Taking $2,000 Bubble Baths – A Home Maintenance Story

Bath Tub Deepener DeviceAs 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!


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.


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.


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Updated 2H2015

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. David M says

    I can’t answer any of your questions!

    However, I can say that I love to soak in the tub.

    However, I never do it here – I only do it when I visit Japan. I love taking a shower and then all nice and clean getting into the tub. In Japan the bathroom is all set for the water to drain that flows over the top of the tub. Thus, when you get into the tub – the water comes all the way up to you face – its like being in heaven!

    We do have a jacuzzi tub in America. However, for many reasons it is not the same:

    1) Not that easy to clean up and then soak – unlike in Japan.
    2) Can’t get the water really high – or the water will over flow and you can have a mess and big bills.
    3) controlling the temperature of the water is not that easy – feel good to my hand – but when I get in – wow is it hot. In Japan – you set the temperature at whatever you want – I like 40 or 41 C and the water comes out at that temperature – also the heater comes on when necessary and keeps it at that temperature.

    Also what is wonderful in Japan is going to an onsen and soaking in natural springs OUTSIDE! On a nice warm sunny day – relaxation to the nines!


    • says

      I agree. Japan onsen is the absolute BEST experience for soaking in hot or cold water. I absolutely love that experience and hopefully more people can experience it. I remember skiing in Shigakogen and then jumping into an onsen with some ramen and sake after. The best!

  2. says

    I just bought my house about 8 months ago so I’m not really sure on the maintenance yet. I haven’t had anything like that happen to me yet either but I’m sure something eventually will. At least you got a post out of it and it seems like you took it well. Not having to worry about having the money side (emergency fund etc) make these situations much easier to handle.

  3. Suzan says

    Oh no, a $2,000 bubble bath? And you have such good spirit when it comes to dealing with problems! I wouldn’t know what to do but screaming. (That’s why I don’t like to own properties.)

    We moved to a house that belonged to my in-laws sometime ago after they passed away. One day I was doing a big house cleaning and moved a hard-to-move bed away from the wall. Guess what I saw on the wall. A huge leaking mark! Luckily it was only from the rain gutter outside. So the problem was easily fixed. Phew.

  4. says

    The Tokyo hotel room I stayed in last week had a deep tub, with blower jets spread out in a pattern in the bottom (and none on the sides). After a deep soak and a bubble session, my only thought was “I need to get me one of these!”

  5. says

    Huh, I’ve never heard of a tub deepener!

    It’s been a long time since I lived in a house with a bath. They’re a pain to clean but awesome for the three times a year we want to have a lovely soak. (We’re going on a staycation next weekend in a nice hotel and plan to make the most of the spa tub.)

    And been there with the leaky roof, yo. Tightwad broke ex-LL tried to blame it on us after we left. But that particular house was falling apart, with the leaky shower (the floor/base cracked), the hot water cylinder that broke, etc.

  6. Mike Hunt says

    Wow, that’s a bummer. But you really have a great attitude to make the most of this experience.

    My homeowner hassles have been comparatively small, like hitting the wiring of the in-closet lighting and causing it to fail with no easy to repair it. So I just make do without one of the lights on one side…


  7. says

    Usually DIY projects start out small and I end up spending more. This is one of the reasons I stopped DIY projects and have a great group of repair people. They are relatively inexpensive and much better at their profession than me. I stick at what I am good with such as finding good people at a low cost to do the work for me. :)

    Homes are a little like owning a boat, there is always something to fix! The happiest days of a boat owner are the day they bought it and sold it. I think there is some relevance to home ownership.

  8. says

    Bummer Sam.
    As a homeowner, I’m thankful that I haven’t dealt with any home maintenance issues. Than again I live in a condo, and don’t have a hot tub either. I made a promise to my self though that the next home I buy will either have a tub installed or a backyard big enough for me to install a hot tub. It’s no secret women dig men with hot tubs, which probably explain why women with hot tubs get a front of the line pass with me. It works both ways I suppose.

    By the way, a minor error I noticed – Niagra Falls is spelled NIAGARA :)

    Also, is Hector Mexican by any chance? Did he give you the Mexican discount?

  9. says

    My partner fell over drunk in Montreal shortly after her insurance had run out. An X-ray to tell her the ankle was just badly sprained cost $700…. Keep insured where you need to!

  10. Money Beagle says

    No leaky roof yet but the shingles are starting to deteriorate at a pretty rapid rate. I was hoping to make it until 2014 which would be fifteen years since the roof was installed, but I’m thinking it will be 2013 instead.

  11. says

    We love our tub deepener, but we also don’t have a jet tub.
    In our first house (new construction) we special ordered a 6′ soaking tub and loved it, so moving in to our current (built in the 40s) house meant a total downgrade in tub. The deepener is the only thing that makes it even vaguely palatable.
    In fact, we’re considering a bathroom renovation that would allow us a bigger/better tub, or, if we can’t do that, buying a hot tub. The desire to have a good hot soak runs very strong in both C and I.

  12. says

    Oh wow what a major bummer! I lived in an apartment once that had a super shallow tub. Wish I knew about tub deepeners back then, but then again maybe it’s a blessing in disguise I didn’t know about them. I would have gone nuts if I caused that much damage to a rental.

    I’m glad you found a good handyman in the process and that the water damage didn’t spread to an even larger area. It’s really nuts how much damage water can cause!!!

  13. says

    I feel like my finances are totally nothing but a home maintenance story right now. We are working on getting the kitchen and bathroom gutted at the same time, as well as doing a ton of rewiring in the attic. Once we got ready to put the tub in the bathroom, we replaced the subfloor because we were in there already! once I started trying to rewire a few things, i ended up doing the whole place “because I was there!” talk about an expensive habit.

    • says

      Ah yes… once you start, it’s hard to stop b/c you’re in there indeed!

      Get a deep soaking tub. Your wife will love you for it!

      I perhaps should redo the kitchen for eventual resale… but I’m a dude, and what else more do I need in my kitchen that I don’t have.

  14. says

    I had a leaky roof once that was taken care of by the condo board…but they didn’t take care of the ceiling that was then ruined when the water settled after getting in. The worst repair I had was when the air conditioner’s condenser didn’t go off, so it kept running. The water that it leaked was blocked and it is in my attic….eventually it was niagra falls in The Wife’s closet. ON JULY 4th…

    So frustrating. I don’t spend much a month but that is only because the home I am in is 5 years old, I suspect that to change when I purchase my next home which will be considerably older.

  15. says

    Hey Sam, I once bought a $800 “free” bookshelf. One of the startups in a shared office I used to have was clearing out old furniture and I saw the opportunity for a free bookcase. I have an old Saab convertible so I put down the top and threw it in my back seat. It wasn’t that tall so I decided to put my top back up once it was in there.

    What I forgot was that my auto top folds down into the back seat during the process of closing. It’s a power top and and when it tried to fully close the top just snapped. Saabs charge a ridiculous amount for parts and it turns out the one small spring plus labor to fix my top cost $800! Insane right? I probably could’ve bough the same bookcase at Target for $25.

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