Monday, April 1, 2013

I am a DIY "goddess"

For the past few months, our bathroom faucet has been leaking. Drip, drip, drop. One little tiny bit at a time. Barely worth looking into. I tried to get Smiley to fix it, but he deemed it too insignificant to spend a potential half afternoon fixing and said one of these weekends he would just buy a new faucet since the current one is kind of cheap anyhow. I was agreeable to that, but the drip was not. It got worse, probably as a form of protest ("how dare you suggest I'm not a leak to be contended with?!").

But there came the moment I could no longer ignore this drip. After all, every drop was probably costing us about a fraction of a fraction of a penny. And eventually it would end up costing us a penny. And from there, the sky was the limit!

Now as you all know, we keep stuff. So it didn't take me long to dig up the box that the faucet came in. I was hoping to see, I don't know, maybe a troubleshooting guide or something? The box was empty, but I noticed the installation guide on the bottom and it worried me. The installation process was shown to be three steps: open box, put top part of faucet above sink, secure bottom part under sink.

Why did this worry me? I had looked up on The Internet how to fix a faucet, and it had been intimidating. Pictures showed the various screws, washers and valves that could comprise a faucet. So this overly simplistic box picture made me wonder if the faucet was so cheap that it really couldn't be taken down into its component parts. And that made me wonder if I was going to have to go to the store and really buy a faucet. And installing a faucet seemed ten times more scary than trying to fix a mysterious leak.

So I went into the bathroom and stared down the faucet. Gave it the once-over. And there I noticed two little plastic spots on the inside of the handles. I gently pried them out and saw there was a space for an allen wrench! I could take the handles apart after all!

Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to check and see if only one side was leaking before taking everything apart. First I turned off both hot and cold water to the faucet and (of course) the leak stopped. Then I turned on the cold water. No leak. Then I turned off the cold water and turned on the hot water. Then we had a leak!

Yes, that is one of those moments that I felt proud about. (Did I mention that Silas thought I was hilarious? He was quite content to play in the hallway during this little ordeal of mine. Amazing what a change of scenery can do for a baby.) Even though I knew that anyone could have done that in no time at all, it still felt like a step in the right direction for me. I turned the water supply off again, just in case, and got all up under the sink.

It was not easy to get all up under the sink. Though that bathroom has a spacious cabinet, a spacious cabinet is still a somewhat cramped space for a human being. I looked up under the sink, shining a light, and found nothing that seemed to be useful. There was a black washer and I half heartedly gave it a twist to see if it was loose or something. (This was my method of "trial and error at work, people!) It was not loose. It felt like it probably should feel, I decided. My back cramping had nothing to do with that decision at all, I swear.

I knew I would have to remove the handle. I loaded a picture of potential handle insides onto my phone and searched around the house for the proper size allen wrench. I was surprised to find one in our bedroom window sill that was a match. Then I promptly managed to use it incorrectly. (I used the short side of the wrench which meant I had to keep pulling it out and reinserting it because the long side would hit the bathroom counter. Whoops.)

As I was unscrewing this tiny screw, I had one thought - "I need to make sure I don't drop this into the sink."

Of course the moment I gently took the screw from the handle, I dropped it into the sink. Crap. '

Then I tried to grab it before it could roll down into the drain. Of course it rolled down into the drain. I knew vaguely that the "p-trap" could catch this item and that somehow I could retrieve it, but I put that thought aside for now. I looked at the handle mechanism.

Of course it was different than the diagram I found online.

I noticed there was a screw, a larger screw, holding an orange piece together. So, logically, it made sense that I should take out this screw also. Imagine how great I felt when I found a screwdriver (also in our bedroom) that was the perfect fit. I took out that screw. I did not drop it in the sink, because it was large enough that it wouldn't have fallen down the drain.

Then I looked at the orange piece and decided to pry it up as well. At first, I wasn't really sure what I was looking at. The piece was about a half inch in diameter and fit on a metal piece that I couldn't figure out how to pry up. In fact, it was at this point that I realized that I had taken apart as much as I was able to. I didn't have the wrench needed to remove the metal bolt that held this metal piece/orange thing combination. I had reached the end of my attempt to fix this. I decided to take heart in the fact that at least Silas was still thrilled about exploring a different section of carpeting.

So I pressed the orange thing back onto the metal thing (I'm using all the highly technical terms here) and realized that this was the mechanism that decided how much water came through the faucet. So before I put the decorative handle part back on, I decided to play with it and see how it worked. I turned the hot water back on and amused myself by rotating the orange plastic piece to turn on and off the water.

And that's when I realized that when I turned the faucet off, it wasn't leaking anymore.

I looked down at the orange piece. It looked the exact same as it had before I took it off. I hadn't made any adjustments, consciously. Clearly my subconscious mind had done something amazing. I tentatively put the long screw back into the orange/metal combination. Still no leak.

I put the handle part back over everything and turned on the water. I turned it off. No leak.

I resisted squealing in joy, because the tiny screw was still stuck in the p-trap. But somehow, I had fixed the leak. And, even better, my husband got home just as this was happening, so I could share my triumphant fix (and less triumphant screw-loss). Luckily, as he is able to do this sort of thing much better than me, he removed the p-trap, retrieved the screw, and we replaced that together.

Silas started to fuss at this point, presumably because he realized that just like the carpet in the living room and the bedroom, he is unable to eat this "different" hallway carpeting too. It was quite perfect in timing.

As of this writing, the leak is still fixed.

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