Now that I’m relegated to inside home improvement projects thanks to sub-zero temperatures, I’m tackling a few nagging issues.
First up: kitchen water pressure.
Since we moved in two years ago, the kitchen sink, it seems, had only released water by accident. An anemic, pathetic stream. Jokingly, I would tell people that you could make a trip to the bathroom in the time it took to fill up a pan with enough to make pasta. Then one night I actually did just that. (Another, equally annoying, option would have been to just fill up the pans in the bathroom. That, though, is more difficult to explain at dinner parties.)
Occasionally, there would be a sign that the pressure might return. We’d turn off the main water line to fix something else, and when turned back on, the pressure would surge in the kitchen, then promptly return to a trickle.
Our (and by “our,” I mean Dad’s) main theory was that the mix of copper and iron pipes in the basement had combined to form a corroded road block of sorts, causing the low flow to the kitchen. We scheduled several exploratory sessions that mainly involved a lot of grasping our chins and staring knowingly at the pipes in the basement ceiling.
“That’s got to be the problem,” we’d both say, as we tried to come up with another excuse project that DIDN’T involve hack saws, a blow torch and hours of work.
I’d cautiously taken the sink handle apart on several occasions, thinking there wasn’t much damage I could cause as long as I put things back together in the right order. No luck there either. Same wimpy flow.
Seeing strong pressure (blasting pressure — seriously, the basement shower can take off skin) at the other faucets in the house only made it worse. Here’s a 95-year-old house taunting me to find the problem. So, a few weeks ago, I did what any clueless homeowner does — he backtracks, thinking to himself, “Maybe I missed something last time. If I just try it again, I’ll find the solution.”
And I did.
I grabbed a bucket, then pulled out the trash can from under the sink and disconnected the lines. When I turned the valve, water shot out. A steady stream. “See! Look! The pressure from the basement is great right here. The problem is somewhere beyond the valve!” (This was me talking to myself at 1:30 in the morning.) Five connect-disconnect experiments later, I had isolated the diverter (I only know the name because I found a parts diagram online) that sends water between the main spout and the sprayer.
That diverter had three parts, giving me a choice: Do I just order all three parts from the internet, or do I go with the cheapest one, hoping it’ll work? And of course, stupidity prevailed again. I ordered only the cheapest one. $18.73 from the Moen online store, delivery in 5-7 business days.
I even sent Dad and Stephanie an excited, 2:30 a.m. email proclaiming a theoretical solution that didn’t involve potential basement flooding. Understandably, they responded with the email equivalent of rolling their eyes: “Good! I hope it works.”
At this point, I should probably apologize to my family, who had a hell of a time finding Christmas presents for me this year. For about a week mid-December, I was truly so excited about this sink part that I didn’t even WANT any other gifts. I wasn’t going to be bothered with a list — all of my problems could be solved if I could just fill a bowl of ramen noodles with water in less than 20 seconds!
Imagine my disappointment then, when the part never came.
After eight business days, I emailed Moen customer service:
“Hi, I bought this sink part and you said it was coming this week, but it never did. Can you tell me what happened? And maybe refund my shipping cost?”
(Of course, I never got a tracking number on the package when I placed the order because that would have cost me two more bucks. “$1.99 for Priority Mail? Pssssh. Heck naw, that’s a ripoff.”)
The response from Moen was predictable: “We usually advise customers that shipping will take 8-10 business days. And we have no idea where the package is because you didn’t want that option. No refund.”
So, I waited another, excruciating week. One night, I thought it had arrived. Smallish, yellow envelope. Plastic cylinder inside. Strange, unknown return address. Yes!
Nope. It was Mom’s stupid Christmas present watch. Seriously, my happiness at that point was attached to the unknowing mailman’s daily deliveries.
Another email, two weeks after the shipping confirmation: “Come on now, Moen. Quit playing games with my part. It’s been 13 business days and two full weekends. Where is my Product #14960, Pre ’09 Model?! This time I’m formally requesting a refund.”
“Mr. Vankat. We are sorry. We don’t know where the part is. Let us send you a new one, free shipping. But still no tracking number.”
The part finally arrived at our door on Dec. 21.
And the damn thing worked. It just worked.