Leave the plumbing to plumbers

Posted: October 31, 2013 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


I did a stupid thing Monday night, showed some initiative and tried to fix a leaky faucet that had turned into a sideways-spraying faucet.

To be fair, YouTube is partially to blame for this debacle; it’s dearth of do-it-yourself videos can give a guy irrational confidence about his abilities. I’m not and never will be qualified to do anything that’s more mechanical than changing a lightbulb or replacing batteries. But the guy on the Web vid made it look so easy and the neighborhood hardware store had the necessary parts.

Let’s do this.

Stupid testosterone. The faucet came apart easily enough. In fact, I realized after a good bit of tugging and thread stripping that the disassembly was complete before I knew it. In the first trip to the store, I bought a new cartridge (I didn’t know those existed just minutes earlier), some extra o-rings (no joke) and a new cord for my iPhone because my youngest daughter chewed up the last one. Later, I found out that I was charged for two chords. I should have taken that as a sign to stop. But then I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

A second trip to the store became necessary when I couldn’t get the old cartridge to pull out of the faucet. Get me a bigger crescent wrench, stat! I picked up a new air filter for the furnace, too, just for good measure.

Except it turned out that I didn’t need the wrench; I just needed more leverage. So I stood on the counter and yanked that sucker right out – and without whacking myself in the face. (I did, however, inadvertently elbow my wife in the face earlier when diagnosing the program. Full disclosure.)

Now to put it all back together …

Not happening. I tried, man, really I did despite my lack of knowledge and the growing damage to my dainty hands and the screams of children in the background, all the while growing angrier and more disappointed (disappointeder?) about the situation. We had spaghetti-covered dishes in the bathtub, for crying out loud.

The Mr. Fix It big cost me four hours, $60 and untold aggravation. The professional plumber undid my mess and installed a new faucet in one hour the next day. Never before had washing baby bottles felt so glorious.

A minimum of two lessons came out of this: 1) In the future, I need to suck it up and pay a professional without first trying to be a hero and; 2) Skilled craftsmen like plumbers, electricians and mechanics are privy to the secrets that make the world work.

I had no idea what the inside of a faucet handle looked like and never would have imagined the hidden complexities. And it’s not like there’s a single, uniform model – plumbing isn’t Communism. There is some stuff going on in there.

Once I began the dissection, I at least sort of began to make sense of what most of the pieces did and how they fit together to provide me with glorious drinking water. But it’s not natural. If I have any mechanical inclinations, it’s more in the sense of how a process works – like how college basketball teams go about booking non-conference opponents – as opposed to the physical workings of machinery.

I imagine it’s rad to be versed in plumbing, to know what goes on in the bowels of a home or office building or sports stadium. It’s probably somewhere between having X-ray vision and knowing classified information.

So props to all the handy men out there; the rest of us would be in big trouble if you weren’t willing and able to share your skills with the world.

  1. Mark says:

    Great story TV, and great lesson learned. I can do some things, not many around the house. But the one thing I absolutely refuse to touch is plumbing.

  2. Rich Jensen says:

    Geez. Yeah. The only plumbing I’d ever tackle is *replacing* the faucet. And even that’s got some tricks to it. Fiddling with the faucet? I’d just as soon try to rewire an outlet.

    • I’ve tried changing light fixtures with decent results and only one life-threatening shock. The plumber who wound up replacing my faucet had an issue removing it – had to bring in a saw.

  3. Mike says:

    Don’t worry Terry, there are less handy people in the world than you. In fact, one of them blogs with you!

  4. Sarah Fuller says:

    This definitely sounds like something I would do! I always have these grand ideas of things I can get accomplished around the house and like you said, the YouTube guys make it look easy as anything…unfortunately, I am incapable of being handy around the house, which is why we still have a washing machine that backs up into the sink and floods if left for a few days.

    It was nice to hear someone not able to do it – when I’m looking at blogs I feel like an idiot because it all seems so easy to them. Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and pay a plumber.


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