Sink rassling

Today began with a call from the plumber. He was coming over to take a look at the shower in the kids’ upstairs bathroom. It had issues: the water barely trickled out of the shower head (despite multiple vinegar soakings). And the on/off valve had a funky little habit of changing its mind about which way you turn for hot and which for cold. It made for interesting showers. The boys had been pretty good-natured about it for quite awhile.  But when they all raved about how nice the shower was in our 100-year-old house on the beach, I decided it really was time to upgrade the digs at home.

A few days ago I happened to spot a nice-looking sink faucet at Costco for a mere $29. Thinking of the terribly corroded brushed-brass faucet in the kids bathroom, I grabbed it impulsively.  My habit of impulsively grabbing ‘projects’ is not one of my husband’s favorite traits.  For good reason.(Cue foreboding music.)   But at the time I figured that either I could install the sink  –I’ve done other sinks before– or worst-case scenario, we could pay the plumber who was already coming soon anyway.

The plumber showed up, assessed the shower, and got to work.  When he told us that installing the faucet would be an additional $100 on top of the $175 for the shower repair, my hubby and I looked at each other and winced.  And I felt the first pangs of guilt of the day.  The sink was functional.  Just ugly.  And I knew darned well that sink repair ws not on my hubby’s to-do- list that day.  So when the plumber left to go get shower parts, I plunged into the sink project.  Maybe I could knock it out myself.

As it turned out, knocking it out was exactly what it took.  The faucet was so corroded to the sink that it all had to come out together–and unfortunately that took way more strength than I had.  In came John.  He rassled and muttered and thumped and thudded, while I stood helpfully hopefully nearby.  Finally the sink let loose of its moorings, and landed unceremoniously on the carpet outside the bathroom.

John looked at me. “You wanted a new sink too, right?”

“Um, no…?”  But…hmmm…looking at the old sink on the floor, I had to admit a new one would be nice.  I loaded the little girls into the car and off we went to Lowes, where we found a $38 sink.  Total cost to replace the working-but-ugly sink: $68.  Plus labor.  Which was all still ahead of me.

By the time we got back from Lowe’s, the plumber was done and gone.  The shower had been restored to good working order. And John, once the need for his formidable muscle had passed, disappeared to do more pressing work–weeding corn with the bigger kids.   The bathroom belonged to me, my new sink and my plumber’s putty.

Within an hour or so, I’d mounted the sink and installed the faucet.  So far so good.  Now to assemble the drain and test it all for leaks. Drain assembly took another hour, partly because of a complicated mechanism to raise/lower the drain plug.    But finally the drain was in place and I turned on the water. The faucet sputtered to life easily, all systems go.

The drain?  It leaked.

Hm.  Maybe I hadn’t used enough plumber’s putty.  Disassemble.  Putty more.  Reassemble.  20 minutes later test again.  Still leaking.

Hm.  Disassemble.  Putty even more.  Turn the gasket over. (Maybe it was backwards last time?)  Reassemble.  20 minutes later test again.  Still leaking.

Arg.  By this time it was 2:30 in the afternoon and nobody had eaten lunch.  Time to give up for a bit, go eat lunch, do some errands, and return. Except I was so sick of the project that I didn’t return to it til 9 that night.  When one more attempt still met with failure, I reluctantly called my hubby in to fix the sink that had been functioning perfectly early that morning.  Yay me and my impulse buys.  Yikes.

Fortunately John very good-naturedly came to sit on the floor in front of the cabinet with me, and together we assessed the problem.  Since following directions hadn’t worked, we decided to ditch the fat gasket that had come with the sink– it didn’t seem like it meshed well with the drain hole– and used a flat gasket instead.  A couple of trial-fittings later, we had a functioning sink again.

But this one was much prettier than the one we’d had at the start of the day.  And it only cost $68.  And about 5 hours of our time.  Ah, the joys of do-it-yourself.


  1. Rebekah says:

    I have that same faucet and I love it! Good job, Mary! (and John!) 🙂

  2. like I tell my children…”Nothing worth having ever comes easily”.

    super job on the instal!

  3. This is EXACTLY how all of our home-improvement project go (and there have been a LOT of them!). And I’d say most of them started with an impulse buy…

  4. Impulse buys–you got to love them. Still have the fan for my bedroom sitting in the box after two years. That was the fall I had to have one because we had just endured the worst heat filled summer ever on record. I have made one of this year’s goals to either install it or return it for store credit–and since I am replacing an exterior door and screen maybe returning it to lower the price on those items would be better. Since I obviously didn’t NEED it.

  5. About 15 years ago I began my first real impulse project in the house, after which Greg gently, but firmly put me on a very short leash. All of my ideas have to be pre-approved and he is part of the shopping. But he usually lets me go ahead if I can state clearly why I think it is a good idea and how I plan on getting it done. 🙂

  6. Wow, you are certainly more talented then me! If I would have had to install a sink and faucet, well, let’s just say, it would not happen!!

  7. All I can say is at least you didn’t offer to help the plummer. My hubby is a mechanic and sometimes somone wants to be there to “help” him work (in an effort to lower their bill). He usually comes home wishing he could have charged them double!

    Good for you on the install. We women can do these things if we put our minds to it! We have a funny shower too. You’ve half tempted me to try to fix it myself . . .

  8. Oh, Mary, this story sounds JUST LIKE something I would do!! 🙂 We were without the use of our kitchen sink for two days one time while I installed a new disposal (including multiple trips to the plumbing store). Finally got it done, but – – wow! – – it was a much bigger project than I realized it would be.

    Sigh … the joys of being a get-‘er-done kind of gal. 🙂


  9. That was a huge and much needed improvement in that bathroom. Looks and works better than the hundred year old beach house now. Three cheers to you! Love you!

  10. Annette says:

    Sounds like my projects, although I would stop short of sink install! The last one was a new hotel-style towel rack for the bathroom I bought from Costco for $30. I was so excited that we’d finally have space for both our towels on the double rods, and some extra storage up top to boot. The trouble started when the hex wrench that came with the kit wouldn’t work properly in the tiny little set screws. Something like 3 trip to various hardware stores failed to produce either a wrench or new screw with phillips head, and suddenly the one that came with the kit seemed to work OK after all. But then the problem with the plastic drywall anchors started. Several started to fail, and after ignoring that problem for months I finally went back to the hardware store and bought some real ones. But it was impossible to install two of them close enough together for the holes in the mounting bracket, and so even that didn’t really solve the problem. Finally, months later after the 3rd or 4th time one of the 4 brackets pulled out of the wall, I admitted defeat. The danged thing was frankly too wide for our narrow bath and had been a navigational hazard from day one, and my husband Still hung his towel on the shower rod. So I gave up and had a (much handier) friend help re-drill brand new holes and put our old rod up. We now have a crooked rod and putty patches in the wall that we will Never paint until it is time to move – and my husband hangs his towel on the shower rod anyway! Not counting time and gas it probably less than $40, but WAY more frustration than it ever could have been worth. Lesson learned? For a couple years anyway!

  11. Yayy!!!! It looks nice 😀 Just what it has needed. lol. 🙂

    -A Former Inmate.

  12. The plumbing in my house is apparently not the same style/size as current standards. Every single time I’ve had to replace something, it has been an enormous ordeal. I was pleased with myself for changing out the garbage disposal and reworking that plumbing. I was pleased with myself for changing out the faucet in the bathroom, including the tricky lever thing, until I realized that nothing upon nothing I could do would make it stop leaking when the water was on. Like you, I spent hours on it. I got so frustrated, I decided that it’s a double vanity in the master bath but I’m a single person, so I just haven’t used that sink. In two years. I really need to suck it up and go figure it out. Thanks for the tip about the washer perhaps not being right. I almost cried when the sink stopper in the other bathroom just broke right out a few weeks ago; all I could think of was how many hours of work I’m going to have to put in to fix it. I was thinking perhaps a new sink as well might be a nice change… but I stopped myself. 🙂

  13. We’ve done two home remodels and hubs is a carpenter/contractor by trade. We call this the “completion backwards” method where one project unearths another.

    Once, he was putting a shower head in my parents’ bathroom where previously there had been just a bath tub. It was just going to be a tub surround and shower head. I went to a baby shower.

    When I came home, he was sitting in the old tub, with the entire bathroom gutted. LOL Good thing you didn’t get THAT wild and crazy. 😉


  1. […] Sink rassling | Owlhaven A few days ago I happened to spot a nice-looking sink faucet at Costco for a mere $29. Thinking of the terribly corroded brushed-brass faucet in the kids bathroom I grabbed it impulsively. […]