Back in 2004 Wendy and I were relatively poor and relatively new homeowners with a fixer upper of a house and we possessed relatively paltry home improvement skills. When we were faced with one of our kitchen sink's faucet knobs fracturing in our hand as we suggested the faulty knob turn the flow of water off, we were left using a wrench to operate the kitchen sink. This left us feeling a bit dejected, as if we had been magically transformed into a couple of urban hillbillies.
This faucet died a hero.
A few days after our inherited faucet busted, we ventured out and purchased a reasonably priced replacement that would work in our existing sink, would operate reliably, and wouldn't look like it was more appropriate in a building outfitted in the classical stylings of Donald Trump than in our 19th century home. We knew this wasn't our "forever" faucet, so we just needed something that worked, but we didn't want it sticking out like a sore thumb.
The Price Pfister pfaucet we purchased has pfunctioned nearly pflawlessly since the pfateful day when we pforced ourselves to take the bull by the horns and pfinally learn some much needed plumbing skills.
After installing the faucet we felt like two very accomplished DIYers. This wasn't just painting something, this was correcting an issue with our home that would have caused many to call a plumber. It was a victory in a very minor battle in the DIY war, but it felt great nonetheless.
Today, nearly 10 years after installing our "not a forever faucet," it's worked relatively reliably for being a decidedly bargain purchase. Well, that is until a few weeks ago when our little faucet that could decided he was too good for our simple kitchen sink and would much rather begin performing in Vegas at the Bellagio as one of their world renowned fountains.
When I posted the video on
Instagram I joked that we'd be setting it to music and incorporating a light show, but as the leak kept getting worse, I realized the faucet must have heard me and thought it was its big faucet break. Each time we used the kitchen sink we were spraying water all over the kitchen counter. This spray led to a leak beneath the kitchen sink, which began to soak Wendy's bag hoard, causing this disaster over the weekend.
Oh the humanity!!!!
I didn't want to drop the cash on another "not-a-forever" faucet, but it seemed as if we had no other option. I'd attempted to reseat the O-ring seal I felt was the culprit, but it was to no avail, the water kept flowing from around the base of the faucet neck, casting a blanket of shame on our DIY house.
Curious what it begins to look like in a home where one inhabitant loves to cook, the bathroom sink is too small to do dishes, and you are unable to use the kitchen faucet for an extended period of time? Here you go.
Our adventure in our first steps to hoarding was not enjoyable. We couldn't allow this to go on. If this is what it looks like after a few hours, what will it be after a week? A month? A year? As
Matt Paxton of the television show Hoarders says, "We're all only four or five bad decisions away from taking a shit in a bucket."
Unwilling to accept our ultimate fate of taking to toilet buckets and jars around our house as we hop gingerly from pile to pile of soiled and stacked clothing, Beanie Babies, news papers, and trash, I pushed forward and attempted to fix our nagging issue over the weekend.
This fix, though minor in the eyes of many, was not for the benefit of us humans alone. I did it for Mel, who had glanced over at me with a knowing feline glint in his cheshire eyes, almost as if to say, "Don't you dare let some clutter cleaner discover me beneath a mound of creepy baby dolls and National Geographic magazines! You owe me more than that!!!" He was right, the cat had a point, and we had to take care of our issues, he had already endured too much in his life to be subject to the additional humiliation of hoarder parents.
With a goal in mind, I ventured to the big box on a classic Sunday evening supplies run, racing against the clock of the slightly earlier closing time, and hoping to pick up tiny parts necessary to fix the leak as well as a new faucet, just in case. The plan was to make the fix if possible, but if that proved too difficult (or impossible), just replace the whole darn thing. Best case, we'd just return the new faucet, worst case, we admit defeat and retreat, head in hands.
When I arrived in the vacant Sunday evening aisles, the polished cement floor glistened like a recently cleaned welcome mat for those without a weekend life. The first thing I saw on my way to the aisle marked "Plumbing (Plomeria)" was a stack of 5 gallon buckets. Was this a sign? An omen? A message relaying my eventual failure? I sternly carried on and proceeded to my destination, undeterred by this cosmic obstacle attempting to shroud my mind in a fog of self doubt.
I reached the display of faucets and began to peruse the selection. They hung above me like a police lineup of polished chrome and oil rubbed bronze culprits, waiting to be fingered for their crime. What were they accused of? Looking terrible and costing too much, that's what.
Among the goose necks with space aged handles, giant "restaurant style" pull downs, and weird looking monolith lever based devices, nothing looked even remotely appropriate for our home. Don't even get me started on the price tags. Our bargain faucet 10 years ago set us back about $50, today you can't get out of the aisle for less than $112! I think they are charging extra for all of the ugly they've successfully added to the products.
Defeated, I opted to venture to the parts and supplies aisle in the hopes I'd be able to find a replacement for the mangled and random O-ring I had removed from the innards of our faltering little faucet-that-could.
As I rounded the corner and entered the aisle I saw four other members of the nomadic Sunday shoppers in the barren desert of the big box aisles. All surely there for similar purposes as I. There they stood, futilely studying the backs of the packages they happened to be holding, trying in vain to understand the various instructions scribbled on the back of the box, instructions which appear at first blush to be written for the the layman, but upon reading are so obviously intended only for the Illuminati or those that have endured the "3rd degree." The pensive looks on their faces all said the same "Will this work in my case? Will this fix my problem? Will this make my wife happy?" Alone in their respective areas, united in their silence, defiant in the face of failure, we were all slaves to the big box inventory.
I found the prerequisite pegboard stacked with little plastic package after little plastic package of washers, nuts, O-rings, and trinkets. All items with a random purpose, all with an intended home, but none meeting the exacting dimensions of the worn and crooked O-ring I had removed from our fountain of a faucet.
As is the law of big box land, I found a store tag for the O-ring we needed, but a blank stock position just below. All other items were fully stocked, but this one item, the one that we absolutely required, was glaringly absent.
I fumbled around the other in stock items, searching desperately for an errantly placed box of O-rings lurking in an unsuspecting location. Nearly giving up hope and thinking back on where I had seen the 5 gallon buckets, knowing that was fast becoming my future, my salvation was presented when I stumbled on what appeared to be the last and only box of #17 O-rings in the store, and perhaps, on the planet.
With bounty in hand I turned and nodded to my nomadic shopping partners, with whom I'd formed a silent bond. Bidding them a head cock loaded with a fond farewell and wishes of good home improvement fortune, I whisked the packet of O-rings to the self checkout. I resisted the siren call of free paint samples knowing I had
pushed my luck too far with that venture in the past, and instead focused on my task at hand, hopeful the little rubber doodads I had selected would work in our particular situation.
When I arrived home I nervously begin my 30 second fix. The new O-rings were decidedly of a thicker variety than the old one, but was this because the old one had decayed over time, or was it because the new ones were simply the wrong size? Oh how I hoped it was the earlier of the two scenarios.
I packed the O-ring into the barren faucet spout and re-secured the faucet neck and hope for the best possible results. The moment of truth had arrived. I nervously proceeded with caution as I expected to watch as the first twist of the would undoubtedly result in a torrent of water sprayed like a fire hose all over the room. Flashes of devolving into the depths of hoarding flashed before my eyes. Grotesque visions of Wendy and I standing in front of our home as our life's possessions are carelessly tossed into an industrial sized dumpster, our toothless mouths agape. The images that ran through my head quickly faded as the water flowed only from the faucet's intended spout, rather than from the base.
Ah-ha!!! Success! I would be able to do dishes once again! We would not be relegated to the train wreck of reality TV. People would not have the opportunity to watch our horrid lives through the fingers of their hands covering their eyes. We were once again victorious in this "Battle of O-ring" in our DIY war! Victory was ours!!!
As I laid my head on my pillow knowing that I would fight another day in our DIY war, I reflected on the events of the day, and how much differently they could have played out. What would have happened if the O-ring had not fit? How would we have done dishes? What would our home have looked like after another month of a kitchen faucet that was essentially non-functioning? Then I remembered that our gutter downspout is still a flexible dryer vent hose, we still have storm windows partially completed, our guest bed's box spring mattress sits directly on the floor, and our master bathroom remains a distant mirage of water in this barren Sahara of home improvement. My mind wandered, my eyelids grew heavy, and I drifted off to sleep thinking of the battles in our DIY war we had yet to fight, worried we might not be victorious in the future.