Plumb Wild

When we first saw this house three and a half years ago, we made fun of the ostentatious faucet in the front bathroom. The cut-crystal ball handles and the filigree were over-the-top to our minimalist decor senses. “That’s going to be one of the first things to go.” we said. The thing is, although it was dreadfully ugly, it worked. And  you just don’t replace something that works without a reason.

I finally found a reason. It started to leak. At first it was just harder than normal to turn off the cold water tap. Then it became a challenge. Then, although I couldn’t see it dripping, the bottom of the sink stayed wet. And that caused things to start growing around the drain cover. And that’s not healthy.

The problem that I always have replacing something is finding a replacement that I actually like. Not just for today, or in the moment, but like for the duration. So many times when I look at something on Monday and think it’s okay, by Wednesday I don’t know what I was thinking. And to replace this faucet, there were special challenges. The three hole design isn’t very popular. Not being  popular, there are fewer manufacturers making anything fitting. And even those that are fitting I find are not fit.

I would have preferred having a uni-lever. But it wasn’t an option. First, I couldn’t find a three-hole design that incorporated one. Second, if I used a faucet designed for less than a three-holer that would mean using hole-covers. And the thing about hole-covers, besides them being ugly, is that they are wrong. Not just aesthetically wrong. They are acknowledgements that something that was done now needed to be undone. I would sooner replace the entire counter top. (And that’s why I’ll never get a tattoo. Sure you can remove one with lasers or cover it over with a lot of cash. But it’s never going to be like it was. And there isn’t the option of just replacing the whole body-part with a similar non-tattooed part.)

The faucet design that I purchased, I’m not in love with. And I think that’s the point. The designer, Leekayer or Beelee, is a Chinese company. That is to say, Leekayer is the Amazon seller but the faucet when it came said it was made by Beelee. Take that any way that you want. The sale of this faucet through Amazon constitutes a black-market or at the very least a gray-market purchase.  The plumbing-inspection bodies (there are several) have not certified that Beelee products are safe for a clean-water, drinking-water, residential-water system. I could be exposing myself to very small amounts of industrial pollutants that could slowly poison me or turn me into a super-hero. meh. You can read about the black market in bathroom fixtures here. Anyway, that seller also sells buttons and zippers. You know. Practical things. Not things that you love.

Putting the faucet in was about as much trouble as taking out the old one out only in reverse. You kind of expect that there are going to be some issues that will develop with lots of years exposure to water. Trying to break free the old nuts and bolts holding the old faucet together was just as frustrating as trying to tighten the new nuts and bolts. The difference was that the old ones I didn’t care about utterly destroying. I didn’t. But if I had it wouldn’t have ruined my day. We haven’t sent the old faucet to Habitat for Humanity yet if you’re interested in owning it. I also didn’t mar the new fixture putting it in. Although it took three separate sessions to get the mounting tight enough to not twist when the handle was twisted. I did find that I had to make the additional purchase of feeder hoses. The old faucet used hard copper tubes and connectors. While I was able to connect them to the new taps, after once, twice, three tries, they still leaked. So off to Ace. Back from Ace. Done. Sort of.

It turned out that the knurl the top of the back of the spigot, the one that looks like it would be a drain-opener, isn’t. I didn’t realize that when I bought it. I thought about sending it back. But I realized that I use the drain stopper about three times a year. I’ve had to clean it out more often than that. That involves me having to remove the drain cap to clean out the p-trap. And that always involved getting under the sink and dealing with unscrewing the lever-pivot from the drain pipe. Disassembly. Reassembly. I thought, if I’m going to replace it anyway (remember, it’s moldy) I may as well get a design that is easier to deal with. That lead me to the pop-up drain. It adds a certain coolness factor. It’s weird that the knurl doesn’t do anything but it’s okay. In making this purchase, I had to determine that my sink doesn’t have an overflow so my drain shouldn’t have one either. Which apparently came as a shock the person who put in the old one as, once I had it out, it was obvious that it was designed for a sink with an overflow. Fortunately, the overflow access holes in the drain were not deeper in the sink cut-out. That is to say that they didn’t leak because the sink’s drain hole still covered them. But it does explain why my drain clogged up so often as the access holes in the drain pipe became ledges for debris to attach to or collect on.

Then there’s the actuators, the handles, the taps, whatever you want to call them. I didn’t examine them carefully when I took them out of the packaging. They are clearly marked by a raised metal H for the hot tap and a C for the cold tap. I installed them in that orientation. C on the right. H on the left. I plumbed it for hot on the left and cold on the right. So everything is as it was meant to be. It just seems strange that the hot tap requires a quarter-turn clockwise to turn it on and the cold tap requires a quarter-turn counter-clockwise. Essentially, a quarter-turn from the top of the tap toward the faucet.  Here we have three sinks in this house. The back bath sink has a three-hole design but its sink handles are levers. You pull the levers toward the sink to turn the taps on and push them toward the mirror to turn them off. Exactly the opposite of my new taps. So I thought one of these two is wrong. I’ll just use the powder room sink as a tie-breaker. But both it’s hot and cold taps turn counter-clockwise to turn on and clockwise to turn off. Lefty-loosey; righty-tighty. And my internet research on faucet tap actuator directions was indeterminate. But, you know what, after three days, it’s fine. I don’t even notice. I just walk up to a sink and use it. Weird, right.

That’s not the end of my plumbing though. After finally making this change, it turned out that Thea had something in the works also. The pandemic hygiene-o-meter needed to be adjusted for our household. To do that, Thea had been actively researching bidets. I did not know this when I started replacing my sink. But then, I hadn’t told her that I was replacing my faucet either. It’s out-of-character that while we are spending more time together with her working from home that we didn’t communicate those decisions to one another. And yet totally in-character. Since the decisions didn’t affect the other person directly, there wasn’t a need for it to be communicated. The only reason that I needed to know that she had purchased a bidet was because I was expected to install it upon arrival. And since it was purchased on our Amazon card, I needed to not dispute it.

According to Thea and the manufacturer, the Luxe-bidet is the easiest to install and has the best reviews of all bidets on the Amazon marketplace. I believe it. I got home at 6:00 on Tuesday and I had it installed and fully tested by 6:45. The hardest part was figuring out if I wanted to use the plastic or metal t-joint. I opted for the plastic since both supply line and tank connection were already plastic. My only concern about a bidet in the back bathroom or the front bathroom for that matter is that the water tap it uses is on an exterior wall. That means that the cold water tap in the winter is going to be mighty cold. But there’s no law stating that a bidet must be used exclusively. And it’s her tush. Right now, she is a strong bidet enthusiast. And that’s a good thing.

But even that’s not the end of my adventures. I had also been looking at bidets, albeit a longer time back (at the start of the pandemic when there was a TP shortage). My bathroom however presents a set of challenges to be solved. Where her bath and the powder room bath both have ample space surrounding the toilet, mine doesn’t. So in her bath the extra room that the control arm takes up isn’t a problem. In my bathroom, the distance between toilet and tub is just wide enough for a bathroom scale. And on the other side of the toilet, there is only enough room from the wall to allow for a small trash can to be, not placed there, but maneuvered into the space. So when it came to choosing a bidet for my bathroom I opted for the Saniwise bidet-seat. It looks like a normal seat but has a small lever on the right side which doesn’t intrude into any of the already allocated space. Also, it has the ‘soft-close’ mechanism so there’s no more seat dropping/slamming. The package arrived at noon on Saturday and I had it installed by 1:30. The supply tap and the flexible metal supply line made it a bit more bothersome than Thea’s to install. I actually had to use a tool to shut the tap completely off and to tighten the t-joint to the tank. Otherwise, easy-peasy.

And that is the end of my plumbing adventures.

1 thought on “Plumb Wild

  1. (I’m reading this before 06:00 because a neighbor’s dog woke me at an hour that makes me want to believe in hellfire, so I’m not in the best mood…)

    That all sounds incredibly frustrating, and thus reminds me of so many home projects I’ve done around here. It screams for standardization and/or better engineering and design – both for houses and fixtures.

    Glad to see you blogging again, though. 🙂

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