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Failed DIY plumbing event; what a fiasco

March 3rd, 2014 at 05:46 am

One of the many things I wanted to do to fix this place up for eventual sale was to replace the two faucets in my upstairs bath. On one faucet, the hot water valve is totally locked up, frozen in place. I haven't been able to use it in over a year. The other faucet works but the stopper is getting rusty, as I made the mistake years ago with my late cat of keeping the bowl filled up with water, which she liked to drink.

Both these faucets were Kohler brand but lasted less than 15 years.

I found some Pfister faucets on Home Depot's website that were very attractive and just $42 each, but they were on back order for a very long time, even after a rep told me they'd become available.

So yesterday I stopped in at my local Home Depot and wound up buying two Pfisters from the store. They were, umm, about double the price, but I liked them.

When I got one out of the box, I saw how simple it would be to install them. It was literally just 2 pieces: the faucet and the stopper. The only tool you needed was a wrench. So I had the brilliant idea of trying to do it myself. Honestly, I don't know what got into me, but I think it looked so ridiculously simple, plus I had a strong incentive to save money. So tired of overpaying for everything.......Frown The local Handyman Connection was going to charge me $120 to do this.

First, I had to disassemble the existing faucet. I cleaned out the cabinet underneath and turned the hot and cold water valves off. A lot of plumbing is hand-tightened, so I was able to disconnect the trap part of the pipe, and then I went on to disconnect where the water tube under the sink connects to the bottom of the faucet. I got the cold one done, and then the hot one, but both of them were still seeping water. I kept trying to tighten the shut off valves I had already shut off, but the water kept coming out and I didn't notice it at first because it was just seeping, not spraying. But soon I was mopping up all kinds of water with towels, etc. Water partially filled the top drawer adjacent to the cabinet directly below the sink, and I know some water got behind the wall where I couldn't get to it.

Who knows how much water. Maybe 1 or 2 quarts? That's a lot when it's water where it's not supposed to be! I was freaking. I had no choice but to shut off the water to the whole house down in the basement.

I didn't sleep at all last night as I was worried about what possible damage I could have done to my walls. I kept checking my downstairs bathroom, which is directly below the upstairs bath and is wallpapered. I don't see any evidence of water or water stains, thank God.

So now I've had to inform my boss at work that I need to work at home today so I can attend to my plumbing emergency.

I called Handyman Connection as soon as they opened at 8 this morning and someone's coming over around 9, 9:30 am. I hope he knows what he's doing. I just don't want any more water in my bathroom and I'm still worried about it because when I left it last night, I had reconnected the two water tubes to the bottom of the faucet, thinking that at least I could have use of water in the house until the plumber came to fix it. But the hot water valve was in a very awkward position and I wasn't really able to tighten it much and I was so afraid to "test" it by turning the water on in the basement again (being here alone, I've to run up from the basement to the upstairs bath to see if it was leaking, and I decided not to take that chance. This morning when I again started loosening the hot water tube, just to see, I heard water flowing again. Mind you, the water is now shut off to the whole house AND under the sink. I know there must be water still in the pipes, but without pressure, there shouldn't be much that would come out.

I have a bucket, but the water was seeping down the coiled tube in a spot where I couldn't fit the bucket.

To top it off, I really hate the bathroom cabinet. It was here when I bought the house. A basic white ceramic top with the double sinks and just particleboard white cabinet. It looks OK from the outside, but when you open the doors you see signs of previous water leak damage and the laminate is broke in spots; it just looks terrible.

I'd love to replace it but I have wallpaper in that bathroom in pretty good shape, and ripping out the cabinet would probably really mess things up. Not to mention it might be difficult to find a cabinet the exact same height and length so I wouldn't need to do any more wallpapering. Don't know if that pattern would still be available or not. So that's why I haven't replaced this cheap-as-s*** cabinet.

Laying contact paper down on the bottom would help a little bit, but would really just be a band-aid. So it kind of bothers me to be paying to install beautiful new faucets when I'd love to get rid of that ugly cabinet, too. But I really don't need any more "projects" right now.

Update: It's all fixed now (at a steep cost). Handyman Connection told me on the phone that the cost to replace two faucets would be $120. I thought that was fairly reasonable, so I agreed to that. When the guy showed up, he said, oh, you want the stopper installed too? That'll be an extra $75. That ticked me off; I mean, the stopper is part of the faucet assembly. It comes in the same box as the faucet. I never heard of anyone replacing just the faucet and not the stopper. So I felt like he was just trying to get more money out of me. I refused, knowing a regular plumber would cost me more, but I'd rather pay an honest plumber higher rates than a cheaper but dishonest plumber a lower rate.

So I scrambled to find another plumber who could come out today, since I don't want to work another day at home just for this.

One plumber had a special formula whereby it would cost me $177 for the first faucet, and then, since "the truck was already in the driveway," as he put it, another $130 for the 2nd faucet, for a total of $307, not including any parts, if needed.!!!!

I kept looking for a better priced plumber, and found one that charged $100 an hour. I wound up paying him $254, but he also fixed the shut-off valves which as I mentioned were still allowing water to seep/leak even when turned off.

The cost of the 2 faucets were $80 each for a total of $160, but I used a Home Depot gift card I'd bought a while ago to take advantage of some credit card offer, so the total price for the 2 was about $98. So roughly $400 to get 2 new faucets installed. OUCH.

Though they are lovely.

4 Responses to “Failed DIY plumbing event; what a fiasco”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    Oy! Hope your handyman is prompt and the damage is minimal!

  2. frugaltexan75 Says:

    That is a nice faucet. Ouch though!

  3. CB in the City Says:

    I'm not much of a DIY-er myself; just not handy and don't have the knowledge or time. You've done a lot for yourself, though, so if it goes wrong once in a while you're probably still ahead!

  4. Looking Forward Says:

    Oy! Bummer! I'm sure you could have done it if those shut-off valves had worked properly.
    In regards to the cheap-ish, ugly vanity it is very likely a standard size and you could find a replacement. You might have to special order the right size. Just a tip - when I was shopping for our bathroom a few years back the place I ordered from had a big selection and good prices was online: Signature Hardware.

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