Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Fixing the Shower - No more dribbles!

So when we originally did the bathroom (read all about that here), the shower was never quite right.  The flow control (to turn it on and off) was always very stiff, and once it was wet from having the shower on, it was even harder to turn.  It also leaked around the flow control knob and you had to kind of hit it in a certain way to make it stop.  Hard to explain to guests...

And when my nanny came last Christmas to stay she actually had to ask for help to turn the shower off because it was that hard.  To be honest I often struggle myself.

The shower was from Triton and even when I bought it, it was a bit of a bargain (about £60 in the sale). At the time the budget was tight, so for a thermostatic mixer shower from a reputable brand it seemed like a good punt.

I had called Triton just after Christmas to see if they could come out and take a look at it.  It was, after all, covered by a five year parts and labour guarantee.  They said they could come and take a look, no problem, but then proceeded to send me a long list of T&C's which said if it was an adjustment or there wasn't a fault they would charge me a call out fee.  Given that it didn't leak all the time (only most of the time), I was concerned I was just being special, and that almost guaranteed it would work (without leaking) fine on the day.  At the time money was a bit tight, so I wasn't willing to risk it.  So we put up with it.

Until the other day, when I just decided I had had enough with it.  Enough was enough.  If I had to pay a call out fee because I hadn't done something blatantly obvious, then so be it.  But something had to give.  I booked online, and arranged a service visit for a few days later.

When the man came round to have a look, he admitted straight away that it wasn't right at all.  But unfortunately he didn't have the right parts on the van so we would have to arrange for another visit.  Also, we had no way of isolating the shower from the rest of the water in the house.  Triton do say in their T&Cs that a condition of service is that you must be able to isolate the water pipes to the shower.  So fair enough.

But it was a right pain in the bottom nonetheless.  We paid an arm and a leg to get this shower plumbed in just 18 months ago by a professional plumber, who should have known full well that it's good practice to put in isolating valves.  So the fact that there wasn't any, was a bit of a blow.  But yet another opportunity to practice my plumbing skills!  So here we go...

Everything was plumbed in rather rigidly so the amount of flexibility I had to fit the isolation valves in was very limited.  Compression valves weren't an option as I couldn't push the copper pipe out the way to fit one in.

I researched the products that were out there, that could work in my particular situation.  For a long time I came up blank, but finally I came across these bad boys:

These are pushfit flexible connectors at both ends, with an isolation valve built in at one end.  At £10 each they were not cheap!  The only other solution was a compression flexible connector, with a normal compression isolation valve.  But I didn't  have enough length of pipe before it disappeared up behind the tiles to do this.  So pricey push fits it was.

First of all, I had to make space around the pipes to get my pipe cutter in.  The plaster went almost right up to the back of the pipes, that I got out my trusty bolster chisel (this was actually a new one as I had returned my dad's one to him) and club hammer.

Except that didn't really work. There just wasn't enough space. So I got the drill out and tried that.  Much better.

Slow progress, but I got there eventually.  I couldn't access the second one, but I figured once I got the first one out, I could access the second one a bit easier.

First pipe cut

I put some tape over the pipe to stop the plaster dust going down there and clogging the shower pipes.

All pipes cut and ready to connect up.  I made sure to deburr the ends of the copper pipe too.  As the pipe cutter squeezes the pipe, the deburring tool helps get rid of any lip in the pipe as well as getting rid of any sharpness which might damage the rubber seal in the flexible connector.

You can see where I mark the pipe to check the pipe has been pushed on as far as it can go.

All done!

I called Triton again and it did take them about a week to track down a suitable part.  Our shower actually went out of manufacturing (which is probably why it was on sale!) so they had to get parts from a slightly different shower.  We had the Valdi, and they used parts from the Thames.  It's very similar, but the styling is ever so slightly different.  

They just changed the whole unit, and bought us a spare shower head, slider rail, soap tray etc. etc. as well.  Awesome!  Unexpected freebies!  It was swapped in minutes and the man was on his way.  No fee at all.

Top notch servicing from Triton.  Absolutely A+.

And it works amazingly well!  No leaks, and you can turn it off and on with just one finger! Bliss!

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