Monday, March 10, 2014

Faucet, day two

I heard Mom come in before I was even out of bed (damn you, time change).  After eating breakfast (I LEARNED MY LESSON), we stared at the bathroom sink.

"Lemme see if I can get the valves shut off" says she.

Nope.  They won't turn.  What if we hit them a bit with a wrench?  Nope, that didn't work either.

Maybe we wrap them in paper towels soaked in vinegar?  Loosen up the calcium deposits?

Nope.  Okay, I go shut off the water to the whole house.

For the next hour, all I see is my mother's bottom half lying on my bathroom floor.  Her top half is IN the cabinet, and there is swearing and clanging.

Upon emerging, she is wet, dirty, and holding the line that runs from the wall to the faucet.  Looks like we're replacing those, too.

We go to Home Depot.  We corner some poor plumbing department guy and grill him for information.  We buy shutoff valves, and the little flexy hoses, and a new faucet, and plumber's putty.

Upon returning, we discover that we cannot get the old faucet OUT.  Nor can we get the little stopper thing out of the drain hole, and the hoses we bought are too long, and the shutoff valves don't seem to fit the pipes coming out of the wall.

Back to Home Depot for some returns and exchanges.  We eat tacos so as to fortify ourselves for what is coming.

None of it works.  I text my brother.

Hey, what do you know about installing faucets?

"Everything.  Why?"

Because Mom and I are on hour 4 of this project, and we need help.

"The kids are asleep and Wife isn't home, I'll come over when she gets back."

Sink on hold, I scuttle about trying to complete chores that do not require water.  Brother arrives, looking tired like only the father of two boys under age four can look.  He stands in the bathroom, forehead furrowed (family trait), and assesses the damage.  Sighing, he scoots into the hole under the sink and begins to shuffle around.

At this point, I am useless, so I leave the sink to my brother and mother and go start shuffling furniture around in the den.  I have finished enough floor to put my hearth risers back together, and to put the bookshelves back next to the fireplace.  I grab Mom to help me move large things.

Brother moseys out of the bathroom, crushed bits of galvanized p-trap in his hand.  Well, that's new.  I guess we're replacing that, too.  He goes to Home Depot.  By the time he returns, my den looks ALMOST presentable.

Remember how I said it's an old house, and nothing is easy?  Yeah, the pipe coming out of the wall is one and a half inch.  The sink drain is one and a quarter.  Fantastic.  At least I can turn the water on in the rest of the house, even if I can't really trust the drain in my bathroom sink.  I don't care at this point, I can brush my teeth in the kitchen.

Still need to get a reducer to properly hook up the drain, but my faucet no longer drips.

As he left, Brother says "next time, save yourself the four hours and call me first?"

He didn't know about the three hours I spent the day before.

Initial problem:  Faucet drip.

Theoretical solution:  Replace washers in faucet handles.

Actual solution:  9 total hours of work, 4 trips to Home Depot, 2 women with bachelor's degrees, 1 mechanical engineer, 1 new faucet, 1 new p-trap, 2 new shutoff valves, 2 new hose hookups, 1 destroyed bathmat, and I still can't really use the sink.

But it doesn't drip anymore!


  1. Sounds not unlike my first foray into faucet repair. Except I don't have a brother, so I had to call in a professional plumber. :P Plumbing is too finicky -- don't tighten it enough, it leaks; overtighten it, it leaks -- and requires too many specialized tools.

    1. I got my pilot light lit today! By myself! I AM NOT A COMPLETE HOME MAINTENANCE FAILURE!

  2. I agree with Bane. Plumbing fixes, unless it's something simple like changing a washer or adjusting the float on a toilet, require the assistance of a good plumber. We're on a first name basis with ours. We also know his wife and kids' names. That's how often we used to see him.

    On the plus side, you did have help to move furniture. :)

    1. This WAS supposed to be something simple. >it's never something simple<

      On a brighter note, I did figure out how to re-light the pilot in my water heater. >flexing<

    2. Washers and toilet floats I'm fine with. Pilot lights of any kind scare the bejeezus out of me. I bow to your bravery and skill. :)

  3. galvanized P-traps are also crap city. we had one of those under our bathroom sink. it was promptly replaced by PVC.

    1. Did you know they make CLEAR traps now? Who on earth wants to SEE all the crap down there? >shudder<

    2. we only buy white PVC. nobody needs to see the inner workings of their plumbing systems. that's wretched.

  4. I have to agree with former speakers, besides cleaning traps and water locks I wouldn't dare try to do my own plumbing.

  5. Plumbing problems can be specially difficult with an old house like yours. A simple leak can cause so much damage because materials like the finishing or the beams that make up the frame have been subject to aging, and exposure to water may severely weaken or damage them. Good thing your brother came in and did the rest of the work. That’s a relief.

    Gregg Weir @ Capital Plumbing

  6. Looks like there’s a lot that needs to be fixed in your house then. I hope most of it are already dealt with by now, especially that problem with the sink and the faucet. It doesn’t matter if you’re living in an old house as long, as you’re assured all the facilities are working fine, especially its water and piping system. Hopefully, all those solutions you came up back then were enough to keep all your water lines running smoothly.

    Gordon Patton @ Bison Plumbing