Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fixing the Sink

"It's a 10-minute job, tops!"

Famous last words - hell, I might as well've said "I'll be right back" in the middle of a Horror flick.

My fiancée's (gawd I love that word) sink decided to start leaking in the midst of making dinner on Monday night. Sure enough, looked like water was leaking down the pipe.

Now I'm not a plumber - if you asked me 3 days ago the difference between a P-Trap and a Tailpiece you would've gotten some pretty blank stares - but this WAS a chance for me to show off my useful handyman skills (the joy of being the son of a contractor :P).

And so began the Sink Chronicles.

Monday Night

With water dripping on the floor, an angry woman at the stove cooking dinner and feet more than a little drenched I made a desperate call to my Dad. Hunkering down, peering into the darkness I could vaguely see the outline of the dripping pipe.

Now, I've picked up a few things over the years but the delicate art of plumbing just hasn't been one of them. And so I kneeled there on the tile, feeling around in the ambient light, twisting and turning various things with the gentle guidance on the other line. Are these things supposed to twist that easily? Hrm... apparently not. Ooops, more water. More frustrated sighs from behind. Can I get a towel please?

Turns out all the expanding and contracting from hot and cold water over time had loosened the 'nuts' that held the pipes in place. Hrm... okay, made sense. Easy stuff. I reached in, tightened them up by hand and all would be well, right?

Run some water. Drip. Dripdripdrip.


I take pictures and email them across, expert analysis says I've probably got a faulty washer. I should consider replacing the Tailpiece washer - maybe set me back a buck and change at the local Canadian Tire. Hrmm, sure thing. So I go about unscrewing the Tailpiece Nut that connects to the 'Strainer Basket' at the bottom of my sink. The nut all but disintegrates in my hands as it splits along the thread. Uh oh.

Well, since I'm going to Canadian Tire anyway, might as well pick up a new Nut as well. Maybe grab a pair of Channel Lock Pliers just to make sure everything's all tightened off proper-like.

Just a quick jaunt over to the store, 15 minutes tops. No problem.

I get back from the store - now emboldened with my pliers and washers and nuts - just a matter of time.

Huh. Can't get the new nut on. Turns out my Tailpiece has a welded-on Dishwasher attachment. Turns out you can't just slip on a new nut and washer. Turns out I need a whole new piece of pipe.

I look up, it's 9:15pm. Canadian Tire's now closed.

Oh well, tomorrow's a new day. I'll get the new part, screw it on, life will be good.

For now, I wash dishes in the bathroom sink.

Tuesday Night

Canadian Tire doesn't have the part I need, have to hop on the street car to the Home Depot at Gerrard Square. There's 30-40 minutes gone. I grab a new tailpiece pipe with dishwasher attachment - the metal nut seems decidedly sturdier than the one that all but crumbled in my hands. I pick up a shiny, chrome-plated extension tailpiece - figure I might as well replace the hack-job extension made by whoever the hell put this thing together in the first place.

Should be simple.

Another 30-40 minutes to get back, it's now after 9. Back under the sink I go, unscrewing pipes, slipping things together - easy-peasy. Tighten it all together with the pliers, looks good, looks solid. A new sink is born!

I turn on the tap.

It doesn't drip.

It pours.

What the hell??! Off with the tap, out with the cloth, soaking up the water. My fiancée stands in the hall, watching, a growing look of concern. Flustered, I pull the pieces apart once again. What went wrong? Seals are in place, pipe fits on just fine. How's water getting out? I call my dad again, he walks me through what I've already done. Step by step I check it off. It shouldn't be leaking, there's no excuse for it to be leaking. I re-tighten everything as hard as I can and try again.

It's still leaking.

But I notice something - the nut's not sitting level. It's at this weird angle - an odd angle. I touch the nut - it pops off the threads. A surge of anger spikes in the pit of my stomach. Excuse me? What the...? I run the water again. Sure enough, the water is leaking from the connection of the strainer basket threads and the tailpiece nut.

A clue! Finally. Excellent. Something I can use. I pull off the pipe again, running my hands through the nut, checking for any gaps or problems - feels fine. I run my hands along the threads of the strainer basket.

Uh oh.

A dent. Small enough to miss (it being on 'not visible' side of the sink didn't help) but big enough to keep the threads from gripping properly. All right! I shine a light up into the backside of the threads of the strainer basket - cracks. Big cracks. There's the problem!

It's after 11, I'm shooed out of the kitchen, already formulating my plan of attack. All I need is a new strainer basket.

I wash dishes in the bathroom sink.


Wednesday Night

I hop out of work a bit early, a skip in my step - been planning my approach like an aged Football coach on the eve of the Superbowl. The strainer basket should be an easy fix - held in place by a single (massive) lock nut. All I have to do is unscrew it, pop out the basket, pop in the new one and screw it all back together.

I spent the morning researching it, it's 'making-toast' easy.

Through the slush I trudge back up to Canadian Tire - I was smart enough to call ahead and make sure they've got what I need (yay!). Through the aisles, past the humidifier filters, to the slightly dusty plumbing section. I've got my pick of the litter, I go for the classic chrome - simple, effective. It sets me back 20 bucks but I don't care, this is my victory lap. I savour the weight of the box in my hands, it's got a good heft to it, also grab myself a set of needle-nosed pliers (at the behest of my dad) - to keep the whole shebang from turning as I tighten the lock nut.

Dodging puddles and errant cars (really, guys, it's not THAT much snow!) I make my way home, chatting it up with dad on the phone, a hint of the sweet taste of victory to come.

Into the house, I shoo her from the kitchen - it's my time to shine. Down onto the floor, pliers in hand I grip the lock nut and twist with all my weight. It gives. But only just a tad - and apparently in the wrong direction. Crap. Twist it the other way, more and more. Off with the nut and back to work on the rest. Finally, with a solid tap from below the old strainer basket pops loose, freed from the clutches of the kitchen sink.

After cleaning the edges and preparing the gasket for what's to come, I slide the new strainer basket into place - its polished sheen standing out against a sea of lifeless gray. From below I slide the base into position and prepare the new lock nut. Pliers at the ready, I get her to hold on and keep it from moving while I tighten things up down under. Soon enough it's on and done - it's over, the strainer basket is installed, my work is done!

All that's left is to screw on the pipes and bask in the glory.

And so it goes, the parts fit together as was intended and soon I look at my work, content. Ready.

I turn on the water.

Nothing. A small spark ignites in my stomach.

I increase the water pressure.

Nothing. A hint of a grin slides along my face.

Full blast now. And I see it.

Drip. Dripdripdripdripdripdripdrip!

In rivulets it runs down the side, my eyes focused, unbelieving. I whisper a curse word. Something sounding like 'puck'. The water's not stopping, it's not stopping.

I hit the tap, it shuts off. Why's it still leaking?! I don't understand, I wrack my brain, looking for excuses, looking for an answer. Strainer Basket - New. Tailpiece and washer WITH the dishwasher attachment - New. Tailpiece extender, chrome - NEW. How THE HELL --

Waitaminute. Something... something's wrong.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I take a towel, run it along the length of the pipe. Dry. It's all dry. Except for where it's dripping. Oh no. I test it again, no water leaking from anywhere. Except there.


I take it apart, and I can't help but see it: The hairline crack in the P-Trap. The one thing I hadn't replaced. The crusty old brass pipe that just couldn't keep it together. The crack smiles back at me, wild, insolent - I throw it. Hard. Curses - curses in languages I've only just learned, some I've only just made up. She runs in, confused. I try to explain but it stares back at me, from the ground, cackling. Cackling.

My Daddy's coming in tonight. He'll fix it. He'll make it right. I know he will. He'll show'em all. Who's cackling now? Huh?? Who?

I wash dishes in the bathroom sink.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Oh christ. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Drinks when I'm back in town and I'll share my latest hot water heater story with you...