I came home late from a meeting, tired. When I began to get ready for bed I heard it. Drip, drip, drip.
There were warning signs. Every few hours there would be a bunch of quick dribbles from the shower head. I knew this day was coming. Watching the kids turn off the shower made my cringe. You’d think they were tightening lug nuts on a car.
I was going to have a handy man who does work for us handle it. But in the morning I got the e-mail on our prayer chain. He’d fallen off a ladder and broken 2 ribs. He was not an option.
Now I had an unexpected repair project for my day off. I had done one of these repairs in our house in FL years before. It was a day I’d rather forget. Took me forever to get the valve out of there, and I never thought I’d get the new one in. I’d yet to discover plumber’s grease.
So, it was with a sense of dread that I began on Friday- late morning. I didn’t notice a brand name. But when I worked at Ace, the more experienced guys would tell a brand by looking at it, so I snapped a picture with my phone and went to (s)Lowe’s.
The guy had been talking to someone about copper pipe and seemed to know what he was talking about. He had no clue. He asked how it worked. You turned the handle counter-clockwise. “Not a Delta or a Moen.” He said I had to bring the valve stem in to us the display to find the right one. I remembered how difficult it was to get that out so many years ago.
But home I went, my first trip over.
I pulled out my Allen wrenches and tried to identify the correct one to remove the screw. I couldn’t find the right one. I had to go back to the garage and open the old metal tool box to see if I had more. Finally, one fit. But the handle was longer than the wrench. I struggled to get the proper leverage to remove it. I was finally able to get it to budge and did a series of quarter turns. The handle was loosened, but soon I could not turn it anymore.
I was stuck, and my window of opportunity was closing due to kids’ naps. I realized, finally, that I should turn off the water so I could turn the handle and actually see the screw. But it didn’t help.
My neighbor, how has better tools, came home so I asked for help. He is a mechanic, and has lots of tools. But plumbing was not an area of experience for me.
But we were able to get the handle off, but the screw was stripped and useless. And then I noticed that under the handle it said “Moen”. The shower area could use more light, but this was mostly a problem of design. In the closed position, the handle covered the brand name. Time to turn the water back on because the kids were going for a nap.
During their naps I looked up the number I saw on the black piece I took off. Turns out that was just part of the handle assembly. But a frequently purchased item was the Posi-Temp Replacement Cartridge.
After naps I had some time before company arrived. This time I went to Ace. I had the part number for the replacement cartridge on my slip of paper (yeah, old school since my new school attempt failed last time). I also wrote down the core puller and brought the now useless screw. I knew Ace would have a screw to replace it.
Sure enough, Ace had everything I had. Except extra time to finish the job. I had company waiting and chicken to grill. Trip #2.
After I got home I realized that I forgot to get plumber’s grease. Rats, I’d have to make another trip in the morning. I considered other lubricants. No, the Vasoline would ruin the o rings. I considered a few non-petroleum lubricants and decided it wasn’t worth the risk.
The next morning Cavwife ran a few errands while I worked on breakfast. I asked for plumber’s grease and chaulk to go around the face plate. And the sinks which needed some new chaulk. I thought I had successfully avoided a trip.
Just when I was about to begin the project, Cavwife forgot I was going to turn off the water and started a load of laundry. Sigh.
So, around 10:30 I could begin. I had about 3 hours before naps. Plenty of time. Famous last words.
I started with the retrainer clip. I used a screw driver to lift it up. And it flew up, falling into the wall. Rats… now I have no clip. But I pressed on. Thanks to the $16 I paid for that core puller, the cartridge came out easily. At least something went quickly. When I unpackaged the replacement I noticed that it had plumber’s grease on it. Alas, there was not new clip in the package. That wasn’t helpful. Moen has failed me, for the 3 time.
I called Ace to see if they carried the clip. That would be a big, fat, ‘no’. But they gave me the number for a plumbing supply store not too far away. While they carry them, they were currently out of stock. Perhaps their other store, about 25 minutes away had it. They did. She chuckled saying she hears this request often. Apparently I’m not the only unhandy man. But, they closed at noon. It was already after 11 am, and Cavwife was not home. She arrived in 5 minutes and I was gone. But first I had to put gas in the car since I had not the previous night because I was running late. I didn’t want to run out of gas on the way there. You know, it was turning into one of those days.
Nearly every light was red. I kept getting stuck behind those drivers. The ones who can’t seem to come near the speed limit.
I did arrive before they closed for the weekend. And that is the point- no clip and no water for the rest of the weekend. Let’s just say I was a bit stressed. I bought 2, just in case. Trip #3 of my progressively farther trip was a success.
It was lunchtime for the kids when I got home. After a little trouble getting the clip on, I had success. It was time to test her out. I had Cavwife by the shower while we talked on cell phones (high tech time) and I turned the water back on by the street. Lots of water. I’d done something wrong.
I realized there was an H/C on the old cartridge. Yeah, didn’t notice that and put it in upside down. Try again. Still not right.
I realized that they did not have the cartridge closed. I had to fiddle with it, and then …. finally …. pay dirt. Only took me until 1:30. An unhandy man’s odyssey. There better has to be a better way to spend your days off.