2009.09.10 But is it truly broken?
By DAVID GREEN
I’m quite proud of what’s shown in that photo above. I think it shows some pretty good ingenuity.
It’s our kitchen faucet, by the way.
I was preparing to wash dishes a week ago Saturday. I filled the dishpan with hot water, reached to turn off the flow and it wouldn’t stop.
That happened to Colleen a few weeks ago but she was able to jiggle it back into the off position. I was jiggling like Santa’s belly and getting nowhere but a little frantic.
I was expecting an important phone call, too, and I knew this is when it would come. I ran to the basement and shut off the water, then started taking the faucet apart.
I figured out how to shut it off and on so I turned the water back on and sure enough, I just had to lift that screw with a pair of needle-nose pliers.
I tried and tried to figure out how to put the thing back together again but failed. Nothing seemed broken or missing, but it was a busy weekend and we were going to have to stick with the pliers.
I later explained the procedure to Colleen and was careful to point out that this wasn’t a “fix,” just a temporary measure to enable use of the faucet. For a month or so.
But I couldn’t wait for Johnson’s Hardware to open the next day. The perfect idea came to me: Buy a longer screw with one of those thumbscrew heads you can grab.
It worked, no more pliers needed if you twisted back and forth slightly as you pulled it up. It was unfortunate that the hot and cold positions weren’t obvious.
I don’t know how it came to me...probably in a dream...but I got up Thursday morning and went to the basement. I came back up with a C-clamp and attached that to the thumbscrew.
It was beautiful. A little larger than needed, but very workable. Grab the handle and lift. I think I even have hot and cold memorized now. It works so well that Colleen is probably worried that it won’t get replaced in a timely manner.
No, no, no, the faucet will be replaced. It was becoming very loose before the incident and we need a new one.
The way she talks, you’d think we have a problem around the house with getting stuff repaired.
“We muddle along with things,” she said last night, and then we began to make a mental inventory.
On the bottom shelf inside the refrigerator door, the guard that keeps food from sliding out busted on one end years ago. It’s been held in place with duct tape ever since.
The left vegetable bin in the refrigerator is catching and is very difficult to open. It might break some day soon when someone frustrated by hunger gets rough with it.
The garden hose has been progressively leaking near the nozzle. Colleen got tired of getting soaked by the errant spray and she turned to duct tape.
The main control wheel of the washing machine broke off a couple years back. Three or four years back? Six or seven? I don’t know, but it takes pliers to grasp the center piece and turn it to the right position. Certainly not a reason to buy a new washer. I suppose it’s possible that a person could still buy a control wheel for an old washer, but we never tried. We muddle along.
We cool the house with a window fan. There are metal plates on each end that are spread wide to fit the window. Over the years, the screws that hold the plates into place have fallen out and the fit isn’t really tight anymore.
“I swear a squirrel could walk right in,” Colleen said.
She said there isn’t much meat on a squirrel and I wasn’t about to doubt her. I recalled that infamous story she wrote for the Observer about some local residents who eat squirrel.
But I just checked out the gap and it isn’t something a squirrel is going to bother with. A bat maybe. I’ll fix it later when Colleen isn’t sleeping. Never awaken a sleeping wife with home repairs.
She pointed out that the upstairs toilet fills very slowly. True, but is that really a problem?
OK, so we do some muddling along. But if it ain’t broke—I mean really broke—then don’t fix it.
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