Saturday, December 05, 2009

A (forced) productive day.

A few days ago I replaced the washer in the kitchen faucet for the fifth time in as many weeks, only to have it completely refuse to turn off. Instead of dripping, it was just constantly running as though it had been just barely cracked open.

My regular readers will know I'm not exactly what you'd call 'handy'. For the first 23 years of my life while living at home, things got fixed by me saying "Dad, the <insert object here> is broken." Plumbing, especially, is a completely closed book to me. I try to fix things and consider it a success if I walk away leaving it only slightly more damaged than it was before I started.

Luckily, I have the internet, and a few minutes research told me the problem was likely a worn valve seat, which apparently isn't too difficult to replace. It's either a couple hundred bucks or so to a professional plumber, or about fifteen dollars for tools and materials and the adventure of fixing it yourself.

I went to the DIY route out of necessity, not choice.

Then, yesterday morning at 4.30am as I was getting into bed, I looked up and noticed a damp patch on the ceiling above the bed. That's right, after the major storm we had a few days ago, our flat bedroom roof started leaking again.

After that, I was so stressed out I couldn't even consider going to sleep. I was originally planning on sleeping for a while, getting up, going to get the things I needed to repair the sink then enjoying Sunny's day off with a couple of movies.

Suddenly, I was going to have to fix the sink and then get up on the roof with a couple of buckets of roof goop, which is quite frankly my least favorite thing to do in the world.

So, when Sunny came home, we went to Lowes…and in the run up to Christmas when money is tight anyway, we spent almost seventy dollars we didn't have in our budget on the stuff to fix the roof.

The faucet turned out to be surprisingly cheap and easy to fix. It was one of those jobs that I finished and wondered why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars on a plumber for a job that was about as difficult and complicated as replacing a washer. It turned out the hardest part was locating a matching valve seat. Apparently, the last time the plumbing in our house was upgraded was sometime in the 60's, so not only was the part had to find, it was hard to identify as a match because the old one was so corroded. Luckily, after nearly being forced into buying a whole valve seat, washer and stem set for twelve dollars, we went to a mom and pop hardware store and got the seat for 87 cents. With about seven dollars for the valve seat wrench, it was a nice and cheap repair. I just unscrewed the faucet handle, removed the stem with an adjustable wrench and the old valve seat came off nice and easily. The new one, while being a little fiddly to install (It's a little like keyhole surgery), went on without much trouble.

Of course, we'd budgeted for all that, so it didn't add much to the stress level. Luckily, my stepson is the handiest person in the world, so I knew that if I fucked up and broke something, it would be a little more expensive to fix, he could put right any of my mistakes (which is the usual outcome of my DIY attempts).

The roof, as always, was a bitch. Firstly there was standing water all over it, and with rain forecast for tomorrow, I was up on the roof at 8am in forty degree weather, breaking ice, sweeping it off the roof and soaking up water with an old bedsheet. I fixed the faucet while waiting for it to dry out a little more and by midday… after no sleep and a ton of stress… I was back on the roof.

Just to put the sprinkles on the cupcake, I don't like heights one bit. Well…that's not exactly true. I have no problem with heights as long as I know I'm reasonably safe. I have no problem looking out the window at the top of a small building, I have no problem walking across a high bridge or standing at the edge of a tall building behind a railing. I do, however, have a problem with standing on a slick roof in cold and windy weather where I have to stand close to the edge with nothing but air between me and a twenty foot drop.

Also, twenty feet doesn't sound like a lot. It doesn't even look like a lot when you're on the ground looking up at it…but it seems a lot higher when you're twenty feet high trying to get from a rickety old ladder onto a slick roof.

Now, if you've ever applied roof goop, which is basically a mix of tar, bitumen and fiberglass, you know that stuff gets all over you, ruins any clothing it touches and is an absolute bitch to clean off your skin (it just doesn't clean off clothing at all). There also comes a point in the process where there's so much on your hands that you figure you might as well just scoop the shit out of the bucket and apply it with your hands because it'll be much easier and you can't get much more of it on you than is already there.

Just a hint, when you get to this point and decide to use your hands… don't. Also, when you forget how hard it is to get off your hands and plunge your hand into the bucket anyway, remember to take off your wedding ring. Also, don't try to wipe the sweat off your forehead either.

It took me almost two hours in the shower to get that shit off me. It turns out that a coating on your hands from handling the trowel looks almost as bad, but is a million times easier to clean off that a half inch thick coating. The stuff is designed to be sticky and waterproof, meaning you have to use WD-40, lighter fluid or gasoline to clean it off and you have to use a scrubbing brush to do it.

Let's just say standing in the shower, spraying your own face with WD40 before going crazy on it with a scrubbing brush is not a fun experience.

On the upside, I remembered to wear old clothes and shoes.

On the downside, when I was done, I was so stressed out and pissed off, I wanted a cigarette more than I've ever wanted anything in my life. It took every single ounce of my self control not to buy a pack.


marie said...

Listening to a comedian last night I heard something I think I should share...They say laughter adds eight years to your life, while smoking takes away 7 years. So laugh your ass off after every inhale and you can live one year LONGER and not have to quit.

Well, I thought it was logical :).

Sunny said...