Monday, December 29, 2008

Delta-Delta-Delta, I tried to help-ya-help-ya-help-ya.

But I couldn't. Maybe it was a knock-off.

Clay and I met in July of '05, and when his birthday came around in December, had been fighting a faucet that just wouldn't quite turn off. I did a little research, peeked into the cabinet under the sink, and thought "noooooo problem, I can fix that." Along with fulfilling that specific request for a white cake with white frosting, I got him a set of towels and a new faucet for the hall bathroom.

Just as I'd suspected, removing the old faucet and installing the new one was certainly no problem. I was pretty proud of myself for that one, even though I couldn't talk Clay into letting me get him a single-knob Delta faucet like we have here at home.

Shortly after I shared that story with My Mom, the faucet in her bathroom developed a drip that turned into a stream. Before I could try & get my hands on it, Mom hit the shutoff and scrubbed at the parts she could see with an old toothbrush, supposedly fixing her problem.

My folks bought this house in February of '78, I wasn't quite two years old. It may be because they're all I ever remember having, but I just really like these one-knob Delta faucets. Straight toward the mirror for warm water, tilt to the right for colder, to the left for hotter, they're just nice & easy.

Nice & easy was a phrase I read several times when I stared reading about repairing them as well, but since Mom's wasn't malfunctioning anymore, I figured it was best to leave it alone. I read a bit about the "cartridge faucets" and it sounded easy enough, so I filed the information away for later.

Supposedly the house was less than a year old when we moved here, but either way, it's over thirty years old. My Mom says the lady who lived across the street told her about watching the guy build the house himself, and about how he didn't exactly have an easy time of it. When my bathroom faucet developed a leak like Mom had described in hers, I discovered just how little that guy thought ahead. My bathroom has two sinks, separated by about three feet of countertop on top of a set of drawers.

That morning that I rinsed out my contact lens case and then couldn't get the sink to turn off, I thought it would be no problem to just reach into the cabinet underneath, shut off the water, and deal with it after work. I opened the cabinet and there were no shutoff valves, just supply lines going into the wood where the drawers were. Same thing on the other side under the other sink. Shit. After taking out three of the four drawers, I finally found the valves, and the "T"s, just below the top edge of the bottom drawer. So, there'll be no shutting off one sink to just use the other. The first valve my hand landed on happened to be the hot one, and when I turned it, the leaking stopped. Hey, I can do without hot water for a little while 'til I can get that faucet fixed -- no problem.

I left it that way for a few weeks, and while Clay and I were fighting with his tub faucet over the weekend, I thought maybe I'd go home and fix my sink faucet. I'd looked at the parts a time or two in my several trips to the big blue store right around the corner from Clay's house, I got to thinkin' I could do it, no problem, and then tell Clay about how easy it was to fix the Delta faucet, so hey, we should get these!

Just in case you're sick of seeing "no problem" here, I'm about to get to the part where the problems start.

Sunday night when I got home, I took a close look at my faucet. I pulled the handle off (much easier than that tub handle at Clay's house) and checked it out just to see what I could see. I got a good look at the shaft stickin' up there, and sure enough, it looked like one of the ones I'd seen hanging on the rack. I pulled the drawer back out and turned the hot valve back on just to see what happened, and sure enough, it ran and ran, the leak was still there. When I shut it off, it still dripped. Shit. Problem. I tied a towel around it so the drips would be quieter, and I went to bed.

At work Monday, I did a little research on the internet. As amazing of a source of information as it can be, I ran into a few dead ends while trying to figure out this faucet. Information Super Cul-De-Sac. I couldn't find anything that looked exactly like my faucet (probably due to that whole 1978 thing), but still, everything I read said it should just be easy (easy as the half a chocolate pie that I had for dinner before I got started) to just take the top off and put a new ball in and then put the handle back on and everything will be just fine.

Monday evening, I ended up leaving work early to come home and be here alone due to this chest-cold-of-the-damned that we've all passed around. A chance to fix my sink without anybody here to bug me about what the hell do I think I'm doing: schweeet. Except that maybe I need my ass kicked for wading off into that mess...

I came home and went straight in there to try and get the chrome top off (like on the website) so I could take the parts with me to match 'em up. That chrome top, which even had ridges in it just like a jar lid, would not move. I tried with my hands, I tried with the rubber grippy-thingy, I tried with a pipe wrench over a towel, I tried with the pipe wrench over the rubber grippy-thingy. It would, not. fucking. move.

I decided that since nobody sees that bathroom but me, and if I do inherit the house someday, I'll want to remodel that end anyway, I figured it couldn't be so bad to just stick that pipe wrench on there and get that bitch apart. It really didn't want to move. I tried one last time, pipe wrench in my right hand, left shoulder braced against the door frame, and I thought I saw a little movement...

I was tired of fighting it, and I figured there had to be an easier way, there had to be some trick to it. I was once the woman behind the Handyman Connection Craftsman Of The Year, seriously, I was always the one standing there saying "Waaaaaaiiiiitttt, just stop and look, there's got to be some way to do it without tearing it up!"

Attempting to heed my own words, I pulled out the digital camera and took good close pictures of what I had. I put the camera in my purse and hopped in the truck to head to Owasso's big blue store for some parts and possibly some knowledge. Maybe if I could look at the new parts, I'd see something that would make my cartoon lightbulb come on, maybe there would be a book there with some tips in it.

The book shelves didn't have anything close to my faucet, but the parts aisle did! I found the ball with a shaft that matched mine, and next to it, a set of washers and o-rings with an odd little wrench that looked like it would fit right into those odd little gaps just inside my chrome top! Yay! At the big blue home improvement store's self-checkout, I spent twenty dollars and seventy nine cents. I got back in the truck feeling like I'd finally figured something out, so I headed for Owasso's landmark chicken joint to pick myself up some sinful, guilty, salty, lovely, one-of-a-kind, magical, deep-fried chicken dinner on the way home. Larry's was closed though, so I came on back home and had Christmas chocolate pie for dinner. I would've reheated some ham, but I was in a hurry to get back to the bathroom and try out my new (supposed) knowledge and my nifty new tool.

Sure enough, the tool fit right into the gaps, and a little plastic ring unscrewed from around the top of the ball; but the shaft still wouldn't come out. The tiny little sheet of instructions in the package (which only mentioned kitchen sinks, not bathroom sinks) showed a cartoony hand unscrewing the chrome top, so I gave it another shot. Encouraged by what I'd read, I really leaned my weight back on the pipe wrench; carefully aimed toward the door frame so that if I fell, I'd end up on the side toward the bed instead of on my ass in the shower on top of a broken glass shower door.

Nothing happened. I took the wrench off and checked the "chrome finish," which I'd say was officially fucked at this point. Hey, since it's already shot, might as well try one more time -- if it's supposed to come off, it oughtta move. I positioned the wrench semi-carefully and leaned back one more time. Something gave, the chrome top turned about an eighth of a turn, and then the whole faucet shifted in the sink and something clanked in the cabinet below.

About that time, I was starting to get irritated, but I wasn't going to let the faucet win. I started this, I was going to finish it, one way or another. I repositioned the wrench one more time, and tried to hold the faucet by the spout with my other hand. When I pulled on the wrench, I felt the aerator move against my fingers. Hmmmm... Maybe if I take that aerator off, it'll free something up and this chrome top will twist the rest of the way off... So I did, and then I put the wrench back on one more time. The chrome top moved only a teensy bit more, and I could feel myself getting madder.

Refusing to give up, refusing to call anyone for help, refusing to do the extreme cleaning that would be required to let anyone else into my bathroom to help, I decided I had to fix it, one way or another. Tapping didn't loosen it, that only caused another clank underneath, so I decided I'd just yank that bitch outta there and get a new one tomorrow. I emptied out the cabinet, putting all the spare shampoo into the other cabinet, and wiggled under there with some wrenches to get the faucet out.

What the hell were these people thinkin' when they built this house? Where every other faucet I'd seen in stores while I shopped for Clay's gifty one had lines that connected directly onto the bottom of the faucet, this one did not. The clanks I'd heard were big washers on small bolts that held the faucet down on the sink. The faucet itself had copper lines that came down about six inches down from the faucet, then connected to the supply lines from there. When I finally pushed it up outta there, it seemed like I could see a lot of plastic up there.

Surely Delta, praised on every corner of the internet, exalted by homebuilders, loved by my family for thirty years, wouldn't do that. Surely Delta wouldn't make 'em that way.

I wiggled my body back out of the cabinet and stood up to grab the dead faucet out of the sink and was stunned by what I saw. Those little copper lines coming directly out of the faucet had twisted like a rope -- that was the give that I felt when I pulled on the pipe wrench, it was the whole inside of the faucet turning and pulling and twisting up those copper lines.

By the time I carried it from the far end of the house through the garage and out to the driveway to toss it in the back of the truck, my irritation had progressed to anger; but only slightly at myself for believing what I'd read on the internet. "Oh, this is how it works, it'll be easy, it'll be so fast and so simple!"


After calmly smiling into my own eyes in the mirror as I picked up the wrenches, after walking unhurried through the house, after refusing to slam the laundry room door on my way out, the anger got the best of me. Yeah, the anger won, but the faucet did not. I threw it to the sidewalk, hard, and that was so satisfying, I picked it up and did it again. And I picked it up and did it again. A few plastic parts had disappeared into the grass and when I picked it up that fourth time, I saw two screws that went up from the bottom right in the middle. Surely those weren't what kept that chrome top from coming off...

I came back inside for my keys and popped the tailgate of the Excursion so I could fish out a screwdriver and get at 'em. One came right out, one was obscured by part of the copper rope, but I was able to bash it out of the way with the pipe wrench and take it out too. Nothing changed.

I ended up on my knees in the driveway, lit by the glow of the Excursion's dome lights, holding onto one of the copper lines and repeatedly bashing the faucet into the concrete again and again and again. 'Twas so very satisfying.

Tomorrow, I'll toss it somewhere; possibly the dumpster, but most likely the creek.

I'll take my unopened part and my carefully opened tool back to the store and see if I can get my money back on 'em. Depending on the ease of the return process, I'll buy a new faucet -- there if it's easy, somewhere else if it's not.

Everything'll be just fine, no problem.

Seriously. No. Fucking. Problem. No problem next time, okay?

That just can't be a Delta. Delta wouldn't do that.

It must've been a knock-off.

More later... _\,,/



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