Taking $2,000 Bubble Baths – A Home Maintenance Story
As a guy, I’m not afraid to admit that I love taking baths. In fact, one of the requirements before I bought my house was that it have a jet tub. Perhaps one of the reasons for my affinities for baths is that after a gruesome two-hour long tennis match, there’s nothing better than icing my shoulder in a hot tub. There’s something about the fire and ice combo that feels so good.
Besides, women love hot tubbing too. I can’t tell you how many times I’m just nursing my Anchor Steam beer in the hot tub when bikini babes randomly join and start chatting things up. ”If only I could have a hot tub at home, I’d soak for hours naked“, I recall one saying to me. Oh really, now…
You might be surprised to know that I write a third of my posts in the jet tub. I’ve got the nice tray set up and begin pounding away after pouring some bubbles. The jets keep the water hot as they get heated by the engine inside. It’s a perfect system that let’s me not only soothe my muscles, but produce content at the same time.
One day over Twitter, I discovered this thing called a a “tub deepener”. Essentially, a round plastic thing that goes over the drain in the middle of the tub to allow water to rise a couple inches deeper. “Sweet!” I thought, and “double sweet” as I saw it on Amazon for only $5.99!
NIAGARA FALLS COMETH
One Sunday morning, I fired up the jets to have a soak with the water filled to the very top. After about 45 minutes, I dried off and went downstairs to make some waffles. To my surprise, my dining room ceiling started leaking! Drip, drip, drip my ceiling went. Oh shit.
I immediately placed a bucket under the drip, and went to the tool box to get a hammer and nail. I pounded two holes in the ceiling and immediately the water started gushing out! For those of you with a ceiling leak, I highly recommend you poke some holes in the ceiling for drainage to ensure your ceiling doesn’t collapse! It was like a rain storm in my dining room.
By the time the leak stopped, the bucket had collected a couple inches of water. Sigh. I Googled plumber/dry wall repair and immediately got a call from a guy named Hector. Hector and his partner came out the very next day to rip open the ceiling (see picture). After a couple weeks of testing all the pipes, we came to the conclusion that after the water gets above the middle drain where the tub deepener covers, water starts leaking out of the two front jets!
The 8 jets all around the tub are perfectly situated one inch BELOW the middle tub drain. Even after you get in, and the water temporarily rises above the drain, the pressure and water was not enough to cause a sustainable leak. I had gone against the laws of engineer and screwed myself.
ONCE YOU START, YOU CAN’T STOP FIXING
Opening the ceiling, replacing several pipes, doing the testing, patching up the ceiling and painting cost about $1,500 total. It would have cost more, but I made a deal with him to save about $500 if I paid cash. The issue is, once you start fixing something, you might as well look for other things to fix. There’s been dry rot forming around a couple window sills over the past 5 years that needed replacing. I spent another $500 cash to fix them both, which was well worth it.
Despite taking a $2,000 bath, I see some positives. First of all, I know not to use a tub deepener with jet tubs. There are just too many pipes that could cause serious leakage. I did notice a couple years back some water spots in my ceiling before the massive leak occurred. Sooner or later, I would have needed to open up and fix the pipes anyway. Second, I found myself an awesome plumber/dry wall fixer/handyman. That’s really my biggest stress, not having a reliable person to do great work. Money is a secondary issue. Whenever I have a problem with my rental, I’m going to use Hector as well.
Homeownership has its pluses and minuses. Maintenance costs are definitely a minus and something you must budget for. Make sure to save all your “upgrades” receipts as you can add the expense to the cost of your home when you sell to save on taxes. I view my house as a place to live first, and an investment second. However, when things break, or when its time to upgrade some features, I always think investment returns first.
Refinance Your Mortgage: If you are a homeowner and you have not refinanced in the past year, I strongly suggest you check online to see what the latest rates are given the 10-year yield is at ~1.8% and Ben Bernanke launched QE3 to keep rates low. Home ownership is expensive and saving money on your mortgage is huge! I always check with Quicken Loans because they are fast, quick, and provide a no obligation real quote based on the input you provide. I recently refinanced to a 5/1 Jumbo ARM for 2.625% in the Spring of 2012 after just refinancing in the fall of 2011 for 3.125% from 3.625%. As a result, I am saving an additional $4,000 a year in interest!
Check Your Credit Score: Take a moment to check your free credit score through GoFreeCredit.com, a company I trust. Protect your identity and make sure there are no errors on your credit report which will cause trouble down the road. I had a 100 point hit on my credit score due to a $8 non payment by my tenants from two years ago. As a result, it almost derailed my mortgage refinance! If you don’t want to pay for credit monitoring, simply cancel before the grace period is over.