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Lessons Learned from Failed Plastic Plumbing Repair

Posted By Beth Terry On October 15, 2013 @ 10:57 am In Fixing things | 17 Comments

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I thought this was post was going to be another one of my triumphant reports about how I avoided buying a new plastic gadget because I was able to fix the old one [2]. Like the tale of the rice cooker [3], or the umbrella [4], or the laundry basket [5], or even the washing machine [6]. I imagined how proud and accomplished I would feel to report how instead of replacing my worn out shower head, I had cleaned and repaired it and made it good as new.

Sadly, this is not that post.  No, this post is about trying, failing, and wasting a whole lot of duct tape. But lessons were learned. Possibly. So I’m going to share the experience here anyway.

The Problem(s)

I bought this plastic Waterpik hand-held shower massage head at least 10 years ago. (I would not buy a hunk of plastic like this now.) Since then, the water has slowed to a trickle or simply stopped coming out through the holes it’s supposed to come out of.

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The collar that holds it up on the wall broke so that it often falls off while in use. (Btw, collar looks like metal but is really plastic.)

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We put up with these problems until this week when water started spraying out from where the handle connects to the metal hose.

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We figured it was a waste of water to give the ceiling a shower every time we took one. So I decided to put on my handy ma’am pants and do something about it.

The Plan

I had a three part plan.

1) Replace the hose and thingie that connects to the pipe in the wall with the one that actually came with the shower head. I think when I installed the shower head the first time, I just used a hose that was already there for some reason when we moved in. Doing that would keep it from falling off the wall.

2) Soak the shower head in white vinegar to unclog the water holes. Try Googling “How to unclog shower head [10].” Everyone, and I mean everyone, recommends soaking in white vinegar.

3) Fix the leak at the bottom of the handle with Teflon tape and duct tape over that. I debated the Teflon tape because I don’t generally like to use perfluorochemicals. But the women in my Eco Women Warriors Facebook group all agreed nothing else works like good old PTFE.

So, I started out strong. I removed the old hose

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Wrapped Teflon tape around the pipe threads

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And screwed on the new (old) hose. Remember, I already had this. I didn’t go out and buy something new.

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So far so good until…

The Unexpected

The plastic handle snapped right off the moment I tried to unscrew it from the hose.

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Not good. It was already cracked, which is why it was leaking. What to do now?

The Fix(es)

Well, I continued with my plan to soak: it in white vinegar for several hours.

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After that, I scrubbed it with an old toothbrush.

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Then… hmm… how to attach it to the hose now that it had no threads to screw it on? How about duct tape? Duct tape is plastic. But better to use some duct tape I already have than go out and buy a new shower head, right?

Michael said I would need something stiff to hold the two pieces together. So he donated one of his old ear drop bottles for the cause.

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I cut off the top and bottom.

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And then started with the duct tape. Duct tape to seal up the house connection.

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Duct tape to attach the hose and shower head together.

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Then the ear drop tube…

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And then a whole lot more duct tape on top. Wow, isn’t that elegant?

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The Result

This is pretty much the definition of the word “fugly”. The beautiful thing is that the water sprays out of the cleaned shower head perfectly! The sad part is that it also sprays out of the duct tape. No matter how much I use.

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Um… it’s dead, Jim.

Fortunately, in scrounging around looking for plumbing supplies, I found another shower head in a bathroom drawer. It’s not handheld, and it doesn’t massage all that well, but it works and doesn’t leak, which is what matters. I can’t tell if it’s really metal or chrome-covered plastic. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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You know how long it took me to install that one? Maybe two minutes. I had to take the other hose off first.

Lessons Learned

1) Um… I’m not sure if the lesson is that plastic is crap and will eventually wear out and crack or if it’s that you shouldn’t screw plastic into a metal fitting it wasn’t meant to be screwed into in the first place.

2) White vinegar is proven awesome once again.

3) Duct tape actually will not fix everything [25].

4) Sometimes the simpler, easier solution is actually the better one, if less heroic.

5) Still, it’s always worth it to try things. How else do you learn?


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URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2013/10/lessons-learned-from-failed-plastic-plumbing-repair/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_095037.jpg

[2] fix the old one: http://myplasticfreelife.com/category/plastic-free-methods/fixing-things/

[3] rice cooker: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/07/how-i-fixed-my-broken-rice-cooker-the-complete-illustrated-instructions/

[4] umbrella: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/06/fixing-my-blue-plastic-umbrella/

[5] laundry basket: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/09/tale-of-two-plastic-laundry-baskets/

[6] washing machine: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2010/09/how-to-take-apart-and-clean-a-stinky-kenmore-whirlpool-top-loading-washer/

[7] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_094958.jpg

[8] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-2013-10-15-10.31.07.png

[9] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-2013-10-15-10.34.08.png

[10] How to unclog shower head: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+unclog+shower+head&oq=how+to+unclog+shower&aqs=chrome.2.0j69i57j0l2&client=ms-android-sprint-mvno-us&sourceid=chrome-mobile&espv=1&ie=UTF-8

[11] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_211120.jpg

[12] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_211429.jpg

[13] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_211643.jpg

[14] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_100026.jpg

[15] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_100418.jpg

[16] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_204548.jpg

[17] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_203653.jpg

[18] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_204327.jpg

[19] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_214549.jpg

[20] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_212640.jpg

[21] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_220227.jpg

[22] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_221825.jpg

[23] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-2013-10-15-10.38.25.png

[24] Image: http://myplasticfreelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-20131014_222238.jpg

[25] Duct tape actually will not fix everything: http://failblog.cheezburger.com/thereifixedit/tag/duct-tape

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