Saturday, July 21, 2012

We Did Our Own Plumbing Repair (And It Should Have Been Posted on YouTube!)

Ever since we moved into our house my shower has had a steady drip, drip, drip going on.  Hubby didn't believe me because 1) he doesn't use my bathroom, and 2) he can hardly hear which means that even if he did use my bathroom he probably wouldn't have heard the incessant dripping that was driving me crazy.
So we did a little experiment by putting a bucket under the spout over night and sure enough there was a good couple inches of water in the bucket when we woke up the next morning. Note that I was right...again :)
We thought 'how hard could changing a washer on a drippy faucet be?' then set to work to do the job ourselves.  I even Googled the problem and watched a video of how to fix the problem (it looked so simple in the video!) so we thought it would take a half hour or so and we would be done.  Six hours later...we were finally done.  Here's what happened:

  • I called Delta (the faucet maker) and the lady told me the part number that I would need and that I would need to replace the entire cartridge that sits inside the handle and turns the water on and off so off we went to Home Depot.  The cartridge cost $39.95.  Yikes.  But we figured it would save us money in the long run to not be wasting so much water so we bought it.
  • We came home and attempted to pull out the old cartridge.  Since we have hard water and seven years of mineral deposits in the shower the simple instructions to "just pull out the entire cartridge" actually took about an hour.  I also called the nice Delta lady back and she said to soak a rag in vinegar, heat it up, and soak the area around the cartridge to get the part to release.  After much tugging (half broke off and came out first then it took a while to get the stuck half out...ayayay) we finally got the cartridge out.
  • The lady mentioned that after we got the cartridge out we should turn the water back on and flush the system for a minute.  Hubby dutifully ran down to do this while I watched the water.  I watched the water blast out of the wall at a 90 degree angle, much like what happens when you open a fire hydrant--the water then proceeded to ricochet off the back wall of the shower, blast out the shower curtain, drench me, and leave two inches of standing water in the bathroom (cue funny YouTube video).  Hubby heard me screeching then ran back upstairs to see what happened.  He couldn't stop laughing for like two minutes.  I looked like a drowned rat.  Ugh.
  • After cleaning up the bathroom (I had planned on mopping the floor anyway) we proceeded to put the new part into the shower, put everything back together, turn the main water supply back on, and then watched as water one again blasted out of the faucet (fortunately it was contained by the faucet so it was pointed down the drain!).  No matter what position the handle was in, the water kept running so I called the nice Delta lady back again in a panic.  Visions of calling a plumber and getting a giant bill were dancing in our heads at about this time.
  • The nice Delta lady surmised that we must have got the wrong part (it so happens that our house was built right when they were switching from one part for the shower to another...we needed the other).  So we took out the part, wrapped it back up, and made another run to Home Depot (they looked at me funny because at this point I was still dripping wet) but we did get the correct part this time.
  • We went back home, put the new part in and it worked!  
The moral of this story is that most home repairs can be done by you and you will save a lot of money this way.  There are tons of videos and forums online for nearly any repair you want to make which are really helpful but then again there can be that momentary sense of panic--especially where water or electricity are concerned!--that will make you break out into a cold sweat and immediately want to shell out a wallet full of money to a professional who actually knows what they are doing.  At this point take a deep breath, don't panic, hit up Google, and proceed forward.  


  1. OMG! We had this problem only we couldn't get the cartridge out! We thought we were going to have to tear down the wall to install new plumbing. But then I read about this tool online. It's called a Moen cartridge puller for like 12 bucks. Here it is on Amazon. I even reviewed it.

    It saved us from a costly repair. Good going for you! Woo hoo!

  2. you're funny....and you saved yourself a couple hundred dollars, so well done. I am fortunate to be married to an electrician who can turn his hand to nearly everything...thank goodness.


  3. Funny post. Not so funny though as I have my own plumbing repair job waiting for me on Monday :)

  4. Oh man, I so would have paid the $120 that would have cost us. (Plumbing here is invariably $80 + parts. A benefit of living in a small town, I guess.) Good for you for your success!