14 Nov Plumbing Headaches
Our kitchen faucet began to drip a few weeks ago. Just a drop or two. No big deal. Since Andrew and I are not particularly good at household maintenance tasks, we chose to ignore the situation and see if it would go away on its own. Attitudes like this make plumbers rich.
When the output increased, we set a 4-litre jug in the sink to catch the drips. We’d then use the water for coffee or tea. Clever and environmentally friendly. We were green — in more ways than one.
Half a jug one day, a full jug a few days later. Soon we were trying to responsibly dispose of three jugs every 24 hours. At this point we decided it was time to replace the washer. How hard could that be?
For a good hour we tried to locate the washer. No part of the faucet would disconnect. In a final, far-fetched attempt to disassemble the unit, we removed the tap handle with a Swiss Army knife. Nothing.
I set the open knife on the counter, and we headed to the hardware store to buy a whole new faucet. Since they had only one gooseneck model in stock, the decision was easy. We took this as a sign that we were meant to do the plumbing ourselves.
Upon reflection, there were many more signs indicating we should NOT have done the plumbing ourselves. For example:
- I, the one with weak wrists and a bad thumb, was the only person small enough to crawl under our tiny sink and maneuver amidst the domineering plastic U-tube and forest of copper pipes.
- Only after I had firmly wedged myself between the domineering plastic U-tube and forest of copper pipes did we learn that our wrenches were the wrong size, wouldn’t grip or both.
- My weak little wrists and bad thumb could not budge the shut-off valve under the sink.
- When Andrew sat on the floor and tried to budge the seized valve, somehow the Swiss Army knife fell on his head. I’d like to blame the cats, but they were locked in the bathroom after “helping” us a few too many times.
- Despite cutting off the water supply to the entire house, the pipe we’d disconnected continued to leak, creating small ponds under the sink. (By this time, I was back under the sink, too.)
- The installation instructions were a wordless, grainy, 4th-generation photocopy that, if followed, leave a good half-inch between the faucet base and the sink.
- We were stupid enough to follow the instructions, and in doing so proved you cannot use a faucet that teeters a good half-inch above the sink to which it’s supposed to be anchored.
Anyone with the right tools and some know-how would have finished the job in 15 minutes. But us? Two hours and a head injury later, we had water.
Are we proud? Disproportionately. Will we attempt plumbing again? Not without head gear.
Photo © by Randy Son of Robert. Published under a Creative Commons License.