You could subtitle this, “A Story About Admitting My Age”.
Wednesday morning, I went out to the kitchen to start a pot of tea. I’m drinking tea, in solidarity with my wife, who has to do so because of her Congestive Heart Failure. Coffee on a regular basis is no longer a possibility for her. And as I stepped up to the sink, an old problem reared its soaking wet head: a puddle in front of the sink.
Oh no, NOT again.
We’ve had problems with the sink plumbing on and off, ever since we remodeled. The root cause has always been the disposer, which I bought at the same electrical and plumbing outfit where I’ve bought all the pipe and fixtures for the house – even when we built it, some 26 years ago. The disposer was supposed to be ‘better than the InSinkErator’ that I’d installed when we built the house. But it hadn’t been. The last time, I thought I had it fixed for good, since there were no leaks for a few years.
This time it was the disposer AGAIN. Only now the housing was leaking. Time for a new one, and good riddance, you old SOB.
I mean, really. This disposer had been trouble ever since six months out of its warranty: the torque from it would cause the drain pipes to leak on a regular basis.
I went to get out from under the sink, and the agony from my old shoulder would not let me get to my feet.
After I figured out a way to stand up, my wife looked up a plumber in Angie’s List, and we called. God’s hand was on this, clearly:
They’d had a cancellation and could come out the next day.
And they normally carried InSinkErator disposers (an inexpensive one, and a good one) on the truck.
And the price was good.
And the call time would be after our Thursday Morning Men’s Breakfast.
So after I left the Breakfast a bit early, I wasted no time driving home, and found the plumbers’ truck in the driveway. They had arrived about four minutes before I did. After our ‘good mornings’, I showed them in and to the job at hand.
The disposer removal / replacement went just fine; with the guys replacing all the drain piping under the sink. Good for them – always leave a job with confidence that everything you touch is good.
So then there was this quiet voice in my ear: “Have them check EVERYTHING”.
So I asked them to check and then after a moment I was wondering aloud about the cold-water shutoff for the kitchen faucet.
It was bad, and leaking.
No problem, we have some on the truck; they’re high quality and only $12. turned out to be the cheapest thing about the service call.
So after the house’s water was off, the valve replaced, and new line run from there to the cold side of the faucet, we turned the water back on.
The faucet was leaking also. It had a pinhole in the factory part of the piping. And according to the plumbers, that particular brand, while some 20 years ago was a good brand, is not a good brand any longer. They won’t stock it on their truck.
Because they have problems like this.
I had to buy a new faucet.
But we had more than one problem: My wife had picked out that original faucet for its ‘designer-ey looks. It was in three separate parts – a mixer valve, a spout, and a hand sprayer. I’d had to order that particular faucet way ahead when we did the remodel 12 years ago, because we wanted it in an oil-rubbed-bronze finish. And that kind of finish on any kitchen or even bath faucet is rarely stocked. Here’s exactly what I mean:
So then began the online hunt for a similar faucet in the area.. Depot, all stores in the area – only a couple things in oil-rubbed bronze, but they looked like they belonged in a 50’s derelict farmhouse. Lowe’s, same story, nothing that looked like it belonged in a modern kitchen, in stock. The plumber called his supplier: nothing.
I was beginning to get desperate. No kitchen sink faucet…? HOW would we manage without that?
Then the plumber remembered the name of a wholesale supplier that he’d used only a couple times before. I called, and they had some items, but nothing that sounded really promising. The problem was, the store is WAY far away, all the way across town, and about a half hour North, on top of that. And the plumber was standing idle next to me, burning time at his hourly rate.
But he had an idea: He’d go to his next call, and I’d figure out what to do in the meantime, then he’d come back and install the replacement faucet for us. My wife and I had a conversation about ‘style’,.and we concluded that we would take any faucet, any faucet at all that didn’t look like it came from a hardware store, with that finish. That settled, I began to get the feeling that I needed to take the chance to drive all the way up to the supplier’s store.
I figured it to be most of an hour’s drive, what with side streets and all.
I was on the highway, and about a third of the way to the store, and my cell rang. It was the plumber, asking if I had a faucet for him. Uh, no. But I had a lead on one, and I needed about an hour to get it home. He said fine, they’d go to lunch, and stop by afterward.
I stepped on the gas and prayed the cops were driving the other direction that morning.
I found the store, and found something that would work okay, and even in the right finish: oil-rubbed-bronze. I used the plumber’s name (Christenson) with them and got a discount, roughly $200 off. Then back in the car and more fast driving until I got home.
I pulled in, and the guys had just pulled up. The faucet install went flawlessly.
And my service call for a leaky disposer ended up with all the plumbing for the sink being brand-new, top to bottom. Literally, the only thing left original to the sink was the sink bowl itself.
We have a guy in our Men’s Breakfast group whom we call “Chief Black Cloud”, because this kind of stuff happens to him all the time. So next week, I will have my own “Black Cloud” story.
And I’m going to sit a little farther away from him next week, in fun.
So let me tell you a bit about what I’ve learned from the plumbers, here. This is good information because these guys are working with it every day.
Currently the best faucet fixtures are made by (in order, top to bottom):
Grohe (if you can afford it)
Moen (which is what I bought)
Price-Pfister (which is what I had that failed, due to poor quality materials)