Two Leaks & The Banishment Of Teflon TapeFriday, January 07, 2011
When my eldest daughter Ale visits from Lillooet she likes to ease what she considers some of the vicissitudes of people our age. This means that in the winter, as she did this Christmas, she brought us loads of firewood for our fireplace. My wife Rosemary, a most frugal woman of Irish heritage, does not like to spend money on stuff that results in ashes. Ale might help us neaten up the garden tool storage shed or offer to help me file my photographs which are scattered over the basement floor near my many metal filing cabinets. And I know that in a phone call to her sister she might discus ways of lightening the load of the old folk. My breakfast tray, courtesy of my younger daughter Hilary, has an appalling quantity of containers of vitamins and other stuff to help my personal plumbing problems.
This year Ale was upset by the lack of a nice and tidy white grout around our white kitchen sink. She fixed this, although Rosemary is going to call our local Kerrisdale Lumber Company to find out why the silicone grout they sold Ale has yellowed, in but a month. Ale noticed a leak under the sink. I knew what it was but I didn’t want to tell her what the repair involved. She put a plastic pan under the sink to catch the leak.
Today Rosemary made the comment that the pan had filled too quickly and I knew what I had to do. I had to replace the Moen faucet fixture. The rubber/plastic gaskets that attach the fixture to the sink had pretty well collapsed. I took the fixture out, knowing that once I had done this there was no return. It meant I would spend the rest of the day on my back under that sink groping with tools that were never designed for such an undertaking.
I went to Home Depot and bought a new fixture, on sale for $99. The kind old man (he seemed older than I was so I call him that!) at Home Depot informed me I did not need to buy Teflon tape (it sticks to everything, your fingers as an example, except to the copper pipe ends for which you wan to use it. It seems that after all these years plumbers (or at least the plumbing industry) have decided to release some of their Masonic secrets to ordinary old folk like us. There are new pipes, made of an intelligent blend of metal and plastic that in their very flexibility prevent those terrible leaks that often occur when one is connecting fixtures, using and bending the old-fashioned copper pipes, to the water (hot and cold) source. I secured a couple of these new pipes and soon our sink was as dry as the Australian desert is just before a flood. I will be monitoring it all during the next days to make sure.
But there is one leak for which Teflon tape will not work and nature will have to take its course. Rosemary received the call, “I am not going to be there tomorrow. I am going with a friend downtown and see what we can do.” My Rosemary countered with, “Well you could come in the evening for our usual supper.”
She might or she might not, but I understand that today has been a day when one leak repaired has been followed by another that has no possible repair for the forseeable future.
That brand new, little red container of Teflon tape, will serve as a reminder of how quickly things change.