The $500 Drip

The $500 Drip

[lead dropcap=”yes”]Last week, we started hearing a constant drip, drip, drip from the bathroom faucet.1 It wasn’t even a slow drip, but a quick one that I knew was wasting a lot of water.[/lead]

So on Saturday, I wanted to go to Home Depot to get some replacement parts, but first I needed to determine whether it was the hot faucet or the cold one and what kind of faucet it is (compression, ball, cartridge, etc.). So I tried turning off first the cold water supply valve and then the hot one to see which one caused the drip to stop.

The cold water faucet was the culprit, but I couldn’t turn off the the hot water supply. I put as much torque into it as I dared, but it wouldn’t completely close. That would be bad if I ever had a real leak, but it wasn’t of immediate concern, so I left a message by email with our plumber. Then I put that aside and I took out the old cartridge from the cold faucet and headed to the Home Depot…

…where I was confronted with the wall of faucet parts. I need to let you in on one important detail: Before we bought our home it was renovated by a flipper, which means they used the least expensive “contractor special” parts available for everything, faucet included. So as I stared at all the replacement parts, I had no clue which to choose. I stood there for 20 minutes, comparing the original cartridge in my hand to every possible one I could find that looked similar. Finally, I just picked the one that looked the closest, although they weren’t identical, and prayed for the best.

I got home and put the new cartridge into the faucet, put everything back together and it fit!

Except the faucet was backwards. By which I mean when you turned it to the “on” position, the water stopped and when you turned it “off” the water flowed. It turns out I’d purchased the cartridge for the hot water faucet, which of course is reversed. But the drip had stopped! At this point, I wasn’t making another trip back to the Depot of Homes and so I just ordered the cold water version on Amazon.2 We could survive with a backward faucet until Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the plumber got back to me and said he’d come by on Monday. That morning, as I cleaned out the cabinet under the sink for him, I noticed some of the items were wet. That was my next bad omen, but I was willing to take a trip up “de Nile” and pretend it was condensation or something. When he showed up, I explained why the faucet was backward and he had the professionalism not to laugh at me outright or shake his head at my idiocy. He did have a few choice words for the renovator/flipper’s PVC pipework under the sink, but he assured me he’d sweat the broken valve off quickly and put a new one in its place.

I went off to my office to work until he came to find me a bit later. It turns out that the drain stop was the source of the leak under the sink and while he was trying to fix it, the thing broke off. Normally, he’d have some bits and bobs of old faucet sets in his truck and he’d just pop one of those in there, but his less-than-brilliant assistant had cleaned out the truck. So now we’d need to buy a whole new faucet because you can’t just buy the drain stopper bit, and off he went to the plumber’s supply store.

Which means that the leaky faucet I’d fixed and whose (second) replacement cartridge was still on the way from Amazon was going away anyway. Meanwhile, after the plumber got back getting the new faucet in and dealing with the original Franken-plumbing took a couple more billable hours.

So here I am with a shiny new faucet, a replacement cartridge fresh from Amazon ($10), the other replacement cartridge the Lord knows where in the trash somewhere, and a bill for plumbing work for $450.

But no drip!

  1. Yes the bathroom. We are seven people in a small ranch-style, single-bathroom house.
  2. Because now I had a part number and manufacturer, which I didn’t have before.

Image Credit

  • dripping-tap-1250752.cc04712c749a4605acac5e8e43e94828: FreeImages.com | CC 0
Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
5 comments
  • Oh Dom. I feel for you. Here is my tale: our house is 30 years old and six hot and cold taps had started to drip. When we had saved up some money we called a plumber who told us that for 6 taps the cost would be $220 AUD. Plumber came out and told me that it was not just what my father used to do i.e. change the hot and cold washers but some grinding had to take place and our outside tap also needed replacing. En-suite needed net tap set because the set we have couldn’t be repaired. Final cost $700!!! I think I part paid for his overseas holiday! lol
    These are Australian prices which I think are more expensive than American prices. I hope that the taps will be the last big job you will have to fund for quite a while.
    God bless to you and your lovely family.

  • Hi Dom,
    What follows is why I went to your site and became distracted by our tap stories.

    You seem to know a lot about the internet and hopefully you will be able to answer my question.
    I trawl the Internet and would love to comment but on most sites now I have to go through Disqus which it appears to me means I would have to give permission for my address book to be accessed by Disqus. I don’t like the idea of the people I know being subject this access; it sounds like a violation of privacy to me. I would really like to comment though. Please advise.

    • I don’t think you have to give Disqus access to your contact list in order to comment.

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