Monday, June 26, 2006


It should be a law of physics: whenever you are down to the wire, and need every minute you have in order to meet a deadline, something happens.

That's what my weekend was like. As I was going to bed Friday night, I discovered that the hot on our antique claw-foot tub was leaking. It was dripping, but pretty steadily, so I tried to tighten the knob down to stop the drip until I could do something about it. Suddenly, the knob came loose in my hand, and the faucet began pouring out hot water.

Thankfully, claw-foot tubs usually have emergency shut-off valves behind the tub. I shut off the hot water line to stop the water flow. I was going to go straight to bed, but being a do-it-yourselfer by nature, I instead decided to take the knob off the fixture.

Now, you have to realize that although I like to do things myself, I have not had any plumbing experience. Quite the contrary - I learned to be like this by working on my car, an early eighties Nissan 280ZX. In other words, I know nothing about plumbing except from our drainage problems shortly after moving into the house.

After getting the knob off, I realized I had no clue what else to do, so I wrote Michael a note explaining the situation, and went to bed.

I intended to get the job done quickly first thing Saturday, and get to work on my writing projects; but naturally, that didn't happen. Although we don't think the fixtures on the tub are original, they are still considerably older. As a result, it took three trips to Home Depot - and a lot of trial-and-error - before we got everything we needed and got the tub fixed.

The stem (the piece that turns back and forth to open and shut the valve, allowing the water to turn on and off) came off easily. Apparently when I tried to tighten the knob, I actually unscrewed the stem.

The first trip to Home Depot, we bought a new stem and seat, because the stem that we had seemed kind of stiff, and because both my dad and a Home Depot employee recommended replacing the seat. After struggling and cursing and talking to my dad for quite a while, I finally got the seat out - only to find out that the new one was the wrong thread and wouldn't work.

So, back to Home Depot to get the right seat. We found one that was close enough to work, and headed home. Next, the replacement stem turned out to be too long - we couldn't open the valve and turn on the water!

We went to Home Depot one last time, and finally got it right: we just got a replacement seal, went home, and put the old stem back in. And it all works perfectly.

Unfortunately, that was easier told than done, and it pretty much took my entire day. I had to beg mercy on a couple of deadlines, which I hate doing. However, it was indescribably satisfying to know that I had successfully made my first home repair.

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