The faucet in my shower had been dripping for months. I’d been meaning to fix it, but it just never seemed to get done. Well since I’d gotten back from Mexico, the drip has turned into virtually a constant small stream of water. I needed to get the damn thing fixed. No problem, I thought, just an hour or so –including the trip to Home Depot for parts. Wasn’t quite so easy.
Day 1: Pry the little “C” cap off the knob and unscrew the knob. Ony took about 2 minutes. This is easy! But then I hit the first hurdle. Neither my wrench nor pliers can open large enough to get around the packing nut.
So I head off to Home Depot for a wrench. To the North Ave. Home Depot. The busiest Home Depot in the country. On a Saturday afternoon, when the Lincoln Park and Gold Coast yuppies are all there buying things to spruce up their condos and townhouses. I didn’t want to make a second trip, so I swing by the plumbing dept. hoping that there’s some sort of standard to the replacement parts for faucets and if I can describe it a bit he’ll say that it’s this or that. No luck. Could be any of hundreds of parts, I’m told… Go Home and put faucet back together again.
Day 2: Having successfully removed the packing nut with my new wrench, I fight to get the stem out. I’m turning and turning waiting for the thing to unscrew. After 15 minutes, I begin to wonder whether it actually screws out. I hold the outer part of the stem with my pliers and try fully unscrewing the part that the knob moves when turning on and off. It doesn’t come out. So in frustration, I simply yank at the stem. It comes out! Silly me.
OK, now that I’ve got the part out I take it to Home Depot. The same full of yuppies North Ave. store as the day before. I take it to the plumbing dept. and show it to a couple of the salespeople. One doesn’t think anything’s wrong with it. I tell him it’s leaking so SOMETHING’S WRONG with it. He tells me to talk to another salesperson. That guy looks at it and says it’s too old. So I try the nearby Ace Hardware. I get a similar story. The faucet’s old and they can’t carry parts for every faucet made. He’s at least helpful and tells me to try a specialty plumbing store, and gives me the names of a couple. Unfortunately, none of these places are open on Sunday. Return home and put faucet back together again.
Day 3: I get up a few minutes early so I can swing by one of those specialty plumbing stores on the way to work. They’re both kind of on the way, so I figure I’ll try one and if no luck there I’ll go to the other. But finally a break! I walk into Community Home Supply and show the guy behind the counter the part, and he instantly recognizes it. And he’s got the part right there below the counter. And it was only $5.15 — 1/3 the price of faucet stems I’d seen at Home Depot and Ace. So I buy two of them –might as well replace the hot faucet as well. When I get home from work, I disassemble the faucet, pop in the new part and reassemble the faucet in about 1 minute (I’ve gotten enough practice!). No more leak!
So it took a little longer to complete the job then I’d assumed, but I successfully completed the job. When tackling these home repair jobs, I need to keep in mind that they are never as easy as they first appear. I’m starting to learn my lesson, especially living in an older building. It’s not that old — built in 1968 — but I guess that’s one of the problems with Home Depot being headquartered in Atlanta, where nothing’s over 10 years old.