November 18, 2008
Ever since I moved to the new place I've been bothered by a dripping faucet in the sink. Such things are common and easy to fix, so I've had it on my mind to do it for weeks. There was a problem with my dishwasher, so the condo owner and her boyfriend came to work on it, both armed with information they had gotten from the Internet.
I should have been somewhat leary, because what they learned didn't really help and she ended up having to buy a new dishwasher for the place. But the idea of learning simple tasks from the Internet intrigued me and I Googled "fix leaky faucet." There were a number of places to go and I found this one which featured an attractive, upbeat lad named Ian who walked me throught the process step by step, ending with the phrase, "Now you're golden."
Over the weeks I began studying his little video. It was so easy. I even had those tools. I tried some of the steps, and found that the old wrench and pliers I had were rusty, not the size I needed, and useless. I bought new ones. I bought a box of all-purpose washers. They weren't the right size for anything. I bought a box of assorted o-rings. They were all sizes, but no two alike, so I bought a second box in case I would need to fix both faucets. I walked myself through the process several times, and nothing seemed to be quite right. I hoped I wouldn't have to replace the "Cold" faucet because I couldn't screw that one off.
Today was the day. I had bought some pipe joint compound which seemed to be the final step in assuring I'd be golden.
I brought a couple of towels into the sink area where I would be working, as Ian had instructed me to. I set out all my tools, taping off those that Ian said to so as not to damage the threads of the screws. He didn't mention taping might make the tools less efficient--in fact, he hadn't mentioned that anything could go wrong.
First off, I turned off the water valves tight. Then I removed the one faucet I had learned in my practice sessions that I could. Disaster. Thinking I was turning the water valves off I was actually turning them on full force! The kitchen was pretty well flooded by the time I got down under the cabinet to turn both valves in the other direction. Luckily I had lots of towels in a bag to give to Goodwill, so I mopped as I went.
When you get the faucet off, its bare bones don't look like those of Ian's faucet. The new washers and o-rings didn't seem to go anywhere, and pieces of the little faucet skeleton were everywhere, none fitting where I had thought it would. I fiddled and fussed and could not get the joint compound tube open. I tried a nail. I called a friend in Alabama who said just to break into the tube and throw the thing away when I was finished. I did that. This joint compound also didn't look like Ian's, which came in a tube too, and looked like spackle or white grout. Had I gotten the wrong kind of joint compound? Mine was runny and grey-green. At last I managed to smear some on the faucet joint, but I didn't make a nice firm seal as Ian had promised.
But I got it all back in place and turned on the water. It spewed from the faucet without my turning it on, and would only turn off by using the valve under the sink. I'm sure I did everything right. It would have been easier to have called the landlady, which I must do now anyway. She and her fiancé will simply watch Ian and come over and fix the faucet or maybe she'll send a plumber which is what I really need.
Look, nobody is good at everything, I tell myself. If Ian has a blog, I'll bet somebody else writes it.