A leaky shower: Watching your cash flow down the drain


It pays to be involved in the workings of your own home and understand what happens when something goes wrong so you can be fixing items the frugal way.

I’ve always prided my self in the fact that I have never had to call out a trade in an emergency situation, but I do call trades in to complete installations of services.

It all seems to have happened in and around the water system this past few weeks. First, the water drain for the kitchen sink blocked up and wouldn’t shift when using a plunger.

Liquid plumber was used to release the build up inside the trap as the trap for some reason is not equipped with a clean out.

Once the standing water was drained, part of the problem was solved. The trap clean out part of the problem that has been noted and will be dealt with during the kitchen renovation.

The second issue was the opposite of not draining. Having our inner tank of the water softener split on us earlier in the year and replacing the water softener myself things have been running smooth. That is, up until a few weeks ago when the shower started to leak on a constant basis.

At first is was very small and easily bearable combined with the fact that the bathroom is due to be renovated in the coming months anyway so what’s a little leak?


Waste of money


Over the weeks the leak got worse and was annoying to say the least coupled together with the fact that I was letting money just flow down the drain. It’s not just the cost of the water supply, it’s the cost of the sewage at double the rate. There is also the fact that my water softener is going to be regenerating more often and not only using more salt but more electricity to run the cycle and more water to complete its job.

This got me thinking, a plumber is going to cost far too much just for a leaky faucet, besides some plumbers charge for an estimate and then there is always a minimum charge per visit.

Not only are you paying for the visit plus the hourly rate but your going to get charged for parts on top. Then there is tax on everything including the labour. This was not an option I was even going to consider. The thought of a Handyman wasn’t very appealing either. I’ve seen handyman work, some of it is just plain shocking.


Cost of renovating


I’ve renovated bathrooms and kitchens before by myself so one leaky faucet could easily be replaced at a minimal cost to myself. Unfortunately a brand new shower valve or faucet is a little more than I expected to pay considering it will be removed in the very near future during renovation time. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it were just a leaky shower head but this was not the case here.

This faucet at Canadian Tire was on sale at $51.99 instead of $64.99 making it $58.75 after tax.

Sounds like a bargain, but I’m not that easily convinced that’s the cheapest solution. Continuing to research I found a valve replacement kit at Home Hardware for the ball assembly at a cost of $9.99 and then for the spring-loaded seats at a cost of $4.99 leading to a total cost of $16.93 inclusive of tax.

Now the price is getting somewhere I can accept. Before heading out across town to purchase the parts required I thought I’d better turn the water off and check the internals of the valve against what I saw on screen just to make sure.

There’s nothing worse than a wasted trip, especially when the water for the whole house is now turned off. You always have to make sure the kettle is full before you turn off the water in case you need a workman’s cup of tea, or so my father said.


How to fix a leaky shower


To remove the ball assembly and see the seats inside I had to first remove the acrylic handle that is held in position with a retaining screw as you will see in this first picture below.


Then remove the two screws holding the sealing plate from the valve body as well as scoring the original sealant. Pull the plate off and then unscrew the front portion of the valve retainer housing. The valve or ball assembly can then be pulled out.


Once removed you can inspect the main valve body inside where it reveals the two spring-loaded seats that seal the water against the ball assembly when in the off position or divert the flow when in the hot/cold on position.


I removed the seats, they were not damaged. The problem I had found was the build of lime scale in the pipes had shifted or broken away, possibly due to the fact that the water softener actually works now. The debris had built up and prevented the spring loaded seats from assuming their seated position.


After cleaning all the constituent parts and dosing the rubber seals and seats with a little silicone spray. This was to prevent them from drying out and to stop them from swelling had I used an oil based lubricant.

The valve was re-assembled and then tested with the water supply turned back on. No leaks and the valve works in the positions it is supposed to. The finishing task of re-fitting the plate and handle were next followed by re-sealing the plate with sealant.


Cost for repairs


Fix leaky shower faucet…..The grand total for this plumbing job was $0. All it took was a little bit of my time and effort.

During the whole operation I thought to myself, when I do get around to performing the bathroom renovations I am going to spend my money wisely on good quality faucets with ceramic valves inside as they tend to last much longer with less maintenance.

All the water related problems have now been cleared up but you can guarantee there will be something else waiting to go wrong or breakdown. Remember to turn off your outside faucets and drain them to prevent cracked pipes over the winter period.

How involved do you get around the house and what’s your best cheap fixes?


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  1. Clogged drain? Don’t wait for the stress to ge to you. There are experts on this things.

  2. A leaky, dripping showerhead is not only annoying, it wastes water. Before you call in a professional, this fairly common household problem may be relatively simple to fix by yourself, depending on the cause of the problem.

  3. My fella worked on a ship and was regularly gone from our home for weeks at a time so I learned all sorts of basic home repairs and acquired some basic carpentry skills, learned to drywall, and to set tile. I can build a concrete form and pour concrete, and do basic plumbing and wiring. I’ve shingled a roof, done calking, re-pointed brickwork, built raised beds, done landscaping, pruned trees, dug ditches…It was not all done with joy at the time but I’m very grateful to have the skills.

    Things are different now though. I live in an apartment style condominium in a small building co-owned by 15 other strata title holders. There are strict rules about what we can and cannot do ourselves and also very definite liabilities if a home repair goes wrong. I still do basic repairs, drywall, painting, tile setting, etc., but if any new or replacement plumbing or electrical work is required, our strata bylaws specify that I must bring a licensed tradesman in to do the work. Likewise, while I can do cosmetic carpentry, I am not allowed to change anything structural. I must hire an engineer to verify that the changes to the structure will not imperil my neighbours or the building as a whole, have the changed approved by the strata council, and then hire a licensed carpenter. I find it very frustrating! It’s one of my biggest regrets about this home purchase.

  4. My husband is an engineer, so he’s taking care of all this stuff. I do agree though that, when something is not working, mending it is the way to go, instead of ignoring it. Great job with the shower 😉

  5. Last month we got panicked because our faucet was badly broken we tried to fix it but still the water leak. So we called the plumber immediately because we’re afraid that our water bill will increase because of the leak.

  6. I love the step by step for a DIY project that can often be intimidating. Thank you for reminding all of us to turn off the house’s water first. I have had so many friends who started a plumbing project that ended in a flood because they didn’t do this vital step. I didn’t notice but did you have an estimate for how much you saved by doing this project yourself rather than bringing in a plumber? I saw that the repair cost you $0 but how much would a plumber have charged you?

  7. Christine Weadick says:

    We had to replace the tap in the upstairs tub not too long ago. Hubby and I picked up a cheaper set at Canadian Tire as there was nothing to our liking on sale. With help from the older boy he was able to replace the tap. At some point we will likely replace the entire works but this time it was just the tap as the shower head is the freebie we got from Union Gas. The bathroom needs work but, right now I have no idea when it will happen.
    What I am currently looking for is a good deal on a kitchen tap as ours is on the way out. The unit there now is one that has a rocker switch to go from regular stream to a spray. The four ( yup..4) little screens in the tap have fallen out and can’t be replaced. We have looked it over pretty good. My first thought was to just screw in an aerator to keep the spray from going all over…. Nope…no threads to do it. It doesn’t look like we could use a tap and die set to put some threads in either. The tap still works, if you don’t mind the water on spray. I have found I can keep things from getting too wet by playing with the force of water coming out. This also cuts down on the amount of water used and the fine spray tends to give me more suds and smaller bubbles. I can live with the tap the way it is for now, but I look over the flyers fromCanadian Tire and Home Hardware closely to see if there is anything that tickles my fancy and at a price I like.
    We do usually try to do as much as we can ourselves here and one of my better finds at the local library book sales a few years back was a Reader’s Digest home improvement manual for next to nothing!! That time I believe the deal was to stuff a bag for $10.00 and I STUFFED that bag!!!! As always…. The stuff a bag deal has run between $10.00-$20.00 depending on the year and the size of the bag…. If you don’t know how to do something around the house books like this are available from the library or local book stores. I’ve also seen them at places like Home Depot. Chances are the book will pay for itself the first time a person uses it. For the person that buys an older home they are invaluable as there will always be something that needs doing. I have almost always lived in houses that were a century or better old…. Knowing my way around the home improvement section of CT or HH is a survival skill!!!!

  8. Nice! I love practical posts like this. Nothing better than a DIY win!! 🙂

  9. We had some sort of leak with our toilet (both of them at separate times), and had someone fix them. When the leak was going on, it made our water bill go up 33% surprisingly!

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