I wish I had taken a photo of the old faucet with the vise-grip pliers attached. Now that's steampunk!

I wish I had taken a photo of the old faucet with the vise-grip pliers attached. Now that’s steampunk!

Our kitchen faucet broke recently. I may have had something to do with it.

We had a pretty basic kitchen tap set-up; two knobs and a spigot. And it worked fine for years. Then, a few weeks ago, it started to drip. I mean, in the end you couldn’t crank the tap hard enough to shut the water off completely – and you can bet we tried. I wasn’t looking forward to taking the tap apart to replace the rubber washer.

Oh, I knew that’s all that was needed – and I’ve actually replaced washers on this exact model of tap before (Yes, successfully. Rude!), both on the tub upstairs and, before that, at my grandmother’s old house. I know how to do it. I also know it’s about the easiest home-maintenance job on the list. But I’m also lazy, and wrenching on the tap is easier than taking 10 minutes to replace the washer.

So I let it go until I could ignore it no longer; until the drip just wouldn’t stop. I went to my tool chest, found some washers and my tools, and set to work.

Once I got the valve mechanism apart, I could see the problem: the old washer had essentially disintegrated, just as i suspected. I replaced it with a new one and put everything back together, ready to be done with it. But I must have mis-adjusted something when I had the valve apart, because afterwards the tap – which before would turn with ease – required superhuman strength (and dry hands!) even to budge it. In fact it was so tight that the plastic bushing, which fits between the knob and the valve, crumbled, thereby stripping the entire thing and making it impossible to turn at all!

We decided enough was enough and, not long after, we went and bought a whole new faucet set. Damn! Those things are expensive! I was thinking it was gonna be about $50 but most of them were at least three to four times that much. And the really nice ones were closer to $300.

Anyway, we settled on the one in the photo above and got my step dad to install it (Thanks, George!) but not before living for a week with a hot water tap that we turned on and off with a pair of vise-grip pliers. Classy!


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