Our kitchen faucet has been dripping for months. Unlike so many other problems that fix themselves when I ignore them, this one just got worse.
When I mentioned to a plumber that I was reasonably handy,* he said it wouldn’t be difficult to replace the faucet’s cartridge. I believed him (my first mistake) and promptly fell into one of my oldest and most familiar traps: “I should be able to do this.” After all, why would I want to pay a professional who knows what they’re doing and could do it quickly, and thereby deprive myself of the injuries, the aggravation, and repeated trips to the hardware store?
* Probably time to re-examine this assumption
One of the plumbing people at McLendon Hardware sold me the $25 cartridge and loaned me a special tool to help remove the old one. Despite applying all of my might, I failed to get the cartridge out. I did, however, succeed in destroying the faucet.
Back to the hardware store. Returned the $25 part and selected a new faucet for about $180. Now for the simple matter of removing what was left of the old faucet.
No, sir. The twisted metal would not yield, even to the persuasion of an almost two-foot-long pipe wrench. I grunted, thrashed, sweat, swore, and bellowed. I cut my hand on some jagged metal, producing plenty of blood but no progress.
Enter Zack. “How can I help, Dad?” Were there ever sweeter words from a 16 year-old? He crawled under the sink, studied the situation with a flashlight, and soon discovered a hidden nut holding the ruined assembly in place. A few smart turns later and the old faucet was out.
Against all better judgment I had started this project late in the afternoon and it was now almost 11:00 on Sunday evening – time to go to bed. Dirty dishes sat piled up on the counters, and a big assortment of tools and the contents of the under-sink cabinet covered the kitchen floor. Not a good way to end a day or a weekend…
Monday morning I set the new faucet in place and realized one of the supply lines would not fit the existing shutoff valve. Hardware store trip #3. While there I told this joke (one of my Dad’s favorites) to the woman at the plumbing counter:
A plumber had just spent 20 minutes fixing a leak in the basement of a doctor’s home. When he presented his bill for $750, the doctor’s jaw dropped. “You haven’t even been here 30 minutes, and you’re charging me $750? I can’t afford that!”
The plumber nodded. “I know – I couldn’t either when I was a doctor.”
Happily the new faucet went in without further incident. No drips. No leaks. Looks good and works perfectly.
Zack saved the day and my few remaining scraps of sanity. When I apologized to him for being severely frustrated, he said, “I would have been frustrated, too.” What an awesome kid. Maybe when I grow up, I can be as mature as he is.