Dysfunctional shower

· life ·

I'm really fed up of our shower. It's exactly the same as it was when we moved in, but that's the problem. Some plumbing genius (and I use the word 'genius' with heavy sarcasm) decided that rather than plumbing in a proper mixer tap to the shower head over the bath, they would bodge something up instead. So what we have is one of those electric showers, which isn't hooked up to the electricity supply, but just serves as a very primitive mixer tap. The problem is that the single dial on the front that allows you to go from no flow, through cool temperatures to warmer temperatures doesn't actually change the flow of the hot water. At all. In fact, you need to turn the hot water supply on and off using the stopcock, which is handily located in the airing cupboard, outside the bathroom, on the upstairs landing. Then you can alter the flow of the cold water using the shower control in the bathroom.

So the sequence goes like this:

  1. Get yourself ready for your shower, then -- wrapped in a towel or bathrobe -- go on to the landing, open the airing cupboard door and stand on tip-toes to turn on the hot water stopcock.
  2. Re-enter bathroom, and remember to turn on the cold water embefore/em you get into the shower, or you will exit again more speedily than you expected, yowling piteously.
  3. Have shower in the usual way, hoping that you've judged the flow of hot water required correctly, because otherwise you'll have to get out again or yell at your significant other to change it.
  4. Get out of the shower. It is very important that you do this before step 5.
  5. Turn off the cold water supply.
  6. Exit bathroom, draped in towel or bathrobe again, but this time, dripping all over the landing carpet, open airing cupboard again and turn off hot water.

A bit of a performance, eh? When you've been doing this for 3 years, it becomes second nature (and yet -- perversely -- steadily more irritating), but when you have guests, they need a detailed tutorial on The Correct Operation of Our Ridiculous Shower. Step 4 is the really dodgy one for the unwary. The natural inclination (if you are used to sensible plumbing arrangements) is to turn the knob on the front of the shower to off as soon as you've finished, resulting in third-degree burns and an undignified exit from the shower.

We really want to get the bathroom re-done, because it's also badly arranged, badly tiled and has no extractor fan. We laughed hollowly when we saw a property programme the other day which suggested that spending an extra £1,000 to install a steam unit in a wet room was a good investment. We get the same effect for nothing by running the shower without the benefit of an extractor fan, and as a bonus, can maintain a flourishing collection of rare and varied moulds and mildews.