DIY pleasure

Fitting a new shower

This was a fascinating micro DIY that illustrated that however you think things through there will be hitches not apparent until you get to them. I chose the new shower in part because the electrical connections and water inlet were similarly sited to the one being replaced. I had hoped to site the new shower so that it connected to the existing water pipe without modification.

1) Then when I got the new shower I saw that the route that the cables had to take to get to the connection block meant that with the length of free cable available that would not be possible to site it as I had hoped. I had to site the shower to suit the electrical cable as changing the cable would have been a major task; joining on an extra length I thought unsafe.
[I wish the previous installer had left a big loop of cable. There was lots of space for cable, and that bit of foresight would have made the job about an hour long.]

When the old shower was removed two fixing screws were corroded and broke in the wall.

2) After making the top fixing hole for the new shower in the only place that got the cabling right, and putting the shower in place, I found that the single bottom fixing hole was just over the previous blocked hole. The fixing holes in the shower are in thicker plastic and this lower hole was really a slot. I managed to drill a new hole a few millimetres from the old one, but then found a cavity behind the hole that then had to be filled.

3) Finally I got the bits for fitting the plastic pipe and then found that there was inadequate allowance in the shower layout to take the fitting for shower to pipe. Rather than carve out a part of the shower casing to accommodate this part I decided to fit a small section of copper pipe; the metal nut and olive were supplied with the shower although its little pipe was plastic.

4) I connected it all up with all joints tightened, turned on the water, and saw a leak. The leak was from the shower to copper pipe connection. I had made it a tight as I though safe but when I turned off the water and began to dismantle the parts I found that the olive had not gripped the copper pipe at all. All the plastic joints were leak free.

As I needed a shower at this point I used a flexible pipe connection [I have a well stocked garage-store from previous jobs] to get it working leak-free and give me that subconscious thinking time to decide how to improve the fitting. I did not want to do even a minor modification of the casing lest that void the warranty should the shower fail within the three years given.

I waited a day and had a revelation: the shower is working perfectly with a silly connection but I don’t have to make the plumbing fit with my original notion. It needed less than 10 minutes to turn off the water, cut one pipe shorter, reconnect, put the water back on to get a working shower with neat connection. I don’t live in a listed building, I can keep the flexible pipe, and there are many other important jobs. I do use the Pareto Principle, otherwise called 80/20, but forgot it this time until a time-space let it resurface.

This set me thinking about CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. As it was being build I did wonder what up-time it would have because it has so many parts that even a very low failure rate per part could still lead to a significant failure rate for the whole system. My prejudice was confirmed with the magnet failure in September 2008, and then with the crumb dropped by a bird in November 2009, but given my experience fitting a mere shower I have to be impressed at what has been assembled at CERN.