Tommy’s Tips: Water Problems

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Returning to the theme of water based problems, and how tricky it can be to resolve them, I’ve been guilty just like anybody else, of at first trying to ignore the problem, in the vain hope that the problem would go away, or be resolved by divine intervention.  This condition is known as the “dumb head in the sand” syndrome! 

Water leaks never really resolve themselves, if it seems like it has, the issue has probably just moved on to somewhere else, and I guarantee will become evident when the problem has become more deeply entrenched, and far more difficult to resolve, and at much greater expense! So the moral of the story: if you notice a leak or a damp problem, investigate immediately, and shut off the supply to that area straight away, seek expert help if you are unable to resolve the problem yourself.

Another symptom of “dumb head in the sand” syndrome, is difficult access to the problem area.  I had to resolve an issue just like that for a family member, renting out a flat recently. As soon as I entered the flat I knew there was a problem because I could smell it!  The tenants were young, wanting to stay warm and snug, rather than open the doors and windows, to allow a flow of fresh air, easy to do when they are not there (at work or out shopping).  As soon as I went into the bathroom, I saw the evidence, black spot fungus in abundance, and the musty smell of water damage, evident in the air.  I quickly determined there were two issues, there was a mains shower mixer over the bath, with a poorly fitted hinged glass half shower door, and the fixed bath panel, was showing clear signs of water damage, as the coated MDF panel, was blistering, and showing signs of distortion. 

I unscrewed 10 fixing screws with screw caps, to remove the panel, but the water damage, had expanded the panel, wedging it in place and it was mastic’ed in place with silicon, I had to break the panel into sections in order to remove it. Revealing the walls floor and frame, for half the length of the bath, was soaking wet, and completely black with fungus, luckily, by some miracle, it hadn’t gone through to the property below.  I checked all the pipework and waste thoroughly, and could find no leaks, the problem as it turned out was a simple one, the mixer attached to the bath, had become a bit loose, allowing water into the void area under the bath every time the shower was used!  I turned off the two isolating valves supplying the mixer, then removed and cleaned the mixer, replacing on a bed of silicon, and tightening up the tap nuts properly, with a special spanner.  I stripped the old silicon seal from around the bath, which was badly afflicted with black spot and renewed it.

Tommy Tip: clean up surfaces to receive silicon mastic, with white spirit. Once the mastic is applied, spray with a solution, of warm water and washing up liquid, from an old spray bottle, to make smoothing and shaping the  mastic easier!

The black spot problem, was made much worse, because the tenants turned off the extractor, because it was very noisy, and they were worried it might blow up!  The poorly fitted half shower door, compounded the problem by letting water by, to run down the panel, and onto the floor and under the bath.  So I levelled up and refitted the extractor to run quieter, renewed the poorly fitted shower door.  For the bath panel, I glued and fixed 4inch (100mm) wide x 12mm thick lengths, to the bath panel frame work, aligned with the bath, floor, and walls.  I then cut the main panel, to overlap the fixed lengths, by 2inches, (50mm) all around, and mounting it on two split battens. I deliberately left the panel, with a 5mm permanent air gap all the way around between the panel and fixed lengths, for permanent ventilation of the void space under the bath.  Hanging brackets could be adapted to do the same job as the batons, but with no fixings, to the centre panel required, allows very easy access, to any potential problems, allowing easy access to the isolating valves, and for cleaning the bath waste trap. I prefer to use plywood for bath panels, but if using MDF, use the green one which is moisture resistant, but all substrates require priming, under-coating and top coating, then when thoroughly dry, apply the silicon mastic sealer, all around the edges, to make water tight. 

Four days later, with the windows opened slightly, and internal doors ajar, the flat smells like a lovely new pin, and no more black spot fungus!

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