Further Adventures in Plumbing

August 25th, 2004 § Comments Off on Further Adventures in Plumbing § permalink

The kitchen faucet that came with the house had a quirk. It didn’t like hot water.

You could run cold water and it wouldn’t complain. You could run room temperature water and it would only put up a mild protest in the form of a low whistle. However, if you even thought of running hot water the low whistle would turn into a high-pitched shriek, the water flow would lessen and then stop, and then the high-pitched shriek would turn into an almost inaudible squeal that would make your eyes water and all the neighbourhood dogs bark.

In order to get any flow from the faucet after having the audacity to run hot water you would have to wait for the faucet to cool down and even then you would only be able to get a small trickle of cold water.

There was a work-around to this hot water problem and that was to use the spray nozzle, which wasn’t very particular and would spray any temperature water you desired. I managed to live with this arrangement for two weeks until I broke down and bought a new kitchen faucet.

The replacement is a Moen (buy it for looks, buy it for life) that I got from Home Depot.

For those of you who have read about my toilet seat adventures, the replacement procedure for a kitchen is similar with only a minor difference:

1. Shut off water to faucet.

2. Remove old faucet.

3. Install new faucet.

4. Turn on water to faucet.

There were no shut-off valves under the kitchen tap so I turned the water off for the entire house. After opening all the water sources in the house to relieve the pressure in the pipes I disconnected the supply lines to the faucet and then tried to unscrew the old faucet.

I should have known better from my run in with the toilet seat but I didn’t. The retaining nut that holds the faucet to the sink was rusted solid.


I tried with all my tools and wits to loosen the retaining nut but no go.


Chad arrived while I was under the sink cursing and after some extensive consultation we decided that the best course of action was to remove the sink entirely so that we could work on it more easily.

Once the sink was removed (8 set screws later) it took all the strength we had to remove the retaining nut.

Installing the new faucet was a breeze (this also has plastic nuts = no rusting) and in a short while we had the new shut-off valves, supply lines and sink installed.

Total time to remove old faucet: 2 hours.

Total time to install new faucet: 5 minutes.

Lesson learned:

Never assume anything will go smoothly in a 100 year old house.


When planning a job, always allow yourself 5 times longer than it should take. That way you’re more likely be remain on schedule.

The Toilet Seat From Hell

August 24th, 2004 § Comments Off on The Toilet Seat From Hell § permalink

Ok, maybe not from hell exactly, but at least a suburb of hell.

The toilet seat that was on the second floor toilet when I bought the house was a standard plastic toilet seat. There was nothing remarkable about it except that it was scratched and burnt.

Can anyone explain to me how you would scratch, let alone burn, a toilet seat? I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t come up with any reasonable situation where a toilet seat would become badly scratched.

I mean, I’ve had some “intense” toilet experiences in my time but nothing that would scratch a toilet seat. Burn a toilet seat maybe, but not scratch.

I digress.

It had occurred to me that I had to change the seat but it was low on my list of priorities. That was until Christina woke up one morning and informed that she was going to buy a new toilet seat for us and that I had to change it as soon as possible. Fair enough. I enjoy a nice new toilet seat as much as the next guy, I could change the toilet seat.

We picked out a seat that we thought we’d both enjoy: a solid wood number encased in a durable plastic coating with chrome hinges and hardware.

Changing a toilet seat should be easy; there are two steps:

1. Remove old seat.

2. Install new seat.

I got my wrench onto one of the old nuts and tried to turn it. No turn. It turns out that the bolt was rusted solid to the bolt.

New plan: pull harder on the wrench.

Entire bolt spins, not loosening at all. The top of the bolt is encased in plastic so I cannot get a grip on it to double wrench the nut.

New plan: expose the head of the bolt so that I can get a grip on it too loosen the rusted nut.

The top of the nut is in such a position that it’s impossible to get any sort of cutting tool into cutting position.

New plan: remove the toilet seat from the hinges to provide better access to the top of the bolt.

The toilet seat was not cooperating so I cut it off with a Dremel tool and a cutting disc. I then used the cutting disc to remove the plastic surrounding the bolt head. When I had the head exposed I found that it was smooth and round with nothing to grip.

New plan: square off the bolt head to provide a surface to grip.

I achieved this with the cutting disc. Once I had something to grip I used a pair of vice grips on the bolt head and a open-faced wrench on the nut and ended up having to snap the bolt off.

So far so good. Now all that was left was to remove the other nut.

I ended up having to follow the same procedure as bolt #1 except that I managed to unscrew the nut rather then resorting to snapping it.

After two and a half hours performing step 1 of the toilet seat replacement procedure it was a relief to finally move on to step 2 of the toilet seat replacement procedure.

Installing the new toilet seat took a little under 2 minutes. The new toilet seat has plastic nuts so there is no chance of ever having to go through such an ordeal again.

Total time: 2 hours and 32 minutes.

Damn that’s a nice toilet seat!

I hate my shower

August 18th, 2004 § Comments Off on I hate my shower § permalink

The bathroom on the second floor has a tub-shower. I’m convinced it hates me.

Normal Shower Operation

1. Turn on the taps and adjust water temperature as desired.

2. Pull plunger (shower control valve thingy) and in a moment the water is diverted from the spout to the shower head.

3. Wash.

4. Turn the taps off, the water stops and the plunger reverts to the “tub” position.

5. Dry.

My Shower Operation

1. Turn on the taps and adjust water temperature as desired.

2. Pull plunger

3. Instantaneously get shot in the face with freezing cold water that has remained in the pipe from the last shower. The water will eventually become the desired temperature.

4. Compose yourself after screaming like a little girl.

5. Wash.

6. Turn the taps off, the water stops and the plunger doesn’t revert back to the tub position.

7. You do not notice that the plunger doesn’t revert back to the tub position because any shower you have ever experienced before does. This means that the next time you have a shower and perform My Shower Operation Step 1 you skip Step 2 and proceed directly to Step 3.

I have learned how to pull the plunger with my toes in order to minimize the shock and it has also become part of my routine to make sure the plunger is in the tub position when I’m done.

This shower has earned itself a fairly high priority on my list things to renovate.

The Inaugural Post

August 17th, 2004 § Comments Off on The Inaugural Post § permalink

I have purchased a house. It is a two story, 2,700 square foot, brick house built around 1894. There are four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a formal dining room and an office in addition to the other usual rooms. There are two staircases in the main house, a formal one in the front of the house and one (informal?) in the back. In the back part of the house there is another staircase leading to a room inaccessible from the second floor of the main part of the house.

The basement is unfinished and has a concrete covering about half of the floor. The remaining floor is dirt. The attic is very large and affords enough space to stand up in – this could eventually be turned into finished living space. There is a laundry room on the second floor at the top of the back stairs.

The first floor has ten-foot ceilings while the second has eight-foot ceilings. There are two chimneys in the house, both of which are in use. The chimney that goes up the back of the main part of the house vents the cast-iron, natural gas woodstove in the back part of the house, while the chimney that runs up the left side of the house vents the woodstove in the master bedroom.

The lot is 60 x 132, has a paved driveway and no garage. There is a deck that is separate from the house. There is a crab apple tree and two plum trees on the right side of the lot, behind the deck.

There is an enclosed porch at the side of the house and an open porch at the front of the house.

I have a groundhog living under the back part of the house and an unknown critter living in one of the chimneys. I also have a terrible case of pipe-bang. These are stories for another time.

Where am I?

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