"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

occasionally, father doesn't know best

Sorry, Dad!

This weekend, I painted our living room ceiling. Not the whole ceiling, just part of it where there used to be a hole and water spots. Here's the story. It's pretty long and not much DIY or pictures or anything, but I thought it was worth sharing.

Back in May, I was watching TV while Zach was in the shower one Saturday, when suddenly I noticed water dripping from the ceiling in front of the TV. Upon closer inspection, there was evident water damage on the drywall around one of the pot lights. Super. Although we're technically out of warranty on our house now that's it's about 2.5 years old, we contacted the builder anyway, in case they would still do something. They contacted the plumber they'd used and sent them out to have a look. Of course, when the plumber came, we ran the shower for 10 minutes or so and no water came leaking from the ceiling downstairs. Due to the fact that the leak seemed to be slow or intermittent, the plumber guessed it was probably not a leaky pipe, but something not sealed quite right in the shower. However, he didn't notice anything obvious, so he left and told us to keep an eye on it. Super helpful.

Well, we kind of forgot about it, not usually being in the living room while the other person is in the shower, until last weekend, I was lying on the couch and noticed that, not only did the water spot around the pot light seem worse, but there was now a second large water spot a few inches away. 

I still had the phone number for the plumber, so I gave them another call, and he came on Thursday. To try to better see what was going on, this time, the plumber cut a hole in the ceiling. Once the shower was turned on, it became very obvious where in the ceiling the drip was. As expected, it was not coming from a pipe, which then made it less obvious where in the shower the leak was. 

After further inspection, the plumber decided that there are a few tiles, basically right where the water hits, where some of the grout is missing. Fixing grout is apparently not part of this plumber's job description, so he asked if my husband knew about grouting and could do it. I said no, but I could. In my head, I was making my super grumpy face, and thinking, 'you sexist jerk!' (though maybe I didn't think 'jerk', maybe I thought some other word instead). 

So, of course, I went to Home Depot for the grout. I discussed sanded vs. unsanded grout here; again, I went with unsanded grout. The house documents say that the master bathroom has #06 harvest grout. While in Home Depot staring at all the grout color options and deciding which looked closest to our shower grout, I also saw several options for various types of grout sealer. Not knowing if I would also need that, I called my dad, who recently completely re-did the two bathrooms in my parents' house. I told him the whole story, he said yes, I should get sealer, I bought my stuff and went home. 

Saturday morning I woke up to a text from my dad saying to call him before starting grout work. When I did, he said that, upon further thought, he didn't think the grout was the problem. He explained that grout is not supposed to be water-tight, which is why a water-proof backer-board goes behind the shower wall, and that any water that makes it behind the tile should get funneled back to the drain. This led him to believe that something more fundamental was wrong with our shower. So, back to emailing our builder contact. This time, I included photos of the water damage to the ceiling and the area of the shower where the plumber had indicated lack of grout.

Long story short, it took a month before they scheduled a time to come take a look. Luckily, we have two other full bathrooms, so we started using the guest bathroom across the hall from our bedroom. Both Zach and I realized how much we love having a huge window that lets tons of light into our bathroom; the guest bathroom seems very dark in comparison.

And when the shower guys came last Friday to take a look, what was the first thing they said? You seem to be missing a lot of grout; fixing that should solve your leak. I said that I was under the impression that grout was not water-proof and so shouldn't matter that much, but they assured me that the grout was the problem and got to work fixing it (with the grout I had bought, so at least that wasn't a total waste). They said they would come back Monday to do some caulking as well and then fix the hole the plumber had cut in the ceiling. 

Being a big believer in my dad, I remained skeptical that simply fixing the grout would solve the leak. As instructed, we waited 24 hours, then turned on the shower for a test run. We anxiously watched the hole in the ceiling for several minutes, but no water came through. So Sunday and Monday, Zach and I went back to using our shower, keeping a towel under the hole in the living room ceiling, so we could tell if there was anymore leaking. However, no such leaking occurred, so when the shower guys came back on Monday, I let them fix the hole in parallel with caulking, since the grout seemed to have been the main solution. Even starting first thing in the morning, they weren't going to have time to get the ceiling hole sanded and painted, since the drywall compound/spackle/whatever would take hours to dry. They said they could come back the next day, but I didn't want to take anymore time off work for this, so I told them I could handle the sanding and painting part. After all, I'd done it before (though for smaller holes) when the electrician cut holes in our wall and ceiling.

So that was my project last weekend -- sanding and painting the patched hole in our living room ceiling. And thinking about how, if I hadn't listened to my dad, we could have had our shower and ceiling fixed (albeit by me, not professionals) a month ago. 

Now, you may recall that at the beginning of this post I said that I painted THIS weekend, and just now I said I painted LAST weekend. Yeah, I did both. 

When we bought our house, the builders left us a quart of wall/ceiling paint. After some other patching projects and using the paint for my side tables, I was getting kind of low, so I took the paint to Sherwin Williams to get matched. They looked at my leftover quart and said that it was actually their paint, but that paint and color are only available in a 5-gallon bucket. Well, I didn't really want 5 gallons, so I asked them to just match it. They said OK, but they couldn't guarantee it would match 100%; however, when they did a test bit alongside the old paint, I had a hard time telling where the old paint stopped and the new one started. 

When I went to paint the patched ceiling, I didn't think I'd have enough of the old paint to finish, especially if I ended up needing two coats, so I decided to mix in about an equal part of the new paint to even out the color and help the new paint match even better. Then I painted. And the new paint didn't match even a little. WHAT!? Yeah.

So I emailed our wonderful builder contact, said how pleased we were with the fixed leak, then begged for another quart of paint. And Thursday I came home from work to a little can of Cool Platinum waiting for me on the front step. So Friday evening, it was back to painting the ceiling. Since the new color was darker than the original, I figured I'd probably have to do two coats, but after the first coat, I couldn't tell where the ceiling had been patched, so I decided to call it good. Now we finally have our living room back together! I hope you managed to hang in for this really long story. Wasn't it totally worth it? Yeah, I thought so too :-)

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