M. Giant's
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010  

Plumbing: The Depths

We had a slow drip in our bathroom faucet, and I didn't want water leaking uselessly down the drain the whole time we're going to be out of town. That's like five dollars' worth of water!

So I took the faucet apart. It's got one handle, which means you change a cartridge instead of a washer. I wanted to take the cartridge out and bring it to the hardware store so they could help me find a new one, but it was stuck. Wouldn't come out no matter what I did. Pulling on it with the pliers only brought the entire vanity up off the floor. So I put it back together. What's a little drip, after all?

A little drip is what I wished it would have gone back to, instead of turning into a steady stream. I'd reached the Point Of No Return. So I took the pieces I could get off and brought those in to the hardware store, where I planned to throw myself on their mercy.

The bad news was that they have a very limited selection of replacement faucet cartridges, but that was also good news, because it reduced my chances of getting the wrong one to 50/50.

I got home with it, and for once in my life the toast had landed butter-side-up; it fit! Well, after I pried off one little piece of it, that is. It even came with a little tool that helped me pry the old one out. I don't know how much of the item's $25.00 purchase price was represented by that little hunk of molded plastic, but in the practical sense it might as well have been all of it., because without that the old cartridge would still be in there, letting water flow down the drain at the rate of five dollars per hour.

On the downside, I had also discovered that something under the sink was leaking, and had been doing so for an indefinite period of time. Now, I think pedestal sinks are almost stupid enough to make me break my rule against using the word retarded, because why give up a whole cubic yard of bathroom storage for nothing? Well, for a minute there, I thought that maybe having nothing under the sink at all was better than having a bunch of stuff that had gotten damp and gross. But then Trash threw all the damp and gross stuff away, so when it came time to put back what was left, I had room to make it neat and organized. Suck it, pedestal sinks!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First I had to find the under-sink leak. And, ideally, stop it. At first I thought it was the drainpipe, but then I realized the drips were coming from above it. The shut-off valve? No, the only problem with that is that I couldn't turn the handle without scratching my hand on the sharp part of the drain mechanism, which resulted in leakage, but not of water. Looked like it was coming from where the water lines disappear into the underside of the sink in a mass of old tan goo.

So back to the hardware store to get some new tan goo, and I flatter myself that they were glad to hear that the cartridge I'd bought had worked. So did the tan goo, as it turned out, because even the combination of my poor plumbing skills and the fact that to apply it I had to contort myself into a shape resembling the Greek letter sigma, the leaks quit leaking.

And I know this, because I turned the water on and off repeatedly to make sure nothing was dripping. Sure enough, the bottom of the vanity remained bone-dry even after a full five seconds.

So with just $27.50 in parts and materials, a couple bucks' worth of water to test-run through the pipes, the cost of the flashlight I damaged and all the under-sink crap we had to throw away, some minor blood loss, and three hours of my life, I easily saved what will work out in the long term to be mid-single figures. Being a DIYer is awesome.

posted by M. Giant 5:30 AM 3 comments


DIY accomplishment! I've also always considered pedestal sinks a charming retro waste of perfectly good storage space. Now that I have one I'm enjoying the spartan whiteness...

By Blogger Nimble, at June 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM  

Nice post.

Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this topic so thoroughly. I look forward to future post.

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By Blogger Unknown, at July 15, 2010 at 8:54 AM  

Job well done. Even though it seems hard you did it by yourself.

By Anonymous plumbing, at April 22, 2011 at 11:12 PM  

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