Friday, February 12, 2010

Plumbers and Scutcheons and Valve Stems, Oh My!

I have to say, I have always had the utmost respect for guys with know-how, that work with their hands and take things apart and put them back together working better than before. Those kind of folks that collect old Jeeps and Scouts and boats and other stuff, fix 'em up and turn 'em loose. Not that I can't do those things - I might be able - but I never really learned the right way, and so my first (and second) attempts are usually just short of catastrophe. So I am always happy to learn from the experts, when I have the chance.

When the tub faucet started leaking (running uncontrollably) yesterday, I gave it about a half hour of good elbow grease. In the end, I had determined that the screw holding the handle to the valve stem was corroded and stuck. How did I reach this determination? I stripped the screw head until looked like a Hot & Now Krispy Kreme donut. Time to find a plumber.

Countless Facebook and email solicitations later, I still didn't have a good plumber I could trust. What luck when I struck up a conversation with Mr. Steve Crihfield, a well-respected Greensboro attorney and preceptor that willingly passes his knowledge on to Elon students. He recommended I call Coble Plumbing, and it was game on.

Phil showed up shortly after I called, and quickly got to work. A little banging and twisting, he knew enough to tell me that he didn't know what parts I needed, even though he could show them to me. He was, however, gracious enough to point me in the right direction: the all-knowing Cliff down at The Plumbing Store. Phil just wasn't going to charge me to drive down there, ask Cliff, buy the part, and put the whole rig back together when he knew I had watched him take it apart. Not only did my wallet respect his forthright frugality, my ego was soothed by his trusting confidence. He even left me a tool to finish the job, and didn't charge me a cent (He also showed me where the in-house mater cut-off valve was). Talk about getting a customer for life..

Cliff is a work of art, a man that knew exactly what part I needed within seconds of seeing it clutched in my grubby hand, and cheerfully retrieved it while finishing his Bear Claw. He charged me $22.36 and laughed when I found exactly $23 in my wallet. I think he even made some joke about adjusting the cash-scanning machine at the door. Apparently plumbing supply stores run into a lot of desperate clients. Hell, I thought under $25 for a pair of Nibco cartridge valves was a fair deal.

Back to the house to fix this mess. New valves installed, then the scutcheon tubes, valve stems, and the scutcheon. Two almost brand new faucets that don't leak a drop. Sweet.

This diagram? I have no idea what it represents.
I just found it on a plumbing webpage and thought
I would include it for the "cool factor."

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