Sunday, September 7, 2003

I Are a Plumber

Our hallway bathroom sink has been developing a steadily worsening drip, until it got to the point that I was twiddling the knob to try to reduce the trickle to a drip. I'd come into the bathroom to use it at night and hear a sinister wheeze, like a tracheotomy patient hiding in a porcelain bucket. About that time I'd had enough.

I started working up to suggesting we call a plumber, as I hate, hate handyman jobs with a passion. But Jean asked a couple questions, I guess directed at fully informing the hypothetical plumber, and one thing led to another, and she ended up emailing her dad for hints on how to repair a leaky faucet.

I actually tried taking the faucet apart following the general directions he sent back, and eventually emerged with a valve affair that channelled the water to the faucet. But I couldn't for the life of me see how it could be causing a drip or decaying in any way similar to that described by Jean's dad.

So I took the whole affair to the hardware store, only they were closed. Now my stubbornness gene kicked in, and I drove to Home Depot to see if I could find a replacement there. They had maybe five valves that looked similar enough to mine that they might do.

I waited around to talk to somebody from their plumbing department, and he pointed out that there was a rubber gasket and spring in each of the blister packages, that wasn't in my collection of parts. I bought one he recommended, and drove home. After a bit of fiddling, I discovered that there was such a spring/gasket in the faucet, just not readily apparent.

I pried it out, eased the new ones in, replaced the valve, and put the whole thing back together. The steady trickle was gone! After some careful watching, I noticed that there was still a drip, just much smaller and slower. Turning off the cold water supply made it go away. Darn, they were both leaking, with the hot water faucet making the majority of the racket.

Saturday after grocering, we stopped at True Value Hardware, and I was feeling confident enough to buy just the spring/gasket replacement, rather than the entire valve. And it worked! Sunday morning, the sink was bone dry, proof that the leak was gone, or so slow that evaporation outpaced it.

If this seems like a long and tedious tale of something trivial, bear in mind that I'm not the handy type. Besides learning how to do this simple task, I also learned one more thing. Some items at True Value cost more than twice what they do at Home Depot. Still, True Value is closer to home by ten minutes, so I'll still give 'em my business out of laziness.

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