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February 20, 2013 8:03 PM   Subscribe

I somehow cannot figure out how to make the water switch from bath to shower in the place I'm housesitting. Please help me determine what incredibly obvious thing I'm missing.

I... don't know what I'm missing. Photos here: drain, faucet, lever; shower head. I can turn the water on (moving the lever thing counterclockwise, pretty straightforward), but it only has a 90 degree range of motion: left turns water on, right turns water off. The shower head itself has multiple options for changing the spray, but none of them make it turn on and off.

Things I've tried:
toggling the switch below the faucet
prodding around the faucet itself
various settings on the shower head
twirling, pulling, pushing all that can be twirled, pulled or pushed
standing back and wondering why I'm such an idiot (the answer is that I haven't showered in a while and that is essential to my mental functioning.)

So, any suggestions? I think I've pushed all the things that can be pushed, and pulled all the pullable things. What is the obvious thing I'm missing?
posted by c'mon sea legs to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This may sound weird, but is there a ring around the faucet where the water comes out? Try pulling it down. I had a shower like that once and it looks like that may be similar.
posted by apricot at 8:05 PM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Reach down where the water comes out and pull down.
posted by bricoleur at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2013

I feel for you. I was wondering if there is anything on the wall between the faucet picture and the showerhead. Our faucet looks very similar, and to get the shower to go, there is a button on the wall (not obviously connected to the faucet) that you push.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:06 PM on February 20, 2013

Is there a brand stamped on any of these components? Maybe you can find a manual online?
posted by ignignokt at 8:07 PM on February 20, 2013

Response by poster: AH! Apricot (and bricoleur) got it in one. Thank you!
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:07 PM on February 20, 2013

A clearer shot of the round metal plate mounted inside the tub (the switch below the faucet) would be awesome.

But basically what's behind there is a long metal rod that's probably linked loosely to another long metal rod which, in turn, moves the plug in and out of place that redirects the water to the shower head.

Unscrew the metal plate and gently remove the guts. They will likely be jangly, and furthermore it's likely that the coupling between the two long metal rods has come uncoupled. You should be able to fish both of them out, re-link them, and then (gently) feed them back down into the hole. Then the switch should work.
posted by carsonb at 8:08 PM on February 20, 2013

Lever at the bottom is probably for the drain stopper. That's exactly how my bathroom is set up.
posted by saveyoursanity at 8:24 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, I had one just like this at my last place. Never was anyone able to figure it out unless they were instructed beforehand.
posted by greta simone at 8:34 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

We had one like this in a hotel once and had to call down to the front desk to get them to tell us what to do! Glad you figured it out!
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:43 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I laughed when I read this, given that I could not figure out how to solve precisely the same problem in a hotel a few years ago. I had to call the front desk as well, and was supplied with precisely the same solution.
posted by Mr. Justice at 8:54 PM on February 20, 2013

Had this _exact_ same dilemma when we moved into our house a few years back. I won't admit how long it took us to figure it out. Nor that I hadn't heard of Mefi back then. Hope you had a great shower.
posted by Kalatraz at 9:21 PM on February 20, 2013

I was once checking into a hotel and the clerk had an unattached faucet behind the desk upon which he demonstrated the method, pretty obviously to every incoming customer. Great design...
posted by j.edwards at 9:40 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

My in-laws have this faucet. Boy did I feel like an idiot when I had to ask how to take a shower the first time I met them...
posted by charmcityblues at 9:57 PM on February 20, 2013

Yup, same faucet. My husband and I suffered for several Weeks until my dad came over and showed us. We're thirty, overeducated, etc. classic, no? ;-)
posted by jrobin276 at 10:19 PM on February 20, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all! I'm grateful for both the advice and the stories of not being able to figure it out (because, seriously, I don't think I would have without AskMe).
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:41 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

LOL. My friends have this type of fixture in their house. It turns out that the first time I stayed with them I had to be somewhere at an unreasonably early hour. I was terribly embarrassed to have to put my clothes back on and wake someone up to say how the hell do you work your shower?!!?!?!
posted by desuetude at 10:58 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our guest bath has that kind of shower. When we have new houseguests, I try to remember to explain it to them because otherwise either they flounder for ages before they figure it out or they end up stomping out annoyed to get a lesson. It catches people all the time. I'd estimate that 80% of people get stumped by it.
posted by Lame_username at 11:16 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

There's a section in The Design of Everyday Things about the user interface of bath fittings. You are not the first or last person to be flummoxed by a shower. Before I read this book I got embarrassed that I couldn't work a shower. After reading it, I'm righteously indignant that the designer couldn't make a shower that was intuitive enough to use without a manual.
posted by workerant at 5:24 AM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

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