The nightmare is over… plumbing brings out the worst in husbands!


Since we need some repair work done on our dishwasher door, I went back a few years and pulled out this column to remind myself to let a pro finish the current job. Here is my reminder….

I figured since I had just completed the plumber-ni-zation of Judy’s bathroom and still had the tools out why not go ahead and put in a new kitchen sink? The old sink came with the family home many years ago. It needed an upgrade.

I didn’t think it would take too much time. Start early Saturday morning and be through by the afternoon in time for the Tennessee kick-off. I finally finished Monday night at 6 p.m. The job turned into a nightmare.

By now I characterize my plumbing skills as ‘early intermediate.’ Plumbing skills for the average homeowner can be categorized by the following grades of ability: novice (a person smart enough to know to call a plumber); next is ‘beginner’ (someone who once watched Bob Vila tighten a nut on a pipe and has inherited his dad’s old monkey wrench); ‘early, medium, and advanced intermediate’ (someone who has bought home improvement books, who can read and has collected enough tools to have a red toolbox and not smart enough to call a plumber); ‘advanced’ (someone capable of repairing drippy faucets, unstopping drains and has an array of tools) and, of course, the ‘professional’ (an actual plumber who charges for things other people don’t want to do or ever learn to do).

My first plumbing tool was a simple toilet plunger with a polished wooden handle and pliable rubber boot. I should have never learned how to use it.

Working underneath a sink requires an assistant. Reluctantly Judy gave up her planned Saturday to hand me a variety of “what-cha-ma-call-its” type tools.

“Hand me the wrench, pretty please,” I asked as I lay on my back embedded under old plastic and metal fixtures.

“What’s a wrench,” she asked?

“Oh darling, you know. It’s the one with the red handle. Hurry I can’t hold this up much longer,” I gasped. The day lengthened as happy beginnings deteriorated into less and less patient communications between husband and wife assistant.

I couldn’t reach the last screw underneath holding the old sink. I figured I could twist the stainless steel a bit to remove the old sink. I had left the old garbage disposal unit attached since I didn’t know how to remove it. I twisted the old sink. Blamb! It finally came out falling through the opening. We carried it out the back door.

We were both happy to get the old thing out. I went back in to put the new sink in place. I looked into the empty space. When the sink slipped out it snapped off all the plastic plumbing fixtures. Nothing was left except a sharp piece of plastic sticking out of the wall.

“I’ll call the plumber. I can’t fix this,” I sadly babbled looking down at my work and exhausted from contorting on my back all day.

That night I got mad. Judy needed her dishwasher. I wasn’t going to let my failings get the best of me. I dug out the “how to” book and read, developing each corrective step. I even dreamed of completing the task.

After church I purchased new fixtures, special epoxy cement and an armload of drains and p-traps. It took all Sunday afternoon to fix the hard stuff. The cement glue directions suggested I wear a bio suit with breathing apparatus before applying. Breathing the fumes could make a person pass out, have short-term memory loss or even experience depression. Hey man, I already had all those things yesterday.

I lied to Judy that I’d much rather do home improvement projects than take a Sunday nap watching golf, football or racing.

Close to dark Sunday I connected the last drain and even installed a new disposal. I held my breath as Judy turned on the water in the right sink. It worked perfectly. She tried the next sink. It worked great at first then I spied a little dribble where the simplest connection was made. It leaked. I promised to fix it the next day.

At about dinnertime Monday night I tightened the last leaky spot. Everything worked. Judy turned on the dishwasher. It worked too. The nightmare was over but I still smell glue and can’t remember what caused it and I’m feeling a little depressed too.


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