How to Prevent Water From Getting Under a Bathtub

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How to Prevent Water From Getting Under a Bathtub. Water in our homes, particularly in our bathrooms, often seems to have a mind of its own--and can be a major source of frustration. Obviously, with our modern lifestyles we can't live without running water--but problems begin when water tries to run into places we don't want it to go--like under bathtubs, behind walls and into floors. Keeping water out of those places can be a real challenge--but here are are some ideas on how you can do it.

Things You'll Need

  • Silicon caulking
  • Sealing tape
  • Saw
  • Cove molding or vinyl tape

How to Stop Water From Getting Out

  • Protect against water leakage and damage by stopping any leaks at their source before you begin worrying about water seeping into unwanted territory.

  • Ensure the seams between the wall and your bathtub or shower base are seamlessly sealed with a good silicon caulk designed for use in bathrooms (see my article on how to recaulk a bathtub, link in Resources below).

  • Check to see if there are any tiny cracks in the bathtub itself. A bathtub filled with water is extremely heavy, and over time that weight and flexing of the tub can cause small hairline cracks that will allow water to leak out of a supposedly watertight bathtub. If your bathtub does have small cracks you can usually repair them yourself using epoxy or fiberglass repair kits for boats or cars.

  • Always put the shower curtain outside the bathtub before filling the tub. If you have shower doors, make sure the seams between the door frame and the tub and walls are caulked with silicon caulking.

  • Consider that a bath or shower can put a lot of humidity into the air in your bathroom, and humidity will condense back into water as it cools. Provide adequate ventilation in your bathroom by installing an exhaust fan, cracking a window or opening the bathroom door to let the moisture escape.

How to Seal Around the Base of the Tub

  • Recognize that bathrooms are often damp places and even after you have eliminated potential sources of leaks, there will still be moisture on the walls and floors after a bath.

  • Apply a bead of silicon caulking along the seam between the bathtub and floor to prevent water from seeping underneath.

  • Enhance the appearance of the seam by installing cove molding or flexible vinyl tape over the top. You can make cove molding flexible by making a series of parallel saw cuts into (but obviously not through) the backside of the molding. The cuts will allow the molding to bend or flex. More cuts mean more flexibility. Vinyl molding tape will be more flexible if it is warmed before you put it on. (A few minutes in a warm oven should do it.)

Tips & Warnings

  • Latex caulks may be easier and less messy to use, but because they're water-based, they will deteriorate over time with exposure to water. Silicon caulking won't break down even after prolonged exposure to water.
  • Some caulking is specifically made for use in bathrooms and around sinks and contains a chemical to prevent mold and mildew formation.
  • Applying caulking can be a challenge. If the idea of applying caulking and then smoothing it is more than you want to take on, manufacturers have another option you could use. You can get a self-stick flexible sealing tape that comes in rolls at your home or hardware store. The roll of tape is about 6 inches long (enough to go along the base of a bathtub, and it's only ½ inch-wide, so you just press it directly into the seam.
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