How to handle shower repairs
During a bathroom remodel at his Manassas Park, Va., home, Jeff Hoopes checked for loose shower tiles by knocking on each square. “One area sounded hollow and showed signs that the grout may have cracked,” the Angie’s List member says. After removing the affected section of the wall, he found water had leaked through the cracks in the grout and a small leak from the shower valve was dripping through to the lower floor. Hoopes says his tile contractor attempted to fix the leak by replacing the valve, but ended up creating a steadier leak that caused minor drywall damage.
Complications arising from shower repairs often prove challenging for homeowners, local experts say. “They’re probably the most detail-oriented and can take the most time of any bathroom repair,” says Abe Lazar, a licensed plumber and owner of highly rated Honest Abe Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Baltimore. Lazar says the complexity stems from issues that typically require working with multiple service professionals — from plumbers to tile setters. “Trying to get all these trades together can be difficult,” he says. “You can have long lulls in the job because it’s not scheduled properly.”After his tile contractor failed to fix the leak, Hoopes turned to Angie’s List and called highly rated Kinnett Plumbing in Woodbridge, Va., late that afternoon. Owner Kevin Kinnett arrived an hour later and replaced the shower valve and leaking pipes for $350. “I was expecting a much larger bill,” Hoopes says, noting that a licensed plumber’s expertise helps keep drywall and tile removal to a minimum. After the repair, Hoopes’ tile contractor finished the drywall and tile work, and then highly rated Miracle Method of Fairfax, Va., reglazed the tub and vanity.Member Daksha Arora of Boyds, Md., turned to the List when the shower in her house started continuously dripping. “It’s a new house, so I was surprised it had any problems,” she says. Mark Coleman, owner of highly rated Coleman’s Plumbing of Rockville, Md., repaired Arora’s shower for $190. “Besides replacing the cartridge, he removed and appropriately reattached the showerhead,” Arora says. If the leak went unchecked, Coleman says the minerals in the water would have eventually corroded the fixture, rendering it useless and much more costly to repair.Coleman says hidden leaks often pose large problems because most homeowners become aware of them only when tiles or grout begin to crack or water damage appears on the walls or ceiling of the room located beneath the shower. “It typically takes a long time for shower-related damage to occur,” he says. To prevent cracks, Kinnett recommends recaulking the tub every two to three years. If damage requires multiple contractors to remedy, Coleman advises homeowners to research highly rated professionals as shower repairs that include drywall and tile replacement can average between $3,000 and $5,000. “Don’t cut corners — otherwise it will have to be done again five years down the road,” he says.