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Fixing Things - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
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!

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stephe From: stephe Date: June 16th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Having had some fun with plumbing myself: I think the main reason guides like the one you used suggest replacing the washers is that it is always possible that they may get damaged during the plumbing process. If it isn't leaking now, it probably won't be a problem for the natural life of the washers.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 16th, 2006 02:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Good to know, thanks! I'll keep my fingers crossed.
cpip From: cpip Date: June 16th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Get on with your bad self! Good job.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 16th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
:D Thank ya!
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: June 16th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Want to come fix my disposal?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: June 16th, 2006 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Um, not so much.... but I can look up disposals in my giant do-it-yourself book and email you a photograph!
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: June 16th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eh, disposals are easy. 'Cause you don't fix 'em, you just replace them. (Seriously.)

If you've the skills to pull and replace a sink trap, you can pull and replace a disposal. (Seriously.)
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: June 16th, 2006 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just need to dig out mine and figure what's wrong, using the allen wrench didn't solve it.
thinggtwoo From: thinggtwoo Date: June 16th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
YAAAY, Go You!!!!
johnridley From: johnridley Date: June 16th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good job. FWIW, I've had traps of dozens of times, and I've never replaced the gaskets, and I've never had them leak. I've had OTHER things leak under there, but not the u-bend.

I've found that the key to learning new skills is to be fearless. Some skills I've picked up when I get to the "nothing to lose" stage. If you're resigned to throwing away something, take it apart and see how it works. I certainly would never have taken a working $600 digital camera apart, but once it was broken, I did, and I got it working again. I've gotten lots of stuff working again through just looking for things that didn't look right inside. But you need to take stuff apart and look at them before you learn what "right" looks like.

I've actually even become a bit of a fan of industrial design by seeing how something like computer printers are assembled now versus years ago.
johnridley From: johnridley Date: June 16th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeesh, I need to read before I post.
I've had traps APART dozens of times....
retepsnave From: retepsnave Date: June 16th, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

congratulations! plumbing isn't all that bad... but pedestal sinks, cute as they are, suck when it comes to working on their plumbing...

cannibal From: cannibal Date: June 16th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm about like you, when it comes to plumbing. I also have a rule that I don't mess with anything over 12 volts (which, come to think of it, means I need to get help for working on the hybrid, that battery pack is at least 300 volts) but I'm very into messing with electronic or mechanical hardware... just took apart one of those massive book staplers at work because someone had jammed the wrong size staples in, required removing one cotter pin to get it working.
kevinnickerson From: kevinnickerson Date: June 19th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I worry about 220, but I'll do some work on 110 live. I did have Tegan pull a fuse at her place though, after I got zotted while dremeling out a broken screw in an outlet. I think that's the first time I've been hit since high school days.
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: June 16th, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats! It always feels good to attack something like that and have it come out great!
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