The shower…

I’ve only myself to blame..
When we moved into our current house 6+ years ago the then shower cubicle that the previous owners had installed failed spectacularly on the very first operation.

It blew the lights in the kitchen and plunged the house into darkness, with a soundtrack of water cascading through light fittings onto the dog..

So one of my first jobs was to gut the bathroom and install a new bath, and as part of this I fitted an inset thermostatic bath/shower diverter valve.  It was nicely plumbed in and worked a treat.. until a few months ago..

It started to leak from the diverter part of the valve, just a slow drip, I did the sensible thing and ignored it hoping it would fix itself, which to my amazement it didn’t.
Now my list of ‘thing’s to do’ (arbitrated over by my wife) is held on Google docs, a very poor attempt by me to rid myself of the nemesis of the list.

You see when it’s ‘electronic’ it can’t be stuck on the kitchen cupboard, this worked right up to the point it was printed out.

Any way – the list.. the leaking tap I believe was on the list, and the constant dripping was making everyone need a pee more than was healthy, it was time for action.

So – last Saturday I thought, why not, lets do this thing.. I had my morning coffee and set to work.

That’s when it all started…

First I found out that the outside stopcock doesn’t work, I don’t mean it slows the water to a trickle but doesn’t actually switch it off, no – you can turn the tap as tight as you want and it doesn’t slow the water one little bit – this was going to be tricky.

So the fixing of a slight leak now meant I had to smash up the concrete to get to the stop cock and somehow get it working.

Well it just so happens that when I built the extension I was planning on replacing the lead feeder pipe with the blue MDPE, in fact the roll of blue pipe has been connected to the internal system and coiled up just outside the front door for the last 5 years, it’s on the list too…

So the plan was now, break up the concrete, chop the old lead pipe, connect the MDPE pipe to the back of stop cock and then I can switch off the water using the very shiny expensive valve in the house.

New MDPE pipe connected
The new pipe connected to the stopcock

This meant a live connection to the water as there was no way I could switch off the water – I was going to get wet regardless.

Concrete was duly smashed, mud dug, trench cleaned and lead pipe uncovered, early Sunday morning I did the actual chopping through of the lead and got wet – very wet.

For a time I had my own moat full to the brim with water, I thought this is how Tory MPs must feel all the time, I just need a duck house!

The connection was made, integrity checked before using the new internal stop cock to finally switch off the water.

I could now get to work on the faulty shower valve..  It was at this point I realised when I installed it I had set it back 2mm too far into the wall, which was the difference of getting a good purchase with a spanner and it slipping off and making me bang my hand – hard.

So – tile smashing commenced, enough to be able to get the spanner on.
The job had now turned from replacing a few o-rings in a valve to fitting a new water feed, concreting the path to re-tiling the bathroom too.

Finally I managed to get the internals removed from the valve, I replaced all the o-rings (well worn) and put it all back together, I was rather smug thinking I’d sorted it.

Switching the water back on I now found the leak had stopped but that I couldn’t switch off the water, it was coming out of both the shower and the bath, I’d obviously put the ceramic discs in wrong?!
I removed them again, messes around with them and tried again, still it constantly flowed. I then tried to actually use the shower – the thermostatic bit wasn’t working, it refused to get anything other than slightly less than cold.

It was late on Sunday evening and I’d had enough, I abandoned tools and scrounged a shower from our nice neighbours.

Plan B was needed.
I ended up buying a monobloc manual bath tap with shower attachment, original price – £209 but £29 in the sale.

Well done

I will point out that the thermostatic diverter valve never get the bath to the boiling point that my wife enjoys so has always been the subject of compliant for a number of years as she hasn’t been able to enjoy the scented glitter bath bombs, hence the reason for choosing a manual tap this time. I also wanted simplicity, you know where you are with simplicity.Monobloc shower bathtap

So Tuesday morning the new tap arrives (ordered Sunday evening) and it was a nice expensive looking block of chrome.

I got home early on Tuesday evening and set to fitting it to the bath, things were looking up!
I even managed to get it to fit on the side of the bath that’s accessible, otherwise I would have had to remove the bath, something I really didn’t want to do…

The tap was fitted quickly, the tails were nice and long so very little work was required, all I had to do was chop the plastic piping under the bath and connect it in.

Pipes were chopped and fitted.. I asked my wife to sit and watch the pipe work for leaks, knowing that there wouldn’t be any.

I ran downstairs and switched on the water, I heard it prime the pipework but it didn’t stop when the pressure rose, instead it carried on flowing, something was amiss.
I shouted up a question:
‘was everything ok?’ – ‘YES’ was the answer..
Then suddenly a huge ‘NOOOOOOOOO’ ….

Water off and climb the stairs two at a time, the bathroom was a paddling pool!
Downstairs quickly to gather up as many dog towels as possible, avoiding the leaking (brand new!) ceiling before once again running up the stairs.

Towels were thrown into place and a bucket placed in the kitchen under the working shower while I tried to figure what went wrong.

It turns out I’ve only myself to blame, the pipes I connected to were the end of a run and not the feed as I thought, so the two pipes I left exposed with no caps on were feeding water onto the bathroom floor at mains pressure, oh how we laughed..

Once that was figured out it was about 10 more minutes before everything was connected and tested.

Frank the cat sniffing concrete
Frank sniffing concrete

I had the first bath – with bubbles and everything, it was nice..
The bath now gets to the boiling temperature required for my wife’s bath so she too is happy.

All I’ve got to do now is remove the old diverter valve, clean up everything, tile and re-grout the bathroom, re-seal the bath, re-paint the kitchen and re-fit the light fittings, all for a leaking valve.

And.. just to complete the story, I concreted over our moat on Sunday afternoon, and if you’ve ever done any concrete work near cats you’ll know the smell of new concrete attracts every feline in the area.

Frank decided that he needed to leave something for the next generation.

Cat paw prints in concrete
Paw Prints

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