The Little Things

The kitchen sink dripped for eight weeks.

Probably more.

It got to be so that if you pulled the handle just so you could get it to stop leaking long enough for you to leave the room.

By the time you got back it was leaking again.

I’m not very handy.

I always felt bad about that.

Kim never made me feel bad about it. She never used to say “my dad could fix that” or “my brother could fix that” or even “my mom could fix that.”

Even though they could.

Actually, she did say that – but she meant, we could just call them.

Her dad, her brother, and her mom never made me feel bad that I wasn’t very handy. They are all really good at those things.

But it meant that I often felt I had to do these things myself. These things that I’m not good at. Because I’m not handy.

Elena and Maggie used to marvel at how the toilet works. When I had to replace the fill valve in the toilet it was more of a show than a repair.

And so we asked Kim’s brother if he could come over and look at the sink while I was traveling.

When I got back after six weeks of back to back to back travel, the sink was still leaking.

After two weeks of being home, I got up this weekend and watched a video about fixing leaky kitchen sinks.

I figured I could do this. It didn’t look as if you had to be that handy.

So I took off the handle and the piece that covers the place where the hot and cold water turn into a single stream. I pried up the washer and the plastic piece that steers the handle to only go into positions it should go.

I put the plastic piece and the washer in my pocket and headed for the hardware store.

Oh – I left out the part where I turned off the hot and cold water to the sink before I did any of this. I’m not handy but I’m not stupid. I’ve done this before.

I got the part for $3.77 and put everything back together. I turned the water back on and the leak was more pronounced.


I texted two friends to see if they had any ideas. One suggested that there might be some sort of a deposit that was keeping the washer from making a tight seal.

I turned the water back off and took everything apart and gave it a good scrub. I looked at how the faucet works. It’s really kind of clever.

“I gave it a shot,” I thought. “I’ll get up tomorrow and get a replacement faucet and install it.”

But something nagged at me.

The next morning when I woke up it occurred to me that now the leak was hot water only.

How could only the hot water be making its way through this new seal.

It couldn’t.

There must be other washers.

I know – you realized that a long time ago – but I’m not very handy.

So, I got up Sunday morning and let the dog out, turned the water off, and took the faucet apart again.

Aha. There were two more washers. One where the hot water comes in and one where the cold water comes in. The hot water one looked pretty worn.

I pried them and their springs out of the holes.

“If this doesn’t work,” I thought, “I could always get a new faucet.”

The hardware store didn’t open until 10 on Sunday. I roasted coffee and hung outside with the dog. At quarter til 10 I put the little pieces in my pocket and headed to the hardware store.

Two days in a row. I’m a regular.

They’re going to make me buy a whole kit this time.

But no. The same guy that waited on me the day before looked at the pieces I showed him. I reminded him that yesterday he’d looked at the pieces and figured it was a Delta faucet. This time he took a second look and handed me the replacement parts. $3.77.

I was so excited.

I went home and put the spring inside the washer for the hot water and pressed it into place. I did the same on the cold side.

I reassembled the faucet – by now I was getting pretty good at this. One of the upsides to not being very handy is you get a fair amount of practice because you don’t really fix anything on the first try.

I turned the water on and tested the faucet.

No leak.

I think that’s amazing. These three tiny rubber parts that almost no one sees and no one notices. These tiny parts had combined to make the sink work the way it should. How many of these tiny pieces keep our lives together without us ever noticing.

So cool.

I said there was no leak. That’s not quite true.

There was no leak upstairs. The sink was now working great.

Downstairs where I’d been turning the water off and on to the kitchen, there was a slow leak.

It seems to have stopped on its own.

I hope it stays that way.

I’m not very handy.


Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment