Up with Washers!

 Posted by at 11:01  Up With
Feb 232015
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Assorted washers: flat, split, star and insulated

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Now I like clean clothes and swear by our faithful washing machine, but I’m not talking about clothes washers. I’m talking about the washers that keep your faucets from dripping. Or at least that’s what they used to do. Repairing a faucet was easy.   Turn off the water. Take the faucet apart and replace the washer. It didn’t take much time and it was a simple task. The biggest effort was the trip to the hardware store to get the right washer.

Today it’s not so simple!

These days with all the modern improvements, a dripping faucet isn’t so simple. Yesterday I decided to deal with the dripping shower head that had been bugging my wife for a few weeks. I felt confident that it would be a simple task, yet something warned me to delay.  Finally, those comments from my wife kept getting sharper and Monday seemed like the right time to take care of the problem. In our old house, I was quite familiar with the fixtures and fittings. Here at the new place, I’d gotten soft enjoying the luxury of everything being new.  Was I still the man of the house?  Would I give up and call a plumber or be the master of my domain and fix it myself? I didn’t hesitate.

Attacking the problem.

It didn’t take long to get into the faucet but there were layers within layers before I finally got down to the control. I was feeling good. It wouldn’t be long now. I pulled it out. Now where is that washer?

It’s a lump of black plastic.

Somewhere down deep in this black plastic assembly lies the washer but it is quite clear that Kohler never intended for me to replace it. Why let me repair my faucet with a 25 cent washer when they could sell me a $30 module.

At the hardware store, I show them what I need. They don’t have it. They can order it but it will take a week. I’m thinking I can put the old one back and let it drip for another week but the hardware guy finds a place that has it in stock so I drive to the next town and get the part. It’s only $31 and so far I’ve dedicated 4 hours to this project but now I feel elated. The rest is going to be easy.  I’m a winner!

I put it back together.

The new assembly is almost identical to the old one which is very comforting and it fits the hole nicely. I tighten the screws and turn on the water. The water doesn’t spray. I’m getting really cocky. I’m still the man of the house. I carefull replace the decorative elements and the handle and test the operation. Water flows. Water stops. I finish replacing all the parts and return to normal life. Modern technology had done it’s best to beat me down but with sheer persistence I had pushed on and fixed my dripping faucet.

The story continues.

Lying in bed last night flush with my victory, I relived the day, minimizing the difficulties and rejoicing in the triumph. I hadn’t lost my ability to solve household problems. I started to drift off to sleep when I heard a noise from the bathroom. It was a rhythmic sound that was very familiar. It was the steady dripping of my shower faucet. After all the time and expense dedicated to fixing the drip, it was as if I had done nothing. The new assembly was no better than the old one.

So, as I wait for the plumber to fix my drip, I yearn for the good old days when all you needed was a washer. These modern times where simple, inexpensive and easy to service devices have evolved into expensive assemblies which require professionals to install them properly.  Bring back the washer.


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Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  6 Responses to “Up with Washers!”

  1. I know what you mean. Cars are worse though. I used to do ALL the work on mine. Hel…when I was 16 I pulled, rebuilt, and replaced the engine in my car right in the driveway, and I had never been inside an engine in my life.

    It ran fine, too. We won’t talk about the leftover parts I had…didn’t seem to affect the way it ran anyway.

    Today? I open the hood on my girlfriend’s almost new Honda CRV and stare, slack jawed. A breakdown on this puppy is gonna be an expensive trip to the shop. I’m not even sure I could figger out how to change the oil.

  2. I keep working on the cars but it seems beyond spark plugs (and some of those are, well….) and some basic stuff it is hard to work on anything. I am glad I haven’t had to change a belt on my van, the horizontally opposed engine is a pain. My first car was a 1977 ford F150 that you could sit in the engine compartment and reach anything. It was nice. I have been working on changing the fuel pump on my 98 blazer and reminiscing about that little mechanical jobber on the carb of the f150. $17 and 10 minutes you were back on the road. This new one is in the tank and they want $300 for the sucker. and of course I just filled the tank before the pump died.
    I do change my own brakes and such still, those are not too bad yet.

  3. @Bob and @Justin,
    Somehow I never learned anything about cars and never worked on them so I don’t miss the old days at all. I can sympathize though.

  4. Damn you indoor plumbing! I hate doing plumbing, it’s so unforgiving, and like an ex-wife, constantly reminds you of what a big failure you’ve been: drip, drip, drip.

  5. $31 to replace a washer?

    Genius, really. Why make it easy and simple when it can be complicated and expensive?

    Sometimes, I think I’m in the wrong business.

  6. Dave,
    Actually, it was $174 for the plumber visit and the other part, I didn’t think I needed.

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