Emergency Home Repairs – Leaky sink – Upgrade time!


So I woke up this morning to a leaking sink! It was the slow leak kind that just leaks back onto itself and then slides quietly down your pipes to your downstairs neighbor’s ceiling … Ya, not fun. At least we noticed it before the neighbor did. This is the neighbor that doesn’t like me because I walk too loud …

So first thing I did was run to try to shut off the water supply from the valves under the sink … little did I know these valves have never been touched since the house was installed. So I found out the hard way that these valves, although rarely used, need to work very well in case of emergency.

After some failed attempts at trying to stop the slow leak, Jenn contacted our building manager to find out where the main water shutoff to the building was. Turns out there is one that cuts off the water to 4 apartments located on the second floor in the ceiling behind a drop panel. This is a good thing for home-owners to know.

I didn’t end up cutting off water to the other neighbors. Instead, I cycled the valves a few times and just used a little more force (note later that this backfires, please read on).

So I googled how to take apart a Moen faucet, and after popping out the logo with a knife, the rest was pretty simple. It wasn’t long for me to see exactly what the problem was:

The main body of the faucet has been rusted completely. I was able to crack most of the body off just with my fingers. This used to be cast iron. The original leak must have started long ago, slowly eating away at the metal.

So pretty much all faucets are attached the same way. Turn off both under sink valves (make sure they are really turned off). Then, unhook them with some wrenches (most probably 5/8″) mine had a 5/8″ to 7/8″ adapter, so I needed both.

Once the lines are close to getting loose, use a rag to loosen the rest by hand (the rag will absorb the residual water in the line). Oh and put a rag on the ground to capture the fallout.

Now you need to disconnect the handheld loop. This may be different depending on the type of sink.

Once all the hoses are disconnected, you have to unscrew the nut and plate under the sink holding the whole thing in place (Note that when you buy a new faucet, they sometimes include a tool to make this a lot simpler … without it, you could be spending hours trying to unscrew this thing).

Now that everything is unscrewed, you can carefully pull out the whole assembly like a brain connector from the matrix.

Note that, if there is water damage (or possible damage). Its a good idea to keep the old parts, for insurance purposes. The adjuster for the claim may want to see it.

Now go shopping for a new faucet. We got this one: the Pfister  Indira F-529-7NDS stainless steel finish, from Home depot. The beauty of the design is really what sold me on it. It really is like a work of art for the kitchen. It feels almost too nice for my laminate counter … I need to upgrade to marble now.

So I thought this next part would be easy… And although I was super impressed with the design of this faucet, I was not prepared for the issues I faced after the installation (nothing to do with the faucet at all).
So, I paid great care to install this thing very carefully. I take great pride in my work, and I did so especially on such a work of art. It was very easy to install and the concept was the same as my old one … but with upgraded parts. It was nice.
Problem was evident after I turned the faucet on … The hot water had ridiculously low pressure … but the cold water was fine … I checked the washroom hot water … that was fine … so It can’t be the building main. I disconnected the hot water from under the sink. then turned on the cold water … oh shit. Water flowing out of the hot water inlet and onto the floor … so I put it in a pot … Why is it back-flowing? Is that normal? Is that the problem? so I switched the cold & the hot (backwards)… now the hot works and the cold does not … Ok, it seems the problem is between the hoses and the valve … 
So I unplug everything … take apart the hard work I spent putting the new faucet in … and google how to take apart faucet … That didn’t help.
Turns out everything I needed was in the “maintenance manual”. 
So I took apart the whole new faucet … completely.
I peer into the shutoff valves under the sink (closed, but with a flashlight) … and I see black pieces of “stuff” just loose … Wtf. What is that? is it from the old faucet … nope, is soft black plastic … ah, shit, its from the gasket … remember how the valve didn’t work well in the first place … well, the rubber gasket was falling apart … so this thing, broke apart, flowed through the new faucet and clogged the main valve body (cartridge valve as they call it).
How the hell do I get to the cartridge valve?
So it turns out its actually pretty simple. It’s under the handle. using a few tools (Allen key, vice grip, screw drive) you can open up the access to where the water gets mixed and routed to the tap. This is exactly where the clog was… Good design Pfister!
The 2 top holes are the water intake (hot & cold). There was lots of gunk in there. So I had the bright idea to ask Jenn to help me. I would plug in the water supply with these holes wide open. So I needed Jenn to hold it so that it sprayed into the sink and not all over the house.
He, he … so I turned on the hot water and full blast the water was coming out of this tiny hole at like a million miles per hour … Jenn could not control the gushing and spraying … More than she could handle! so it kinda went all over the house anyway. Oh and on her UGGs … and my back … ya, I promised her new UGGs for a while now … good thing I haven’t bought her new ones yet!
This is the gasket pieces that clogged my new faucet! Now that I’ve installed it twice and taken the whole thing apart and put it back together I’m sure I could do it in my sleep! Seriously, the next time exactly this scenario happens. I’ll be prepared. This is really the first time I adventure into plumbing … I kinda like it.
Next time, maybe new bathroom sink faucets … Jenn’s faucet feels really shitty and mine is missing a drain cover … Maybe I’ll save up some money for both of these to match.
And, PSA for anyone reading up to this point. You should check to make sure your shut-off valves actually work before you need them … like now. go check them now please. You may need a few cycles to get the calcium build up cleared away.

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