Cable networks, and retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's, would have you believe that doing repairs on your home is a simple matter, easily accomplished. But that's not always true--particularly if you're dealing with old, broken or worn things. Homes aren't shiny, new Lego blocks. What is supposed to be easy all too often goes from DIY to BIY: Break it Yourself.
Recently, our bathroom sink was leaking. A simple drip like I've fixed on sinks countless times before, by simply replacing a rubber washer. Not this time--this was a more complicated faucet I'd installed several years back. The whole valve stem needed replacing, and I couldn't budge the cap holding it in lace thanks to years of hard water build up. We decided that it was time for a new faucet--that was Trip To The Store #1.
Faucets attach relatively easy--threaded flanges fit down into holes in the sink and hand-tightened plastic nuts attach to them, locking the faucet in place. With a drop-in sink (mounted in a cabinet or vanity) this wouldn't be a problem. But we had a pedestal sink in our small bathroom. I just couldn't fit my hand up there to reach the faucet nuts.
Not a problem--I'll just pull the sink. That meant cutting the caulk loose that sealed the sink to the wall, disconnecting the water lines, and disconnecting the drain pipe. Unfortunately, when I lifted the sink up, off the brackets holding it to the wall, the lower drain didn't easily slid out of hte part still attached to the wall. Instead, the pipe coming out of the wall tore, like paper. Apparently, it was rotted and corroded and not quite eaten all the way through.
No problem, I'll just run up to the store and get a new drain pipe (Trip #2). Only the Home Depot, nor the Lowe's were open this late. That was because I stupidly tried to work on this after 9pm, when the kids were in bed, and wouldn't need the bathroom sink.
Walmart had a pipe, or, I thought they did. The 1 1/2" to 1 1/4" adapter set they had was reversed from what I needed. It turned a 1 1/2 wall pipe into a 1 1/4" bath pipe. Dammit. No sink overnight. And worse, while I was out, my wife decided to helpfully clean all the bits of caulk off the sink. In the process, she discovered a small crack in the sink, radiating out from the drain hole in the basin. New sink time.
The next morning, I set out, bright and early, at a quarter to 7 to go get a new drain pipe, and a new sink (Trip #3). Fortunately, they carried the same brand sink as we already had, so that meant I didn't need a new pedestal (the old one being perfectly fine). Boy, was I wrong. The new sink looked the same as the old one, but had been slightly redesigned on the underside. The old pedestal wouldn't fit it. Back to the store for a new pedestal (Trip #4).
Back at home, with the correct pedestal, I installed my new faucet in my new sink, then went to mount it on the wall. Crap. The new pedestal is two inches taller than the old--meaning the new sink sits higher on the wall. Meaning I had to drill new mounting holes.
Once I'd drilled the mounting holes and gotten the new sink on its new pedestal, with its new water lines connected (hey everything else was getting upgraded, why not those too?), it was time to hook all the 1 1/4 inch drain pipe pieces together... except they wouldn't fit!
Raising the sink 2" meant the pipe pieces I had weren't long enough!
And, unfortunately, I had run out of time. It was already 10AM, and I'd used up a couple hours of vacation time. I had to put the project on hold and dash into the day job, leaving our house sinkless for the time being...
After work, it was another trip out for parts (Trip #5). Finding the extension, and a tube of new caulk, was no problem. Raced back home so I could get back to it before the stores closed again.
This time, my luck held--after a couple hours of fine tuning to end leaks and get the sink mounted firmly to the wall with all plumbing intact, it was nearly bed time, and I just needed to run a bead of caulk. But that can wait another day--I need a break.
Morals of the story?
1. Never put off for tomorrow what you can break today. If I'd tried to fix this on the weekend, instead of doing the other projects I was working on around the house, I wouldn't have had to spend some vacation time later in the week.
2. A part in the hand is worth two in the store. Don't start projects after dinner time, because when you eventually need a part, the stores will be closed and you're screwed.
3. Two parts are better than one. Buy everything on the first trip. Even if you're not sure if you need (ala the new pedestal). You can always return it later--unless you like making multiple trips to the store for new parts.