Plumbing Headaches

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14 Nov Plumbing Headaches

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. My weak little wrists and bad thumb could not budge the shut-off valve under the sink.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

No Comments
  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:08h, 14 November Reply

    Dear Charmain,
    Oh my gosh. This was timely. My tap is dripping, again!! Like you, ignoring the problem did not make it stop. The drips in the ensuite, audible from our bed, got blamed for too many nocturnal WC trips – so we took action. Our home done repair was not successful (couldn’t find the washers as there were none). We called a friend and his repair job lasted two days. Now I am inspired to get a pro.
    Cheers,
    Robin

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:08h, 14 November Reply

    Dear Charmain,
    Oh my gosh. This was timely. My tap is dripping, again!! Like you, ignoring the problem did not make it stop. The drips in the ensuite, audible from our bed, got blamed for too many nocturnal WC trips – so we took action. Our home done repair was not successful (couldn’t find the washers as there were none). We called a friend and his repair job lasted two days. Now I am inspired to get a pro.
    Cheers,
    Robin

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 16:19h, 14 November Reply

    Robin, I could send Andrew over with his hockey helmet and jock. Around here, plumbing is a full-contact sport.

    We replaced the entire unit and it works fine. What really scares me is the soft water faucet is badly corroded and will need replacing soon. Wanna bet it dies Christmas Eve?

    The big question is, when it gives up the ghost, do we call a plumber or attempt the fix ourselves and sell tickets?

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 16:19h, 14 November Reply

    Robin, I could send Andrew over with his hockey helmet and jock. Around here, plumbing is a full-contact sport.

    We replaced the entire unit and it works fine. What really scares me is the soft water faucet is badly corroded and will need replacing soon. Wanna bet it dies Christmas Eve?

    The big question is, when it gives up the ghost, do we call a plumber or attempt the fix ourselves and sell tickets?

  • cheryl
    Posted at 16:28h, 14 November Reply

    This gave me a good, hard belly laugh. The image of you under that sink, the cats locked in the bathroom, your husband conked upside the head, and useless tools splayed all around is priceless. I hope you were giggling at yourself while folded up under the sink, because it really is a very funny image.

    Consider submitting this somewhere as an essay if you haven’t already done so.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 16:28h, 14 November Reply

    This gave me a good, hard belly laugh. The image of you under that sink, the cats locked in the bathroom, your husband conked upside the head, and useless tools splayed all around is priceless. I hope you were giggling at yourself while folded up under the sink, because it really is a very funny image.

    Consider submitting this somewhere as an essay if you haven’t already done so.

  • Cam Guthrie
    Posted at 17:34h, 14 November Reply

    So funny. What a great story!
    Cam Guthrie
    http://www.camguthrie.ca

  • Cam Guthrie
    Posted at 17:34h, 14 November Reply

    So funny. What a great story!
    Cam Guthrie
    http://www.camguthrie.ca

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 17:43h, 14 November Reply

    Yikes! What an ordeal! Glad to hear you learned to trust the professionals – you can’t be good at everything you know!

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 17:43h, 14 November Reply

    Yikes! What an ordeal! Glad to hear you learned to trust the professionals – you can’t be good at everything you know!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 18:01h, 14 November Reply

    Cheryl, you sum up the situation perfectly. We laughed after, but at the time it was pretty tense. At one point we were sure we’d be without water for the whole weekend.

    Glad you were amused, Cam. If I can’t serve up a recipe I might as well serve as a warning to others.

    Dana, it keeps me humble. Very, very humble. :-)

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 18:01h, 14 November Reply

    Cheryl, you sum up the situation perfectly. We laughed after, but at the time it was pretty tense. At one point we were sure we’d be without water for the whole weekend.

    Glad you were amused, Cam. If I can’t serve up a recipe I might as well serve as a warning to others.

    Dana, it keeps me humble. Very, very humble. :-)

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 18:56h, 14 November Reply

    Charmain,
    If you wanted your plumbing to be green, you should have called a GreenPlumber!
    http://www.greenplumbersusa.com/consumers/find-greenplumber

    My wife and I tried to install one of those new low flush toilets ourselves last week, but we finally gave up after doing more damage than good!

    Love your stories!
    Josh
    Sacramento, CA

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 18:56h, 14 November Reply

    Charmain,
    If you wanted your plumbing to be green, you should have called a GreenPlumber!
    http://www.greenplumbersusa.com/consumers/find-greenplumber

    My wife and I tried to install one of those new low flush toilets ourselves last week, but we finally gave up after doing more damage than good!

    Love your stories!
    Josh
    Sacramento, CA

  • debbie
    Posted at 13:54h, 15 November Reply

    OMG Charmian, this is hillarious! (by #4 I had to stop reading and make a mad dash to the washroom). But, is Andrew O.K. I can’t image an open Swiss Army knife falling on his head. Did he get cut? Please, do not send the poor guy over to your sisters. Tell her to call Jim L. Plumbing…they do a good job.

  • debbie
    Posted at 13:54h, 15 November Reply

    OMG Charmian, this is hillarious! (by #4 I had to stop reading and make a mad dash to the washroom). But, is Andrew O.K. I can’t image an open Swiss Army knife falling on his head. Did he get cut? Please, do not send the poor guy over to your sisters. Tell her to call Jim L. Plumbing…they do a good job.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:51h, 15 November Reply

    Debbie, there is no way on earth my sister would allow Andrew to do any plumbing at her place. She knows better.

    By some minor miracle, Andrew wasn’t cut by the knife. The dull side must have grazed him but he played the injury for all it was worth. I am NEVER going to live this one down.

    Thanks for your concern.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:51h, 15 November Reply

    Debbie, there is no way on earth my sister would allow Andrew to do any plumbing at her place. She knows better.

    By some minor miracle, Andrew wasn’t cut by the knife. The dull side must have grazed him but he played the injury for all it was worth. I am NEVER going to live this one down.

    Thanks for your concern.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 14:03h, 17 November Reply

    “I set the open knife on the counter…” This was as good as the music in Jaws for foreshadowing. :)

    I’m glad Andrew is okay. And that you now have a new, non-leaking faucet. …And I can’t help but ask: Did you take that photo??? :)

    Carolyn

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 14:03h, 17 November Reply

    “I set the open knife on the counter…” This was as good as the music in Jaws for foreshadowing. :)

    I’m glad Andrew is okay. And that you now have a new, non-leaking faucet. …And I can’t help but ask: Did you take that photo??? :)

    Carolyn

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