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TIPS ON HOW TO INSTALL A BATHROOM SINK & FAUCET

25 Sep A new sink and faucet

If you follow my blog, you know I like to work with my hands and that I also like a challenge. Installing a bathroom sink and faucet was the most challenging home project I have ever attempted. It was difficult and I’m not going to say you should try it. But I can give you some tips on what to look out for if you want to do it yourself.

Things You Need

You need the right tools for the job. Here is a photo of the tools I used. They are in the top portion of my pink toolbox (ignore the bottom part). The donut shaped object below the safety glasses is Teflon tape. It’s cheap. Buy it.

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

You need safety glasses because you will be laying down on your back in your cabinet under your sink and when you loosen or tighten parts, you will get gunk, dirt, dust, and water on your face so you want to protect your eyes. You might even drop a locknut or worse, your pliers on your face when your hands get tired from loosening and tightening parts. I kept repeating to myself, “Use both hands to hold onto the pliers!”  This worked for me and I didn’t drop anything on my face. In fact, I didn’t have any injuries other than accidentally squeezing my thumb in my pliers! No damage was done fortunately.

You need the patience of Job (In the Bible). You need determination, perseverance, and commitment. You need to laugh at the face of the unknown. I knew nothing about installing a sink or faucet. I knew nothing about water pipes. You need to be fearless when you go to your local Menards or Lowes for help because even if you find a female sales associate, they will inevitably get a male associate to help you. Some male associates feel threatened by a woman who wants to install a sink herself or who has “technical” questions. Ignore their attitude and focus on their answers. If they stump you with a question that you don’t know the answer to or they become stumbly, bumbly themselves, don’t give up! Stall. Ask more questions. Read the label yourself of the item they say you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to another associate. Don’t let them intimidate you. As a last resort, ask to speak to the manager and tell him the problem. Fortunately, I never had to go that far.

You need silicone to keep water out of certain parts and to keep certain parts in place. The instructions that come with your new faucet will show/tell you where to use it. There were no instructions with my sink, but the sales associate at Lowes told me to use it under the sink to anchor it to the top of the cabinet. He said it would hold. He better be right! I bought Silicone Extra. That “extra” better stand for extra strong adhesion! But more about that later.

You need a roll of paper towels. Leaks will happen. I started with a nice thick bath towel but once that got wet, then what? So, I found paper towels to be better. And a small bucket for the bigger leaks.

You need a small fan to help dry out the cabinet from the leaks. It is also helpful to help dry the silicone and WD-40 or anything else you use. It is also important for adequate ventilation when using these chemicals. I opened a window and my patio doors too and turned on the fan vent on the ceiling.

Run a Fan to Dry Space!

Run a Fan to Dry Out the Space!

You need light! It’s dark in that cabinet. I used a small desk lamp and also a large flashlight. It has a 6V super heavy duty battery and is used for the outdoors. I use it indoors when there is a power outage.

You need a digital camera. If/when you get to a part/area that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work and you’ve tried everything you can think of, take a picture of it and go to your local Menards, Lowes, or wherever and tell the sales associate the problem. If you are having problems explaining it or he or she is not getting it, show them the photo of it on your camera. I had my digital photo ready but I remembered the magic word “flexible” while I was at Lowes, and didn’t need to show my photo. I reasoned that I needed a flexible trap pipe because my sink drain was mysteriously at an angle instead of straight down and I couldn’t figure out why! It is also shorter than my previous drain. If you don’t have a digital camera, draw a diagram.

You need something soft and cushiony to lay on, kneel on, and sit on. You will be doing all three. I used my rubber exercise mat and doubled it. It was a knee saver!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Reserve books about plumbing from your local library. Search the internet to see photos and instructions on installing and removing bathroom sinks and faucets. My old sink had anchors and screws to hold it in place. My new sink came with zilch, nada, nothing. You get what you pay for: $29 at Menards. Cheap, but looks good!

My cabinet is 30” wide so for my cabinet, I needed to be able to squeeze my body into the 16 ½” x 12 ½” door space. At 5’8” and 164 lbs, that was a challenge. Sometimes I had to angle my shoulder in on the diagonal. You need to have the stamina to go in and out of your cabinet many, many times to make adjustments! If this is your first time installing a sink and faucet, make that many, many, many times! Bonus: I lost weight doing this project!

Can you fit into a small space?

You Need to Fit into a Small Space!

Obstacles/Surprises

I began this project on September 3rd, 2015. Then I got sick with bronchitis and had to leave everything “as is,” code words for the mess from hell. It stayed like that for several weeks until I recovered! It helps to have a second bathroom with a functioning sink. I do have a half bath but the sink doesn’t function so I had to substitute my kitchen sink for brushing my teeth, etc., etc. Actually, all of my sinks need work.

Read over the instructions that come with your faucet and sink. Carefully study the diagrams. I labeled parts in the diagrams myself which helped. But be prepared for instructions that don’t tell you everything! Just when I thought I was all finished and began cleaning things up and putting stuff away, I found a small, black washer in the box that the faucet came in. “What is this? Where does this go?” I re-read the directions for the 5th time. Nothing about a small black washer. I scrutinized the diagrams again. And there it was. It wasn’t even labeled! I could strangle the author! So, I had to undo a pivot nut, pull out the horizontal rod, and slip on the washer. (It had been a place where I was getting a LEAK. No wonder!) It was an easy fix, but it could have been much more difficult. Hey, I couldn’t have ALL bad luck!

Differences of Opinion

My instruction sheet said to use silicone on the underside of the flange. The flange is the shiny round part that you see when you are standing up, looking down at your sink drain. It’s where the water goes down the drain. One of the library books I borrowed said to use Plumber’s Putty on the underside of the flange. I decided to go with Plumber’s Putty but only in that area. Why? Well, I’ve watched many episodes of Ask This Old House on PBS in the past and they always use Plumber’s Putty. Also, the putty is easier to work with and to clean up. Most of all, I believed that if I had to remove the flange for whatever reason, it would be easier to remove after using putty and nearly impossible to remove with the use of silicone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to put that to the test!

Advice vs. Reality

Some of my plumber’s books rated each project from easy to difficult. Most were labeled easy. If you are a plumber, it’s easy. If you are like me, it’s difficult. Don’t believe everything you read. I screwed and unscrewed every locknut, pivot nut, and part at least twice. The instruction sheet showed four areas where you need to look for leaks when you are all done and start to run the water. Don’t believe them. Nearly every connecting part leaked when I ran the water at the end of the project. I’m not exaggerating. This was after I, with all my might and pliers, tightened each part. LEAKS!

Places that leaked

So Many Places to Leak!

So I loosened water tube parts, cleaned them off as roughly as I could to remove any debris and retightened them until I was exhausted! That worked. I already told you about the black washer above. In fact, now that I think of it, the only two parts that DIDN’T leak were two of the four parts the instructions said would leak! Idiots! By the way, if they say not to over tighten, ignore them. Unless you know for sure that you are as strong as a plumber, tighten with all your might. A tornado might be able to move me but it won’t be able to move my sink and faucet. Not now, anyway!

Hope

Don’t give up hope! Towards the end of this project I was getting discouraged at all the leaks and wondered if I would need to get a plumber. Yet, after all I went through, I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. I’m beginning to realize where my son gets his stubborn streak.

Noodle
With all the information you have at your fingertips, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So, you have to use your noodle! Although I hate the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” you may have to think outside the box. For example, I kept having a leak at one of the pipe joints. This was a connection between my old pipes and the new pipe part. The old pipe part had a screw nut to attach to the old pipe trap part. The new pipe trap part came with a similar screw nut. At first I used the new screw nut but it kept leaking at the joint. I counted how many times I could turn the new screw nut. Eight times. I removed it and put on the old screw nut and counted how many times I could turn it. Thirteen times. The old screw nut made more sense to me so I used it instead. No more leaks! Do you understand the logic there? I hope so.

After watching repairmen do their jobs in my house, I am confident that anything they can do, I can do too. Maybe even better. Certainly without breaking something as I’ve seen them do to my property! Some of them are careless and klutzy. I am not, neither will you be because it is YOUR property! One of them broke my newly installed thermostat and didn’t replace it! Another broke off the spigot of my water heater while he was fixing my furnace. I had a flood in my kitchen! Another threw away my faucet filter into the trash without telling me that it could be cleaned out and put back! Aaaargh!

Caution

I am not so secure in my work in that when I use my new sink and faucet I won’t be checking for drips and leaks. I will definitely be checking underneath every time I use the sink, at least for the first few weeks. I even put a mini-bucket under the pipe trap where it had leaked during testing. If I find water in it, I will know I have a leak and either need to tighten some more or find some other solution. But folks, really, with all the tightening I did, I’m expecting my sink and faucet to BOING out of my bathroom!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Was it all Worth it?

You bet it was! My new sink and faucet are gleaming! I need sunglasses when I walk into the bathroom! I feel the need to dress up! I find myself wiping up every bit of moisture in the sink and on the faucet after I use it! It’s like having a new car! Better! I have pride of ownership and tremendous pride in the success of my project. I am so happy! If you tackle this project, contact me if you need help. GOOD LUCK!

Job satisfaction is good for your health!

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Men’s Health – Their Greatest Threats

25 Apr Wheel-chaired Man (sxc.hu ba1969)

Today’s post is devoted just for men but women should read it too.  I’ve noticed recently that my male readership has increased steadily and so I want to address health issues that men specifically find challenging.

It’s no secret that men don’t live as long as women. I think part of the reason for that is that men don’t take care of themselves as well as women do. I’ve been witness to this countless times with my own father, my son, my husband (ex), men I’ve dated, through social networking, and just in general.

I remember my dad saying that when he finally went to see a doctor, the doctor was shocked that my dad hadn’t had a physical in 20 years!

A past boyfriend of mine told me that he fell over the balcony of his two-story house, landed on his back, and never went to the doctor!

Another past boyfriend had symptoms of depression but never followed up with a health professional. He was a counselor prior to his current job.

My son told me he had growths on his hands that he let go for too long. He doesn’t believe they are warts.  He still hasn’t seen a doctor.

My ex-husband quit smoking countless times. He IS a doctor!

So men, you can see you are not alone in not seeking out help for your health issues. We women would like to see you live as long as we do. The way to do that is to pay more attention to your body. Seek medical help when you need it and even when you don’t, in the form of a preventative checkup or procedure.

I’ve written more here. Start now to take better care of yourself.

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If Your House Is On Fire, Get Out Immediately!

2 Feb sxc.hu Firefighter fighting blaze

A few months ago I came across a post on WordPress that asked readers what they would save if their house was on fire. I was flabbergasted to learn that anyone would encourage people to risk their lives dallying when their house is on fire as they think about and select cherished items to save. 

I commented on this blogger’s post that she was being irresponsible and that it was just plain stupid to write such a post. She never removed her post. She never responded to me. Nobody else commented on the post or “liked” her post the last time I checked.

Recently, a similar post was sent out on the Daily Post by one of the staff at WordPress:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/daily-prompt-fire/

The question was, and I’m rephrasing, What five things from your burning house would you grab? The immediate response that came to my mind was, my *SS and to haul it the hell out of here! The heck with the other four things!

Why would anyone try to put it in someone else’s mind that they should try to salvage things when their house is on fire? Without a doubt, someone will read it and believe that that’s what you should do!

After browsing the Internet, it seems that getting your possessions while your house is burning down is the thought of the day! It isn’t just WordPress bloggers who are misinformed.

Here are the FACTS about what you should do if your house is on fire. I’ve taken these FACTS from the Red Cross website

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire

where they list much more information than I have provided here and you should visit there to learn much more.

Their first recommendation is this: 

If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help. (Caps theirs, not mine.)

Fires can ignite very quickly and without warning, leaving you and your loved ones with little or no time to escape.

**This one bears repeating: “little or NO TIME TO ESCAPE”. Is there any part of that that anyone doesn’t understand? Because I would be happy to explain it further.

By creating and practicing an escape plan, family members can save valuable time in the event of a fire by knowing exactly how to act.

The Red Cross response to home fires has increased by 10% since 2000. (I’m not going to do all the work for you. You should find out why that is.)

Home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove.

Every 2  1/2 hours someone is killed in a home fire. In a typical year, 20,000 people are injured in home fires.

Only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.

Home fires can affect any home at any time. However, children under five and adults over 65 face the highest risk of dying in a home fire.

74 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

**To emphasize further the lack of time you have in a house fire, I am quoting here from another quote (http://fox6now.com/2012/02/21/what-would-you-do-if-your-house-caught-on-fire/) taken from firefighter Chris Gauthier: ‘Smoke is the number one thing that kills people in fires. The first thing you should worry about is getting out of your house.”‘

Again, this bears repeating. He said:

SMOKE IS THE NUMBER ONE THING THAT KILLS PEOPLE IN FIRES.

THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT……IS GETTING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.  Notice, he didn’t say get papers, mementos, books, gifts, etc. 

And my own two cents: If you don’t care about your own safety and the pain your family would feel if they lost you, and you are willing to jeopardize your safety by gathering your treasured junk, then think about the firefighter

Firefighter

Firefighter – sxc.hu/tony26 Tony Hathcock

who has to come into your burning house to try to save you and risk his own life. More than likely he has a family that he cares about and wants to go home to and they care about him. 

Here is a video that shows how fast a house fire can spread. It took 1.55 seconds, nearly two minutes, for the smoke to reach the smoke detectors. Seconds after that, the room was engulfed in flames. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piofZLySsN

While you are there on youtube, watch some of the other fire safety films. Nobody can predict how fast a fire will spread. Use your head and get out. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage anyone to grab their belongings.

Very Special Note: Michael Cossey, http://www.arkansasfire.net is a firefighter and the photographer who took the photo shown in the Featured Post widget of the female firefighter with the firehose.

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Exercise: the Doorway to Injuries?

7 Sep

I often participate in exercise with gusto. Sometimes I take on a home project with the same enthusiasm. Home projects can be as good a workout as an hour at the gym.

Four-Hour Exercise Workout

For 15 years I’ve put up with wood folding doors that hide my washer and dryer where one side didn’t shut properly. Yesterday, the left side panel decided it had had enough and came out of the track from the above door jamb.  I thought this would be a simple fix. I had no idea it would be a four-hour exercise workout.

I looked for the easy solutions first: pushing the door back onto the track. That didn’t work. Tightening the screws at the top of the door that attached it to the track. That worked for a couple of seconds. Unhinging the hinges from the doors, studying the difference between the two doors, reattaching the hinges… nothing worked. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was causing the door to not close properly.

Take a Break From Exercise

Finally, it hit me. I looked on top of the door and I knew then that one of the screws was stripped. (Thanks to me having seen the This Old House episode recently with the stripped door screw.) This meant that I had to take the entire door down which was made of two heavy panels. I unscrewed the hinges (again) and laid the panel with the stripped screw on the floor. By this time, my neck was hurting from always looking up. My shoulder was hurting from straining to screw and unscrew screws. So, I took a break.

Home Exercise Equipment Was Never Like This

I had my step ladder out and my Phillips screwdriver and a Flathead screwdriver.

Flathead Screwdriver

I had a large flashlight out because my hall light is out and I need an electrician for that problem. When I came back from my break and made holes in the door panel the old-fashioned way, with elbow grease, I realized that putting up the door and screwing together the two panels at the hinges was not going to be possible from standing on the outside of the doors. At least that’s what I thought at the time. I decided to climb on top of the washer and dryer. This was no small feat for a 5’8″ 170 lb person in such a cramped space, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I was a locomotive barreling down the track intent on getting the door back onto its own track by hook or by crook.

If The Foot Doesn’t Fit We Must Acquit

I was able to position myself on top of my dryer but I couldn’t squeeze my right foot inside the door. No matter, I was able to push the door panel into the slot with its new screw and new position that fit better against the door jamb than ever before! I had to climb down to get the other door panel to re-attach the hinges. This meant that I had to climb up on the washer and dryer again. Before I climbed up for the second time, I decided to shut the washer door which I had previously left open. I could have easily fallen in the first time. Wouldn’t that have been a sight! Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get out! (When I used to do kickboxing at home, my son would say he didn’t want to think about it because he pictured me falling and breaking a leg or something. Good thing he didn’t see me yesterday with my doors!)

Exercising at The Gym Pays Off

If I didn’t exercise at the gym, I’d never be able to lift these door panels. They were heavy and awkward because they were so long. I had a heck of a time trying to screw the hinges back in. The only positive in all this was that none of the screws were in so tight that I couldn’t get them out, even after all the years they were in there. It took some long arm reaching around the outside of the panel to get the panels to meet so I could re-attach the hinges. Lucky for me I have long arms.

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A Mystery is Afoot

After four hours of intense labor the job was complete. The door glided evenly with no resistance. The doors met in the center without buckling. Somehow I found the energy to make dinner.  I even cooked some chicken so that I could eat it tonight. I had my dinner, washed the dishes, and thought I must have stepped wrong somehow because my right foot started to hurt. The more I was on it, the more it hurt until the pain was getting to be too much. I still had to take a shower. I took my shower and that didn’t help my foot. I knew it was time for my frozen peas in the freezer. I save a bag of frozen peas to put on injuries to help reduce swelling. By this time it was 9:00 pm and I decided the best place for me was in bed with my peas; peas on my foot and not under my mattress for I was not feeling like a princess at this point. I was feeling more like her scullery maid.

I have no idea what I did to hurt my foot. This foot had suffered many previous injuries. It has an arthritic toe and metatarsalgia. It’s had a sprained ankle and plantar fasciitis. It has been viewed by many a doctor. I’ve been wearing an orthotic in the shoe of this foot for about two years. Clearly I shouldn’t have been climbing aboard washers, dryers, or lifting heavy doors for that matter. But who’s going to stop me?

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

I took two Advil and I kept my frozen peas on my foot for an hour while I lay in bed watching the TV. I wondered in a half doze how long this injury was going to last. Days? Weeks, Months? I thanked my lucky stars for going grocery shopping earlier in the day, pre-door hanging. I wondered if I would be able to sleep because I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t find a comfortable position. After an hour the pain subsided to my surprise. I set aside the peas and turned off the TV and quickly fell asleep. Around 2:00 am I awoke and fearfully set out to the bathroom. My foot hardly hurt. Was I dreaming? I got back to bed and fell asleep.

I stayed in bed until 10:00 am today not looking forward to putting any weight on my foot. I got dressed and walked to the kitchen. The pain was gone. I couldn’t believe it. How could that be possible? I haven’t exerted myself at all today and I’m not tempted to “try out” my foot to see what it can do.  Sitting at the computer is the perfect place for me.

Exercise and the  R.I.C.E Method

R.I.C.E. is a mnemonic to help you to remember how to treat soft tissue injuries.

R – Rest, get off your feet, don’t use the injured part.

I – Put ice on the injury. A bag of frozen peas works best; keep it in the freezer for immediate use.

C – Compression. Alternate compression with ice. For my injury, the bag of peas with my comforter on top was all the compression I could handle.

E – Elevate the injured part. Ideally, it should be elevated above your heart.

I’ve used the R.I.C.E. method before for injuries but typically didn’t have access to ice immediately when the injury occurred. This time was the exception. Apparently, timing of the R.I.C.E. method is of the essence! I’ve often used ice for times when I get  cooking burns and splatters and that works incredibly well for me. Ice may be another miracle worker.

I hope my story helps you to remember to use the R.I.C.E. method for soft tissue injuries. Thanks to Susan T’s Kitchen for her request for a post on sports injuries.

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