Some of my previous posts might make it sound like I’m bagging on plumbers. I’m not. I love plumbers! They bring drinking water and hot showers to my house, and take the poop away. But I will bag on plumbers (or any other “professionals”) when they do stuff wrong — like they did when they installed the faucets in the showers at the Utah house.
As I took my shower yesterday, I was staring at the faucet (probably because I’ve been doing so many plumbing projects lately) and noticed a small rectangular opening at the top of the trim piece that surrounds the faucet:
As a general rule, holes around wet locations are designed to let water out… not in. I immediately began to suspect that the small rectangular cutout was a drain hole, and that the plumber who originally installed this might have installed it upside-down!
To be fair, the plumber may have already come and gone after installing the pipes and the valve itself, and this trim piece may have been installed by someone else doing finish work. But either way, whoever did it wasn’t thinking.
I finished my shower, got dressed, and grabbed a couple screwdrivers (small flat-head and large Phillips). After pulling off the handle, I saw this:
Two long stainless screws (I’d already removed the bottom one in the above shot) secure the large round trim piece to the valve and pull it up flush against the tile. If you install the piece blindfolded, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of guessing right — and putting the drain hole on the bottom. I checked the other three showers in the house (all of which have the exact same faucet). The two in the basement were installed properly, and the two upstairs were upside-down. Exactly 50/50.
I removed the trim piece and peeked inside. As expected, water had been dripping down into that hole for years. It wasn’t doing any major damage, but it had caused the adhesive foam inside the trim piece to deform and peel away. Ironically, the purpose of that foam is to help seal the trim piece to the wall and keep out water. Sigh.
The other upstairs shower trim looked almost identical. And both displayed hard water deposits where the water inside the trim had pooled… until eventually evaporating back out of the drain hole where it entered in the first place. I peeled away the failed foam strips to get a clearer view:
The fix was quick and cheap:
- Remove the old foam from both trim pieces.
- Remove the foam’s leftover adhesive with Goo Gone.
- Clean the trim pieces with some CLR spray.
- Apply new adhesive-basked foam strip.
- Re-install the trim pieces.
- Hit them with a shot of stainless steel cleaning spray to make them look fancy for blog photos!
For the new foam, I used regular 1/2″ weatherstripping foam (available at any hardware store) and made sure to leave enough room at the bottom for any water that gets inside to drain out:
And finally, the most important step: re-installing the trim with the drain hole facing down:
So, once again, the moral of this story is that just because you paid someone to do something isn’t a guarantee that it’s done right.
Remember: just because you’re not a professional plumber, or builder, or electrician, or mechanic… doesn’t mean that you can’t look at something and question it based on things you do understand — like how gravity works, and how that would affect water flow, and the fact that water doesn’t generally escape out of the top of things on its own. 🙂
You’ll save time and money doing these types of projects by yourself; plus every time you turn on the shower, hit the light switch, turn the door handle, or close the cabinet