The Uncaulker

by Cat Crazy

photo 3During my first year with the triumvirate, I noticed an odd thing happening in my downstairs bathroom — the only full bath in the house. When I’d step in to take a shower each morning, I’d find little chunks of caulk in the tub.

I should stop to explain that the house has a 1950s-era turquoise-blue tub with a multi-piece (seamed), steel-backed porcelain shower surround (also turquoise blue) that requires frequent recaulking. No matter how carefully you lay in your bead of caulk, eventually water gets behind the sealant and into the sizable seams between each section of the surround and starts to rust the steel, leaving ugly rust streaks. Or, given the poor air circulation — particularly in winter when windows can’t be left open — if you aren’t diligent about squeegeeing down the surround and tub after a shower, then the moisture eventually leads to mildew on the caulk regardless of how diligently the sealant manufacturer claims that the product is mildew resistant.  It’s all part of the “charm” of this old house and is one of the areas I’d love to renovate if ever I should be posh with cash that isn’t otherwise promised elsewhere.

Now, in the beginning, I didn’t make much of the little bits of caulk I’d find in the tub. I know if I get especially vigorous with the squeegee, I can dislodge pieces of caulk.  I also know that when I get in with steel brush and powdered sink cleaner to scrub the tub, I often dislodge pieces of caulk.  However, as the weeks went on, the piece of caulk I’d find each morning got larger and larger until significant segments, many centimeters long would be lying in the tub or dangling down from where they had been pulled out of the gap between segments of the surround. That’s when I got down on hands and knees and looked more closely at the area in question. And didn’t I notice tiny little puncture marks that could certainly have been made by busy little kitty claws.  In fact, during this time the Baby Comet was often seen dashing wildly out of the bathroom when he heard foot traffic near by as though he was worried about being caught doing something he shouldn’t be doing. That’s when I started putting the pieces together and realized what was happening.

For reasons still unknown to me, Fireball was having a field day late at night or early in the morning digging out sections of the caulk. I’m guessing once he’d dislodge a piece, he’d grab the end and pull until it broke. He’d then drop the section and leave it in the tub for me to find a few hours later. In exasperation, I stripped all the old caulk out and lay down a much thicker and flatter bead. Fortunately, the little red plumber has not returned to his caulk-stripping duties.


(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.