I consider myself pretty handy around the house. I do all the yard work, painting, fix squeaky doors, lay tile – well you get the idea – I’ll pretty much do anything around the house that I can (oh except electrical – that stuff scares me). I’ll even do my least favorite task… plumbing. Not that plumbing itself is that hard, but it’s my least favorite of all the home maintenance / repair / DIY stuff that one can do.
In some 30 years of home ownership I have discovered that most plumbing jobs require at least two sometimes three trips to the hardware store. Not that I don’t own most of the tools required to do the simple repairs at this point, but it seems like every time something needs to be fixed there’s just one more thingy that is essential to the job. Plus you end up working in some of the most awkward positions, and I’m just not as flexible as I once was.
Saturday was one of those days.
I was simply going to hand wash a couple dishes after dinner. Now this kitchen was completely remodeled about two years ago, so I wasn’t anticipating the need to make a repair this soon.
You know the built in soap dispenser many modern kitchens have these days. Well we have one of those, with the plastic bottle under the sink and a pump next to the faucet. I reached over to get a squirt of soap on the sponge and all it did was sputter at me. Empty! No big deal. I reached into the cabinet for the refill bottle of soap discovering a new brand of dish detergent had been purchased by the Mrs.
Being the thoughtful husband I am, I reasoned I should pour out the old brand into a container by the sink in the laundry room (where the Mrs. keeps some of this brand handy) and refill the kitchen dispenser with the new soap.
I reached up under the sink to unscrew the plastic bottle – this is where things went south. The bottle was covered with a gooey slime, and I knew this wasn’t going to be all that simple after all. (Damn my good intentions). Closer inspection revealed a crack in the upper third of the bottle. It clearly needed to be replaced.
And where did all that leaking soap go?
Well there’s good news and bad news. The soap mainly dripped down onto the cold water supply line and not onto the cabinet. Ok. So I’ll just wipe it off ad that will be the extent of the cleanup. Nope. The corrosive nature of the soap ate through the metal sheath around the plastic pipe. The good news is that it hadn’t eaten through the plastic so we had no water leak. But I would need to replace the supply line.
It’s not too late I and hurry off the hardware store for a new hose and plastic bottle. The only real problem is I don’t know who made the soap dispenser – no marks, logos, numbers, nothing. But those things are pretty standard – right.
I find the supply hose, no problem. Yet apparently they don’t just sell the plastic bottles. You need to buy the whole kit ranging in price from $19.99 to $39.99. What a rip off I thought.
Well maybe the other national chain hardware store will have just the bottles.
So I drive across town only to find the same situation. (Keeping track? That’s store #2) And now it’s too late to head in the other direction to go to hardware store #3.
I head home, install the supply line and once again there’s running water in the kitchen. And until I can get the soap dispenser repaired we can do it the old fashioned way, with the store bought bottle on the counter.
Sunday morning and it’s off to store #3.
But before I go I will consult the internet. Lo and behold plastic bottles abound on the web. You can get them for as little as $1 all the way up to $10. But each one only fits a particular brand. I don’t know what brand ours is.
Store #3 had different dispenser units than the first two stores, but no bottles either. I opt for the unit with a bottle that most resembles the one we need to replace, $17.99.
At home I quickly discover the threads on the bottle are different and that I will need to install the complete unit. 10 minutes later the job is complete. Disaster averted.
But after all these years I still can’t seem to do plumbing without 3 trips to the hardware store.
Steve Cukrov is a lead photographer for Warmpicture.com. Steve has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years, working for agencies specializing in food and product photography. When he isn’t dealing with plumbing disasters, you are likely to find him with his camera in hand.