Sunday, January 20, 2008

Butterflys in my bathroom

It has not been a particularly successful weekend for me plumbing-wise.

The butterfly flapped its wings.

My bathroom basin had a dripping tap, so I surmised that the tap needed a new washer. So, off I went to the local hardware store to buy said item, and returned to unscrew the top of the tap to fit the new washer. Unfortunately, the tap thread was completely frozen and no amount of fiddling about would shift it; I recall my plumber telling me that this tap had a problem several years ago. Never mind, I didn't like the taps anyway, so I decided to replace both taps on the basin, which would involve unscrewing the taps from below. So I applied some penetrating oil, and then went off to a large out-of-town hardware store where they had a good selection of taps, found what I wanted, and returned to fit them to my basin. I turned off the water at the main supply, and proceeded to use my under-the-sink wrench to loosen the nut connecting the water pipe to the tap, but rapidly discovered that the wrench's handle was far too short (and thin!) to apply sufficient torque to do the job, nor was it possible to attach anything to the handle to increase the torque. Off I went to the large hardware store again to buy a better under-the-sink wrench, which did the job once I inserted my hammer in its jaws to apply sufficient torque. Now all I needed to do was to detach the tap itself from the basin, so I applied the wrench again but found that the nut attaching the tap to the basin was frozen in place. To unfreeze it I reasoned that I could jiggle the tap backwards and forwards, using wrenches simultaneously above and below the basin. Jiggle, jiggle, wrench, curse, WRENCH ... crack!! The basin was now in several pieces, with cracks radiating from the tap that I had been working on. WTF happened? Oh well, the basin would now need to be replaced as well so I started to pull away the loose section behind the tap, and immediately cut my thumb by trapping it between the edges of two broken basin pieces. It was a deep cut about 2cm long and there was blood everywhere, so I had to retire for a while to mend my thumb. Later on, I returned to the basin to discover that the reason it had broken was that the part of the tap that passed through the basin had a square cross section, and the hole in the basin that it passed through was also square. Great!! Now I know that wrenching the tap around backwards and forwards was guaranteed to break the basin. Anyway, the tap was now free of the basin because I had smashed the basin, but there was enough of the basin left intact that I could still use it pending its replacement, so I put a new tap on the free end of the water pipe and gracefully dangled it over the broken edge of the basin. I turned the main water supply back on, so now I had a tap that didn't drip, but a basin that needed to be replaced.

The butterfly flapped its wings, and the puff of air developed into a gust of wind.

OK, so now I needed a new bashroom basin. I picked up a piece of the broken basin in order to use it as a colour swatch to match its nice pale blue colour to a new basin in the large out-of-town hardware store. Off I went to the store to find that all of their basins were white. Oh no! At first I assumed that they put the white basins on display and held a selection of coloured ones in the store room, but I rapidly discovered that they had only white. This was a large store, so this was as good as things would get for me. I realised with dawning horror that if I wanted a colour matched bathroom suite then I would need to replace the entire suite. I looked around nervously at the prices of whole suites, and realising that I would have to have it fitted professionally I mentally added in that cost as well. The total cost would not be less than £1000 in round figures. Perhaps I'll get used to having a broken bathroom basin! Maybe I could pass it off as an interesting new art form, and put a First Aid kit by the side of it for people to staunch their wounds when they cut themselves! No, that won't work. I'll have to spend loadsamoney on fixing this problem.

The butterfly flapped its wings, the puff of air developed into a gust of wind, and the gust of wind developed into a howling storm.

I should have got a plumber in to fix my dripping tap, but personal pride took over and made me attempt to do the job myself.

By the way, I have now found some specialist suppliers who sell discontinued coloured bathroom suites, so maybe I could replace only the basin, but I'll have a think about things to decide whether I might as well buy a whole suite anyway


Alfie said...

I empathise with your story re the sink and am in the proccess of finding a coloured sink. can you help?

Stephen Luttrell said...

Unfortunately, I have been procrastinating. 3 months have gone by and I have still not replaced the sink, so I can't help you.