May 24th, 2004


I am not a plumber...

...And yet I there I was attempting to replace a bathroom faucet. The faucet part was straight forward; shut off the water, remove the old faucet, install the new one. We ran into trouble when we tried to replace the shutoff valves and the drain.

Okay, the house is about 50 years old, and most of the fixtures are at least 15+ years old. So everything was rusted, corroded, and stuck. It took us several hours and several applications of WD-40 and Liquid Wrench to get anything to move. We might have just forgotten about replacing the shutoff valves except that when we tried to remove the old drain the pipe sheard off just above the trap. No big deal, right? That as part of what we were replacing, anyway. Exept that we couldn't get the locknut holding it in place to move, either. Or rather, the whole assembly moved together, which meant nothing was getting unscrewed.

So hold one in place while we move the other one, right? Well, the locknut is about a quarter inch wide, and about an inch and three fourths or so in diameter. We didn't have anything that would keep hold of that. So after about 3 trips to OSH (I swear they were getting to know us), we got a pair of vice grips that would hold it. Of course, getting them on the locknut in the first place is always interesting. They like to slip onto the pipe. So with one of us holding the locknut in place and the other turning the pipe, we got it to move. Sort of. Still not to the point where we were confident we could get it off.

While we were working on the drain we were from time to time trying the shutoff valves again. Suddenly, probably around 8:00 at night, they moved! Huzzah! So we were able to replace the valves, which meant that we could turn the water back on to the house, even if we didn't get the faucet installed.

But when we did turn the water back on, we found that the shutoff valves leaked. The hot water we tightened and it seems to be fine, but the cold water... the pipe behind it is so rusted that we're afraid putting more stress on it might cause more of a problem than we already have. Yeah, we're going to let a professional handle that one.

We called it a night around then, and went to watch the episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" that we had just recorded. I don't usually watch that show - in fact this was the first time I'd seen it - but the house is a few blocks away from mine and one of the girls is a bagger at the store where I work. I drive by that house every day on my way to work, and I kept getting caught by the detour while they were working on it.

This is a blended family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, who lost their parents within 3 weeks of each other last year. The two eldest sisters came back home so that the youngest didn't have to be put into foster homes and the family could stay together. So now there are 8 siblings living in a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. It was pretty cramped. The Makeover team added 1000 square feet onto their house (they had a huge backyard), gave each one a room, gave the 7 sisters a bathroom with 7 sinks, 7 cabinets, 2 toilet stalls, a shower and a jaccuzi tub, and gave the brother his very own bathroom. This is in addition to remodeling all the other rooms (and the exterior) and installing a pool, barbeque area, and miniature golf course in the back yard. It's pretty cool. But I don't think I'll be watching that show regularly. It was a bit too... something for me.
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