Sunday, December 3, 2006

How to Install a Faucet

Oh, the plans of mice and men... and women. I missed church this morning. We were up until after midnight trying to install sink/new faucet. My toothbrush was lying in a chair somewhere in the living room when I had to go find it to brush my teeth!

There is a story here, you know, that answer all the questions and puzzled looks you all have on your face right now.

Why so late putting in a faucet? Why a sink for a faucet? Why in a chair?

You see, somewhere in a mid-sized town in Indiana lives a family who do a lot of their own repair and remodeling on their house. There lives a woman and two sons, one daughter-in-law and one adorable grandchild (photos are in albums)  in this modest ranch on a wedged- shaped lot near the railroad. Usually, it is the woman who leads on repairs with a whip at hand.

In this house, there are a bath and a half. Everyone bathes in the full bath. But the half bath belongs to the woman and she uses the full bath to . . . well, bathe. The sons also use the half bath for brushing teeth and other personal business.

For some time now the faucet has had a drip. The woman has commented on this and on the inching up of the water bill. In recent weeks, an attempt was made to replace the washer but apparently washers for this particular, relatively inexpensive Wal-mart faucet don't exist. (This is from the man of the house, you understand and may have no basis in fact.) So, it was reasoned that a new faucet was in order.

But it didn't happen.

For weeks.

Suddenly, the woman notices that, with the attempted repair, the drip is now a trickle and as this is the hot water side the water bill is now expected to become a six figure digit. The woman becomes more vocal but still doesn't use the whip. She does, however, point out how much this is going to actually cost the males in the house in the long run.

Numerous attempts were made to shut off the water at the valves under the sink. The woman and man have installed shut off valves all over the house with each plumbing job because when they moved in there were NONE! However, time has worked its vicious way with the knobs on said valves. In addition, the cabinet under this sink is small and they are in the back corner of the cabinet and difficult to reach so that a wrench can't be used. So, the water had to stay on.

And so it ran.

A plan was made to fix this issue with a brand new faucet on December 2, 2006. The day arrived. The woman even took the spouse, one son, her daughter-in-law and grandchild to lunch at their favorite Mexican restaurant. She went and bought a faucet but at Lowe's this time. However, it was nearly 6 by the time all the necessary running of Saturday was done. But that was plenty of time to install a simple faucet, right?

The sink in this bathroom was installed in the countertop from the bottom with clamps holding it level with the counter top. This is a most inefficient method to install a cast iron porcelain covered sink, by the way. They are very heavy, although this particular sink was very small, say a gallon and a half capacity. The area under it was extremely small and the bathroom itself is about the size of a 4x4 closet. However, the family actually has that special wrench to remove faucets from tight places.

The project begins. . . at 8:00 p.m.

The spouse begins to remove the clamps. Wife ask why? Obviously, spouse says, so I can put in the faucet. Wife says, "If you remove the clamps before you remove the plumbing, the sink will fall and you won't be able to do anything." After much arguing and waving of the whip, spouse relents. Wife points out that all plumbing work on this sink in the last 20 years has required removal of counter top with the sink attached. Spouse then relents amid vocal protest but with eyes on the whip.

Wife and spouse remove counter/sink. . . after he has shut off all water and disconnected all water lines and drains. Wife says, "I'm sick of that stupid sink. Every time we have to do anything in here we have to take the whole thing out." Faucet was replaced in the past, twice. And the weight of the sink, with the weight of the counter, is that of spouse. Or thereabouts. And this couple is not getting younger or stronger.

She eyes the cabinet and uses her personal measuring tape. She says, "Get the sink that is on the shelf in the garage." Remember, this is a family who does their own remodeling. They never discard any item that is still useful and may potentially be needed. There are two perfectly good bathroom sinks in the garage. One was purchased with a used cabinet and since it is an iron porcelain covered sink in great condition, it was kept. The other is a ceramic sink that doesn't need a counter and that was removed when a new cabinet was needed in the full bath and the old sink would not fit the cabinet. Fortunately, a lovely PLASTIC sink came with the new cabinet! We will not go over that particular repair project. Wife was NOT happy replacing a lovely ceramic sink with a plastic sink. However, she always has her eye on a bargain and saw the day when she would put the lovely ceramic sink in her bathroom and remove the ugly PINK mutation installed in her bathroom by some misguided soul in the past life of the house. So, it went to a safe place in the garage.

The lovely sink was brought out and cleaned up and set on the cabinet. The fit is just a little tight but by knocking out two back braces it dropped in. Yes, there is still support for the ratty old cabinet. We know what we are doing. Sink is removed and faucet put on and the flexible waterlines put on (another touch we have added everywhere). Then ceramic sink is placed in the cabinet. It is now after 11:00 p.m.

Spouse begins to connect water lines and a sound is heard from the nether regions. It sounds like, "Hoses are too short."

I hate it when that happens.

The ceramic sink is thicker than the counter top and bigger than the other sink so the water lines are about two inches too short. A conference is held.

Lowe's is closed. As are all plumbing stores. Spouse says, "I will have to go to Wal-mart."

Wife looks at daughter-in-law and says, "This is how every project goes in this house. Now you know why we hate starting them."

It was noted that spouse will take an inordinate amount of time to search for needed waterline and the family had not had a meal since 2 p.m. Number 2 son (#1 has been out for the evening) is convinced to go with spouse. He will drive spouse to Wal-mart and drop him off. #2 will then go purchase sustenance for the family at Sonic and then pick up spouse on the way back. It actually went smoothly. Food was not stone cold.

Unfortunately, Walmart did not have longer hoses.

It is now midnight. Family are fed but there is no water to bathe. They can't turn the water back on because they can't cap off the supply lines and the hot and cold valves don't work. Hot water valve knob is broken and post is rounded off. And you can't get a wrench back to it. Spouse goes back to Wal-mart to get something to cap the lines. He comes back with two plain brass faucets. There are no caps at Wal-mart. Wife doesn't think it occurred to him to buy valves to replace the old ones. She doesn't mention it because by now, she is not feeling very good and to do so would simply make everyone grumpy.

Spouse connects water lines to brass fixtures and water is shut off. However, wife's toothbrush is sitting in a chair in the living room along with everything else that was on the counter before it's demise. Ceramic sink is sitting in the living room floor with a new faucet attached. And then it was noted that the cold water hose was leaking. A bucket was located and place with hose hanging in it for the night.

Every toilet in the house has been without water for over four hours. . .two toilets, five people. You can do the math here. The family manages to get all the bathrooms functional and take their baths.

It is now approximately 3:00 a.m. and wife finally heads to bed. Just before she turn in she checks the leaking cold water hose. She studies the bucket, and check behind the drain. She sees the cold water shut off valve still has a knob. It is located directly behind the drain pipe and is nearly impossible to reach with a sink installed. Wife reaches down and turns the knob. The water shuts off. Leak fixed. She slept well.

Sunday morning dawned but no one saw it. Spouse is on his way to Lowe's for a longer hose.

I hate it when that happens.


  1. Oh my! Sounds like our house when we embark on a do-it-yourself project! Blessings all around!

  2. Ahhh, yes. My Beloved Husband and son 'fix' everything around our homes. My OKsil just this weekend was unable to take her shower in the 'fixed' guest shower that BH, Son and OHbil 'fixed' several separate times in the past. However, I was unable to find the humor that you've displayed. The whip didn't work at all. I'm not certain if nitroglycerine will work next time - but I'm gonna try it!

  3. This happened in 2006, three years before Jerry died. It is things like this that I have to hang onto. And it wasn't funny at the time.