Changing a Faucet on a Pedestal Sink

Posted by John on October 30th, 2016

In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some lessons learned about changing a faucet on a pedestal sink.  This project should’ve been much easier and frankly, I should have finished  it much sooner than I planned, but I made a big rookie mistake.  In this post, I’m going to share that mistake with you so you can be properly prepared for your next pedestal sink faucet upgrade.


Here’s what I would recommend.

Take the sink off the wall.  This was my biggest mistake in this process.  I wasted a lot of time trying to get a wrench behind the sink so I could keep the whole assembly intact.  Don’t do that.  I ended up buying a bunch of tools I didn’t really need and in the end, I decided to just take the sink off the wall anyway.


Once the sink was off the wall, I had full and easy access to the drain pipe jam nut and it took me about ten minutes to clean it up and install the new one.  SO much easier than sitting on the floor trying to fit a bunch of wrenches behind the pedestal.


A basin wrench is a big help.  Even though I was able to loosen and tighten the water line connections at the faucet, the basin wrench made this job easier.  Basin wrenches aren’t that expensive and although they’re pretty much only useful for replacing faucets, it was worth it the $10 or $11 I spent on mine.

Use Caulk in All the Places.  I added a thick bead of latex and silicone caulk on the bottom of the pedestal where it sits on the floor and at the top of the pedestal where the sink sits.  This caulk will help keep the sink and pedestal in-place and prevent it from moving or rocking when someone touches it.  Our kids are much more likely to put weight on the edge of the sink so the caulk will help keep the whole thing from moving.

Get the Grey Plumber’s Putty.  Plumber’s putty is used as a gasket around the drain fitting.  It comes in a beige color or a grey color.  If you go with the grey, it will match your hardware better.  The beige stuff tends to stand out more.

Source information.  The sink is a Wetherly model from Moen.  It doesn’t show fingerprints, so it’s perfect for families with kids.  Our previous sink was also a Moen, but it was finished in chrome and showed marks every time someone touched it.  The wall color is Versatile Gray from Sherwin Williams.

Posted in Plumbing. Tagged in ,, , ,

3 DIY Projects that STILL Save Me Money

Posted by John on March 29th, 2015

Most of the home improvement projects I’ve done around our home are one-time savings events.  I’m doing the work once and saving money over hiring a contractor one time.  There are a few projects, however, that continue to save me money even though I finished them years ago.  In this post, I’ll share with you three DIY projects that still save me money well after the work has been finished.

1.  Reverse Osmosis System.  Lisa and I installed a reverse osmosis system under our kitchen sink back in 2012 and since then it’s saved us hundreds of dollars.  Instead of purchasing bottled water or using a Brita, the reverse osmosis system has a dedicated tap that we use for drinking water, coffee, tea and even cooking pasta.  How much money it saves depends on how much bottled water you’d normally go through, but here’s an example.  If the average adult drinks 8 servings of 8 oz. of water per day and you have two adults in the house, that’s something like 120+ cases of bottled water in a year.  If a case of Dasani costs $4, then that’s $485 per year in bottled water.  The Whirlpool reverse osmosis system we installed cost $146 and will cost anywhere from roughly $99 to $133 per year to maintain (replacement filter costs).  That represents a savings of approximately $339 the first year and $350 to $385 each additional year.  Those numbers don’t even include water used for tea, coffee or cooking.  That’s just drinking water.

reverse osmosis

2.  A Whole House Surge Protector.  How does a surge protector save you money?  If you ever get a power surge or a power outage, your electronics can be damaged if they are not properly protected.  The year we moved into our current home, we had three or four power outages.  Before the power went out, the lights would flicker on and off for a few seconds.  When that power is flickering, it could be going above and below the amount your electronics can safely handle and cause it to fail.  One option to protect your equipment is to connect your computer to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which can usually filter out those power spikes as well as provide a backup power source to give you time to safety turn off your computer.  An UPS is a smart idea for computers, but for the rest of your home a whole house surge protector can be a smart idea to help prevent damage to flat screen televisions and other electronics and appliances.  It gets installed directly to your circuit breaker box and will filter out those power surges from affecting your home.  It’s much cheaper to purchase and install a surge protector then to replace all of your electronics.

3.  Outdoor Lighting Timer and LED Bulbs.  By now, if you aren’t using LED or compact flourescent light (CFL) bulbs then you know that you are spending more for your lighting costs than you should.  Despite the fact that we were using LED bulbs for our exterior garage lights, we were still wasting energy by having them on all day.  We would try to turn them off in the morning and off again in the evening, but it’s an easy chore to forget.   The longer the lights are on, the quicker they’ll burn out and there’s no reason for them to be on during the day.  To correct this issue, we installed a lighting timer to automatically turn the lights on and off for us.  It was fairly simple to wire up and now we don’t have to worry about it.  The lights will last longer and we get the added security of a well lit house at night.  Boom.  Time and money saved.




How are your home improvement projects saving you money?

Posted in DIY Projects,Electrical,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, , ,

My Expensive DIY Plumbing Lesson

Posted by John on May 21st, 2014

In today’s post I want to share a story with you from back in the days when I wasn’t very skilled in the ways of home improvement. I believe that you learn much more from failures than you do from successes, so I’m not in the least bit embarrassed to discuss this episode.  I hope this story helps put your home improvement challenges in perspective.  The only real failure is if you don’t learn anything from your mistakes.


In 2004, I was about six months into owning my first home.  I had just learned how to wire a house and I was getting the hang of interior trim work.  I was scrambling to get the place drywalled before a big work trip overseas.  The day before my flight, my dad had come down to give me a hand with some other house work.  Back then I hired out all my drywall work and I had a few guys hanging the sheetrock in another part of the house.  It was a cold and rainy day, typical for that time of year in Philly.

Shortly before the sheetrock guys were to quit for the day, my dad and I noticed water had started to drip heavily from an archway just near one of the windows.  My first reaction was to assume it was from the rain.  The home was 100 years old and a bit of a money pit at the time, so of course that’s where my mind went.  I opened up a window to see if I could identify where the rain was entering the house and instead noticed the rain had pretty much stopped, but the drip inside the house was getting worse.

At that moment, the drip started to appear more in the center of the archway and my father and I realized that one of the drywall screws probably punctured a copper pipe.  Crap.

After turning off the water, we had the drywall folks rip down a small section of their work and we were able to quickly identify where the leak was located.  Rather than call a plumber, we decided that we could easily handle this repair.  All we had to do was cut through the puncture and solder on a coupling sleeve over the cut.  We thought this would be simple.

Let me tell you something, 2014 John would have that leak fixed in about 15 minutes. 2004 John and his dad were in over their heads.

We headed over to the hardware store and picked up some propane, a pipe cutter, solder, flux, sandpaper, some flux brushes and a few couplings.  We cut the pipe right on the puncture, sanded it, pulled one of the pipes out of the way to slide the sleeve on and then set out to heat the pipes.  We had heard that you could use bread to keep the interior of the pipe dry while soldering and that seemed to work okay.  Confident that we had totally nailed it, we turned the water pressure back on and promptly had multiple jets of water spraying into the room.  Crap.

For the next two hours we essentially repeated that process four or five times.  Once it got to about ten o’clock my dad had to leave and I called an emergency plumber.  I couldn’t just leave the water off while I was away.  I had two roommates at the time that in all likelihood would require use of the shower and toilet.

The emergency plumber showed up and fixed the leak in about the time it will take you to read this post.  He was FAST.  He also charged me $250.  Oof.  Here’s where I got my money’s worth though: I asked him what I was doing wrong and he taught me some tips that I’ve used countless times since.  Instead of a $250 repair, it was a $250 one-on-one pipe repair training session.  Money well spent.

Here’s what he did differently:

– He didn’t try to use one coupling over the punctured area, he cut out the entire section and soldered in a short section of pipe with two couplings.  The punctured pipe had been too deformed to get a solid seal around it.

– He used MAPP gas instead of propane since it burns hotter and heats the pipe and coupling up faster.

– Immediately after the solder was sucked into the joint, he used his flux brush and brushed a light amount of flux on the outside of the joint, which appeared to further smooth and even out the solder.  It looked much cleaner and more professional as a result.

These types of lessons aren’t limited to plumbing obviously and while I hope you find his tips helpful, that’s not the point of this post.  Sometimes, we just need to step back when we get stuck and ask for help.  It’s not a surrender or a defeat, although it sure can feel that way sometimes.  It’s an opportunity to learn.

If you’ve had an expensive home improvement lesson, I’d love to hear about it.  Please share your story by leaving a comment.

Posted in DIY Projects,Lessons Learned,Plumbing. Tagged in ,,

Reverse Osmosis System Review One Year Later

Posted by John on November 4th, 2013

Happy Tuesday! Instead of hitting you with the next installment in our TV stand build, I wanted to do a few posts here and there on some other unrelated home improvement projects. Wasn’t originally my intention of doing 8 furniture posts in a row, but that’s just kind of how it worked out. I haven’t worked on it lately anyway, since Lisa and I were in Florida this past weekend for a destination wedding. It was on Captiva Island. Awesome time. I’m literally covered in bug bites, but it was a blast.

If you’ve been following our blog for a while now, you may remember that we installed a reverse osmosis system under our kitchen sink around a year ago (actually last September). I wanted to do a follow up with our readers to let everyone know how it was going. Were we using it? Did we still like it? This was actually the second water filtration system we added to our house, with the other being the filter on the fridge.

Well, I wanted to let you know that we love it. Big time. We use it ALL THE TIME. It tastes great.

reverse osmosis installed

We quickly got sick of our in-fridge filter some time ago, but we’ve been solid fans of the reverse osmosis system from day 1. If you drink a lot of bottled water, then I’d jump to get one of these systems.

We use the water for everything… tea, coffee, pasta and of course plain ol’ drinking water.

We bought the system at Lowes. It’s certainly not cheap, retailing today for just under $150. The filters need to be replaced every six months and they can set you back around $95 per change out. It’s still cheaper than buying bottled water though, at least for us. If you spend around $8 a week on bottled water, then in the first year you’d break even after around 7.5 months. In the second year and thereafter, your entire year’s worth of replacement filters would pay for themselves after just 6 months. It’s like drinking for free half of the year. Granted, I still have to pay for the water from the utility company, but that’s not much at all.

Another advantage has been the lack of empty plastic water bottles around the house. I can’t tell you how quickly our recycling container would fill up with those things.

Installation wasn’t a big deal either. Just about anyone can put one in.

reverse osmosis under sink

So that’s it. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just wanted to let everyone know how it was going. I’ve always been curious about what a home bloggers project looks like 1 or 2 years after the fact. Thought you might find it useful, especially if you were thinking about picking one up yourself.

Later this week, we dive back into our custom media cabinet and make some doors!

Posted in Plumbing. Tagged in ,, ,

Guest Post: How to Install a Water Heater

Posted by John on January 25th, 2013

Hey everybody!  Hope you all had a great week.  If you couldn’t tell from the lack of posts this week, we’ve been busy.  I’ve started up another grad class and we’ve been hard at work painting our toddler bedroom.  I considered showing the before posts this week, but I think it’ll be better to just have the room completely painted.  We hope to show you those on Monday!

Today we have a helpful guest post from Rachael from DIYMother on replacing water heaters.  We installed one in our first home, going from a 30 gallon to a 50 gallon.  Made a world of difference.    Thanks Rachael!

How to Install Your Water Heater

A common household plumbing project, replacing your water heater can raise many potential dangers. When your water heater begins to leak, you have to replace it quickly. Here are the steps needed in order to properly install your water heater.

Remove your Old Heater

Before you can connect your new water heater, you will have to remove the old one. First, turn of the fuel source (electricity or gas) and then drain the heater tank. Open the hot water faucet to allow air into the system to assist in the draining process. On a gas heater, you will need to separate the vent pipe from the draft hood. The hood should easily lift off after you remove the sheet metal screw that holds it in place. After ensuring the pilot light is out, disconnect the gas line at the heater and cap it off.

You will then remove the heater from its water pipes. If the pipes are connected by removable, threaded fittings, take them apart with a pipe wrench. However, if your pipes do not have a removable, threaded fitting, you must use a hacksaw to remove them. A pipe cutter will also allow you to complete the job successfully. Once draining has completed, you will be able to remove and dispose of your old water heater.

Installing your New Heater

Using an appliance cart or dolly, move your new heater to its location. Then, position the water heater so your piping will reach easily. This is especially important if you have a gas water heater and need to line your heater up properly to reach the gas vent pipe.

For a gas heater, you will need to install the new draft hood. Many heater hoods have legs that insert into holes on the top of the heater, making it easy for you to install. A gas water heater requires proper venting that is no smaller than its draft hood collar. It would be in your best interest replace vent pipe elbows, as your old ones are most likely corroded. Make certain that your vent is perfectly vertical for as far as is possible. When you can no longer keep the vent vertical, the vent should slope upward one quarter inch per foot, with the lowest point being where the pipe goes from vertical to horizontal.

Next, connect the vent pipe with sheet metal screws. At this point, you are ready to make your hot and cold water connections. It is recommended to use flex connectors, which are easy to bend to reach the connection. The way to handle your water pipe depends on the type of pipe your house has. Regardless of size and material, the heater should be fitted with a cold water gate valve. Place this valve in a vertical section of piping to prevent sediment buildup.

When working with threaded pipes, you should have a removable, threaded fitting on both the hot and cold water lines, replacing the old fittings entirely, as your new fittings are manufactured to fit together properly. You will also need new nipples for the top of your water heater. The length of the nipples will depend on the distance from the fittings located at the top of your water heater to your fittings.

If you choose to use flex connectors, you will find that fittings are unnecessary. If your water heater has female-threaded tappings, you will need a pair of three-quarter inch nipples to connect the flex connectors at the bottom. However, if your heater comes with three-quarter inch male-threaded stubs, nipples will not be needed to complete your installation.

Flex connectors fit directly to the ends of the threaded pipe at the top of your heater. Some will install to copper tubing without sweat soldering. If you do sweat solder, make sure to do this before installing your flex connectors. This will help you avoid damage to the connector gaskets.

If you are using plastic piping, you will need “transition” fittings between the plastic pipe and the metal heater threads. Some manufacturers recommend using foot-long threaded steel nipples between the water heater and the transition fittings to create distance between the fittings and the conducted burner heat. Be cautious when buying piping. Do not attempt to hook up your new water heater with PVC, PE or ABS plastic piping, as these types of pipes will not take hot water.

Installing your Relief System

One of the vital parts of your hot water heater installation process includes installing a temperature and pressure relief valve and line. The relief system automatically releases excess heat and pressure in your system. With all of your plumbing installed, you can close the heater’s drain valve and open the cold water inlet valve in order to fill the storage tank. Then, open the hot water faucet to release air trapped in the top of the tank. Next, close the faucet as water will flow from it rather quickly, and then check for any leaks.

Energy Connections

The final step in completing the installation of your new water heater is to connect your energy supply. For gas connections, you will want to add a shut-off valve on the gas line if there wasn’t one already installed. Use a new fitting to complete the gas line installation with a threaded pipe. For flex connectors, you will want to install a male flare adapter into the inlet opening of the water heater’s gas valve. Next, connect the gas flex connector collar to the flare adapter and tighten it with an adjustable, open-end wrench. When everything is complete, see that your thermostat is in the off position. Then, you can turn the gas on to your heater.

For electrical connections, the wires providing electricity to your heater must be the right size and provide the correct voltage and amperage that your heater was designed to use. Unless you know how to work with this wiring, it is recommended that you hire a certified electrician to wire your water heater. When you turn on the heater circuit, make sure to check the electric meter to see that it is spinning, indicating that the heater is functioning properly.

Rachael Jones is a Staff Writer for DIYMother.

Posted in Plumbing. Tagged in ,,

How to Replace a Broken Sump Pump

Posted by John on December 3rd, 2012

Hey everybody!  Sorry if I’ve been AWOL lately.  Work has been pretty crazy and I’ve been unable to read or comment on my regular blog reads.  I’m hoping to set aside some time in the next day or two to get caught up.  In the meantime, I’ve also been busy with annoying, but necessary repairs around the house.  This past week I had to replace our sump pump.  As far as technically challenging repairs go… on a scale of 1 to 10, this one is around a 3 or a 4, where changing a light bulb would be a 1 and replacing a furnace is a 10.

So, we’ve lived in our current NJ house for a little over 2 years now and we’ve never, ever heard our sump pump run.  Even during and immediately after hurricane Sandy it was quiet.  About a week ago, Lisa had been noticing this recurring humming noise coming from the basement.  In typical, ‘you’re probably hearing things mode’ I blew it off as just typical furnace noise.  Then a couple days later I was in the basement grabbing some tools and I heard it first hand.  Crap.  The sump pump was running for 30-45 seconds, would stop for 30-45 seconds then would run again.  It wasn’t raining, and it hadn’t rained heavily for a couple weeks.  Something is wrong with this picture.

If you don’t have a sump pump or are not sure how it works, I can explain.  Most new home foundations and a lot of existing homes are outfitted with a perforated plastic pipe that wraps around the outside perimeter near the footer or the base of the basement wall.  It then gets covered in gravel to prevent sand and dirt from clogging its slits.  This pipe, which can be sometimes referred to as a “weeping tile” (ala Mike Holmes) then runs into the basement into a large bucket.  The bucket is equipped with a sump pump that evacuates the water back outside, except it does so away from the house, keeping the foundation dry and less likely to settle further or become disturbed from water erosion.

Here’s what our bucket and evacuation pipe looks like…

sump pump (2)

The small pipe on the left is the condensate discharge from the central air system.  The larger pipe on the right is the outlet pipe from the sump pump.  These systems are also vented and may have two large pipes as opposed to one.  We DO have a vent in this system it’s just hidden in the basin.

That large plastic box is a check valve.

sump pump pvc check valve

The check valve prevents the water that was just pumped out from coming back down the pipe and back into the sump bucket.  It’s just a little rubber gasket that only opens in one direction.  When this pump was continuously running, the first thing I assumed was the check valve wasn’t sealing and it was constantly sending the water back into the basin only to be ejected again.  After taking the check valve apart, cleaning it, putting it back together and then plugging the pump back in, it was still running constantly.

Time to investigate further.  So, I disconnected the check valve, slid the AC discharge pipe out of the way and popped off the cover to the basin.  Couple things I noticed:

1.  there wasn’t much water in the bucket, only a couple of inches.
2.  there was a spider in there with a leg span about as long as my thumb and with WAY more hair on its legs than mine.  I’m generally not afraid of spiders.  I was afraid of THIS spider.

Sump pumps usually have some type of float mechanism so when the bucket fills high enough with water, it will switch on.  This pump was running AND the float was a couple inches above the water.  This thing is straight up broken.  Now I could try to repair the switch mechanism or I could just go out and buy a new one, a new shiny one that didn’t have giant banana spiders hidden inside.  I think you can guess which way I went on this.

old sump pump new sump pump

They even sell these in stainless steel!  As if it were going to be on our kitchen counter next to the toaster.

The replacement went pretty easy.  I disconnected the old sump pump at the check valve union and just pulled it out of the sump bucket.  Easy.  The new sump pump and the old sump pump have different PVC fittings.  Take note, the one on the right has a fitting that goes OVER the threads.  The new one is a female type connection, where the PVC will need to go INTO the pump.  So much for reusing that pipe.

Here’s a closer shot of the fittings…

in vs out

So, after assembling a few pieces to the new pump, I glued on the male fitting to a small section of 1 1/2″ PVC pipe.  Lowes and Home Depot sell certain diameter pipes in larger 8′-10′ lengths and a few at 4′-5′ lengths.  Since this is a smaller section, I opted for the car friendly 5′ piece.

To glue on the male fitting (which I fitted up to the display pump at Lowes to make sure I had the right one), I just placed my pipe on a stable surface to start.  You’ll need both the purple primer and the PVC glue for this part.

pvc glue and primer

I applied the purple primer to both pieces and then the glue to both.  You need to put these two piece together within a few seconds once you apply the glue or it will harden prematurely.

pvc primer

To glue them together, place the male fitting over the pipe, hold it steady for a few seconds, then try to give it a very slight turn.  If you get resistance to the turn, you’re good.  I like to hold the piece onto the pipe for maybe 30 seconds to a minute before letting go.

pvc glue

Okay.  The new pump was then connected to the pump and placed into the basin.  I marked both the new pipe and the old pipe for length taking into consideration a gap for the new check valve.

To cut the new pipe to length, I just used my miter saw.

cutting pvc

With the new pipe cut, I added some thread compound to the male fitting and reinstalled the pipe to the new sump pump.

thread compound

To cut the existing part of the discharge pipe that was hanging from the basement wall, I used a hack saw.  You could also use a reciprocating saw, aka a Sawzall, but I find they shake the pipe too much.

The new check valve is a flexible rubber boot style and it slides over the pipes and gets clamped down.  You just need to leave some extra room between these pipes for this valve.

sump pump check valve

Sorry that photo is a little blurry, but you get the idea.

After the new valve was installed, I plugged it in and tested it by lifting up the float.  Success!

new sump pump

The flexible check valve let’s you get away with the pipe being slightly misaligned, which is nice.

So, that sucked.  Any annoying repairs in your future?  Any 8 legged monsters?

Posted in DIY Projects,Fixes,Plumbing,Repairs. Tagged in ,, , , ,

How to Clean Black Shower Mold Permanently

Posted by John on November 28th, 2012

Keeping with our bathroom theme… Unless you routinely scrub your tub or shower, you’re bound to get a good amount of black moldy build-up in those tough to clean areas. We’ve all seen it. Sorry if I’m starting to sounding like a commercial. It happens. It comes from years of trying to sell my ideas to Lisa. So, our master bathroom shower has seen some better days. Surprisingly, we actually DO clean it often enough that we shouldn’t have any issues with black staining mold or hard water stains, but nonetheless we do. Here’s how I was able to get our shower mold free and looking new.

How to Clean Black Shower Mold Permanently

First, I always start with a cleaning product that contains bleach. We typically use Tilex. The chemical odor can be pretty overwhelming, so whenever I use it, I try to keep the windows open to let some fresh air in and I wear a mask.  I aggressively work the cleaner into the problems areas with a stiff bristle brush.  If you still have some black mold after this step, then you’ll need to remove and replace the caulk.

Here’s what our shower looked like after the best cleaning it’s ever gotten.

shower mold

shower mold 2

black shower mold

Still pretty gross. To remove the moldy caulk, I used a box cutter with a sharp blade and a flat bladed box cutter, which is like a window scraper, to score it. Once all the caulk was scored, you can usually peel it out. Be sure to get all of the caulk out of the joints. Some of the more stubborn caulk may harden to the point that it’s like grout. The hardened stuff may need some more persuasion. I used a flat head screw driver. You do need to be careful that you don’t damage your tile or shower basin. Also, wear safety glasses. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.

Once all the moldy caulk was scraped out, it looked better.

caulk removed

after removing shower caulk

removing shower caulk 2

With all the caulk removed, it’s time to prep for the new caulk. Be sure to clean up the area where the caulk was previously. It will also need to be nice and dry in order for any caulk to adhere well.

Now, if this were a latex based painter’s caulk, I’d dive right in. The latex caulks are pretty easy to work with and are fairly forgiving. However, your shower and bathroom applications require a silicone based caulk. Silicone caulk is notoriously difficult. So, to make it easier on ourselves, we’re going to use some painter’s tape to mask off the area. I leave a good 1/4″ gap in the area where the caulk will be applied.

tape caulk joints

tape the joints

Once the tape is in place, we’re set.

Now, you can buy high quality silicone caulks that are specifically designed for a shower or bathroom application, as opposed to a window or door for example. The caulk we used for this repair guarantees several years free of mold. Hopefully, with normal cleanings, we won’t need to repeat this procedure.

Here’s a link to the caulk I’d recommend if you are considering this project.

The caulk can be applied in a thin bead and can then be smeared with your finger.

apply caulk

smear the caulk

While smearing, I try to get a seamless look. Pull your finger smoothly across the caulk line and don’t stop until you get to a corner. Once you’ve smoothed all the caulk, remove the tape. Very gently, re-smooth out the caulk lines again. You’re done. Let it dry according to the caulk manufacturer’s directions. You usually need to wait around 8 hours after you apply the caulk until you can shower.


clean white silicone caulk

fresh shower caulk silicone

Now, my assumption is the builder didn’t use a high quality caulk the first time around. We’re going to be more vigilant this time and hopefully can clean the shower with a less caustic cleaner, but I’m hoping I won’t need to repeat this for a long, long time. And if you do spot some small black mold spots in your caulk, don’t fret. Try letting the Tilex cleaner soak for a little while (few minutes) before you plan on re-doing it.

The hardest part of this whole process is removing the old caulk. Plan on this whole fix taking at least a couple of hours. It will be time well spent.

Anyone else dealing with some crappy caulk? I wrote an entire post about caulk and didn’t make one juvenile joke. #itskillingme’

This post contains one Amazon affiliate link, but feel free to purchase caulk wherever you’d like. :)

Posted in DIY Projects,Fixes,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, , , ,

How to Fix a Leaking Sink

Posted by John on September 10th, 2012

So, last week as you may recall, we added a reverse osmosis system (ROS) to our kitchen sink.  How do we like it so far?  We love it.  The water tastes great and we don’t have anymore plastic water bottles collecting dust all over the house.  Wasn’t terribly difficult either, although there were a few tricky steps, like drilling through the stainless steel sink and adding a section of pipe for the drain.

Now, I’m generally a cautious guy.  Whenever I mess with plumbing, I usually keep an eye on it for a little while to make sure it doesn’t leak.  With the water supply lines, you usually don’t need to do that.  They are pressurized and they’ll either leak immediately when the water is turned on or not at all.  They CAN have a slow drip, but even those usually materialize sooner than later.IMG_4509-1024x682


The drain pipes on the other hand, can take a while.  They aren’t under any pressure and leaks can be painfully slow to develop.  The photo above is our kitchen sink the day after I installed the ROS.  See that paper towel and the water pail?  Yep.  We sprung a leak.  The entire left side under our sink had a nice puddle of water in it.  The culprit?  The right side p-trap.  What’s weird about that?  I modified the left side p-trap in our ROS install and didn’t even touch the right one.  Apparently, I must have bumped it or something when I was messing around with the left side.

How to Fix a Leaking Sink

After a close inspection, I was able to feel a lot of water around the topmost p-trap fitting.  So, the first thing I did to remedy this whole situation was to just put some muscle into that fitting and crank it down tight to see if that helped.  Since this is a slow drip, I put a dry piece of paper towel under the p-trap and left it alone for a couple minutes.  After a little while, I noticed the paper towel had some wet spots.  Crap.IMG_4510-1024x682


The only real option I have at this point is to replace the p-trap and the maybe the tall pipe that has the dishwasher port on it.  They readily sell these at home supply stores and they’re very inexpensive.  I paid under $10 for both of these parts.

I started the fix by removing the old p-trap.  It comes out very easy.  You just loosen the two nuts that hold it in place.  They’re almost always hand tight.  You don’t really need to use a wrench for any of this.IMG_4511-1024x682


That long pipe came out next.  Same deal as the p-trap.  Once it was out, I laid it next to the new one and marked the new one so it had the same length.  To cut it, I just used a pair of tubing cutters, but you can also use a hack saw.IMG_4512-1024x682


With the straight pipe cut to the correct length, it gets installed the same way the old one came out.IMG_4513-1024x682


With the straight pipe in place, the new p-trap is up next.  Very simply installation.IMG_4514-1024x682


So our finished photo looks identical to our first photo.  Only difference is this one doesn’t leak.  To be sure we corrected the problem, I left another piece of paper towel underneath the sink.  This time, I left it under there for a couple days.  No drips!

What was wrong with the old one?  Hard to tell.  It’s possible it got bumped and then maybe messed up one of the seals.  Who knows?  I’m not losing sleep over it.

So, that wasn’t very exciting, but hopefully you learned something about your sink!!  Fix ay problems at your place lately?

Posted in Fixes,Kitchen,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Adding a Reverse Osmosis System

Posted by John on September 5th, 2012

It’s time to say goodbye.  It’s been a long time coming.  This relationship is wasteful.  There are better options out there.  It’s true.  We’re finally kicking the bottled water habit and switching to a reverse osmosis system (ROS).  At any given time over the past year, you could find 5-10 empty bottles of Dasani or Aquafina lying around the house.  On our dressers, on the kitchen counters, on the bathroom sinks.  Everywhere.  On top of our water bottle consumption, we own a Brita filter.  It’s okay, but it’s not as good as bottled.  We’re getting rid of Brita.  I’ll let Vaughn take it from here…

Now, since this is a commercially available product (we bought it at Lowes a while back) with its own set of instructions, I’m not going to get to detailed with the how-to instructions.  I thought it would be helpful if we showed you what’s involved.


Adding a Reverse Osmosis System

Since these units are installed either in a basement or underneath a kitchen sink, we’ll start there.  We picked our sink instead of the basement.IMG_4488-1024x682


Then we cleaned out underneath our sink.  I’ll need the room.IMG_4490-1024x682


The ROS takes up a good amount of space.  We’ll reorganize it once we’ve finished.  I’ll also need to turn off the water supply valves.IMG_4493-1024x682


The ROS takes the water right from the cold water line under the sink.  I added a tee between the water supply hose and the faucet pipe.IMG_4495-1024x682



To add the actual ROS faucet we have the option of either using the existing hole for the sprayer or drilling another hole.  Since we do actually use the sprayer once in a while, we drilled another hole.IMG_4502-1024x682



It’s not easy to drill a hole through 1/16″ thick stainless steel, but if you go slow and use the right bit, it’s doable.

ROS’s also cycle out the waste that gets removed from the water and actually drains it into the p-trap.  The existing drain piping needs to get modified to accept it.  That’s not too hard though.

You can see the added pipe in the photo below along with the filter assembly and the reservoir tank.  It’s all a part of the system.  Not exactly sure how it works.  Just trust it.

The water lines are just flexible tubes that basically get pressed into connections.  It’s really, really easy to make those connections.

The faucet gets bolted to the sink top.  We picked a chrome unit, despite the fact that our sink is stainless steel and our main faucet is brushed nickel.  Weird right?  Well, we’re probably going to be getting granite or some other solid surface in the next few years and we’re going to be switching the sink and maybe the faucet too.  Besides, the main faucet doesn’t even match the sink anyway.  We don’t mind the clashing in the meantime.

How’s it taste?  Great!  Well… as great as water can taste.  It doesn’t have any odor or chlorine taste whatsoever.  Good stuff.

How do you drink your water?  Do you take it bottled or filtered?

Posted in Kitchen,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, ,

Grand Plans Update and Our Icemaker-Paradigm Shift

Posted by John on January 30th, 2012

How about that for a post title!

Well folks, it’s been seven weeks since we started on our Grand Plans!  I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.  We still have a few small projects left on our list, but here’s what we’ve accomplished to date…

1.  Add chair rail molding to vestibule (how-to post here and odd angles post here)
2.  Enhancing our crown molding
3.  Caulking and filling nail holes
4.  Painting, painting, painting (Vestibule, Family Room, Morning Room and Kitchen)
5.  Adding hardwood floors to our living room (post 1 and post 2) and family room

we’ve since added to the list…

6. Paint the Dining Room 


We realize that we should probably add some sort of home tour and maybe a layout so you can see where these rooms are with respect to the house.  We promise to post one soon.  As far as the dining room goes, we’ve decided to do some exciting work in here…  that’s all I’m saying for now.  You’ll see next month!  We’re not starting any new projects until after our daughter’s birthday party.  We added this room to the paint list because it looked too bare compared to the adjacent rooms.

We also finally got around to running a hose from our water supply to our fridge’s icemaker.  Can’t believe we waited this long.  Already. love. it.


This little water outlet thing was behind our fridge.  We never actually ordered this, but our builder put it in anyway.  We think they goofed.  If they hadn’t put it in, we would’ve probably never added one ourselves.  It’s not difficult to do, it’s just that… Lisa and I aren’t icemaker people.  This is our second side by side fridge with the water and ice dispenser and up until now, we’ve never even thought about adding it.  Frankly, we’re bottled water people.  Not just plain bottled water, but bottled, purified water.  We don’t go with that hippie, crunchy, spring water stuff.  We prefer the taste.  Consequently, we have about ten empty plastic bottles throughout the house at any given time.  The water line changes everything.  Now, that it’s there, we use it constantly.  Major paradigm shift.

We actually hooked up the hose because we thought it would be convenient when we have company.  We didn’t realize we’d use it for the tea kettle, the dog bowl, washing my hands, filling up water balloons…  Ok, so I don’t wash my hands with it… but I could.

Making the connection was as simple as pulling out the fridge and attaching the line to the fridge and the wall valve.  It’s also a great opportunity to clean the floor under the fridge.  It’s pretty much a lost city of gold/dog treats for Finnie.



Once the hose was in, Finnie checked for leaks.


The only annoying thing about hooking up this line is the cleansing. We had to flush the system, by running about 4-5 gallons of water and then dumping it out. I also threw out the first two trays of ice. Still beats Brita.

Have you added something minor to your routine that changes everything?

Posted in Finnie,Flooring,Home Decor,Plumbing,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, ,

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