Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Men Don’t Follow Directions

If you read our Water Works post, you know that I faced my fears by fixing our leaky bathtub faucet and learned to fix problems when they appear, not when they get worse. With that in mind, I decided to fix another, unrelated problem occurring with that very same shower faucet. The shower faucet was leaking during showers because the plunger that diverts water to the shower nozzle was broken. And, I’m not talking a few drops over the course of a shower here. Of all the water going to that faucet, half went to the shower nozzle and half went into the tub and directly down the drain. We were running out of hot water very quickly.

Once again, I turned to my DIY book and the internet. Everything I came across suggested that the entire faucet would need to be replaced. So, after picking up a new faucet at our local hardware store for $16 – and turning off the water - I got to work.

I began by unscrewing the old faucet from the extension pipe. That is, until I realized that the extension pipe was stuck fast to the faucet and I was actually unscrewing the entire thing from the main pipe in the wall. Oh well, no real way around that because I couldn’t get to the extension pipe until the faucet was removed anyway. I just had to put the extension pipe back in place later.

Side note: I couldn’t believe the difference in how the old and new faucets are made. The old one is completely metal and easily weighs four times as much as the new one. It was made to last and I would guess it is already at least 30 years old. The new faucet is mostly plastic and I can’t imagine it will last more than 10 years, if we’re lucky.

To separate the old faucet from the extension pipe, I had to grip the pipe in a vice. Once the old faucet was off, I was able to wrap pipe tape around the end of the extension pipe and connect it to the pipe in the wall. All I had to do now was put the new faucet onto the extension pipe and problem solved. Now, you should know that I am the type of man who actually reads and follows directions. However, I now have a clear understanding of why most men decide instructions are useless.

The instructions on the package of the new faucet said not to use pipe tape on the end of the pipe that connects to the faucet. I figured it was because the faucet was plastic and the extra pressure could break it. So, I simply screwed on the new faucet and hooked up the hose for the shower. After turning on the water to the house, I went into the bathroom and tested the new faucet by running water for several minutes. I checked for leaks both in the tub and in the wall behind the faucet; dry as bone. I caulked around the faucet and packed up the tools. Another successful repair - or so I thought. Honestly, I should know better by now that nothing is ever that easy.

Some time later, Tara decided to take a shower. Once she was finished, I took a shower as well. While I was in the shower, Tara went into the basement for something and noticed water dripping. Uh oh. Keep in mind, the shower is on the second floor.

Upon closer scrutiny, the water was running down the wall behind the shower and dripping into the basement. So, I shut the water off (again), dragged out all the tools (again) and started searching for the problem. It turns out that it was leaking from the connection between the pipe and the faucet. You know, the one where it said not to use pipe tape. Apparently, I didn’t notice the leak because it took some time for the wood in the wall to become saturated before it began dripping – I didn’t run water long enough while testing for that to happen. Fixing it meant taking off all the new caulk, unscrewing the faucet, wrapping pipe tape on the pipe (despite their highly accurate directions), putting the faucet back on and reapplying the caulk. Oh, and drying up the basement of course. Stupid directions.

The good news is that the faucet and shower work just fine and there are no leaks during showers. However, leaking between showers seems to be a problem (again). It would appear that my original repair (from the Water Works post) has failed. I have found the problem but that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned…


  1. and when you maybe need to get a plumber he'll chuckle and "tsk, tsk." xoxo

  2. I think you need to come over to our house--you should see our bathrooms!! Yikes!

    We're actually looking to have the upstairs one renovated, it's that much of a disaster, and so much more than my husband or I could handle. Good work Keith!


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