Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stop! Plumber time

My bathtub faucet has had a slow drip for a while. It's part of why #67 on my life list exists. I need to fix or replace that faucet. Monday it got worse. I got out of the shower, turned off the water, and instead of a slow drip I had a small, thin, steady stream of water coming from the tap. Crap. I tested it with my finger. Hot water. And again I say, crap.

One of the people I used to work with in the library is married to a plumber. I called him, told him my problem, described as best I could the kind of faucet I was dealing with (he thought it was a Moen, but I couldn't find a name anywhere on the thing), and made an appointment for Tuesday morning at 8.

Tuesday morning he shows up right on time, checks my faucet and says it needs a new cartridge. It's definitely a Moen, one of their first ones, and it should be pretty simple to fix. After he replaces the cartridge he has me turn it on. It is surprisingly easy to move. He said I should be able to turn it on with two fingers. When it starts to fight me, that means the cartridge is going and should be replaced. As an illustration, he turned on the bathroom sink faucet. And said, "Hmm. Why don't I replace this one while I'm here? And while I'm doing it you watch me. That way when the downstairs powder room faucet goes, you can fix it yourself."

Huh. Wasn't expecting that.

So he got another cartridge out of his van, and proceeded to give me a lesson in how to turn off the water main in my house (turn it off, then let the water out through the kitchen sink faucet), followed by a narrated demonstration on how to take apart my faucet, which way the cartridge should go into the pipe (notch up, otherwise the hot and cold water get reversed), the importance of greasing everything with something called "key grease" before inserting the cartridge, putting the faucet back together, turning the water main back on (turn off the kitchen tap and v-e-e-e-r-r-r-y slowly turn the main back on), and voila! Fixed faucet. He gave me the part name and stock number that I need, then said, "Well, here, use this," and handed me the plastic baggie from the part he just used. It has all that info on it in big print. Apparently I can get these and key grease at Lowe's or Home Depot. He said Moens are designed specifically so that homeowners can fix them without special equipment or knowledge.

I bumped into his wife the next day at work. I asked her if he shows all his customers how to do things themselves. She said yes. She says he wants to demystify plumbing. Sometimes he even talks people through what they need to do over the phone instead of showing up and charging them for a visit. My first thought was that he's teaching himself right out of a job (he's self-employed), but you know what? If I have a big problem, he's who I'm calling. And I'm giving his name to anyone in the area who needs a plumber. That lesson sowed the seeds of goodwill.

And? I got #67 of my life list. I can fix my faucet. I don't need to yet, but when the time comes, I know what to do.