Friday, May 22, 2009

Just Like a Good Neighbor

Time passed and some things changed, including an unexpected early retirement for me.

November 12, 07

I was sitting at home one day and got a call from Deb. She was over at Squirt's house unbeknownst to me. Squirt is a lady of diminutive stature in her 70's who helps take care of Louise several mornings of the week at our farm. She lives in a house in town that she rents from a niece of hers, but the niece refuses to do any maintenance on the place. So we help out when we can, just like a good neighbor.

At the other end of the line, Deb was sitting under the bathroom sink with the trap taken apart and with a bunch of parts that she and Squirt had bought to try and fix it with. "Squirt's sink trap had developed a leak and we are trying to replace it. Can you come over and help? I have all of the parts, but can't figure out how they fit together."

"OK. I'll be over in a few minutes."

Well, I got there and sure enough, the sink trap was taken apart, and there were enough fittings spread over the floor to plumb a small city. Part of the problem was that because of the alignment of the sink drain and the floor drain, the trap not only had to have a "U" in it, but a whole "Loop-de-loop" going from one size pipe into a slightly larger pipe. The adapters that the hardware store had sold them were the wrong size and without the proper threading. But with all of these parts, I figured that I ought to be able to rig something.

So I started rigging and attaching and cutting and fitting and before long, I had a contraption innovated that ought to work. So I turned on the faucet. I watched for any leak and there was nothing coming from the drain or trap, but there was a significant leak coming from the metal wire coming down from the faucet fixture that moves the drain stopper up and down.

That made no sense at all since there was no water that flowed through the area that it comes from. So I decided to take apart the faucet fixture to see what the heck was going on.

Off came the handles. Then on to the valve mechanism, hot side first. I took out the screw and had to pry the valve up for it to come off. When it finally popped off, there was an exploding jet of hot water that shot up, hit the bottom of the medicine cabinet and succeeded in soaking everything in the room.

"She#*f!~uzzleduckin jabberflam." (Squirt is a very religious person, so I had to temper my language.)

After determining that a finger jammed over the hole was not going to work, and after a few more additions to the Oxford English Dictionary, Deb suggested that I may want to shut off the water valves under the sink.

"Oh, yeah."

That did the trick. I then took apart the rest of the faucet and discovered that the water spigot was loose and that may have allowed water back into the area where the drain plug rod goes down. So I tighteded that and went to put the faucet back together. But when I went to put the hot water valve back together, I found a short conical spring that had no apparent function. So I crammed it into a likely looking hole and put it all together again.

Then slowly... ever so slowly, I turned the water valves back on. No leak now from the plunger rod, but interestingly the hot water ran out the spigot no matter where the handle was positioned... on or off or anywhere in between.

It was time to turn off the hot water supply valve and take the fixture apart again. Maybe the conical spring was upside down. I did the change and tried again.

Again the hot water flowed regardless of the handle position.

OK. Now what?

I turned the hot water supply valve off and took the fixture apart again. Maybe the spring went someplace else. Nope. There was no other possible place for it. OK. I hadn't noticed a spring in the cold water valve, but maybe I hadn't looked close enough. That side worked, so let's take it apart and try to see the difference.

I pried the cold water valve up, and sploosh. Now not only was every inch of me and the bathroom wet, but it was cold and wet. "Spivvelmattr Bingledorrf!" Again, the finger in the hole succeeded in intensifying and dispersing the water jet about like a finger over the end of a garden hose. Again, Deb suggested turning off the cold water supply valve under the sink.

"Oh, yeah. Of course. Just testing your memory, darling."

While I was laying in the puddle under the sink, I noticed a sharp needling pain in the back of my neck. When I reached up, I found another one of those springs. Hmmm.

Well, there was absolutely no place for a second spring in the hot water faucet, so I stuck the second one in the cold water faucet like I had in the hot water side and put together the fixture yet again. Then I turned on the water supply valves again.

Miracle of miracles! Now both the hot and the cold water valves did not work.

"Squirt, I think that I have determined your problem. There is a dying spouting whale stuck in your water supply plumbing that is slowly working its way out. Now it is no longer under the sink causng problems, but has worked its way up to the faucet handles. I don't kill whales, so I think you may have to just live with it."

"I could do that, I guess, but why don't you just go out and buy a new fixture?"

"Good idea," says Deb, and off she races to the hardware store to find a replacement.

In the meantime, I'm wondering whether this is really what retirement was meant to be.

Deb got back with a new fixture. One look at the box, and I could see that it didn't have the required drain rod. This time, I went to the store while Deb and Squirt left to do other chores out of town.

I found one that looked like it would work and finally got it installed and working.

Later that night, I got a call from Squirt: "What did you do? The faucet handles aren't the same as the old ones!"

I can't win! Someday I'll tell you the reason why I never want to be a landlord.


  1. Ah, of the great mysteries in life.....and I prefer to keep it that way! :)

  2. The photo of a baby goat in a sweater won me over. I look forward to more tales of plumbing and creative expletives.

  3. I came to say thanks for the follow but I love that goat pic! As for the plumbing, I wouldn't have gotten as far as your wife even. A quick google search for plumbers in my location and I would've considered the job done.

  4. Or a plumber for that matter. Sounds like my luck under the sink. ahaha

  5. We had a recent plumbing debacle-just a drippy faucet... ha. Three trips to the hardware store later, no more drip and a whole afternoon down the tubes. Beware of old plumbing! Kris