A tale of two taps…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s pencil sharpener is the one shaped like the smell of a fresh spring morning.
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This blogging thing… I really do try to be ‘interesting’, and not burden you, my dear reader, with the trivialities of my everyday life – yesterday I got up, went shopping, had a very nice cup of tea and a buttered toasted teacake in a cafe, bumped into my friend Stella, and she said that her uncle Sandy just had some trouble with a…
No, I try to be interesting.
However, today I will tell of what I did on Thursday.

I woke up quite early, and I was feeling unusually optimistic; I decided that I should finally deal with those taps on the bathroom basin that have, over the last year or so, been exhibiting stiffness in their operation, and also a tendency to drip whenever the mood took them. The pair have been there since I moved in; they are I believe a breed of tap called  Armitage Shanks Supataps, an attractive and unusual design, going back, I think, to the 1960s or 1970s.
The easiest thing, I decided, would be to just replace them with a new pair of cheap B&Q ones – only £15!
Fine… Now, replacing a tap on a basin is not too difficult a thing; turn the water off, get a spanner, unscrew the nut on the connector underneath, take the old tap out, put the new tap in, and screw the connector onto it with your spanner. It should only take an hour to do both… if that…
No…
No, but it started off well, the connector nuts came undone without too much in the way of swearing and knuckle grazing and the water pipes were soon standing free of the old taps. Now to simply remove the taps from the basin. Would they come out? No… they had been bedded into their holes with plenty of what I believe is called plumber’s mait. Pardon my French, but it was a bastard of a job – the underneath fixing nuts came off easily, but the taps refused to shift – I tried a variety of things, including hitting them with a hammer; I was frightened of being a bit too rough and smashing the basin itself though. Still, after twenty minutes of sweat (it was a warm and humid day was Thursday) they were finally off and were triumphantly hurled across the room.
Good!… It would be plain (plane) sailing from here on! No, I’m afraid not…
Thankfully the bottom bits of the new taps did have the same thread as the old ones, which was good, but these sections were about a centimetre shorter, which meant that the existing pipes underneath wouldn’t reach them. Doh!…
I tried pulling on the pipes, hoping that they would come out of their holes in the floor a little to reach the new taps. No… I pulled and pulled. No… Doh!…
The only solution was to mess about bigtime to slightly rearrange the position of the pipes. I went and sorted through my ‘plumbing bucket’, got my blowtorch, tin of flux, and an assortment of old ‘solder ring‘ copper joints, straight connectors, elbows, tee junctions etc. There was a tense period of thinking, and planning, and deep sighing, but I found that I didn’t have the appropriate bits to make it work.
On the way to the shops to buy the necessary items I had a sudden revelation… If I could buy a couple of those nice flexible tap connectors, shiny bendy tubes about a foot long, it would simplify the whole job. Good old Wilko’s! They did sell them! Only a fiver each! Took them home, a bit of pipe cutting, a couple of twists of the spanner, and the taps were successfully connected – water back on, all working fine…
It was late afternoon by then – I washed my grimy plumber’s hands and ran off happily into town to a cafe to celebrate with tea and a chocolate treat.
Very good!… That’s that then!… What a jolly good day’s work!
No…
On returning home I found that a small rippling pool of water had gathered on the bathroom floor.
Whilst wagging and tugging on the pipes earlier I must have cracked an old solder joint on a part of the cold water pipe down near the floor, which was now weeping, as was I…
Replacing this faulty joint was not easy. You can’t just take out a joint in the middle of a set of pipes which are in situ – they won’t move to let you slide a new joint in. I won’t go into details, but Thursday evening was spent crouching, or on my hands and knees, swearing and sweating, with blowtorch in hand, installing four new copper joints in the pipework…
I slept very well that night, and the next morning I found that all was well in the bathroom.
Plumbing certainly is a character building pastime…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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11 Responses to A tale of two taps…

  1. Oh this little anecdote was hilarious! I, as a “dear reader” would like more of these. Congratulations on finally fixing the problem! Now, can you come and fix my kitchen tap? It drips a lot when the washing machine is on, y’see, and I have constructed a little funnel with tin foil to direct the water…..but….. 😀

    • Dave Whatt says:

      “A little funnel with tin foil” – Excellent! – I love it!
      And no, it wasn’t ‘hilarious’ – it was a dirty filthy hell…
      So, it only drips when the washing machine is on – how very intriguing… Do tell more…

      • I shall amend that to “hilarious to read”, sorry, yes, it must have been a dirty job indeed. Your old taps look most bizarre, I have to say. Anyway, yes the tin foil…well the tap drips and goes under the sink so it looks as if its coming from the pipe. The tin foil is folded around the pipe with the end protruding in a funnel shape within the cupboard, comes out under the little door and into a pot. This is emptied frequently during the cycle of the machine. This is as far as my plumbing expertise goes. I bet you are so glad you asked now. 😀

      • Dave Whatt says:

        No, no, really, I like “hilarious to read”.
        That all sounds very complicated, but ingenious. So, is the tap dripping, or is it coming from the pipe? Also, does it only do it when the washer is running?
        “Puzzled of Dulltown”

      • Dear Puzzled of Dulltown – It appears, on closer inspection – that it is indeed the pipe itself that it dripping, and it happens continuously. However, when the washing machine is on, it floods the underside of the sink, making my makeshift tin foil “pipe” a veritable river of light. This is resolved only when turning the water off at the mains. It can be quite arduous turning it off and on for filling the kettle come tea time…..

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Well, I love a puzzle – I’m really getting drawn into all this.
        This pipe – is it a copper pipe?
        Is the water emerging from a joint in, or connection to, the pipe?

      • I’m sure this is all very tongue in cheek for you, but I will persevere nonetheless! Right, its a copper pipe with green stuff in the joiny on bits. I assume this is corrosion of some sort. The drips come from the washing machine pipe connector….wait…aha! Thats its! Its a loose twisty bit from the washing machine! Right, now I’ve squeezed that tighter, lets run the tap….hmmm….no drips, but the water is now appearing (in a gushing manner) from under the tap base where it connects to the sink. Gah!! I don’t have time for this malarky!

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Oh dear… I should have kept my mouth shut. Still, the drips have been stopped.
        I hope you get it sorted out soon – it might be just that a nut needs a bit of tightening… See, I’m getting drawn in again… Sorry…

  2. Or – you could get a plumber.

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