Friday, January 30, 2015

Grampy CAN'T fix anything!

Part 3 of a series.

This has turned out to be an ongoing saga of frustrations. Instead of posting another dozen entries about it, I created a document and have been updating it every few days. The project is now complete…at least for the moment, so here’s the rest of the story.

Tuesday: Called the Guy at Deuce Hardware in the afternoon. Same excuse as last Thursday, the truck just came in and hasn’t been unloaded yet. I told him I would call again on Wednesday.

Wednesday: By now it was no surprise that the part didn’t come in (again), but he said he ordered it again. I told him not to bother. I looked around online and found several places that stock Spice Fister, so I ordered a new diverter valve and valve seat from A2Z Plumbing. The online price was much less than what Deuce wanted, but shipping was more than the price of the parts. I ended up spending about the same as what Deuce Hardware wanted, but (fingers crossed) I should have the part in seven to ten business days.
Meanwhile I’ve continued thinking about how to turn off the main water supply. I think I have a workable solution, I’ll probably get busy working on that in the next day or two.

Friday: I picked up a short 1x2 and a small metal U bracket at Blowe’s and constructed a rough tool to turn off the main water valve. Not a perfect solution, but it works. I’m amazed. I also picked up a new PVC valve and couplings to replace the hot water shutoff valve…the butterfly handle on the old valve broke off because we used it so much to keep the hot water from dripping. I think I still have a length of PVC pipe left over from when I had the toilet repaired (see my post from May 3, 2014). An email from the USPS says the diverter valve is scheduled to be delivered Monday. How ironic is it that the USPS uses email to communicate with their customers?
By the way, I notice I never did an update on that old post in May about the toilet repair. I got on Facebook and asked if anyone knew a good plumber. To my great surprise, my supervisor from my last job came over and did the repair for me. Thanks, Bill.

Saturday: This month’s water bill arrived. Highest bill in the last 12 months, but not astronomically high. Actually only about $6 more than last month…but the water has been dripping for quite a while. I’ll be curious to see how much it drops if I ever get the leak fixed.

Monday: We had the first major snow of the season this morning…USPS tracking showed the diverter valve out for delivery, but as of 9:30 P.M., it hasn’t been delivered. The roads are clear now, but I don’t think it’s going to make it today. Couldn’t find the PVC pipe…looks like I’m going to have to buy another 5’ length of the stuff since the hardware store doesn’t seem to sell little short pieces. Just as well, I need some solvent/glue for it anyway. It’s about four weeks now since I started this project and I still haven’t done any actual work. Meanwhile the water continues to drip at an ever faster pace.

Tuesday: 10 P.M. and no diverter valve (again). Snow is gone but USPS tracking still shows it “out for delivery” as of Monday morning. We don’t live THAT far away from the post office. I decided to test fit the replacement valve, couplers, etc. for the hot water shut off on the pipe I purchased yesterday. Surprise! I bought the wrong size pipe. Duh! I need to get out tomorrow morning and do some other shopping anyway, I’ll stop at Blowe’s and exchange it for the correct size.

Wednesday: 3:45 P.M.  I received a note in my mailbox to pick up a package at the post office. The post office closes in fifteen minutes. Looks like it will be another day before I can get started. How big a package does a valve stem need? Surely it would have fit in the mail box…and our mail carrier has always put packages on our porch that won’t fit in the mailbox. Why change now? I’m thinking about buying an extra large mailbox this spring.
I returned the PVC pipe this morning to get the correct size and discovered that the correct sized pipe is made of CPVC not PVC. Because of differences in their chemical makeup, CPVC and PVC require different primers and solvents. There are some universal products, but the one I had purchased was for PVC only. I picked up a can of the correct solvent, but I didn’t have the original can of solvent with me. I’ll have to return that one to Blowe’s tomorrow when I go to the post office.

Thursday: I picked up the diverter valve at the post office but had a lot of other things to do scattered throughout the day. Two visits to doctors, one a followup with my family physician about the cyst I had drained and the other was taking my brother-in-law to his cardiologist. Throw in trips to the grocery store and Blowe’s to exchange the pipe solvent and the day was pretty much shot. I’ll get started on it tomorrow.

Friday: I have all the parts I think I need, so I can finally get started on the project! I should have known there would be more problems. Just getting the faucet handles off was a major task. They were badly corroded and solidly stuck to the stems. I had to beat them without mercy before they would come off.
I decided to tackle the diverter valve first. The stem came out pretty easy…it was somewhat similar to the new one I had purchased, but they didn’t look EXACTLY alike. Cue the dramatic background music. I tried to get the wrench in to take out the valve seat but couldn’t get it to work. Went and grabbed a flashlight…something was in the hole that didn’t look like a valve seat. Went and got a small drill bit to fish out whatever it was. Looks like a part of the original valve stem. The original had apparently broken apart. With the obstruction out of the way I was able to take out the valve seat. Increase the volume of the dramatic music…the old seat was not even similar to the new one. They had completely different sized threads. The old one didn’t look that bad so I put it back in. Next I tried to put the new valve stem in…wrong size threads. Realization sets in. I bought the wrong stem. Spice Fister makes two different diverter valves…50-50 chance I’d get the wrong one. Bingo. Okay…I put the old stem back in minus the broken part. We both shower, so we don’t need the diverter valve to close anyway.
Move to the hot water faucet. First problem, the body of the valve stem is recessed into the wall and I can’t get a wrench on it. After working with it for a while I found that I could pull on the spout and the whole assembly would move out just far enough to get a grip on the stem. I took the old stem out and…to no surprise by this time, it looked completely different. No similarities whatever. Totally defeated by this time, I screwed the old stem back in and turned the water back on.

Surprise! No drip…or at least a significantly less drippy drip.

Put the handles back on. My job is done. Total cost of the entire project…probably around $70. Total cost of parts actually needed, about $10 for the tool to turn the main water valve on and off.

I think I’ll wait a while before I try to replace the ball valve on the hot water heater.

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