More Home Improvement

July 21st, 2015

The hardware store is basically a second home to me. I spend enough time there that all the employees know my name and have recently even begun inviting me to social gatherings such as block parties or their children’s birthdays. It’s nice of them, certainly, but it makes my shopping trips that much longer when I have to stop for cake, ice cream, and the appropriate amount of social interaction.

Of course, it’s rude to arrive empty handed, so I find myself at a different store, hunting for a present, usually a gift card inside another card. For as many cards as Hallmark makes, they have little in the line of “child of employee of store I visit far too often” so I’m usually browsing through the section “for complete strangers” while trying to figure out what is age appropriate for the particular occasion.

This shopping trip is actually number five for this specific project and it’s day number two of the weekend long event. I’m hunting for a drain pipe to replace my old bathroom sink drain. The old one was fully of gunk, but it only needed replacing because it decided to give up on the whole “structural integrity” thing when it was forcefully wrenched back into position after taking the afternoon off while it’s new neighbors moved in.

“Measure nonce, shop twice.” -old DIY adage.

Providing full disclosure, I’m actually returning a drain pipe and planning to purchase one that is actually the correct size. As the old DIY adage goes, “measure nonce, shop twice.”

I’m willing to take partial blame for this blunder, but I’m not letting the manufacturers off the hook. If things were just a little more standard they could save approximately consumers untold hours per year on trips to the hardware store.

The project started in my mind months ago when I thought about painting my bathroom, and physically a few weeks ago when I splashed a little of the new color on the walls and replaced the broken old lighting fixture. This change from corroding old gold to bright shiny silver necessitated the transition that other old gold things be replaced with new shiny silver things.

Being formerly lazy, there were still bits of wallpaper in the hard to reach recesses and cracks that I have been trying to ignore for two years now when I had half heartedly painted over them. It was time to “do things right.” This meant pulling the vanity away from the wall and painting while I had better access.

As long as I was going to disassemble half of the the bathroom sink, I might as well disassemble all of it. I’d never done this before, so, obviously it was going to be easy.

Obviously it was going to be easy.

The actual install of the unit went rather smoothly, if you ignore the trip to the hardware store for the sole purpose of buying a pipe wrench. The silver and blue made the whites look whiter, whereas the gold and green had made the whites look cream colored. When I connected it all back together, it was perfect. Except for the drain, which now leaked into a small wastebasket–destined to be fixed another day.

The toilet was similarly “in the way” painting-wise, which is why I hadn’t bothered to paint behind it two years ago. Fortunately, the shutoff valve wasn’t working properly, so I got to replace that as well. The tank inside was stained like a smoker’s lungs and even less pleasant to poke at. I hauled it outside and hosed it down. The putty and caulk that sealed the unit cracked apart in my hands.

Prudence told me that the internals here were probably in need of replacing, which is what made the third shopping trip necessary. Once again, stop for a card, stop for some cake, “sorry, I’m running late,” and then I’m browsing through a plethora of options for toilet parts.

Somehow, these all seem to be standardized, so you can pick and choose the features and options you would like your toilet to now be able to offer. You can get single parts, or the whole unit. Some make noise while others shine lights or spray water at you. You can even choose what color you’d like them to come in, though it’s questionable how useful it is to have submerged parts inside a dark ceramic container that match the trim and paint of your bathroom.

Fortunately, someone has been thinking and has invented a unit that spews out bowl cleaner on every flush, keeping your toilet sparkling and fresh without having to do any more than push a lever after doing your business. Logically, it’s sold at a premium, but it’s clearly worth it. The less I need to do to clean the bathroom the better.

It’s difficult to tell if things are leaking or if water is just condensing because it’s as humid as a third rate sauna. It’s easiest to assume that things are not leaking, but I leave a towel on the floor just to be safe. Either way, I’m not eager to tackle any more problems six hours into a project.

The room is half painted, despite being the size of a medium size elevator. It’s difficult to paint one wall without touching the wall behind me and my shirt is now spotted in blue and patches of both walls need to be severely touched up.

Naturally, day two was much better. There’s less taking things apart and more painting, which is the whole reason for this mess to begin with. After the obligatory second trip to the hardware store to get the correct drain pipe and pick up a flier for Rob’s 40th Wedding Anniversary, the sink drain is again in working order and the bathroom is once again a real bathroom.

The large sections of wall are easy to roll with blue paint and the tedious trim parts can all wait for another day… perhaps after I buy a small step ladder.