Tile Floor / Mudbed / Rot

It started with a rocking toilet.
Turns out the plywood subfloor has some rot, so we needed to replace it. This would mean taking out ceramic tile, and since the bathtub is close to needing replacement, as well, we decided to go ahead and redo the bathroom. The house was built in the late 1950s, with the bathroom an accumulation of repairs and patches.
We have now found the most intractable problem: We have layers of stuff on the bathroom floor. Ceramic tiles are on top, bonded to a mudbed with metal mesh. Under the mudbed is linoleum, and we're not sure what's under the linoleum yet.
We don't know what to do now. We can't leave the floor as it is because of the rotted subfloor.
Do we just need to resign ourselves to taking everything out down to the subfloor? Is there an easier way to do this than sledgehammers?
Thanks for your help.
--Nan
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inspection of the structure and replacement of damaged materials is required. You will know the scope when you open it up. Sorry my x-ray wand is in the shop for recalibration
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I would rip it all out - or at least enough to be able to sleep at night that I knew what the problem was. Is this over a basement or a crawl, that is, can you tell if the joists are rotted ? If you have rotting plywood chances are the joists have problems so since you're this far I'd say keep going, it's not complicated to rip all that out, just a lot of grunt work. That many layers may be too much weight for the joists, too.
I had a slow drip of a leak in my last house, must have gone on for 20 years, three of the 12x2 joists under the bathroom were almost totally rotted. Had to get under there and marry other boards in place and jack the whole thing up.
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On 30 Oct 2005 10:57:00 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Thanks. It really has been a lot of grunt work -- but once we got started the tiles and mudbed started coming up in big chunks, probably because the floor underneath is in such bad shape.
The joists are still okay. From the crawlspace it looked like the subfloor was in good shape, too. But we've pulled out about half the tile now -- working from an exterior wall toward the middle of the house -- and the plywood underneath all of it is damp and soft. The tub comes out tomorrow, so we'll be able to see what's been going on there, as well.
We can't figure out how the entire floor got this way, and we want to make sure it doesn't happen again.
--Nan
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It wicked out across the entire floor from some point. As an illustration lay a dry paper towel on your counter and a TBS of water. Then watch how big the wet spot gets. Add more later and it travels farther each time.
The worst rot should be at the point of origin.
Colbyt
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Where is your house located? Could be moisture is coming from the air in your crawlspace, especially if you are in a humid climate and you air condition your house.
But if you are in a dry climate like Arizona, most likely it is from a plumbing leak.
Stretch
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We're in middle Tennessee -- lots of humidity. The floor looked fine from the crawlspace, though.
--Nan
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On Sun, 30 Oct 2005 21:24:02 GMT, "Colbyt"

Yep. That's what seems to have happened. Rotted through near the toilet, but dry a couple of feet away.
The last of the linoleum has finally come up, and there's a patchwork underneath. Some plywood here, particle board there. Some looks like patching from a long-ago leak near the plumbing end of the bathtub.
What a mess. That's probably why a mudbed was laid over everything.
--Nan
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