A Bathroom Mini Disaster: Ignoring it Didn’t Work

You know how sometimes you see something and you think, “OH CRAP… that’s going to be a pain in my butt” so you ignore it for a while?

Well, don’t do that when it comes to bathroom leaking stuff.
Really. Don’t.

One day while scrub-a-dub-dub-ing in the shower, I looked up and saw that the area of paint right above the shower insert was kind of bubbling. I don’t know if this is the first day it happened, or the fact that I actually had my contacts in and could SEE that made me notice it.

I was about to leave for a work conference the next day though, so I figured I’d just ignore it and deal with it when I came back. But I was busy when I got back too. And then, I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t really THAT big of a deal and I should probably just NOT wear my contacts while taking a shower.

That also helps with shower cleaning impulses. FYI.

So, I ignored it.
For a couple months.

bathroom paint bubbling

I had almost convinced myself that the bubbling was because the fan wasn’t working properly and there was just a bit too much moisture in the room. No big deal. The wall wasn’t spongy at all, so it’s not like water was seeping into it.

Then, one day while cleaning the shower I reached up and pressed my pointer finger into the wall. And it felt like soggy bread.

NOW, I have to do something about it!

So I did something. I called my dad in a panic and he came over that night. {For those who don’t know or forgot, my dad builds and renovates houses for a living, so he’s kind of the perfect dad to call in these circumstances.}

Upon entering my shower, my dad stuck his hand into the wall and ripped out a big chunk of soggy drywall. Yup, with his BARE HANDS. It was like superman all up in the joint.

After ripping away the wall, he could tell that the shower head was leaking and spraying right at the bubbly wall. Luckily, the spray was quite light so it didn’t completely drench the inside of the entire wall and make mold. He continued ripping pieces out until it was firm again, and then ripped a little more just to make sure. He also used his razor blade to scrap away any damp paint and drywall around the entire top and side of the shower insert where the water was pooling and dripping off.

bathroom - measuring the hole

At this point, we jumped in my truck for a quickie trip to Home Depot to buy: a new shower head and shower head arm, Teflon tape, a piece of drywall, and spackle. All in all, it was right about $60.

When we got back home, Superdad replaced the old leaky shower head arm with a new one that didn’t leak (the Teflon tape was used to make sure it was totally watertight). He then used his razor to cut the wall into straight edges so he could insert the new piece of drywall.

bathroom - hole

After nailing the new piece of drywall into place, he applied three coats of quickset spackle. He was like a spackling machine getting it up there so much smoother than I could ever hope to do. At this point it was past 10:00 at night and my dad tagged out to go home (and sleep so he could wake up bright and early the next day to go work some more). THANK YOU DAD! {Not that he reads my blog, but my mom will probably tell him I wrote about him…}

I let the spackle dry completely for a few days and then went in to do a super light sanding with a sanding block I had sitting around. Once the wall was as smooth as possible, I applied a coat of Kilz primer over all the newly spackled parts. I also used some nail filler to quickly fill any extra nail holes (and sanded and primed those areas too), since I had the supplies out.

bathroom - sand and nail hole patch

I actually had about 3/4 can of gray semi-gloss paint left over from our kitchen, so I didn’t bother buying anything else and did two coats on the whole bathroom.

bathroom - new paint

I let it dry for a few hours and returned everything back to its proper place. I wouldn’t say it’s a big REVEAL makeover moment, but at least there are no longer any leaks! Also, I think the gray looks pretty with my snazzy West Elm shower curtain.

bathroom - finished

If I would have just dealt with the issue when it first appeared, we probably could have replaced a much smaller area of drywall instead of ripping out a huge hole and scraping along the entire top and side of the shower insert. We also got really lucky that a ton of mold wasn’t inside the wall when we opened it up.

Learn from my mistakes, don’t ignore bathroom leaking issues!

We were without a master bathroom shower for about a week and Jack was NOT pleased that our stuff was junking up his bathtub. He even told me that “Momma really needs to clean” a couple times. So yeah, that’s always nice.

Am I the only one who thought ignoring the problem was a great plan of attack? Have you ever ripped out chunks of a wall with your bare hands? Do you have a Superdad? If so feel free to share adorable dad stories in the comments so I can get all teary-eyed and go “Awww!”


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13 thoughts on “A Bathroom Mini Disaster: Ignoring it Didn’t Work”

  1. Similar thing happened to me last year before the fire. Plaster started to bubble and when my Super opened up the wall they realized that it was the drain of the tub in the apartment above me. They ended up having to rip out part of the plaster on my ceiling above my shower, half the wall where my shower head was, pull out the other dude’s tub to fix it, re-tile part of his bathroom and then seal me back up. Because it had to be done in stages it took like 3 weeks.


    1. Ugh, your experience sounds terrible and it’s true that it always looks a lot worse before it gets better! Silver Lining: It was your landlord’s problem and you didn’t have to pay for it! =)

  2. GO SUPER DAD!!! That’s awesome. I love that this resulted in you repainting your entire bathroom a completely different color. I love the grey with the shower curtain 🙂

    1. Thanks Jessy – Normally I would have just repainted the area that was spackled, but the bathroom was painted by the previous owners and there wasn’t any leftover paint left behind. Extra kitchen paint to the rescue! I like this color better anyways. =)

  3. We didn’t have a behind-the-wall leak (thank God!) but our faucet had a major drip. My father-in-law saved the day (and saved us from a full bathroom remodel) by installing shut off valves on the water going to the tub. I am not looking forward to our eventual necessary bathroom gut job…

  4. About a month after I bought my house I noticed that the plumbing was making weird noises and the toilets would gurgle. I ignored it for a month. Then my boyfriend went to the basement for some random reason (I avoid the basement – it’s unfinished, creepy, and only accessible from outside the house). He came back to tell me there was a foot of water in my basement. When the plumber came out he explained it wasn’t water – it was SEWAGE. The sewage line outside was blocked with tree roots so it had been flowing back into the basement, for two months. I was 8 months pregnant and FREAKING out. Now I am hyper vigilant, and I still hate the basement.

  5. I had a similar thing happen in my bathroom. We had less wet drywall (that’s weird to type) than you did, but we did have to rip it out and do the same repair. We put in a metal mesh and spackled over it. Then I bought mulit-colored slate tiles and put them around the entire top of my shower insert.

    My Daddy was a super Dad. He helped me fix everything and taught me as he did it. We built a bench in my kitchen by window that has storage underneath, we installed a chair rail in my son’s room, we installed ceiling fans in three rooms of my house. He taught me to do for myself. He passed away at the end of January and I can’t tell you how very much I miss him.

  6. I was quite careless and often ignore these minor problems due to budget constraints. But soon realized ignoring these problems will not save money, but it will add up to the repair cost.

  7. I had that exact same issue happen in my old college apartment! Unfortunately our landlord was so slow about hiring a plumber to come out and look at it. They had to rip the entire shower apart to replace all of the drywall!

  8. Ignoring a problem, especially a leaking problem, will just cause more trouble later on. I’ve had plenty of experience with leaving a problem and waiting for it to get better, only for it to get much worse. I’m glad that there wasn’t mod built up; that shower leak could have been a lot worse than it was. I’m glad you got everything fixed up, and thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. I had that identical issue happen in my old school flat! Lamentably our proprietor was so moderate about procuring a handyman to turn out and take a gander at it. They needed to tear the whole shower separated to supplant the greater part of the drywall!

  10. Hi Joules,

    I really appreciate that you have shared your problem with us.

    Actually, if we ignore the problem then it will result into a disaster. I think one of the hardest things to do is pull out mold, mildew and gunk from in between the tiles in the bathroom.

    I found black mould in my bathroom today and I’ve been doing a ton of research. I didn’t know if it was safe to remove myself or if I should hire professionals. Then I hired mold removal company and now I feel free..

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