drywall patch and tile, we’re as good as new.

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Ditra Tile Substrate

I wanted to mention this material we use under tile on second stories, and where there is a wood frame floor. It is called Ditra and is helpful in several ways. First it is thinner than other tile substrates that you would use over wood, so when you walk into the new tile bath from the existing hallway, the floors are closer to the same level. Second, it “uncouples” the tile from the wood underneath it, when means that if the wood expands and contracts differently from the tile due to temperature change, or humidity, it won’t crack the tile. The Ditra is flexible so it absorbs the stress without a problem. This keeps tile from cracking over time. It’s a great product. Easy to install, affordable, and effective.

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The Finished Bath

Here’s how the tub turned out, with some nice new caulking around the edges to clean it up.

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And the new Onyx vanity top makes everything feel new.

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