Fixing leaks

When we moved into our house 3 and a half years ago, the main tub faucet leaked. Along with some other things. Actually, a lot of other things. There was a leak where the fireplace met the roof, which poured serious water in, but only about twice a year when it rained really hard. There was a leak around one of the sewer exhaust vents. One of the toilets started leaking sewage onto the floor below. One of the toilet shutoff valves leaked. One of the toilet towers leaked. One of the sink shutoffs developed a leak. I think that completes the tally. Oh, except for the two separate downspout issues that led to the flooding of the basement two springs in a row. Oh, and the two double door leaks that damaged the wood floor. Oh, and the refrigerator leak. That’s it. I think. Wow, that sounds pretty bad in retrospect. If only that were the extent of the problems with this place. 😀

There are a lot of things that I tolerate and a few things that I obsess about. Fruit flies drive me crazy. So do those little moths that get into the grains. I’ve become adept at swatting both out of the air – WAY more practice than I would like. Then there are mosquitoes. I will go hunting all over the house if I see or hear a mosquito. Steph just laughs at me. Leaks are another one of my obsessions. I don’t like them – especially when they can or do cause damage. I have been repairing these various things as I have found them in order of urgency – except for this tub faucet. Since it was just leaking down the drain, it was no big deal.  I had tentatively looked at what it would take to fix it a number of times and it always seemed like a big, big job.

Some of the fixes were easy – replacing the shutoff valves for example. Some required several tries, like the fireplace – which had to be done after the rain, after it dried out, and with enough time for the patchwork to dry out before it rained again. The worst was the toilet sewage leak. I tried “quick” fixes of pulling the stool and redoing the wax ring a number of times. I finally ended up reworking the whole assembly which took only slightly longer than the “quick” fixes, but seemed to do the job.

But this shower has just drip, trickle, dripped along until a few weeks ago. Now to be fair, it did stop leaking for a while. I don’t know why, but when I changed out the tank tower in the upstairs toilet, the downstairs tub stopped leaking. Weird? Definitely. Until I did some other plumbing repair – replacing one of the shutoff valves, I think. Then it started it’s continual dripping again. It looks like the previous owners had tried to do something about it, because they punched a whole in the wall in the bedroom directly opposite the leaky tub faucet. Of course, that could have been random as there were other holes in various places as well.

My great hope was that we would sell the house and the leak along with it. That hasn’t happened, so after 40+ months of money just running down the drain, I decided to tackle this problem.

I finally was able to find an internet site or two that explained how to fix a leak in a faucet like mine. And it seemed pretty straightforward. Simple even.

1) Remove handle

2) Remove cover

3) Remove cartridge pin

4) Replace cartridge

5) Reassemble

Hey, I can do that. There is just a little screw on the underside of the handle that needs to be removed. I got some allen wrenches, found the right size, and tuuuuuuurrrrrrn, BAM. Stripped the wrench. Me not happy. Retire to something else while I think about this problem. Got motivated a couple of days later. Drove to town and got another allen wrench and some Liquid Wrench. Aha! Take that! Tuuuuuuuurrrrrnnn, BAM! Stripped the screw. If I were given to profanity, I think I would have had some choice words at this point, because me definitely not happy. Retire in frustration to something else while I cogitated on this problem. A couple of days later, I drove to town and bought an easy-out, drilled a hole in the screw and tried that with the liquid wrench. (An easy out is used with a drill and digs into the screw but in such a way that as it does, it turns the screw out.) WHEUO! WHEEEEEEUOerrrrruhhh. Bound up the drill a number of times, but that screw was like an armchair quarterback on Superbowl Sunday. It would not move. Let’s just say I was a wee bit frustrated and leave it at that. All of my searchings on the Internet about how to repair these things, NOBODY ever talked about a petulant screw that wouldn’t be removed. NOBODY. I should mention that I also tried essential oils on it and nothing helped.

In the end, I was determined to get that little screw out of there no matter what the cost, and I finally ended up just drilling the entire screw out, ruining the handle, but fulfilling step 1. YAY!!! One down, only 4 to go! Only took 2 weeks of intermittent work and frustration.

The other steps were not without their challenges as well, but are far less interesting than the less than Pulitzer worthy paragraphs above. But the end result is that, finally, the tub doesn’t leak. Only took 3 weeks to complete those 5 simple steps.

Anyway, this give some new perspective on the “continual dripping” referenced in Proverbs. Not only does it drive you crazy, which is how I always took it, but it is possible that it is no easy fix.

–steve

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