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Shower smells like mildew. Please HELP!

3926 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  joecaption
We moved into a house a year and a half ago. Never had any problem with bad smells in the shower until now. The house was built in the 1960s.

The shower walls are tile. I didn't clean the shower for about 9 months after we moved in, and we never had a smell, which is why I don't understand why one just now appeared, when I clean the shower regularly. The smell can't just be from mildewed tile or grout due to regular shower use.

I've ruled out the drain. Drano didn't solve the issue, nor did bleach, and when I put my nose by the drain, it really doesn't seem to be coming from there.

A few weeks ago, the smell would occur right after turning the water on, but now, about a week later, I can smell it immediately when I enter the bathroom. I've tried pinpointing the smell by sniffing around in the shower, and it really just seems to be coming from the tiles.

I don't guess there's a possibility that there could be mold behind the tiles, since we've never had a problem before, and the smell appeared suddenly out of nowhere one day. We did have some grout that was chipping away, but my husband re-did that last week. He used to do tile for side jobs and he swears there is no way water could have gotten behind the tiles, because of the way the grout was chipping and how thick the tiles were. I assume he knows from experience, but I'm just not convinced.

I'm really hoping someone can help me out. This is driving me crazy, and I can hardly stand to use the shower the smell is so strong. I don't know what to do if I can't get to the root of the issue. I can't afford to tear out the shower to see if there is a problem behind the tiles. Why would the smell just appear from nowhere after so many years?
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Do you have an exhaust fan in the shower and if so how long do you let it run after showering?

Being built in the 60's there is definitely a possibility of issues behind the tile. Cut some sheets of plastic and tape them over all of the tile. OK to continue to use the shower, but see if the smell decreases. Then open a section of the plastic and smell behind it. This may help target the source.

What are you cleaning the shower with. I heard of the same issue when people use cleaning products that contain eucalyptus.
Very common issue.
Some common issues.
Tile laid over sheet rock.
Cracks in the grout.
Unsealed grout. (grout is not waterproof)
Someone used grout at the bottom or inside corners instead of caulking so it cracked.
Leaking valve stems with water running in behind the wall.
Old steel plumbing leaking behind the wall.
Drain leaking where the basket seals to the tub.
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