This drawing has nothing to do with the article but I finished it last week and I'm including it here. Now on with my DIY adventure.
We've all encountered, either out of desire or necessity, the need to engage in a home Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project.
Maybe you have an innate need to build, construct, or create something. Perhaps you're deluded into thinking, "oh, that looks easy, I'll pick up a hammer and saw and have it done in no time flat." For me, though, the desire wells up to bust my knuckles usually slaps me on the back of the head when I get a professional quote to do the job and spew up or choke with great flair on whatever I have in my mouth at the time. Sometimes it even comes out of my nose.
No matter where that little inkling comes from, I have to tell you, I have NEVER started or completed a DIY project that has gone entirely according to plan.
There is something about these projects that abhor smooth sailing. The gods never smile on them.
Yes, I had one of those moments of complete insanity just last week. I thought, sure I can replace a toilet, I know how to swap out that vanity and sink, and, I'm sure I can even put down a new floor at the same time.
There's a reason these guys charge an arm and a leg to do those jobs. I'm sure they have to break an arm and a leg and virtually destroy their backs in the process.
Knowing all the challenges and all of the pitfalls, I charged forward to get the job done. I measured everything up. Got the parts and set to work.
The first part was taking up the old to put down the new. That only took a couple of hours.
I was all ready to start laying the floor. Things were going smooth as silk. I thought I'd have it done in only a couple of hours, but then I came to the cutouts and go-arounds. You know what they say, "Measure twice, cut once." That's what I did.
I must be getting old because I couldn't remember which end of the board I was supposed to cut or how it was supposed to fit in place. I had to go up and down the stairs a hundred times to make sure I got it right.
That's what happens when you don't know what you're doing. It's those things you have to go back for that take up so much time. So far, on day one, I got the floor almost done. Only a couple more pieces to finish the job. It was 10:30 at night when I decided to call it quits for the day. I'd already re-seated the toilet and was ready to fit in the sink the next day.
I should never work when I'm tired. It's just not good practice. Things tend to happen when you don't have your wits about you.
This time, it was like some slapstick movie. I was trying to get up off the floor and leaned ever so slightly on the sink waste pipe, and it came off in my hand. It broke off behind the wall. That was it - the day was over — no more work for me. I headed home with my tail between my legs not knowing what I was in for the next day.
I cut the wall out where the waste pipe went it when it was still attached. What I found was both exciting and revolting all at one time.
First, the revolting stuff:
I don't know if you've ever cleaned the trap in your sink, but it can get pretty unpleasant. The smell was noxious, and I had to reach in and clean out the blockage. It wasn't completely blocked but enough that it was best I cleaned it out. The sludge and muck I drew out of the pipe actually made me gag a little.
Second, the exciting part.
The pipe hadn't broken off inside. The pipe that came out of the wall had almost completely disintegrated. There was virtually nothing left of it in the stack where it was connected. It was exciting because, after I cleaned everything out, I just needed to get a new pipe to come out of the wall. That was a huge relief.
One of the great truths about DIY is:
Every project that you start will require at least three or four unexpected trips to the DIY store to finish. In my case, it was Lowes.
The second trip to Lowes came when I tried to connect the sink trap to the waste pipe and the drain from the sink.
The new drain pipe I got said it was 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" trap assembly for the sink. Mine was 1 1/4" so I thought it would work - WRONG.
I would use the old trap assembly. When I tried to fit it to the pipes, it was impossible to connect them. Everything coming out of the wall was about 2" off center from the pipes connected to the sink. That's what happens with one-hundred-year-old houses. They're just not standard.
Long story short. Things went along swimmingly until the last bit of the evening.
Another principle. If you're going to install a new sink, get new fittings. The old connectors from the water supply to the sink taps were about 2" too short. By this time it was getting late again. My eyes were bleeding, and I couldn't squeeze one more ounce of energy out of my tired, decrepit old body.
Home for the night. I thought I'll pick up new connectors on my way down the next day.
I went to the store (Lowes) and picked up the new connector feed lines after a 20-minute consultation with a friendly and helpful man in the plumbing department.
I have to hand it to Lowes, the majority of the people who are there to help you can help you. They're not uninformed high school sophomores working for a bit of extra cash on the weekend. The people at Lowes usually know what they're talking about. If they don't, they will find somebody who can help you.
I went back to finish the only task I had left. With the floor expertly laid, the toilet deftly reconnected and working, the vanity beautifully installed, my last job was to connect the faucets. I had the right stuff.
Here's where it gets a bit funky. I connected the faucets and, when I turned on the water, the connections leaked. Not severely but just enough to cause problems. I didn't want to over-tighten the connections because, if I did, and the connections broke I'd have a whole heap of other work to do. So I carefully and gradually tightened the fittings and dutifully waited fifteen to twenty minutes to check for leaks.
Three freaking hours of tightening and waiting over and over, there were no leaks.
I imagine a professional would have gone up there tighten the things down and had no leaks. For me, it was a process of trial and error. Most of the trials ended in error.
When I finished, I'd had enough of the project.
It turned out pretty good if you ask me. I'm sure there are some details and nuances that I could have done better; there always is something.
But that day, that fateful day. I slew the dragon and brought home the pot of gold. Mission accomplished. Job done.
The moral of this story, if it has one, is if you want something done right and done well you can either spend a lot of time and experience a bunch of frustration or hire a professional.
If I didn't have my daughter there to help me out and provide periodic encouragement, I would have blown a gasket. Thanks, Holly!
Until next week, I wish you peace.