Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fourth of July Waterworks Show

Fridays, I get off early during the Summer. I think most of the regulars know this. This is a good thing.

I arrived at home at around one in the afternoon, just as the females in the house were readying themselves for a trip to the movies. I had eaten some sort of food for lunch and was just on the verge of zoning out in the chair. My youngest sat at the fireplace awaiting her ride to the movie. My wife was in our bathroom, making the final preparations for their outing.

As I was nearing the doze-point, I heard some sounds of urgency from the back of the house. “Wabba wabba weeba wabba, wabba water wanh wanh! Help wanh!” As I moved toward the sound, it became clear that something was amiss. I thought that perhaps she was hurt or possibly a roach or other abominable hazard.

I burst into our room and heard her harsh and assiduous tones joined by the sound of spraying water. Rounding the edge of the sink area, I saw my wife leaning over, clutching a towel with it jammed down on the cold water side of our faucet. Water was gushing from under the terry cloth relentlessly. I dove beneath the counter and reached through the waterfall to turn off the supply valve.

That done, the relieved spouse withdrew the towel and sure enough, the cold water faucet handle was just gone. I peered down the hole and sure enough, I saw all the way down the tube to the water treatment plant.

I analyzed the hardware and could see nothing obviously broken. Yet there we were, the countertop swimming in the city water supply. My wife describes the order of events as 1) turning on the hot water valve, 2) cold water valve blasting off like a Saturn V rocket to the ceiling. Or almost.

After they left, I sat in my chair for a while, dreading the trip to the Dome Hepot for a replacement faucet. The trick was going to be the drain stopper mechanism. In case you have never replaced a faucet, the box contains a stopper assembly that necessarily entails the removal of the silver ring that you spit your toothpaste at in the bottom of the sink. Not really hard, just not fun. And the opportunity to over or under-tighten something resulting in a leak. So I made the decision to go with the direct replacement. With the failure of the original after such a short time, the prospect of duplicating the initial mistake was cause for hesitation. But the prospect of replacing the drain was the tipping point.

I dragged myself up from the air-conditioned comfort of the living room and into the blazing heat of the afternoon, on a trek to find an American Standard Cadet faucet set.

I am glad to say that the procurement and installation went without a hitch, save for the one in my back from wadding myself up under the bathroom sink. Let me tell ya, removing a relatively new faucet is much easier than removing one that was twenty or so years in one place.

I think I would have like to seen the liftoff of the handle skyward, followed by the plume of water. And while my wife’s description was vivid, the thought of all that water in the face of such dry heat the last few weeks would have been refreshing, I think. And I guess my job afterward was that of the guys that prepare for the fireworks shows, only in reverse.


innominatus said...

I feel your pain, bro!

I've never had to swap a bathroom faucet, but done the kitchen a couple times. If you're like me, then back when you were around 30 you'd say to yourself "Self, I know we're not actually going to, but if I wanted, it'd *still* be possible that I could train my butt off and be a pro athlete." And we kind of believed it.

Then you turn 40 and crawl under a cupboard, get your arm tangled in the plumbing, have your neck go into cramps and spasms, drop a wet wrench on your teeth, and realize that you'll never, ever, ever, be a pro athlete.

aA said...

Bathrooms are a tighter fit, especially when you're over 6 foot and over 250 pounds. Kitchen work for me has involved the garbage disposal, new faucet and replacing the sprayer.

As for training to be an athlete, I never even entertained the thought.

Heck, I'll never even be a pro plumber.