Friday, November 14, 2014

Fixin' Stuff

So, this past weekend saw some minor home improvements as we prepare for colder weather (winter is coming!). Some additional weatherstripping around the entry doors, some insulation for the pipes in the basement; it's amazing how looking at things through a northeastern viewpoint changes the southern build...

Since we were already making a pilgrimage to the home improvement store, I grabbed some minor repair items as well. The hall half-bath commode had started making odd noises, not water hammer but unnatural sounds that heralded the replacing of internal parts. Even though replacing the fill valve is trivially easy, it involves toilets, which are naturally evil creatures, so I held my breath until the job was complete and 24 hours had passed with no leaks to declare triumph.

As I was in full-on handyman mode, I next tackled the door to the basement storage (where the reloading bench is set up and ammo is stored). It had never closed properly, so a quick realignment of the strike plate was in order. It's amazing how efficient a good whap-o-stat can be at persuading a strike plate it needs to be 1/4" lower...

It's not much, I know. Guys like og or doubletrouble or Wally who can tear stuff down to component molecules, fix what's broken, and put it all back together in a functional manner have always fascinated me. Part of it has to do with knowing my limitations - I know I get frustrated easily when things don't work as expected, and I doubt my abilities perhaps more than I should. I don't tackle what I consider complicated tasks out of fear of screwing it up, which is (I know) how you learn best.

So, with that said, how difficult is it to replace a kitchen faucet? Ours has been dripping for a while now, just enough that something needs to be done, but not enough to require immediate action. We know from our previous house that once faucets start dripping, there's little to do other than replace them (this is hard-won wisdom after replacing every single seal, washer, and o-ring in the $25 Delta faucet in the master bath in the old house...). We picked up a replacement kitchen faucet at Lowe's as a stop-gap, as at some point the kitchen is going to get an upgrade involving new counters/sink/range/etc. and there's no point spending a lot of money.

I've been going back and forth between just hiring a plumber to replace the faucet and tackling the job myself, and I'm squarely on the fence. On one hand, hiring the professional means I don't have to worry about screwing it up, and it will get done in an hour as opposed to half the weekend. Yes, it costs money, but if the job gets botched, someone else pays to fix the mistake. On the other hand, it looks *really* simple - shut off the water, unscrew the connections, remove old faucet, install new faucet. I found a guide to the process; it looks pretty simple especially considering I don't have to install shut-off valves.


Then again, don't all home-improvement nightmares start with "it looks easy; what could possibly go wrong?"

That is all.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having replaced a number of faucets over the years it really isn't that difficult except for crawling under the sink in an area that isn't large enough for the average sized male (especially when he has gotten more and more averaged sized over the years). Add in arthritis in the shoulder and trying to reach up into an area that isn't big enough for your hand (that's why they have a thing called a faucet wrench) to undo the connection to the faucet and then reconnect it. Then there is the issue of no light and trying to train a flashlight into the spot you need lit up and then toss in old eyes that don't work well in low light conditions. Few other issues as well.

I've got a faucet that needs replaced right now. I'm studying on letting it go longer, fixing it myself, or calling someone.

ZerCool said...

Replacing a faucet - kitchen or bath - is trivial *until* the knob for the shutoff snaps off in your hand. I replaced all my gate shutoffs (multiple turns) with 90-degree ball valves (quarter turn).

doubletrouble said...

Annnndddd... Today I have a leaking pressure pipe into the wall. Behind ceramic tile; this should be good.
Btw, get a basin wrench & go to it.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

I just replaced my kitchen faucet a couple of weeks ago (it was fouled inside somehow, so it didn't have much pressure and the sprayer didn't work at all). It wasn't very difficult, except for the inherent "adult male in a tight space" issues.

Unless you have serious home-repair disabilities, it's certainly (IMNSHO) not worth paying a plumber whatever their minimum charge is.

ASM826 said...

This is one you should do yourself. BTW, Moen makes good quality faucets in all sorts of types and finishes and they make them here in the U.S.

Mopar said...

+1 on the basin wrench, and +100 on the shutoff valves. Every time I've had to work on a sink or toilet in our 40yr old condo I've had to replace the related shutoff valve first. Fortunately they've all been of a common type that I was able to remove the packing nut and the guts of the valve and replace just that without having to unsolder/solder a new valve body in.

Stingray said...

The hardest part about replacing a faucet is the price tag on the new faucet. I did the one in our kitchen a few months ago, and my "helper" is probably considered legally a brick in some places (no, not LabRat - she knows she sucks at home repair and stays out of my way), and it still went fine on the first try. Just sort out which line is hot and which is cold in advance, and rtfm on where each goes.

John said...

And spend a little prep time using whatever is handy to raise your floor to the height of the lower floor of the cabinet. We use cushions and some plywood scraps. Your back will love you!

And locate and test the main house water shutoff valve before commencing operation Faucet Change.


John in Philly

Stretch said...

Teflon tape on threaded fittings!
Trust me on this.

Wally said...

You have this one man. It isn't too hard. Plan on replacing the flex lines that feed it just in case. Worst part of it is the poor visibility/tight space to work in.

RabidAlien said...

Just got done replacing my kitchen faucet this past week. Old one shot the aerator and various other parts all over the place...still made water come out, but it still needed to be replaced. After a year. :) Hardest part was getting in to the nut holding the faucet in place. Due to a rotten hot-water pipe under the floor in our kitchen, we had to cap off that line and install a small water-heater under the sink. So I just undid the little clips that hold the sink to the counter, propped up the sink, and did everything above the level of the counter. Soooooooo much easier to do whilst standing up, rather than laying wedged under a bunch of pipes!

....and WELL WORTH skipping the $100 installation fee the big-box store charged.

Old NFO said...

If you like your back, pay the man... :-)

Ritchie said...

Just for future reference, when replacing a garbage disposal, a scissors jack or small automotive floor jack is The Way To Go.

Sailorcurt said...

As previously stated: basin wrench, cushions for under your back. Easy, peasy.

You should turn off your main just in case of problems with the faucet shutoffs. Nothing like trying to scramble to get the main shut off AFTER the valve pops and you've got 10gpm flowing onto your kitchen floor (trust me on this one); a LOT of water can flow out in the 5 or 10 minutes it might take you to find the main valve shutoff wrench, get to the valve and get it shut off.

Also, one issue I've had: don't overtighten the supply lines. If you crank them down it can damage the seals and they'll leak; from then on it doesn't matter how much you tighten them, you won't be able to stop the leaks.

I generally tighten them hand tight (not "cranked down", just tight), then turn the water on. If they leak a little, tighten them very slowly until the leak stops and then quit. Often, hand-tight is tight enough. Check for leaks both with water flowing and with the faucet shut off. Sometimes they'll leak in one condition but not the other.

Don't let any of that daunt you though, with just a little forethought and care, changing a kitchen faucet is very easy.

Anonymous said...

You will, of course, have to make 2-3 extra trips to the hardware store before "it's" over.

Will said...

One of the reasons that new parts don't fix leaks is a mineral build up on the various surfaces. Soak the parts in CLR or similar to get that surface clean.
Also, some single lever faucets with the ball diverter valve can be helped by polishing that ball. Clean with CLR, then chuck the stem in a drill, and hold an industrial (heavy duty) scrub pad against it with the palm of your other hand. Should be very shiny and smooth when done.

Just throwing in new seals against dirty or corroded surfaces will end up being a (very) temporary fix, unless you give those seals a clean, smooth surface to work against. Sometimes, just cleaning the working surfaces will fix it, without new parts.

Robert said...

"What could possibly go vwrong?"
Everything.
That's why the plumber has a truck fulla parts 'n stuff and you're paying for him to take the hit when things don't go like the Time-Life DIY book says it will. My dad was a plumber and he VASTLY preferred new construction over repair cuzza all those things that will go wrong that hafta be addressed in order to get the "one little dripping faucet" repair done.