Yesterday, our electric shower unit did something strange and inconvenient. Instead of water coming out of the showerhead, suddenly almost all the water was pouring out of a hole in the lower left corner of the wall unit.
After a thoroughly unsatisfactory shower, I padded back into the bathroom to investigate. The hole seems to have been designed. I poked my finger up into it and tried to find a flap or something that I could close. Nothing.
I then decided to seal the hole with electrical duct, thus forcing the water to go up to the shower head. I couldn’t find any tape in the house.
Then I tried shoving a ball of blu tack into the hole. This was unsuccessful. The blu tack seal was not watertight and the water continued to spurt out around the blue blob.
In my search for duct tape, I had come across tubes of sealant under the kitchen sink. I wondered if I was brave enough to use them to make a watertight seal.
By this time, I was getting late for work. However, I was on the scent of a trail now and I wanted to get to the end.
I hopped on the internet and found the website of Triton, the manufacturer of the shower unit. Here, I started to get answers.
Frequently asked question: When I turn on my electric shower water starts leaking out from the bottom of the unit, why?
If water is leaking from a clear plastic tube or small plastic elbow in the unit, then the Pressure Relief Device (PRD) has been activated. The most common reasons for the PRD to activate are that the showerhead has become blocked or there is a restriction in the shower hose.
That’s it! London’s water is stupidly hard. My cups of tea always carry a film of calcium. The showerhead must be blocked with lime scale.
I longed to solve the problem now but I had a teleconference with South Africa at 9am…
So I rushed to work, had my teleconference, another meeting, a teleconference with Dubai, found out that three team members (good friends) had just been made redundant, then another meeting.
After a depressed lunch commiserating with laid off colleagues, I went on the internet and paid for a new PRD to be posted to me First Class.
I worked late, got home to cook and eat dinner, then went on the internet again (what did we do before the WWW?) to find out how one goes about cleaning a showerhead.
I originally imagined that I had to do something like unscrew the showerplate and scrub it with a toothbrush. Then a colleague suggested soaking the showerhead in a lemon juice solution. My parents said vinegar would work too. I don’t have lemons at home. I do have vinegar, so I went downstairs to get a bucket and my bottle of vinegar.
Under the kitchen sink, right next to the bucket, were two packets of lime descaler! How fabulous.
I mixed the lime descaler with water and sunk the showerhead in the solution for half an hour. Then I wiggled the showerhead in a bowl of clean water, scrubbed it with a toothbrush for good measure, and was gratified to see lots of little brown bits sinking to the bottom of the bowl.
I had resigned myself to having baths for the next day or two while waiting for the new PRD to arrive so that I could replaced the tripped one. PRDs are ‘use once’ and need to be installed back into place.
Imagine my excitement, then, when my freshly cleaned showerhead started squirting out a respectable stream of water!
There is still some water (around a third of the total flow) coming out of the hole at the bottom. I think the only way to stop that is to replace the PRD. But while I wait for the spare one and while I take a couple of days to figure out how to install it, I will at least be able to have hot showers.
Hooray for DIY Joan!