June 15th, 2006

duke-muscle

Fixing Things

I'm not always handy around the house. I'm a software person -- if you can touch it, it's a hardware problem. That said, occasionally I tackle projects. I like the idea of being a do-it-yourselfer. I just don't always like the doing.

So this morning I was standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror above my sink, putting on a necklace. It's a necklace of which I am very fond, that I realized I hadn't worn in awhile. I was trying to fasten it behind my neck, but kept missing the clasp. I looked at it again, then shifted my fingers to get a better grip.

That's when I dropped one end. I watched the end drop, and the pendant slide down in slow motion. Right off the end of the chain. Right into the drain.

It's such a simple thing, to plug the drain when messing with delicate objects. Yet I hardly ever think of it.

I heard it land in the inner workings of the drain plug. Not quite down the drain, but precariously balanced out of sight. Holding my breath, I pulled out the plug. I saw the pendant for an instant, than chink! it landed on the very edge of the drain, then rolled right into the now-open hole.

I heard a chunk as it landed in the U-shaped thing under my sink. Already late for work, I was unable to do more than mumble a few curse words and close the door so the cats wouldn't get in.

My first thought was to try to get somebody to help me with it. It wasn't lost, after all, I KNEW it was in that pipe. But plumbing makes me uncomfortable. It's wet and messy, dirty and leads to floods. I started trying to think of who to call -- or should I just call a plumber?

But I figured that was way too excessive. This couldn't be that hard, right? I knew where it was, and it wasn't even a place where I'd need to turn off the water. I should at least investigate further. So when I got home from work this evening, I pulled out my handy-dandy Time/Life Complete Fix-it Yourself Guide.

The book seemed to think I could remove my "trap" (so that's what that U-shaped thingy is) with nothing but a pair of pliers and a pan to catch the water that leaks out. Huh...that doesn't sound too hard....

So I found a pair of pliers and a baking pan. It took a lot more fussing than the book had indicated, and the book hadn't mentioned how much the pedestal of my pedestal sink would get in the way of things. But I managed to get one end of the trap removed. And the pan, even crooked (because the darn pedestal was in the way) caught most of the water that came out!

I dug around in the trap with my fingers, because the other end was trapped by the pedestal. To my relief, it wasn't clogged or very dirty. My probing fingers managed to rescue 5 pieces of fish-tank gravel, 2 earrings I didn't know were missing, and.... my necklace! Hooray!

The book said I was supposed to use new washers when I replaced the trap. But I don't own any washers, and the thing didn't seem to have one when I took it apart anyway. So I put the jewelery safely away, put it back together, then tentatively turned the water on.

No leaks! At least... not yet. If it leaks later, I can always go buy a few washers. But I'm pleased with my (extremely minor, I know) do-it-yourself project. Especially since I don't generally like to venture into the world of plumbing. Go me!