As is indicated by the “bluish” highlighted areas in the picture, we can see the typical areas of an enamel steel type tub that are prone to water intrusion into the wall. Moisture is frequently found by moisture meter in these areas.
On a recent new construction inspection I found a great example that shows why this is so.
Steel tubs like this one typically have a flange that runs up behind the wall covering to reduce the chance of water finding its way into the wall. The problem with this flange is that it does not run all the way to the edge of the tub or down the side. In this next picture one can see the flange where it stops at the black opening that is a hole all the way through. Really this opening should be properly caulked and sealed previous to installation of the finish surface to reduce the risk of water penetrating this area. There are filler pieces that should be installed at the inside corners previous to installing the wall covering. Then of course the gap should be properly caulked after the finish wall surface is installed—assuming it is a single piece type covering like the one shown. If it is a tile enclosure, then of course the joint would simply be grouted and the gap in the tub properly caulked and flashed behind the tile.
It is very difficult to seal this connection satisfactorily and part of what makes these tubs “cheap.” They are of course quite expensive in the long term.
The way these tubs are constructed speaks to the importance of keeping grout and caulk in good condition.
Similar indications of moisture are also very common at the inside corners of the tub because this flange does not wrap around the corner but instead ends just before the corner—-just like in the picture at the front of the tub. This creates an ideal place for moisture to find its way into the wall at the corners due to improper caulking of the corner prior to installation of the wall surface and poor caulking at the wall surface connection with the tub.
Doesn’t it make you wonder why they would build the tub this way?
Apparently it has to do with the way these steel tubs are manufactured and enameled that make it very difficult to do a proper flange all the way around the tub like a plastic tub would have—-and part of what makes this type of tub a “cheap” choice in tubs.
This is why inspectors are so adamant about keeping these areas well sealed/caulked/grouted. Of course if the work behind the surface has not been done properly, eventually water will find its way into these areas.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email