Home Repair Never as Easy as It Sounds

The Home Depot lies.

“You can do it. We can help,” they say in their ads.

This is a blatant fabrication. Not only is the second sentence an outright lie, I’m dubious about the veracity of the first one.

faucetI had to install a new kitchen faucet yesterday. Aside from selling me the faucet and some tools, Home Depot offered no assistance whatsoever.

The thing is installing a new faucet isn’t really that hard. I’m no Bob Vila, but I was able to follow the instructions in the box and do a pretty fair job of getting the thing in and operating correctly.

It’s getting the old faucet out that is the real problem.

The first thing no one was told me was that I needed a basin wrench. I laid under the sink battling the highly inconveniently placed fittings with a pliers and a crescent wrench. Neither would fit well enough that I could make any real progress.

Frustrated and not sure what to do next, I went to that great font of information, Google. I was hardly surprised to see that when I started typing, “how to remove a kitchen faucet” in the search box, the phrase auto-filled after the “t” of “kitchen.”

I learned I needed a basin wrench. Home Depot could have mentioned that on the box of the faucet they sold me.

So I went back to Home Depot and got one. And then I spent an hour or so cranking on those fittings trying to get them to loosen. The basin wrench was much more effective than the pliers, but, after three and a half hours (and a lot of dirty words), the old faucet was still in the sink.

Home Depot did not mention that the design of the old faucet would make it impossible to remove it.

The thing had an L-shaped configuration and fittings that could be loosened but not actually removed. With my back and shoulders aching and my brain burning with anger I applied an old rule from childhood:

If it doesn’t fit, force it.

I went to the hardware store (much closer than Home Depot), and bought a hacksaw. Then I went back home and sawed through half-inch brass pipe. After four hours, the old sink was finally out.

I inspected the parts I’d sawed through to see if there was some step I’d missed, some thing I could have done to get them to come out. There was nothing. The design of the old faucet was awful.

Of course, I still had to get the new faucet in and, naturally, I had the wrong size water supply lines. So it was back to Home Depot to exchange the ones I’d bought for ones that fit. Again, Home Depot could have helped by telling me more than what size pipe was on the sink. Knowing that I would need a 30-inch-long water supply line would have helped. Don’t they know guys like me don’t really know what they’re doing but can’t afford a real plumber?

Anyway, there’s a new faucet in my kitchen. It works. We have hot and cold running water. There’s also a blister on my left palm and a lot of pain in my back and shoulders.

I don’t mind doing home repair. It’s fun, and, when I do it right, I feel manly.

But I hate plumbing. Every plumbing job I’ve ever had to do was awful, involved a fitting that didn’t want to come off, and took three to four times as long as it should.

The Home Depot doesn’t tell you that before you start. They lie and make it seem easy. But there’s a reason plumbers make a lot of money.

Because you can do it, but good luck getting any help.


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