Monday, August 14, 2006

I wet my pants... Or... How not to fix a leaky tap.

I'm not the handiest man of the house that ever lived, but I figured I could hold my own against any ordinary Joe when it came to minor household repairs. Apparently... not so.

It was pointed out to me a week or two ago that the shower head in our bathroom was leaking. This past weekend I finally got around to taking a look at it. I started with the obvious and pulled off the whole shower head. Water was trickling out in a slow but constant stream. That meant the problem was not with the shower head.

I moved on to the shower knob, a great big faceted piece of finely crafted clear lucite. I had seen these taps removed before. you have to pry the facing off. No problem... had it off in a second.

"This'll be a cinch" I thought to myself.

Next came a couple of plastic and brass gears that regulate how far you can turn the knob. Got those off and the tiny little o-ring as well. I had a little trouble with the brass collar but eventually figured it out too. No obstacle was too big for me to overcome.

The next piece was in there pretty good, but I was confident I could pry it loose as well. I got my screwdriver in and started wedging the piece off. Just as I started to pull it out with my hand I got hit in the face (and chest and legs and crotch) with a firehose-like blast of water.

The moment it hit me I realized I had forgotten one minor detail. I hadn't shut the water off in the house.

Luckily it's an enclosed shower stall, so I shut the door before anything disasterous could happen. I ran down to the basement looking for the shut off. I was reasonably sure I was looking right at it, but I noticed it had a ground wire connected to it. Indecision hit me. I'd already made one mistake, but I wasn't ready to gamble on grabbing hold of some thing that may or may not be electrical in nature while soaking wet. After a little back and forth in my mind, I gambled and grabbed the handle and gave it a not so mighty twist. The water was shut off. Half an hour too late... but off nonetheless.

After finding what I thought was the problem and a quick trip to Home Depot, I fixed the tap. It no longer drips... instead it trickles a steady stream of water.

Drip drip drip... splash!


Shinny said...

You may need to replace the entire handle assembly. I have done the same thing of forgetting to turn off the water. Fun isn't it?

One thing to make sure of when you put it all back together is that you have the handles set to either both full on or full off before you put it all back together. Then when you go to turn it off it will close the valve completely. Just my two cents as the Plumbing Queen of Southeastern Wisconsin. ;) Good luck. Don't give up you can do it, plus if you have Home Depot, they have been great in helping me out so don't be afraid to ask them for advice.

ess said...

Actually I contacted Delta faucet online and they are sending me out a new cartridge... it took me two tries to get the thing back together so that I could turn the water back on. Thanks for the advice and glad to know I'm not the only one this happened to.

Anonymous said...

Hee hee! THIS is why my toilet is still running...3 months after I first noticed it. I think it's time to make peace with drippy things. At least they provide an interesting percussion to life...