Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Joe the Plumber I'm Not

My days now generally fall into a set routine. I sleep in to the previously unheard of when I had a job time of seven and after breakfast, spend some time in the garage trying to get things hung up, put away and organized. That usually lasts for only an hour or two before the heat drives me back inside to spend the rest of the day tackling a huge list of little fix-it projects that I have.

This past Saturday, I made my way down the list to the kitchen sink. When we bought this house, there was a water stain in the room downstairs we are calling the office. It was right below the upstairs kitchen sink and when my wife inspected the cabinet underneath, we could see why. Someone along the line had let a leak go for so long, that it had rotted out the bottom of the cabinet to where it had collapsed. Their fix had been to cut another board to throw over the rotted board.

I cut out all the rotted wood that I could get too with my jigsaw and rebuilt up the base and cut out a new 'floor' for the cabinet. Just as I screwed in the last screw, I noticed a wet spot on my new woodwork. After some inspection, I saw that the metal flexible hose for the spraying attachment must have a leak somewhere along the line and it was time for a new faucet.

Fortunately and as you will also see, unfortunately, the town we live in has one of those big box stores for stuff like that and about forty minutes later I was home with a new faucet. I didn't have many to choose from since I have only a single hole instead of the more standard three holes found in sinks. But the one I bought was one that I really liked anyway. After much contorting and struggling to get myself wedged head first under the garbage disposal and various other piping, I got the new faucet installed in the holes and then realized that I needed a fitting to connect the new plumbing to my existing plumbing.

Assuming (making an ass of me) it was standard pipe threads, I drove to the local hardware store, about halfway between home and the big box store, and soon had three fittings to get me from the small size to my larger existing size. It didn't work. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the faucet had different threads so I went back to the local hardware store. After much head scratching, puzzling, and asking various people, they finally admitted defeat. So I drove to the box store where I had bought the faucet and after much struggle, finally found someone who knew something about plumbing and fittings. He determined that I had flare threads and sent me on my way with another $15 worth of fittings. I once again went home only to find out that they wouldn't work either.

By this time I had invested almost six hours of time struggling beneath a sink in a contorted position or pondering huge racks of fittings in plastic bags arranged with little rhyme or reason. I had enough and it was getting close to closing time. So I uninstalled the sink faucet, packaged it up along with all the fittings and returned them. Once again, I found myself pondering the meager selection of single hole faucets and finally made the determination that I liked the one I had the best if only I could find the correct fitting. So I did what I probably wasn't supposed to do. I grabbed another brand new box, cut it open right there in the store, extracted the faucet with the weird fittings and walked clear across the store to the pipe fittings department and after much searching, finally found the illusive fitting I had wasted all day looking for. For reference, it was a compression thread without the ferrule or nut.

Back home, I installed the faucet for the second time and soon had everything hooked up. I turned it on only to find out that it leaked. I undid, retaped, and retightened and fixed the leak. I dried up everything and put a paper towel under the sink as I ran it awhile to verify that I didn't have a slow leak. When I looked back under the sink I saw one little wet spot on the paper towel. After much inspection, I saw that the gate valve that was probably original to the house and which I had opened and closed numerous times throughout the day had a slow leak where the stem meets the body. By then I was beat, the stores were closed and I don't have the tools or hardware to fix it. So I did the only thing I could do, I put a container under the valve to catch the leaks. I just have to remember to empty it now and then until I can get it fixed but that is for another day.

9 comments:

Murf said...

See...I told you that you should get a job at a hardware store. ;-)

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ah, the old catch container under the leak fix... you sure you're not Filipino? heheh...

warren said...

Hot water on the left and you-know-what runs down hill...that's all you need to know about plumbing!

Ron said...

In our old house, I frequently experienced such fun. Nowadays, I'm a big fan of pex. The less joints and fittings, the better.

Vince said...

Those connectors are a pest. They are designed for fitting by the plumbers helper. And when will they make taps long enough that the neck extends 'below' the sink.

geri said...

You have the patience of a saint.

Ed said...

Murf - But I don't know enough to satisfy people like me and they are the toughest customers!

Phil - That explains why the wife wasn't too concerned when I did that!

Warren - If only that were the case, I would be a master plumber.

Ron - I just worry about the longevity of PEX. But judging from their fittings section compared to all the rest, it is much simpler for sure.

Vince - As they say, the devil is in the details and that is especially true with plumbing.

Geri - Saint Ed, I like that!

sage said...

Joe the Plumber you're not, and here thought you were going to say you keep your pants up when bent under counter...

Ed said...

Sage - Lets just say that I can understand why plumbers have that problem and I have to buckle the belt a notch tighter to prevent such social errors from happening.