• November 23, 2014

Leaky faucet may end up draining wallet

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Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 4:30 am

It started out as a slow drip, then it became a trickle, then a steady stream.

At that point, my wife told me I absolutely had to call a plumber to get our leaky bathroom faucet fixed.

So I did. Now it’s not working at all.

Let me just state at this point that I’m not too handy with tools. I’ve done a few minor repairs involving a wrench or a hammer, but my skills are pretty limited.

My wife knows this — which is why she forbids me from buying a weed trimmer, electric hedge trimmers or any other dangerous power tools.

A few weeks ago, I tried my hand at fixing the toilet, which kept running after the tank filled. I bought a new fill valve (pretty good with the official terminology, right?) and planned to put it in.

After weeks of seeing the box with the new part sitting on the bathroom floor, my wife finally convinced me to actually install the stupid thing. Truth be told, I was worried that I might do something wrong and break the toilet — probably on a weekend — requiring an emergency service call to a plumber.

But when I tackled the task on a recent Sunday afternoon, I didn’t get very far. I couldn’t remove the plastic nut on the bottom of the toilet tank that held the valve in place. My wrench just wouldn’t grasp the part correctly. Worse, as I twisted it, I broke the assembly inside. When I turned the water back on, it sprayed all over the place.

I managed to rig it to where it would fill the toilet after I flushed, but it would keep running after the tank filled, so I had to turn the water to the toilet off each time.

Meanwhile, the sink’s dripping faucet kept getting worse. The stream got so steady that I ended up turning off the hot water to the faucet each morning after I finished shaving.

So after watching me try work around these plumbing adventures for a few weeks, my wife finally convinced me to call a professional to get them both fixed, once and for all.

On Monday, our plumber came out to tackle what I figured were minor tasks. He fixed the toilet in short order, putting in his own waranteed fill valve and replacing the water line to the toilet.

But the sink faucet turned out to be another story entirely. He got the hot/cold knob off easily enough, but he couldn’t unscrew the assembly inside. After trying two different wrenches and a couple of other tools, he told me he couldn’t twist any harder for fear of breaking it.

Problem is, this is an original fixture in an older house. Think 1980 — it’s got an antique brass finish. They don’t make those anymore.

So our plumber is trying to find a match from a large plumbing supplier, and so far, he’s had no luck. And since this faucet is part of a double-sink vanity, we have to worry about the two faucets not matching.

Meanwhile, the water to the unfixed sink is turned off, which is forcing me to use the other sink to shave, brush my teeth and manage all my other daily grooming tasks.

Even though I have used that bathroom every day for 4½ years, I’ve never used that second sink. All my toiletry items are in drawers and cabinets on the other side, next to the broken sink. So now I have to walk across the room every time I need something. I know it sounds pretty minor, but it’s really screwing up my routine.

Now my wife is talking about replacing the entire countertop, getting new sink fixtures and redoing the cabinets. That’s going to make our current plumbing bill seem like a drop in the bucket.

Before it’s all over, I think it’s my wallet that’s going to be leaking pretty badly.

Now, who do I call to fix that?

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