DIY: What Am I, A Plumber? Fixing a 2nd story shower leaky drain…


Okay, we’ve had this hole in our family room ceiling for almost 2 years.  Yes, two years.  It’s a result of a leaky upstairs shower drain.  Neither hubby or myself claim to be a plumber, nor have any plumbing skills to speak of, so we put it off….hung a bucket from the drain pipe and figured we’d eventually get it fixed by a pro.  Well, late one night, I see this infomercial for this spray rubber stuff that will “fix any leak”, and they even show the guy in a boat with a screen door as the bottom covered in this stuff.  Anyway…..my brilliant (and frugal) mind figured that I could find that spray locally and just spray the underside of the drain through the hole, then open the drain cover and spray the inside of the drain as well. PROBLEM SOLVED, right?

So I head to Home Depot, and find this stuff:

Brought it home, put a fan on the drain in our shower to dry it completely out, then sprayed the inside of the drain like crazy. Headed downstairs, sprayed the underside of the pipe and drain from the bottom of the shower pan.  DONE.  This should do it. No more leak.

Um…..wrong.

It finally dawned on hubby and myself that we would either have to pay an actual plumber to come and fix it….OR………..I’d just research it on YouTube and we can fix it ourselves!!   Guess which one we did?  :)

To start things off, we had to remove the offending rubber coated pipe and cheap plastic drain that was in our master shower.  That required some pliers to twist off all the rubberized plastic and a hacksaw to cut the pipe off underneath.

Gross, right?  And here is the pipe coated in rubber…

Now we needed to replace the cut off PVC pipe and drain.  Off to Home Depot for some 2″ PVC pipe, connector and brass drain gasket set.

This brass baby cost about $20 and we’ll never have to replace it again, unlike those cheap plastic drains that the builders used in ours.

First, I cut about a 5″ length of the PVC pipe and attached the connector with ABS cement.

Man, this stuff will give you a headache fast, so be sure to use it in a well ventilated area. Follow the directions on the back and it works like a charm to connect the pipe stuff.

Once we had the pipe back and in order, time to install the new drain.

Pop the drain cover off and set that aside.

Inside, you’ll see this silver tool, which is used to tighten the inner gasket ring.  Set this aside too.

Next is the inner ring that clamps down on the rubber gasket. Remove this and set that aside.

Pull out the neoprene rubber ring and set that aside.

Twist off the bottom part.

Take the bottom brass ring with the white friction ring and the black rubber ring and stack them with the brass on the bottom and black ring on top.

This will go over your pipe from under the shower pan, so you’ll need to do this through the hole in your ceiling.   If your PCV pipe is too long and you are unable to fit these rings over the top, you’ll have to either put the rings over the pipe drain BEFORE you attach the PVC pipe, or cut off a 1/2″ or 1″ or so so you can get it over the top….but make sure you keep the PVC pipe long enough to feed through the brass drain when dropped into the shower pan hole from the top.

Hard to see, but that’s me putting the rings over the top of the PVC pipe, just under the shower pan.

Next, take the remaining parts of the brass drain that you had put aside and bring it all upstairs to the shower.

You’ll need to open your plumber’s putty for the next part.  Take a golfball sized lump and work it in your hands until it is nice and soft.

Make a nice rope, then wrap it around the brass drain insert as shown here:

Once you’ve got it pressed on the brass drain, into the hole it goes.

As you push it in, the putty will squish out. We’ll remove it later after we tighten up everything. Now head back downstairs for the next part…

Here is where you lift the brass ring and screw it onto the brass drain that you just put in upstairs.  I found that putting on a heavy glove to twist it on tightly worked great. The brass edges are kind of sharp.  THAT’S IT for the downstairs stuff.  Time to head back upstairs to finish up the job!

Now you can remove the excess putty and put it back in the container.

Now insert the rubber ring, slipping it over the PVC pipe. You’ll want to insert it with the threaded part of the ring on top.  Pull the pipe back and forth so you can stuff it down as far as you can.  You then can use a screwdriver to stuff it down even further.  You will be able to see the edge of it, so don’t think it will disappear.

REMEMBER to put a sock or something in the drain so the next steps don’t end up with tools falling down the drain.

Next is the inner brass ring. Spin that into place, then grab the silver tool that you put aside earlier.

Use a flat head screwdriver to twist into place as hard as you can.

Then for extra torque, use some pliers to really screw that down.  The tighter you screw this in, the less likely you are to have a leak.

REMOVE THE SOCK in the drain and pop on the drain cover.  Peel off the protective plastic and VOILA, you’re done! YOU DID IT!

A good tip is to tape that little silver tightening tool to the inside of your undersink cabinet just in case you need to replace the neoprene rubber ring later on down the line.

Still not sure if you can figure this out?  Watch the video I made of this project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orWvGmeXD5U
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