What Causes Water Damage Underneath Tiles?

Ceramic Tile Installation

Tiles are an excellent choice for kitchens and bathrooms because they’re durable, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, easy to clean. Most tiles have some form of water resistance, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible to water damage. If there’s water ingress underneath your tiles, then you may want to address it quickly as neglecting it can lead to major problems such as cracked tiles and rotten subflooring.

Knowing the cause of water damage is crucial to maintaining the overall hygiene and condition of your tiled floors. Let’s discuss the reasons why water damage occurs and how you can prevent them from happening.

Leaks and drainage issues

The main reason for water underneath your bathroom tiles is leakage. Some bathroom fixtures have plumbing that’s connected to the mainline underneath the floor. If any of these connections are damaged, water will end up pooling beneath your tiles. Identifying such leaks can prove quite challenging, but there are a couple of tips that you can use when diagnosing the problem.

Try to observe where the water damage is most severe. From there, you can trace the source of the leak by working backward. You can also look for any water drippings in the room below if your bathroom is located a floor higher.

Another common cause of water damage underneath tiles is clogged drains. This can manifest anywhere from your sink or toilet and eventually warp the floorboards and wall supports in your bathroom.

Ceramic Tile Installation

Tile grout problems

If the source of the water damage isn’t coming from a leak, it could be that the tile grout is damaged. Grout controls seepage by securing the tiles to its base. If it were to get loose, cracked, or damaged, then water and moisture can make its way underneath your tiled floors. In this instance, you should definitely regrout your tiles to preserve its condition.

Alongside tile grout problems is the fact that the tiles themselves are damaged. Cracked/broken tiles can allow water to seep through the base and compromise the underlayment. While minor cracks can be repaired with some epoxy and paint, major damages warrant an immediate tile replacement.

Signs that your tiles are water damaged

Addressing the water damage early on is vital to ensure it doesn’t affect the rest of your tiled floors. There are a couple of tell-tale signs that indicate your tiles are water damaged and it’s usually a combination of the following:

  • Loose or hollow tiles – Loose tiles are a clear indicator that your flooring has suffered water damage. The constant exposure to water can weaken the tile’s adhesives and cause them to move around. The same thing goes for hollow tiles which are due to the void created by the water damage. If you experience any of these, contact a reputable tile installer and have it repaired immediately.
  • Warped floors – When your tiles are water damaged, you may notice that your floors are starting to warp or dip. This is due to the subfloor rotting down, thus creating an uneven surface on your tiled floors. You can check the condition of your subfloor through your basement or crawlspace to confirm any signs of water damage.
  • Mould/mildew growth – If there’s unexplained mould or mildew growth in your bathroom, chances are it’s caused by water-damaged tiles. Moisture can seep underneath the tiles and create a breeding ground for these microorganisms to grow.

How to prevent tiles from getting water damage

Proper tile maintenance is usually all you need to prevent water from harming your tiles (unless you damage your tiled floors by accident). All of the aforementioned issues should be thoroughly observed and fixed should they arise. Also, make sure to clean your tiles regularly and do not let any spills and stains dry out. You can also get your tiles regrouted. 

To protect your tiled floors, it’s a good idea to seal the grout lines once every 2-3 years. Doing so will help retain the tile’s water-resistant properties and keep the tile grout in good condition. Tile grout is porous in nature and once the sealant is removed, water and moisture can penetrate through it and lead to chips and cracks.

Getting help from the professionals

If you aren’t sure how to tackle the problem, then contacting the right professional tilers is the way to go. Shower repair companies know how to identify leaks and determine the exact cause of water damage in your tiles. Best of all, they can rectify the issue with long-term fixes so you don’t end up with a recurring problem.

For fast and efficient shower repairs, look no further than GIB Tiling. Whether it’s a residential or commercial shower issue, our team of experts can repair the problem with ease. We pride ourselves on the quality of our work and we commit to delivering a 5-star service to our clients. Contact us today and let us address your water damaged tiles right away.