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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Magic Plumbing Tool

There is a kitchen sink in the basement, but it hardly ever gets used. I am pretty much the sole occupant of this tier of the house. Occasionally someone will come down here to get something out of the fridge, or pass through on their way to the backyard, but that's about it. There is a faucet on the sink in the kitchenette and it hardly ever gets used. In recent years the spout has become a little difficult to turn and then sometime this year it developed a leak. At first it was so little I thought maybe it was just a little spilled water from when I rinsed out my drinking glass, but then wiping it up once a week wasn't cutting it anymore. Then my wife saw it, and now it's got to be fixed. My temporary solution would have been to turn the water off and just use the sink in the bathroom, it's only three or four paces farther, but we have 'standards', so no, it has to be fixed. 

The old faucet was a white American Standard, which we probably got because white was in fashion back then and that was the only one available at the time. It didn't quite match the color of the plastic sink, but it was pretty close. Now it has become a light cream color and the difference is a little more noticeable, not that anyone cares anymore. Whatever, it's leaking and it needs to be fixed. Replacing the seals should do it, and I should be able to order a kit online if the local faucet purveyors don't have it on hand. 

It's a single lever faucet and the first thing to do with these things is to take off the handle. On the underside of the handle about an inch up from the bottom of the skirt is a little plastic plug, usually designed to look like a trademark or something. Pulling that plug out gets you access to the screw that secures the handle to the actuating lever. On Delta faucets, that hole goes straight to the Allen socket in the end of the set screw. Stick the wrench in the hole, wiggle it around a bit and it will quickly sink into engagement. Then you can loosen the screw a few turns and pull the handle off. After you pull out the plug on the American Standard faucet you are faced with the abyss. The hole is just a hole in the skirt. There is no tube to guide you to your goal, and once you get there it's not an Allen hex socket, it's a Torx socket. Okay, nothing I can't handle since I have a flashlight and set of Torx screwdrivers. 

Ohio Forge Driver Bit Set
This looks just like the set of bits I bought a zillion years ago. Still have most of them.

I also have a set of Torx hex driver bits. Problem here is the hex shaft is like a quarter of an inch across and is too big to fit in the hole.

Handle off, the valve body is held on with three screws that come out easily. Now the spout is supposed to just pull off straight up. It won't. I've been resolved to buy a new faucet for some time now. The combined odds of getting this thing apart AND being able to locate a seal kit AND there is no other damage to the metal parts were just too low to expect that course of action to pay off. Buying a new faucet was the obvious solution, especially since it would likely be less than $100. So now I'm just playing. I put a block of wood between the spout and the base and start hammering on it, but I get no results. Any further hammering is going to have to wait until it's removed and on the bench.

Kobalt Faucet Change-out Tool

I found this fancy wrench at Lowe's when I picked up 

Delta Foundations; Chrome 1-Handle Deck-Mount Low-Arc Handle Kitchen Faucet (Deck Plate Included) (Note the red and blue emblem on the front of the handle.)

a new Delta kitchen faucet (~$70) for the basement sink. I've done some work on sinks, drains mostly. I have replaced the kitchen faucet a couple of times, but because the sink is in the corner, there is a big open area behind it, so everything is relatively easy to reach. This is the first faucet replacement I recall doing where the space behind the sink is limited. You can slide your hand in there, but that's about it. I knew plumbers had a special wrench for dealing with faucets, so I went looking for it. Nothing in the tool section, then I remembered they have a small tool section (one bay) of specialty tools in the plumbing section. I found the plumber's wrench and then I saw this thing, and I thought wow, somebody finally put two and two together. It only took about a zillion years. It was cheap too, relatively speaking, only $20.

This afternoon I finally roped Osmany into helping me replace the faucet. Well, he did all the work, I did all the step-n-fetch-it which involved going up and down the stairs to get tools and stuff from the garage, most of which was wrong. Wore me out, but we got faucet replaced. It's working and most of the debris has been cleared away. But how about that old faucet? What's the deal? We clamp it in the vise and with some effort we manage to work it free. Okay, Osmany worked it free. He is much stronger than I am. It was pretty ugly inside, goo and corrosion, but no real damage. Too bad, the exterior is now scuffed so you are faucet-non-grata and into the recycling bin it goes. Big chunk of brass there. Might be a nickel's worth.


Chris said...

I feel your pain. It's a global conspiracy to destroy the self-esteem of America men.

Jess said...

I changed a faucet earlier this year. It was a rewarding experience to finish the project, and reminded me the advancement of age bring cramps to certain muscles that have lain dormant for a few years. Cramping up is bad, but not being able to climb out from under the sink is worse.

xoxoxoBruce said...

At one time the electric company offered off peak meters on a timer so you could run things at a cheaper rate in the off peak hours. They did away with that, the end result being my water heater is on a separate meter.
The sink faucet in the cellar started dripping which I put on the bottom of the to-do list until I noticed a sizeable increase in the meter for the water heater. The drip had turned into a very fast drip, not quite a dribble but still an increase of several dollars a month on the electric bill from that drip..