Tiling comedy of errors. Help needed.

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Hi all,

I'll try and keep this as brief as possible.

I rented out our house August 2016. Three months prior to renting I refurbed the ensuite shower room (not big) by stripping out the original dob and dab non moisture resistant plasterboard and replacing it with 12mm thick marine ply (which was sealed with PVA), new tiles, new grout with tile sealer. The whole ensuite was tiled along with another bathroom with the same tiles, grout and sealer.

The new tenants were in only 2 months and complained to the Letting Agent that the grout was all of a sudden stained in lowish areas of the shower area and how should they clean it. Advice was given by myself via the Agency but with a warning not to use anything abrasive. I also asked for pictures of the affected area of before and after any works they carried out.

The before shots showed there was low level slight brown stains in some of the grout but the grout seemed to be intact and unbroken. To me it looked like someone had tried to use fake tan and then tried to wipe it off but some of the stain got onto the white grout.
The shower is an overhead non removable type.
A month after the tenants 'cleaned' the grout, the agency took more pictures (via a 3 month inspection) the top layer of grout was missing and/or cracked and the stains although reduced, apparently kept appearing.

I immediately pointed out to the Agency that this was damage caused by over cleaning and that it would need to be resealed by the tenants straight away. Basically nothing happened regarding my complaints.
Many emails to the Agency later for other things and I was not informed of any other problem with the shower area. I was stupidly busy to keep checking with them to see if it had been sorted.

Fast forward to January whereby I get an email from the Agency saying the tenants had emailed again saying the brown staining in the shower area was back, worse and now there was more cracking. Many emails later of who was responsible (Agency blamed me and I blamed the tenants) got no where and I resolved to pay for someone (who the Agency knew and trusted) to re-grout the entire shower area.

In the agreement of the contract of works (in February) I requested pictures before during and after and set out (to the Agency) how I would approach the the re-grouting as a guideline of my expectations.
The two key areas of notifications were to ask the tenants not to use the shower area so it could dry out thoroughly and for the contractor to use tile sealer when he replaced the grout.
All parties agreed to the contract of works in mid February 2017.

I get an email today which said the Contractor had apparently been to the property (on the 11th of April 2017) and allegedly removed the grout, he says he found that the worse hit grout was even browner deeper in as he removed the old grout and according to him it was full of moisture. I had warned everyone that this was a possibility if the tenants kept using the shower area. He then allegedly regrouted the tiles so they were 'waterproof' but noticed the brown stain was already coming through the newly applied grout. He then proffered to say he suspected the substructure was also damp and that all of the tiles needed to be replaced to stop the staining.

My wife thinks he's trying to create work for himself.

I can't believe that when he was there if he had suspected there was underlying moisture why the hell did he regrout it instead of calling the Agency straight away and leaving it exposed and tell the tenant not to use the shower area until it was dry. They have another perfectly usable bathroom/shower room so would not be inconvenienced too much.

What do you guys think?
Any of this sound fishy to you given the amount of work I did prior to the tenants moving in?
 
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Just to augment my original description. I had created a panel on the other side of the wall to get to the shower thermostat, controls and pipework so I did not have to destroy the bathroom to get at any pipework. This had been checked 1 week prior to the tenants moving in and was dry and sound.
 
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This what it looked like in August 2016 and then in November 2016

August2016.jpg
November2016.jpeg
 
E

EddieM

Yep, I would say a comedy of errors... sounding mainly like yours :(
 
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EddieM

You should not have used plywood, its unsuitable. Only remedy, remove tiles,replace ply with aquapanel or similar and re-tile with suitable adhesive and grout. Sorry, what you have is a horrible botch job.
 
D

Doggit

Oddly enough, Looking at the bottom of the shower, and the condition of the shower curtain, it looks more like the tenants aren't bothering to clean the shower much. But there's no hard and fast rule on this one. Water stains will always be greater towards the bottom of the shower, and if it it staining from the plywood, then it might well be lower down where more water strikes, or it could be expected to be more even over the whole shower area.

The contractor has said that he needs to replace the tiles to stop the staining, but doesn't mention what he intends to do to the plywood prior to retiling. Nor does he mention where he thinks the water is coming from to make the plywood damp. He's either trying to get work, or doesn't know what he's doing. Retiling will do nothing if there is an actual leak somewhere. And whilst it might have been better to use something hardier than plywood, I'm not convinced that it's that that's causing the problem.

Grout isn't actually waterproof, it's more water resistant if done properly, but it does stain easily if left damp. I assume that you meant grout sealer in your post, and not tile sealer, but I haven't use it, so can't comment. If you're sure that there's no water leaks anywhere, then you could use epoxy grout to try and combat the tenants laziness, but I'd get someone else to do it, or just accept that tenants don't bother ceaning the shower, and it'll just beed regrouting when they move out.

And looking at the picture, I can't see where there's any difference in the grout to indicate it's been redone.
 
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See 5hit like that in hard water areas.
Agreed. It's on the bottom of the shower curtain. I get it in my shower because our water is like rocks up here in North yorkshire. I squirt masses of bleach around every so often. Stinks like hell for a bit but gets rid of the brown stuff. The calcium that collects on the hot pipes and taps is another matter.
 
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You should not have used plywood, its unsuitable. Only remedy, remove tiles,replace ply with aquapanel or similar and re-tile with suitable adhesive and grout. Sorry, what you have is a horrible botch job.
Hi, Thank you for your comments. Though I am confused, I went onto many forums before I did this job and was told marine ply would be the best substrate to use as long as I pva'd it before hand.

Horrible botch job? Seems a bit harsh, but I did ask your opinion.
 
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Oddly enough, Looking at the bottom of the shower, and the condition of the shower curtain, it looks more like the tenants aren't bothering to clean the shower much. But there's no hard and fast rule on this one. Water stains will always be greater towards the bottom of the shower, and if it it staining from the plywood, then it might well be lower down where more water strikes, or it could be expected to be more even over the whole shower area.

The contractor has said that he needs to replace the tiles to stop the staining, but doesn't mention what he intends to do to the plywood prior to retiling. Nor does he mention where he thinks the water is coming from to make the plywood damp. He's either trying to get work, or doesn't know what he's doing. Retiling will do nothing if there is an actual leak somewhere. And whilst it might have been better to use something hardier than plywood, I'm not convinced that it's that that's causing the problem.

Grout isn't actually waterproof, it's more water resistant if done properly, but it does stain easily if left damp. I assume that you meant grout sealer in your post, and not tile sealer, but I haven't use it, so can't comment. If you're sure that there's no water leaks anywhere, then you could use epoxy grout to try and combat the tenants laziness, but I'd get someone else to do it, or just accept that tenants don't bother ceaning the shower, and it'll just beed regrouting when they move out.

And looking at the picture, I can't see where there's any difference in the grout to indicate it's been redone.


Thank you for your reply.
Sorry yes I meant grout sealer. Sorry.

The second shot was from the inspection done about the end of November, according to the Agency who took the terrible picture, the grout looked like it had already been scraped with something. Then after my advice to fix the grout to the Agency who seemed to not pass on my comments to the tenant or their contractor, the January inspection and really bad photo looked like there was barely any grout left in places but yet the tenant was still using the shower.

The pipework area seemed dry to me from the bottom al the way to the top and into the loft where the shower head goes.
I would have assumed if the pipe work was leaking it would have shown a stain in the ceiling below which is the hallway. This would have been way before the staining on the wall.

I have no pictures from the latest contractor (April 2017) to take a look at it so am not sure if it has been redone or even if he went over there. His appraisal of the job and costing was made (according to the Agency) via that 2nd picture and never went to look at it in person. I found this out yesterday.

I suspect he went over there to quickly cover up the grout what was left of the old grout with new grout. I assume this as the person dealing with our house is on holiday and she sent her email at 7pm the day before she went on holiday.
 
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Agreed. It's on the bottom of the shower curtain. I get it in my shower because our water is like rocks up here in North yorkshire. I squirt masses of bleach around every so often. Stinks like hell for a bit but gets rid of the brown stuff. The calcium that collects on the hot pipes and taps is another matter.
We do live in a hard water area, that's true but in the 14 years I've lived at that property I have never seen staining like that.

From this same house over the years when we have had to rent it out.
We have had tenants cut a hole in a wooden door for a cat flap for their apparently non exinsistant pet.
Other tenants which fixed a 50inch tv mount to a plasterboard wall and tried to charge us for the damage when it fell down and broke their tv.
They also did not tell anyone they had a Sky dish fitted to the house or the associated wiring which was partially tacked to the wall and many holes on the walls where someone had attempted to bore holes for the Sky cable. before punching a huge hole and broke an SDS drill bit which was actually plastered back into the wall, we then found this later when we went to repair it.
These were the same tenants who decided to take apart a transit van on the driveway and leave the most horrendous oil stains. The guy was a plumber and something happened to the warrantied boiler thankfully the company who fitted it had taken pictures of the install which clearly showed copper piping and the welds versus the tenants hepworth piping attempts under the counter next to the supply pipes which almost flooded the kitchen.
The worst ones were a Russian husband and Caribbean wife where the Russian husband had a crossbow and pellet gun for shooting targets and cats at the bottom of the garden. They split up mid tenancy and he disappeared, the upset Caribbean wife decided to make herself feel better by cooking. She also stopped paying rent and 6 months later left leaving oil dripping from the now non working extractor fan and a bed saturated with the most odd stain which smelt like Caribbean cooking oil and sweat as did the rest of the house.
And the last ones who (according to the new Agency I found) were supposed to be a quiet couple, angered every neighbour in the very small Cul de Sac by having house parties every other night including fireworks. The guy was a trainee electrician and had started to rewire the living room for no good reason, thankfully he was seen by the neighbour who went round to complain and I got a call which initiated the Agency to kick them out 3 months later.
Who would have thought that a sleepy suburb of Bedfordshire and one house could cause some many problems. Not me.
 
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So does anyone have an opinion such as Doggits excellent suggestion, as a remedy for the re-grouting, except for EddieM's suggestion to rip the whole ensuite apart and start again?

I think the shower area needs to have time to dry out, the area also needs to be tested for moisture until the saturation levels are low enough to regrout or as Doggit suggested try to find the source of the issue and fix it or regrout with epoxy grout.

Thankfully the Agent (who wrote to me at 7pm just before their holiday) has suggested that they are going to get a second opinion from another one of their 'trusted' contractors. When this will happen I have no idea.
 
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Our dishwasher stopped cleaning properly about six months ago but I could find any fault with it so I got the manual out and had a read.
Somewhere in there it mentioned water hardness so I went onto Anglian waters website and discovered that they were drawing water from a new aquifer. Ppm had gone up 25% as a result.
Changed the settings and it worked as it should.

When you re-grout don't forget to do the shower curtain.
 
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Our dishwasher stopped cleaning properly about six months ago but I could find any fault with it so I got the manual out and had a read.
Somewhere in there it mentioned water hardness so I went onto Anglian waters website and discovered that they were drawing water from a new aquifer. Ppm had gone up 25% as a result.
Changed the settings and it worked as it should.

When you re-grout don't forget to do the shower curtain.
Cheers for that.

We do have a water softener hardwired to the pipework before the boiler which is checked or replaced every year by the boiler install company which should counteract this issue but it's worth a mention to the Agency I think. Thank you.
 

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