I Ruined My House

Monday was my day off from my full time job. I am usually pretty productive on my days off, but occasionally I get lazy and nap and/or watch TV. This previous Monday was one of my more ambitious ones, though I think I ruined my house. 

The master bath (The one I use, naturally. Because: MASTER.) has a standing shower and a full-size, separate tub. Both have been dripping for as long as I can remember. I had not considered fixing them for a two reasons. One: it seems like a lot of work. Two: I have next to zero experience in plumbing and didn’t want to screw it up. 

Screwing up the plumbing, in my mind, is usually catastrophic. If the plumbing is muffed, then so is the ability to shower, bathe, do laundry, do dishes, water the lawn, and use the miracle of indoor toilets. (The first and last one, especially.) However, this day I took the plunge. Thinking what most people think before they do something filled with hubris and stupidity: “How hard can it be?”

I decided to tackle the shower first. The dribbles from the shower head had gotten so bad, we had to keep mold and other bacterial grossness at bay with bi-weekly bleachings. It was time to take care of it. I did a search online for videos and other instruction on how to do it because despite me being super great at a lot of things, I’m not completely reckless and know when I need a little help. 

This isn’t a home repair blog, and so I won’t go into fine detail here. But, armed with YouTube, a few tools, and a lot of twisting things, I dismantled the valve, replaced some parts, and witnessed a dry shower for the first time in years. Man, did that feel good. It was like I won the homeowner Olympics. “Ha! Plumbers. LOL!” 

Having slain that dragon, I went and ate lunch then planned my attack on the bathtub. The bathtub had been dripping for longer than the shower, but once you start counting in years rather than weeks or months, it really doesn’t matter. I went back to YouTube, broke apart the handle, and went to the hardware store to get the replacement parts. Boom. Being more than confident with my plumberial skills at this point, I replaced that valve in no time. I screwed it back together and… drip. Drippity, drip, drip-tastic. Ugh.

Unable to accept this, I took the handle apart again and put it back together, and still. Drip… drip… drip. I took my wrench and cranked it down even further. I turned it so tight, the metal on the outer seal started stripping away. But tighter is better, right? Always. I finished my tightening-fest and had my wife go downstairs (I forgot to mention this all took place upstairs in our two-story house.) and outside to turn the water supply back on. 

I heard the water rush back into the pipes with confidence, knowing my cranking was sufficient. The drip remained. 

Inordinately angry at the pipe-deity that was testing my resolve, I grabbed my wrench and pushed the already shredded cover further. (It is important to note at this point that I did not have the water outside shut off while I pushed the threads past their natural limit.) The cover shrieked as it separated from its base and a fountain, nay… geyser of water shot up and out of the handle.

My house has great water pressure, I thought as I failed to stop the H2O shotgun with my hand while simultaneously redirecting it at my chest and face. 

“Turn it off! Turn the valve off!” I shout-gurgled to my wife. 

She did. 

I refused to change clothes. I would not. I was determined to wear that excess moisture in defiance. A metaphorical shaking-my-fist to the pipe deity that I would not be defeated. In my wet anger, I resolved to fix this tub or die trying.

I went to the garage. And from the garage I retrieved a Dremel multi-tool. I attached a saw blade to that tool and took it back to the master bath (Because: MASTER! Dammit…) and at 9:45PM on a Monday cut an 6 inch square HOLE in the side of the fiberglass tub to get at and replace the guts.

The Hole-y Tub of the MASTER

The Hole-y Tub of the MASTER

Only to find out it doesn’t have… replaceable guts. Or, it does have replaceable guts, just not ones I can do. Because I’m not a plumber and have pretty close to zero plumbing skills. (See first few paragraphs.)

So I began to accept my defeat at that point. Reluctantly, I texted a friend who does plumbing for a living. He came over and fixed my tub within 15 minutes (with a small spring and a rubber seal) and commended my tub-hole making despite it being wholly unnecessary to do the repair.

I still have my shower repair to be proud of! Or at least, I thought I did. Tuesday night I got an urgent voicemail and text from my better half showing me this:

For size reference, the largest bubble was roughly 8 inches in diameter.

For size reference, the largest bubble was roughly 8 inches in diameter.

And that picture was taken before the other four bubbles popped up (down?) and they started dripping urine-colored water that stained the ceiling. If you’ve followed this story up until this point, you know precisely where those bubbles came from. Yup. The shower. The crowning glory of my fledgling plumbing repair experience.

By the end of the day, I went from two leaky faucets to: two leaky faucets, (one worse than before) one huge hole in the side of my fiberglass tub, and one pee-stained bubbly ceiling. I win. I win everything.

I already called my friend the plumber. He’s coming over at 3.