Monday, April 12, 2010

Home improvement in 4 easy steps....

The ghettofication of our bathroom continues!  While turning on the shower last week, something inside the handle snapped.  Because of course it did.  Which meant that turning the water on or off was...difficult.  Unfortunately, we couldn't ignore this one the way we did the kitchen fauct for 4 months.  So after working for 4 hours on Sunday morning (!), off to Home Depot I went with printouts of replacement shower/tub faucets in hand.  After wandering around the store trying to find said faucets (seriously, where the eff are they?), a kindly employee took pity on my smelly, sleep-deprived self (4 am comes awfully early in the morning) and led me to the promised land.  Not of faucets but of REPLACEMENT HANDLES!  Oh happy day!  I could just replace the HANDLE and not the whole contraption.  This was sounding better and better all the while.  No special tools, plumbing equipment, sealers/caulkers, etc. needed.  All the repair required was a screwdriver. WHICH I OWN.  I can DO this.  Watch out Ty Pennington, it is ON.
The 'So Easy a Mommy of Two Can Do It' instructions:
Step 1 - using a flat blade (such as a screwdrive), remove the cap of the handle
Step 2 - unscrew the screw from the handle and remove the rest of the unit
Step 3 - replace with new handle unit, screw into place
Step 4 - replace cap
Step 5 - done!

See, verra easy, only...not.  What actually happened:
Step 1 - removed cap.  It just pops off!  Awesome!
Step 2 - crap, it needs a phillips head, okay, fine. (trudges downstairs to get it).  Okay, now we are ready.  Insert business end of screwdriver, turn and....nothing.  Hm, okay, looks like it's slipping a little.  Try some more force.  And....nothing.  Uh, is the hole getting bigger?  No, just my imagination.  Okay, more force and leverage....nope, still not - wait, it's turning.  It's turning!  With more force and wrist action and yeah, now we're turning...but why is the screw not coming out?  And why is the screw head hole getting more round and less '+-y'?  And why is the water turning on...oh crap!  Forgot to turn off the water first. (Note to all home improvement peoples out there:  when working with plumbing TURN OFF THE WATER.) Run backdownstairs, turn off water to ENTIRE house, back upstairs, back to work with FORCE and LEVERAGE.  Which isn't doing anything except 1) turning the entire apparatus and 2) completely destroying the '+'.  What the hell is this screw made of?  Cotton candy?  *Grits teeth* Why. Won't. You. LOOSEN?  Screwdriver is now COMPLETELY USELESS as the screw head now resembles a BELLY BUTTON.  To hell with this, let's break out the big guns.  C'mere my little adjustable wrench.  Just grab hold like a good little tool and WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT YOU WON'T WORK?  FINE. I'LL GO BACK TO MY FAVORITE FIX-IT DEVICE: needle-nosed pliers (hey, worked for the kitchen faucet....). Go find needle nose pliers.  Keep in mind that THIS whole part of the adventure has taken about 15 minutes now.  And counting.  Grab the rusty pliers (see:  kitchen faucet) and try to force open.  Since it won't.  (see:  rust).  Okay, now we are ready.  Grab hold of that screw head and turn and...the whole thing continues to turn.  Repeatedly.  Adjust position.  Nothing.  Adjust grip. Nothing.  Climb INTO bathtub to get a better angle.  Nothing.  At this point it's a matter of pride. 

While this is going on, Dyl is trying to get Noah down for a nap (so not happening) and Noelle is running around being...3.  She keeps coming into the bathroom "What you doing Mommy?"  "Why you in bathtub?"  Mommy, meanwhile is trying very hard not to start yelling at the handle with words not meant for little ears.  I'm tired, I'm hungry, I desperately need to pump because boobs = full.  And the stupid screw will not loosen.  At this point I'm kneeling in the bathtub, tearing up in frustration and begging the screw to loosen.  Which always works, right?  It doesn't?  Well, crap.

Even the manic energy brought on by pride has given out.  FINE.  I 'll call a plumber.  I give up.  No mas.  'Uncle'.  This was not for lack of trying.  Though I have a suspicion that I just made things worse.  This whole time, Dylan has been wrangling the children and most likely wondering if he will ever be able to take a shower again.  And he brought up the Home Depot Repair Book (or something like that) which he was smart enough NOT to bring to me in the bathroom surrounded by tools from our toolbox flung haphazardly around said bathroom in the desperate hope that something would work.  Which it did not.  Of course.

I did end up leafing through the book later because, ya know, masochistic and all that, and think that I figured out why the screw would NOT loosen:  Because it most likely has some plumber's gunk on it to keep it from leaking.  There can be no other reason and I was in danger of going into a paroxysm of manic laughter since if that is indeed the case, there is NO WAY this would be an easy project.  I can't get the handle off to get to the screw to remove the gunk to allow the screw to come out which will allow me to change the handle to turn it for water. 

I am so not looking forward to making this phone call to the plumber.

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