Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grampy Can Fix ANYTHING! (Part 1)

I’m not Mister Fix-it. I never was. I’m all thumbs when it comes to home repairs. I normally botch up the job royally and anything I “fix” looks like crap when I’m done with it. That withstanding, I decided this week to fix our tub shower. Yeah, I know, disaster waiting to happen.

We live in my wife’s family homestead, an old two-story farm house. By “old,” I mean really old. I’m told the house was built in 1906, which makes it 109 years old. That’s back when bathrooms were uncommon in this part of the world. As I understand it, people took baths in a free-standing tub in the kitchen with water heated on a wood burning stove. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I believe. Anyway, my wife says that the house was built without a bathroom. They added a bathroom in the 1960’s. In the late ‘70’s they moved the tub to put a washer and dryer in that spot and enlarged the room to put in a new tub with a shower. That’s what we’re using now. That makes the tub and fixtures approximately 40 years old…and showing their age.

The faucet has been leaky since we moved in about 7 years ago. I’ve replaced the valve washers several times and the valve seats a couple. They’re leaking again. I’d like to just pull the whole thing out and put in a new walk-in shower, but that would cost more than I can afford. I didn’t want to fix them myself, so I tried calling a local contractor who advertises that they do plumbing work and left a message on their machine. That was on a Saturday. I called again on Monday afternoon and left another message. When I still didn’t get a reply, I called another plumber on Tuesday…disconnected number. I tried a third guy whose wife said he was busy with folks who had frozen pipes but might be able to work me in on Thursday. I called Thursday morning when I hadn’t heard back from him, now she said he might be able to work me in on Monday.

Throw in a 3 day unexpected stay in the hospital here.

Still no callback by Monday, so I called one of the few numbers left in the phone book, a septic service.  Sorry, we only do drains, we don’t do plumbing. Last number in the book…Moto-Tooter. Yes, we do plumbing, we can get you tomorrow. YES! The next morning I get a call for details on what I needed done. Oops, sorry, we don’t work on Spice Fister brand faucets. What?

I considered calling one of the three local handymen I know (not Bubba…he’s upset with me over the last post I mentioned him in), but the other guy is known for cutting corners. I really don’t trust him to fix it right. I called the third, but changed my mind. I’ve reluctantly decided to do it myself…again. From the few “ball-park” estimates I had gotten from the plumbers that would even talk to me, a full replacement of the entire faucet assembly would cost anywhere from $250 to $500, depending on the brand and quality of the parts. Plus they would have to replace the wall panel for additional expense. I checked Spice Fister’s website and, of course, repair parts for my faucet are not available. Cost of the entire fixture was a little over $100. Replacing the entire valve means soldering would be involved…too much for me, it’s going to have to be parts only if I’m going to tackle the job.

A trip to the closest plumbing supply store was next. Nope, we don’t carry Spice Fister products…try the Deuce hardware store. Imagine my happiness when I discovered Deuce had repair kits with all the parts and they were only $13 each including tax. A special valve wrench was another $10 (I’ve got two of the things, but I couldn’t find them). Unfortunately they didn’t have the diverter valve kit, but could order it. Come back in two days. It’s now getting close to 3 weeks, I’m $36 in the hole, and I haven’t even started work on the project yet.

The diverter valve is supposed to be in tomorrow…and the faucet is still leaking. I can't wait to see our water bill.

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