Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DIY Repair Rework - Silicone Caulk may not Harden

Recently, I had a had a major do-over of a repair job I did. The caulk on our shower was becoming moldy, so I removed the old silicone caulk and applied new silicone caulk. The tube was one I had left over from a previous job, where I caulked around our bathtub. The silicone caulk worked fine the last time. However, this time it did not harden after 12 hours, remaining soft and tacky. While 24 hours is required for complete cure, I knew something was wrong.

To find out, I checked the Internet for similar issues and found several discussion threads describing the issue. I also went to manufacturer's website and learned the new silicone caulks sometimes would not harden, especially after the expiration date. In the past, silicone caulks went bad by hardening. I had never experienced the issue of a caulk not curing.

According to the expiration date, my tube was supposed to be good for another six months. I called the customer service number, but only got a busy signal, apparently because it was before the opening time of 8AM. So I sent an e-mail and continued to call the customer service number, which was answered at 8AM.

According to the customer service representative (CSR), the new silicone caulks use a curing agent different than acetic acid. The new curing agent can sometimes dissipate or go bad, particularly after the expiration date. Apparently, this is a known issue and does occur occasionally before the expiration date. My comment was that they need to explicitly let users know, since most people don't know about a caulk failing by not hardening.

The CSR did provide excellent help for cleaning up the uncured caulk. The solution was to use iso-propyl alcohol, which works as a solvent. They also did reimburse the cost of the tube that went bad, and the cost of a new tube. However, I still had to spend about an hour cleaning out the uncured caulk, for which I knew there would be no reimbursement :-(

From now on, I will always do a test of silicone caulk to make sure it cures before starting a new job. This can be done in 15 minutes, but putting a short bead on a piece of paper and checking if the material develops a skin in that time. I just wish the manufacturer had put the quality check test on the instructions for the caulk. It may have saved me an hour of extra work that was needed to clean out the uncured caulk.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

This is not financial or repair advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2009 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

No comments: