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Flooring and Carpeting/bathroom / mold / tile


Michael, I have a bathroom that buts up to a hall closet; the closet has an access panel that allows me to access the shower pipes in the shower. My home was built in 1987 and had copper pipes until 5 years ago and were replaced when a leak was discovered in the kitchen (nowhere near the bathroom, but helpful to know why the access panel is there and why my pipes run from the attic down instead of up from the floor). Anyway, at some point, water has leaked down into the shower pan liner (my shower is 4x4 tile; no tub, and is the original tile, grout, etc. and in good shape.). Long story short the hall closet developed an overpowering mold odor and when the drywall in the closet was removed there was mold inside.  The drywall in the closet is what the tile is attached to in the shower so it can't be replaced without tearing out the tile and I would like to avoid that. In my effort to eliminate the mold the black paper on the back of the dry wall has been scrapped off, chlorine sprayed in, and parts sanded down. However, the smell kept coming back. Upon further inspection, I noticed the bottom where the rubber pan is was soaked with water and I can't seem to get it to dry (I've ran a fan in the closet for 2 weeks, had a candle in there, and used a hairdryer (thinking the heat would help to dry it).
I'm at a loss and tried everything I can think of... what do you suggest, are there any other things I can try to get rid of the mold smell (i don't see mold anymore but suspect it's coming from the rubber shower pan between the tile and the concrete). I'd hate to replace the whole shower but will if needed.
Any help/guidance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,

Hello Jess...I noted that your question was intended for Michael but ended up in my box. I will add my commentary to whatever Michael might have already answered for you.

Thank you for your question Jess,

   While you don't mention what part of the Country you reside in I suspect that you may live in a high humidity area. This contributes to moisture issues of many kinds. Consequently I also suspect that your house is a "slab on grade" foundation or crawl space. If a slab this will make for a difficult scenario to overcome a wet shower pan sitting over a cement slab on damp ground...follow me? The cement slab will "wick" or pull moisture from the ground directly into the slab and over time can become very saturated with a high degree of moisture. Now your shower pan assembly will rest on the slab so every time you shower you heat up the mudd/tile/and space of the assembly that is in contact with the slab that is much cooler...condensation will result, so much so that even if you put a fan there for 6 weeks or try to dry it out or warm it up with a blow dryer in an attempt to dry beneath the tile you are fighting against a process that will never quit only return again and again. Also the mudd portion of the pan assembly is also cement and will retain water...especially the water that the plastic pan material will hold at it's base. Now when a shower pan is built there is supposed to be a critical step to the process right at the drain portion. (sorry just a little tech for you to consider) There are what is called "weep holes" that are at the bottom of the drain assembly and these holes are to direct any water that collects at the lowest part of the drain/pan and allow the water to pass right down the drain with the rest of the water generated from taking a shower..ok? If the original installer does not provide space for this water to move to the weep holes by packing the mudd tightly around the bottom of the drain the water won't move, there is supposed to be what we call "pea gravel" placed around the weep holes so it doesn't restrict the movement. If it all works properly little to no water will rest for very long beneath the plastic pan. Sorry Jess for the technical part but if you understand how things work you can figure out why sometimes they don't work. As a result you have experienced what happens when something stops working...mold, and it's very difficult to overcome sometimes without drastic action. Your house being built is 1987 means that it's time to entertain an upgrade to your shower by a total replacement. There are vast improvements that have come to the Tile Industry that virtually eliminate this problem from ever showing it's ugly head again. What I suggest Jess is that you endure your current shower for a time so that you may be able to, over time, set aside funds to pay for the remodel. Keeping the air moving within the space via open window or ventilation fan or both (weather permitting) will hold down the new growth of mold, but you will simply not be able to get things to totally dry out so that you can regain the upper hand over the moisture cycle that exists given all the things that I have mentioned to you that corporately create the problem. Clear out everything and let the space completely dry out then moisture barrier provisions should be the first step to the next generation designed shower for you...ok? That's it Jess I hope this helps you with your problem/project, feel free to return anytime and if I can help you with a future shower step by step come see us again....

Perry V.

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Perry Vellenga


Ceramic Tile/Marble. I can answer questions about floor preparation, tile selection, layout questions, performance of products, expectations of finish, compatabilities, questions about grout and epoxies, evaluating an installer, asking the right questions to check competence...more? 33 years this August 2012/ many years in commercial application from exterior finishes to Mall store fronts/ interior finishes like floor packages in stores inside Malls examples: The Limited, Lerner/NY, Lane Bryants, Bombay Co., Now involved in Residential new construction covering all types of interior finishes and designs.


I worked in an exclusive field of floorcovering called "Tenant Development" which is by invitational bid only, by way of a National bid list. These are large floor packages usually over 3500 sq. ft. of 18" x 18" Marble and Granite and many other types of Marble and sizes. They are specialty stores where the floor package can cost upwards of $50,000 for one store. I have also done "Structure" stores and J. Riggins stores, Lane Bryant,Express and Body Shop stores where wood flooring is used. Presently work for a National Flooring Company in the Residential new construction arena that covers most interior design elements..Granite Slab tops/wood flooring both job finished and prefinished ect..

My response's are published all across the Internet and picked up by multiple Interior Design sites and Industry related web sites where people have questions...

too many most of which don't count...

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