Installing a Bathroom Sink: Why I Now Hate Water

This is going to be one of those posts that, while not about programming, is still basically just me complaining.

So one afternoon, after a long day at work, I come home to find out that my dishwasher’s waste has been backing up into the bathroom sink. For context, my bathroom sink is on the opposite side of the wall as my dishwasher, so this isn’t beyond reason, but it’s still infuriating. I have a deal with my landlord: if I do fixes around the house, he knocks a significant amount off the rent. What this means is that it was up to me to solve this problem. Okay, man-hat on, chest puffed out, let’s do this.

Checklist: Never done this before? Check. Scared of breaking things even further while attempting to fix them? Check. Intimidated by learning complex tasks that throw your masculinity into question? Check. All set!

look at this guy. look at how happy he is. he's faking it, you know.

look at this guy. look at how happy he is. he’s faking it, you know.

Youtube was basically my best friend for this entire project. Youtube, thankfully, is full of 35-40 year-olds who wake up one day and think “wow, I can’t believe I haven’t shared any super shaky, handycam footage of my bathroom sink installation experiences.” It’s like, no matter what level their ability to film or explain things is at, they’ll go for it. Got an iPhone 3? Read an article in Playboy about water? Blam, you are now an expert worthy of teaching impressionable twenty-somethings about things that can literally rot their house from the inside out if done incorrectly. Jerks. Anyways. after sifting through a good number of unshaven, five-minute sink videos, I felt confident that I could do this pretty easily.

Next stop: Home Depot. I knew that I needed some piping and a new p-trap. It’s called a p-trap because it looks like the letter “p” if the letter “p” were written by a five-year-old. Why not just call it a trap? What’s worse, why, when you split it in half, do you have to call it a J-bend or whatever the hell? Just call it “top half of trap.”

Get home, unpack my plastic groceries, set to work on replacing the p-trap, no problem. Dishwasher proceeds to SPIT GREASY CHICKEN WATER DIRECTLY ONTO MY FACE AS I’M ON MY BACK, TRYING TO FIT THIS STUPID COMPRESSOR VALVE ON. Take five minutes to fantasize about the can of gasoline in my garage and how satisfying it would look, lit on fire, all over my house.

Turns out, the way that there was something unseen blocking everything from draining correctly. After opening the main stack (basically where everything goes to before going into the sewage line) and literally getting feces on my hands because I wasn’t smart enough to wear gloves from the get go, I decided that I just have no idea what’s wrong. Time to call in the cavalry: Roto-Rooter.

Dude puts his machine in and out of my pipes, defiling them with what I can only assume is magical Roto-rays cause the whole system was flushed in about a half hour. Three hundred bucks later and, even though my dishwasher now empties into the sewage system and not MY FACE, the technician tells me he has no idea why my bathroom sink still refuses to empty properly or why my faucet only dribbles water.

pedestal sink. don't every buy these or your first-born son will be killed by meth addicts.

pedestal sink. don’t ever buy one or your first-born child will be killed by meth addicts.

I’m pretty sure I developed an angry tic solely from that moment of realization that it wasn’t over. Still, I’m a MAN. I need to exert my MANLINESS and just get ‘er done.

Using my encyclopaedic knowledge of how to unscrew nuts and how to tear a sink out of the wall, I removed my old pedestal sink completely. A note on pedestal sinks: don’t buy them. Ever. The weight of the basin is largely supported by the pedestal part, and that’s just a pain in the butt when you’re trying to get access to the p-trap. If I felt comfortable dedicating my life to revenge, it would be dedicated to smashing all pedestal sinks into ceramic shards for what they did to my hands and back as I stared up into their bowels, trying desperately to avoid having the whole thing come crashing down on my head.

After consulting some of the experts at Home Depot, I came to the conclusion that the way plumbers fix piping is to just CUT OUT ANYTHING THAT YOU THINK IS BROKEN AND REPLACE IT. imagine if we did that with brain surgery patients or leaky ice cream cones. You can’t even imagine it because it just defies logic.

Anyhow, I went back to Home Depot like fifty times to get whatever new thing I needed for the next step that I hadn’t had the foresight to look into. In fact, I feel like I should get some kind of customer loyalty reward for how many times I stood in line to pay for yetanother stupid piece of black, plastic piping (which I learned is called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS) or yet another little tool that I, of course, didn’t already own. All in all, I dropped a solid $100 on parts, tools, and supplies. Also, I bought some Subway once on the way home.

this is a vanity. buy this kind of sink and you'll go directly to heaven.

this is a vanity. buy this kind of sink and you’ll go directly to heaven.

The story ends well, thankfully. After about a week of working on it after my real job ended for the day, I finally got a new sink (a vanity this time, thank Poseidon) and a working faucet installed with no leaks! Even though I complain about things like this, they really are key learning moments. If I think back on that moment when I first realized that I was going to have to actually do some work and imagine that I knew then what I know now, i could have done all that work in an hour. And really, isn’t that the whole point? To be able to impress people with your ability to perform simple tasks that 18-year-old plumber’s apprentices learn in the first half-hour on the job?

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