Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When Not to DIY

We all have different comfort zones about what we want to do around the house. This past weekend I hit the edge of one of mine. After doing a survey of online instructions (my first step for most unfamiliar projects), I decided that the leaking faucet in the bathroom wasn't really something I wanted to tackle myself. I dislike plumbing in general- I don't have the right tools or enough experience to feel comfortable with it. In this case, however, I considered the age of the fixture (Old As Dirt*), the state of my free time at home (Very Little, and Fully Scheduled With Keeping the Couch from Flying Around the Room While Playing With Yarn), and the likely aggravation level (Astronomically High), and I punted. I called the plumber and cast on some mittens. I felt like a wuss.

I felt a whole lot better about it Saturday when the plumber came, and showed us the severely corroded sink trap. I knew the under-sink shutoffs were immovably stiff. In fact, they were so corroded he could not move them either, and had to shut the water off at the main so he could replace them. As loud banging and sawing noises emerged from the bathroom, Cookie looked on interestedly, Biscuit hid under the bed,  I knit mittens, and the plumber made repeated trips back to his truck for more and different tools  "It's being difficult," he confessed, but with a glint of determination in his eyes.   Some kind of major power tool added its snarl to the mix.  I began to congratulate myself on my perspicuity in declining to attempt this myself.


Then he had to make a trip out for parts. "Before you go," I said. "I wondered if while you were here, you could take a look at the kitchen faucet." He gave me a wary look, and followed me into the kitchen. "How old is this fixture, do you know?" he asked. When I assured him that it was much newer- in the 10-15 year range- he nodded, said he would pick up some parts he might need and take a look at it after he finished in the bathroom.
(The Karisma mittens, done at last.  Though I had trouble parsing the instructions for the tip decreases and just stopped the cable pattern early rather than try and unravel the designer's intent. I think the tip decreases could have used a little chart of their own.)

The kitchen faucet proved recalcitrant as well, but no match for our stalwart plumber, as he extracted broken pieces of the valve out of the faucet neck. Three hours, one new fixture, new undersink piping and a rebuild of the kitchen faucet later, I wrote him a very large check with barely a wince. He earned every penny. And every time I go into the bathroom and don't see dripping or turn on the kitchen faucet and don't see leaking, I get a little thrill of pleasure. And I'm ecstatic that I didn't try to do it myself.

*Contemporary with the house, which makes it more than 45 years old.

1 comment:

  1. A good plumber is wonderful to find. Typed the owner of the house built in 1955.