When people ask me if I did anything fun over the weekend, I don’t think they consider “I did some plumbing” to be an acceptable answer. They shake their heads or say something like: “yeah, well I guess you enjoy that kind of stuff…”
I really don’t enjoy plumbing.
I enjoy saving the money I would have to spend to have a showerhead and a bathroom faucet replaced. Even more than that, I enjoy the freedom to decide that the showerhead and faucet would be replaced on Saturday, after I walked the dog and before the football game I wanted to watch started.
The bathroom I was working in is off of the family room in our basement. The convenience of a half-bath right off the room with the TV is obvious. The beer fridge is also located off that room. I added a shower after we bought an exercise bike. I
like to ride usually ride sometimes ride need to get back in the habit of riding in the morning, and being able to shower right after getting off the bike is nice. Since this bathroom was always going to be an all-business kind of place, we I made it small.
How small is this bathroom?
While you can easily enter and exit the shower stall, you can’t fully open the shower door unless you also open the door to the bathroom. Using the “primary” facility of this bathroom will keep you prepared for using the primary facility on an airplane. If the exhaust fan becomes necessary, you can reach the switch and, if the heater isn’t on, the 60-watt bulb will keep the pipes from freezing.
The title is both the reason why these repairs were necessary and the reason I don’t enjoy the work. We have ridiculously hard water. Our water eats plumbing fixtures, little by little, day by day. Over time, showerheads have fewer and fewer functioning spray holes and some of those send water flying sideways.
If you’re thinking that we should invest in a water-softening system, I’ve had that same thought but I fear we would end up with the water that feels kind of slimy. I’ve showered in such water and I always feel like I’m still covered in soap after rinsing. I’ve also considered a mineral filter, but I honestly think that it’s cheaper to periodically replace the fixtures than to regularly replace the filters. We have a taste & odor filter, so I’m not without data on this one.
The sink faucet had gotten to the point where, once the hot water was hot, the faucet wouldn’t shut off without a herculean effort. I could have replaced the cartridge, but the faucet was a basic we’re-adding-a-half-bath-right-after-buying-this-house model so it seemed like a good time for a modest upgrade.
Fortunately, improvements have been made to bathroom fixtures that improved the look and feel, made this job easier than ever before and may result in a longer lifespan of the components.
The showerhead has an integrated (but separate) hand-held shower. That’s perfect because a stand-up shower is not a tub. That means, when you turn the water on, it comes out of the showerhead and you have to dance until the water gets warm. Now, the initial blast can be diverted out the hand-held unit which can be pointed away from, um, other units. Both the showerhead and the hand-held have little rubber nozzles (technically, they are called spray holes) which, according to Delta:
“Allow you to easily wipe away calcium and lime build-up from the spray face of your showerhead and handshower with the touch of a finger.”
In case you haven’t shopped for showerheads lately, we did not purchase a “shower system,” nor did we buy one with integrated LED lights or a digital temperature readout. Again, there are other units in place in the shower that indicate the correct temperature range.
The sink faucet, despite being a relatively low-budget model*, included a feature that do-it-yourselfers have been waiting for ever since the first Cave Depot opened. The multi-part-ill-fitting-dysfunctional drain lifting/closing mechanism has been replaced with a magic cable. There’s no other way to describe the new way of connecting the little pull-rod behind the spout to the “stopper” in the bowl – it’s magic.
As if having to have my feet outside the room while working under the sink wasn’t bad enough, the spirit of Laurel and Hardy or perhaps the Three Stooges was present during the faucet upgrade. First, I disconnected the supply line from the underside of the faucet before shutting off the water. Second, in response to the first, I smacked my head on the toilet which is so close that only the laws of physics prevent it from occupying the same space as the sink.
Mission accomplished. I took the first shower later that day. Since I bought the wrong supply lines, I will be back under the sink next weekend (since I don’t trust reusing supply lines). That will allow me to comply with the three-trips-to-the-hardware-store rule that governs D-I-Y home-improvement projects.
The only possible downside to this project is that my wife likes the new faucet better than the one in the master bath, so…more to come.
*Bathroom faucets at Home Depot range from $10 – $1,340 – just so you know.