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Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Offended the Faucet Goddess

Orange is rust. Or something.
The light orange is from the handheld shower drip.
No, I cannot bend long enough to clean it off.
Stream of orange is from when I accidentally leave the lever turned to shower.
See "rust"  in one side of shower head?

Warning: spell check is not working. Either that or I am a marvelous typist today.

For the last year, the water in my commode has run constantly. When I figured this out, a day or so after it started, I just turned off the water to the commode. Luckily the water cutoff is not on the side toward the corner. It is still a pain in the neck. Exbf has no idea how to replace things in the tank. Charlie looked at it and said he could try....eight months ago....but he had never replaced the insides of a commode before. And, he has not been back. I cannot afford a plumber. It is so hard not to have enough money.
Soooo, I am stuck with that issue in the bathroom.

Plus, the wire/chain that the handle attaches to inside the tank has been broken. I could fix that, but the clip broke, too. That leaves me to plunge my arm into the tank. In hot weather, the water is tolerable. In cold weather, the water is torture. Plus, the bathroom is frigid in the winter. A guy who is going to fix it all attached a piece of copper wire until he can come and fix commode and tub. Still, there is a water leak and the insides of the tank need replacing entirely. I replaced the flap. That was not the whole problem.

Now, for the tub issues. This is a clawfoot tub that has been in the house since water came to this subdivision in the 1930's, maybe even earlier. Before that, an outhouse and pump supplied hygiene and water.

Okay, onto the tub tale after my digression, rabbit trails.... 
When we moved in, the tub faucet did not mix the water (two spigots), so I had to run all bath water for the children. The children were 9, 7, and 20 months. The water had to be stirred in the tub with a hand because there could be pockets of near-scalding water. I would allow the nine-year-old to run water but had to check it before he got in or anyone else did. When I figured he got it right all the time, I never checked when he ran bathwater for himself and the seven-year-old sister. He could run it for the baby, but I checked it before I put her in and bathed her.

The faucet had a tiny drip.

Of course, soon the faucet just failed and with good cause. It dripped a bit too much (still tiny drip) and ex knew how to stop that. He came in and declared he had fixed the drip. I was thrilled that he did his first handyman chore in our twelve years of marriage! He leaned on it with all his weight, so hard that even I could not get the water on. After two or three times of his fix, the faucet had a catastrophic failue and we had to purchase another old $5 faucet. Then, we had to get someone to put it in. He was never around when the faucet was replaced and never learned. He just got a friend of his to come by while I was home and fix it.

He repeated his fix for each leaky faucet and caused failure at least four more times.

All the faucets we purchased for $5 or less were from a wonderful salvage place two blocks from our home. I loved to go there and get my hands dirty. Okay, I did love to go there. Everyone else there, including women, were already grimy all over from working. I was the girly-girl, picking carefully like I could keep the dirt off, grease and grime off me. Ex-husband would not go because he had on a suit and might touch something.

After I got a  divorce, only one old faucet failed in many years. But, it was the last one the ex had used brute force on. I had a friend who replaced it for me. Yes, it dripped, a slow drip. But, I figured it was my fate in life to have drips or catastrophic failures in the tub faucet. No washer or plumber ever really fixed one, just slowed the drip. Even when I paid big bucks to the best licensed plumber in town, the guy just said it was the best he could do. He also took my money and later I discovered he put no cutoff on the water behind the tub. When I asked him why he did not put in a cutoff, he said, "That's too hard."

I really am getting to the point.

One Friday evening, the water would not turn off at all. The cold water faucet flowed full force for 18 hours.  You have no idea how humid it was in here. A friend said he would come by early the next day on Saturday. The salvage place had closed years before, but another plumbing supply place was on the next block. So, the friend showed up at 11 am, not early like he promised. He turned off the water at the road, something I could not do. He fiddled with the faucet, took it off, tried to seduce me, made me angry, and finally decided I needed a new faucet.

We jumped in his car and he slowly proceeded to the plumbing supply that did have a few old, old, ancient faucets to fit my tub. Yes, I called and located what I thought I might need. As we approached the light, it turned red and I saw the owner leave his shop, closing it up at noon on Saturday, just like I knew he would. He had driven away by the time the light turned green.

No other place had a faucet to fit my tub--Lowe's, Kmart, Walmart or local hardware stores. We finally went to a place that carries Restoration Hardware and is an architectural salvage business. Yes, they had just what I needed, new and for $350 dollars. I think that was $389 after tax!

If you have passed out, I will wait for you to regain consciousness. Ready?

I did have choices: leave the water turned off at the road for 4 days while I arranged for/shopped for a cheaper faucet, and a different friend here, and take a day off from work, I asked nicely if they would hold my check for two weeks since I got paid monthly. They agreed. My lecherous, married friend put in that faucet.  If I had had time to scrape up anybody else, he would have been out the door. I cannot afford plumbing on a Saturday from a real plumber.

Six months later, it failed too. Why me? What did I ever do to the goddess of faucets? Thankfully, I never offended the goddess of fire!  That faucet did develop a slow, streaming leak. For the price I paid, this was not setting well with me. So, the archectural antiques guy gave me a faucet to use until that one was sent back to the company for repairs. Honest, I never turned it off hard because I knew better. Something metal on the inside ate up something metal on the inside. That or something like that was the diagnosis. Got that?

Surely, you have guessed by now. That loaner faucet leaked too!!! Since it was lent to me for awhile, I could not complain. That was 10 +years ago. The guy never called back to say my faucet had arrived! This faucet was/is so fancy that I never worried about getting the old one back. The leak has increased from a drip to a flow. Even so, I still use half the water than one person uses....all according to the Water Department. This faucet was acquired 10+ years ago. It has lasted longer than any faucet ever!

My current "problem" started about two months ago. I kept having a puddle up near where the drain is located. Since I can no longer get up from the tub (back, torn rotator cuff, torn meniscus), I just use the hose attached and stand to take a "shower." I hate this form of ablution, but I am clean and sort of refreshed. However, I was not being sloppy, letting the shower squirt water outside the tub, as  I soon discovered. Since there are 70-yea-old plaster walls in there and no showerboard, I have to be careful.

Then, the problem got worse until this morning  when the whole bathroom was flooded. The shower was still on even though the water was turned off. I forgot to turn the lever to faucet mode. So, the stream of water streamed down the from the shower head to the shower hose outside the tub and all over the floor. It took me several hours to figure the handle was still on shower mode! Not to be defeated, I figured out how to solve my problem.

The end of the faucet is the size of a dime. Lowe's plastic tubing the size of a dime, 10' x $0.50=$5 solution. Presently, the hose is on the faucet and the other end is over the edge of the commode bowl. Of course, I have ruined all the linoleum flooring now. Whatever.... Hopefully, the wood is not rotting. I am the eternal optimist.
filling the commode tank

Now,  I have temporarily attached the hose to the tank of the commode so I don't have to turn on the cut off behind the commode. I can flush with water that usually just runs down the tub drain.
When the guy from an organization that is going to help me was here, I told him I had resigned myself to a leaky faucet. If he could just stop the leaky pipe outside the tub, I would be happy. He put down O-ring on his list, so maybe he will tackle the faucet.  I hate to sound jaded, but I don't hold out much hope for success on his part.

About the two handles, one cocked up and one down--I don't know why. It just came that way. Both are off! Oh, no other faucet in this house has or ever has had even one drip, just the tub. Okay, I am on the second bathroom sink and second kitchen sink faucet in 35 years. This is the tenth faucet or more for the tub.

Your turn
Have your ever offended the goddess of faucets and lived for 35 years with various leaky faucets? Have you ever just resigned yourself, deciding to live eternally with a small, seemingly unfixable solution after many failed attempts by many skilled people? Now, these were professionals, friends who just knew plumbing, ancient faucets and new in the box faucets. Women friends I have known for years just shake their heads at the leaky faucet.  So do guy friends who know less than I do about plumbing. What god or goddess have you offended?


  1. Yes. I am being punished by that very same Goddess. My kitchen sink is a farm sink. The faucets were rigged up using outdoor garden faucets I think. Thats what it looks like to me. There is no mixer. So i have either hot or cold water. Plus its a back mounted faucet.
    It has an extra wide span-12.5 inches as I recall. But there is only one company that makes these back mounted want 350 for the set plus extra for the expanders and also if I don't like the handles which I do not, they can sell me the ones I want for another 150 dollars. I think I will buy new garden faucets and rig up a mixer myself. Or get rid of the sink of course, which puts me back to step one either way.
    Good luck to you:) I understand.

  2. Guess my post was for you today! I have fixed some of those things but never enjoyed it. Those I could not fix often a friend of a friend would come over and help out often in exchange for a good meal. If you ever have a chance to pick up this book at a garage sale get it. One of my grandmother's hand-me-downs. Just copy the address to see it. Oh girl -- I do feel for you!

  3. Carol,
    I thought it funny we were both discussing sink issues. I can have all the manuals in the world and never be able to do the repairs. If I cannot clean the tub unless I spend a week doing a bit at a time, I certainly cannot do plumbing. Both hands have been injured. Remember? I am not strong enough. I could pick up the manua for people who can help

    No mixer is a pain. I don't even know what a garden faucet is. Maybe I can go in the basement and see what is mounted down there. It is a monstrosity, wide, and no mixer. It is rarely used.

    Prices are outrageous! They would have had what you needed at our nifty little salvage store. That place always had two dozen people in it, at least. It was not like other small, local hardware places with only three customers. You could tell the customers were mostly builders or do-it-yourselfers. I rarely could do the work, but I knew enough to get the things needed. Be careful what goddess you offend. Keep the farm sink, even if to use outdoors or in an outbuilding. An outdoor sink is useful if you only hook a garden hose to it. Unless it is gross, I would keep it in the kitchen.

    1. I have to show and tell my outdoor sink. I will once I can go outside again:( for some reason we have three old sinks on this more in the shed, plus the kitchen nd outdoor sink.

    2. That would be a good blog subject.


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