My DIY faucet replacement; or, where I remember that valve shut-offs exist for a reason…

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Well, it was bound to happen, I suppose. I’m just glad things didn’t end up broken and I just had to not use my bathroom a few days (and run a fan to dry the cabinets out, and use oodles of towels to mop up the mess, and remove a rug to let dry on the porch… only for a storm to come in and immediately soak it overnight again, grr…).

Yeah, still not using it. But I’ve got a replacement faucet from the store that’s ready to use, and the cabinets are totally dry (as are the stuff I had to lay out on towels on my floor once the big mess was done… boy, that’ll be fun to re-organize). I went out and found some nice, taller-armed ones that are brushed nickel and go well with all the other fixtures and knobs in the house. I hate those cheap-ass chrome fixtures that come standard with most new homes, and for a good reason. I was cleaning my guest bathroom and noticed some major corrosion around the base starting up.

Sheesh, those cheap ones are getting worse. Usually it’s around the 5 year mark that the problems begin to show. Only been 3 so far.

Besides, I hate those bulky knobs you can’t clean under very well. Levers all the way. I’ve broken quite a few knobs in my time and it got annoying having to use pliers to shut off the supply because of the cheap ass acrylic worn away by movement around the screw shaft. I actually had to use an alternative bathroom for three years in my old house because the water had seeped in under those dumb hot and cold caps and the screw was rusted and snapped off. I wanted to find out how to do it myself, dad didn’t want to bother (though I’m sure he could’ve done it), and once another bathroom started having problems, I put my foot down and made him call a plumber.

Turns out I thought I had the “reverse-screw” tools and bits, but they were just too big. He had a leak elsewhere in the house, so it was for the best and I didn’t accidentally make things worse.

I did manage to replace the kitchen sink faucet setup by myself a few years ago (needed new gaskets), and that made me feel good (also got a basin wrench and found out how to use it… I like getting and actually being able to use new tools).

But I digress.

What I was planning to do this time around was just take the sink I don’t use and figure out how the setup worked so I could get the right type of replacement. I figured it was the 4-inch center-set, and it is, but I guess I also wanted to check out what was underneath and how it worked. All I’d done is remove the knobs and look at what was there up top. And after a few hours I came back and noticed some dripping.

It made no sense, so I was just gonna do what I used to do back in the day and get some pliers and twist it shut. And that weird thing happened; the thing where a second before you’re about to do something, you realize “hey, wait a minute, this might not be the best idea,” and then a fraction of a second later that’s when the trouble hits.

Old Faithful made an appearance in my sink.

Since I wasn’t doing an actual removal (just the knobs so far) yet, I didn’t think about turning off the water supply to the sink. But I guess with the knobs removed, the slight change in pressure when I went to stop the drip was enough to make the water shoot out from the knob-holes. I freaked and tried to get under there to cut the valves, but they didn’t want to budge. I ran outside and cut the main water off and got every towel from the laundry basket (which I’d JUST finished folding an hour before, dammit) to start soaking things up.

It took ages to get the stuff off the counters to dry everything, to soak up what got on the floor (and started traveling to my bedroom rug), and in the cabinets. I had a little box fan I plugged in when everything was as dry as I could make it and I’ve had it actually blowing for two days straight.

Just weird to think that a couple of valves could create that much mess. But it was just weird–why then? I mean, was it REALLY just that little bit of pressure? Glad I didn’t take the knobs off and then leave for work or something, or my house would’ve been totally ruined. Hell, it burst out so fast the ceiling got splashed.

So, that was a nice panic-inducing journey. At least now I know the valves cut off (I’m guessing the force of the water–and my panic–made it tough to turn the valves off before I shut the main lever), and I’ll go through my plumbing books (and some videos) to make sure I don’t get anything wrong from now on (and of course read the instructions that come with my new faucets.

I have to chuckle a little because it could’ve been so much worse, but yikes, anyway.

At least I learned a new rule for the future–cut the valves off NO MATTER WHAT, even if you don’t think you have to.

3 thoughts on “My DIY faucet replacement; or, where I remember that valve shut-offs exist for a reason…

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      why not both?
      At least I can laugh about it now (and I got some nice, better-made faucets that I’m going to install this weekend… that particular sink was installed slightly crookedly and I got rid of the silicone and pulled it out of the hole yesterday, so I’m looking and learning while I have the chance). At least the “big mishap” I was afraid could happen already did, so it should be smooth sailing from here.


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