Monday, October 29, 2007

Day 8.2 What Hubby Did on His Vacation

I didn't think it would happen.

It was worn out, cracked, rusted. When flylady admonished me to "shine my sink" the thing would disintegrate even further, leaving me with rusty bits everywhere. It was demoralising.

But it worked just fine.

Yes. The faucet.

(By the by, by the time we actually replaced the faucet set, these two little rust spots had morphed into Great Spots of Rot. The back was nearly gone.)

Hope against hope, I scouted around and found to my happy surprise there were a few in our price range. I even managed to convince the frugal husband to spend a teeny bit more than he'd want when I found the one I really, really wanted.

But, it isn't ever a matter of simply replacing a faucet. No. In this house, every project is somehow very complicated.

I prepared: I got a Big Home Repair Book (with lots and lots of pictures) from the library...before we even bought the faucet. We looked at flyers and even went to the store on the last day of the "sale" even though we didn't get the faucet on sale. Then, we discussed what we needed to do. Discussed it again. Looked at the pictures in the book. Took the faucet out of the box. Looked at the instructions. Realised Ikea isn't the only one who writes instructions for the illiterate. Realised they'd be useless.

The next day we went back to the store to get our supplies.

We asked the helpful folks at the store for a shut off valve for copper pipe. After much fiddling, a fellow comes back and presents us with this thing about six inches long and costing about $20. My husband begins to argue with the guy, saying that's not what we need. Instead of walking out on my husband (which I was tempted to do) I went around the corner to the other aisle and picked up the box with the faucet we had purchased inside. I told him, "We want to connect this to copper pipe and have shut off valves."
"With transparent handles," my husband adds.
OK. Turns out it was all a misunderstanding and the shut off valves (with the transparent handles) actually come with the compression valves we need to fit on the copper pipe. A little flexible hose, a tube of plumbers putty and we're in business.

This is what it looked like under the sink.
In case you've never looked before: those long vertical white things on either side of the drain pipe are (painted) copper pipes. They're soldered to the (mostly unpainted) faucet copper pipes above. That white thing underneath the pipes is our water filter. It's connected to a separate tap with the hose you see there. It's attached to the cold water supply with something called a "saddle valve." (It merely pierces the copper pipe and then retracts to let the water flow through). Our goal throughout the project was to keep that hose connected to the tap above. We did not want to have to figure out how to re-install it.

A hacksaw took care of separating the pipes. And then it was a very simple matter of applying a bit of plumbing putty (or even plumbers tape which the husband swears by) around the edges and screwing in to place. See them? Right there, peaking out from behind the drain pipe. Of course, with transparent handles, they're easy to miss!

The complicated part came when we realised we'd have to remove the sink in order to remove the old faucet set. Not only were the rusted out bolts right behind the sink (and he really did try to remove them, keeping the sink in place. Got every single ratchet wrench we own, too. None of which "ever" work, of course.) But. There's this:
I had known we'd have to take the sink out. I had even mentioned it casually the night before. That way, when the husband realised it for himself, it wouldn't be such a Big Unpleasant Surprise and he was able to take it in stride a little more easily. And so, the sink is removed.
(I'm not going to talk about how disgusting and awful the whole job was. We cleaned up as we went along. Steel wool is wonderful.)

(weird brief interlude) Just as my husband was putting putty back on our nice clean counter and I was holding the sink, the doorbell rang. As our daughter rushed to answer the door, we told her to tell whomever it was that we were busy and couldn't come to the door.

"Oh, you're parents say they're too busy, eh?"

And just the way it was said alerted both of us. My husband went to the door. Disappeared. I saw him reappear with a police officer in our backyard. They went into the garage. They went to the bike shed. Meanwhile, I'm still holding the sink, praying they'd be done quickly.

Turns out, our neighbour's garage had been broken into the night before and the officer was just having a look around. He advised us to lock the bikes in the shed and remove any valuable from the garage.

Fortunately, the interlude didn't take long.
And then the husband realised that the new faucet is to be attached underneath the sink with a gizmo that came in the box. Out came the sink. Gizmo and faucet attached. And then it was a simple matter of attaching the pipes from the floor to the pipes in the faucet with the flexible hose (and of course I don't have a picture! But believe me, it's just a mess of hoses down there now) reattaching the drain, setting the sink back in (and it is in staraight now, gol dang it!) and voila: our shiny new faucet set.
The irony is, of course, we couldn't use the sink for another day. But thanks to the shut off valves, we could turn the water back on. That was terrific. The great long screws used to hold the sink in place were completely rusted out. The husband went to the store to replace them and found out "they don't attach sinks like that anymore." So, he soaked them in something overnight and, somehow, they worked well enough the next day.

Another irony: the hose to the water filter tap had to remain connected to the solid copper pipe: which means it is below the shut-off valve. So, replacing the water filter--which I do about once a year--means I have to shut off the water to the house.

Nonetheless, I'm a happy wife.


smallcitybeth said...

Wow. Does he do custom plumbing in other provinces, too? My parents' kitchen taps are driving us all up the wall!!!

Being left holding the sink, because a police officer has come to the door, has got to be one of the odder "odd intervals" that have ever occurred to someone while replacing kitchen taps.

Yay for you two, yet again! (you guys are really good...)

Alana in Canada said...

It was very weird. Funny, my Mom, when she saw the sink, immediately wanted him to come and do her house too!

It's wonderful watching him build his confidence in doing these things.(He grew up in apartments in Montreal. Never looked after a house before).This evening he went out and purchased a new dryer vent thingy to attach to the outside of the house. He doesn't really know how to "do it" but I can tell he's kind of excited to figure it out. Who knew?

Tonight, when we talked about how we didn't get to replacing the bathroom floor tiles, he took one look at our bathroom faucet stuff and said, "When we replace the tub surround, we'll replace all that plumbing too." I couldn't believe my ears.

smallcitybeth said...

Wow, isn't that great! This Curing has been a fantastic opportunity for him, too! That is so good.

Mella DelPantano said...

Adventures on the Prairie! Quite the team, you two.

Jessica said...

wow, that is quite impressive, congrats!

drwende said...

Wow! You guys are so brave.

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