Insinktion: in which I waste an entire day fixing the bathroom sink because life is terrible and confusing

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There are some house projects that make you contemplate the futility of human existence. Today’s fight with the bathroom sink is one such project. Why are we here? Why do we even need running water indoors? Why can’t we just wash our hands in a bucket on the floor?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I do have a fully-functional bathroom sink and several hours of frustration to show for it. Allow me to explain.

Last night after I brushed my teeth I heard a slow but steady dripping on the bathroom floor. Sure enough, the joint of the U-bend in the bathroom sink was leaking. “No problem,” thought I, “Tomorrow I shall figure out what’s wrong and fix it.”

How young I was. How naïve!

At about 10am this morning I disassembled the U-bend. It was full of gunk, which is why I assume it was backed up and leaking. So I cleaned it out. And then–oh, then!–my own hubris destroyed me. Because I figured that while I was down there I might as well disassemble and clean the whole contraption to make sure there weren’t any other blockages. And so I disassembled my bathroom sink drain, taking care to lay all the pieces out in order so that I could then reassemble them the right away.

Dear readers, I flew too close to the sun.

After cleaning all the sections of the drain* and putting it back together, the leak in the U-bend joint was gone… and an exciting new leak had appeared where the sink met the drain pipe. Here:

The black line between porcelain and plastic is where all my trouble started.

The black line between porcelain and plastic is where all my trouble started.

Ok, no problem. Just a different leak. I must’ve put it back together wrong. So I then proceeded to take it apart, move the gasket to a slightly different configuration, reassemble, and test for leaks… seven times. By the way, for the uninitiated, this black rubber thing is a gasket:

This thing is a gasket. It is apparently incredibly important and fickle. When in doubt, use five.

This thing is a gasket. It is apparently incredibly important and fickle. When in doubt, use five.

Like any good Millennial, I updated my Facebook status throughout this annoying process, which led to sympathy, mocking (you guys suck), and a very kind offer of help from my friend Craig. After the fifth round of sink assembly I went to Home Depot and spent $16 on a new gasket and a new pop-up assembly (the topmost part of your sink drain that connects to the sink itself) because clearly the original gasket was falling down on the job and I’d basically stripped the big plastic nut on the original pop-up assembly with my trusty parrot wrench.

The parrot wrench. Well, what would YOU call it?

The parrot wrench. Well, what would YOU call it? It looks like a damn parrot.

Suitably humbled and armed with new sink bits, I set to work removing the old pop-up assembly and replacing it with the new one. Re-assembled the plumbing and then, voila! … there was still a leak. For those of you keeping score, this would be the sixth time I put the plumbing back together.

And that’s when I burned the house down and ran away to Burkina Faso, never to be seen again.

With nothing left to lose, I disassembled the plumbing for a seventh time, and then… I added a second gasket above the first. I know. Some of us just like to watch the world burn. With this new double-gasket configuration, the pop-up assembly went something like this: big plastic nut, gasket, porcelain sink, second gasket. I did not take a picture because I didn’t want to jinx myself.

At long last, the gods of plumbing smiled upon me. I turned the water on full-blast and watched it for a solid five minutes, daring it to leak. Not a drop.

I don't know about you, but that is some sexy plumbing right there.

I don’t know about you, but that is some sexy plumbing right there.

I think I learned a few valuable lessons today.

  1. If plumbing is too hard for Nicole Curtis the Rehab Addict, it’s too hard for me.
  2. If it ain’t broke, don’t even think about fixing it. Or cleaning it. Or touching it at all. Ever.
  3. Home improvement is way more fun when you make up your own names for tools. Like the parrot wrench!

*Unspeakable things dwell in the drain of a bathroom sink. UNSPEAKABLE THINGS.

UPDATE: Ben tells me the parrot wrench is actually a vise grip. He doesn’t think it looks like a parrot, let alone a wrench. He is wrong and unimaginative.

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