Small joys


When something breaks, you can learn to work around it. But there comes a time when you just need to replace the frigging tap.

As soon as Hubby and I bought our house the kitchen tap started to drip. At first we could stop the tap dripping by turning it off hard. Although I disapprove of violence against taps, a firm hand is sometimes justified.

When it was the cold tap alone, I felt like we were winning.

Then the hot tap teamed up with the cold tap to fight us.

The screws that held both taps in place started to loosen. I swear kitchen pixies came out at night to unscrew them.

The tap began to drip constantly.

More firm hands and it almost stopped.

Then it began to run constantly. We learned how to rotate the tap against the side of the sink so it didn’t make an incredibly annoying noise as it ran.

But it was the hot tap that was always running, and no matter how much we left the windows open, they steamed up.

I assume it was costing us a fortune in gas to heat the water, though I haven’t got the bill yet.

In an effort to defeat the hot tap, Hubby started turning it off so hard I couldn’t turn it back on without his help. Yes, annoying, but also a great excuse not to do the dishes.

For a week, I had to call him in every time I wanted hot water.

Then he turned off the hot tap so hard he couldn’t turn it back on.

At this stage, the method for washing pots went something like this:

  1. Put pot under leaky hot tap.
  2. Read while waiting for it to fill with water.
  3. Add detergent and scrub.
  4. Turn on cold tap (the only one that can be turned on), yielding some hot water before a lot of cold water, to rinse.

After a while the lack of ability to turn on the hot tap gets boring.

Enter the plumber.

Hubby: I booked a plumber to come and fix the leaky tap. Do you think I should call him back and tell him he might need a replacement tap?

Me: He’s a professional. I’m sure he knows what he might need to fix a leaky tap.

Hubby: You’re sure?

Me: Um…

Hubby clearly has too much faith in me. He didn’t call the plumber back.

Plumber when he turned up: Sorry, I can’t fix the tap today. It’s been leaking so long the tap is damaged and I need to replace it, but I didn’t bring another one.

Hubby to me: See, told you so.

Me: …

Four days later, the plumber returned. He replaced the useless old tap with a shiny new one.

Now there is no struggling to turn the tap on or off. You lift the lever, and hot or cold water or a mixture of the two comes out.

It’s beautiful and easy.

Thank the Great Cat for modern plumbing.

Am I the only one who leaves things way too long before fixing them? Got any stories to make me feel better?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

20 thoughts on “Small joys”

  1. I was hoping you got a dragon tap! No such luck, huh? All of our taps leaks (and have been for a year). Now, I’m worried – looks like I have a weekend project.

    1. I wish I’d got a dragon tap. How cool would that be in the kitchen?

      Oh dear! I hope the leaks are slow enough that they haven’t done any damage to the taps. Ours was leaking quite fast, so you might be okay.

  2. I used to not be bothered by such things when I was younger – there was too much life to be lived! … now I get things done/fixed when they happen because I’m too busy living to keep going back to stuff I should’ve taken care of yesterday. 🙂

  3. It reminds me of when I used to work on a fleet of little boats in the Med – the prevailing maintenance method was ‘bodge it and scarper’. As long as the engine ran and you could get the sails up, it was all good. It’s amazing what you can fix with matchsticks, duct tape, and a bit of inventiveness.

    We did get new propellers that year, though, put on professionally. They all fell off within three months, and that was NOT to do with the duct tape and matches.

      1. Ah, here is a top tip from the bodge it ‘n’ scarper school of maintenance. If screws strip out their holes (not on something vital, of course, we weren’t holding the masts on like this), stuff a few matchsticks in the hole. You’ll then be able to put the screw back in, and it’l grip the matchsticks and wedge against the sides of the hole to hold surprisingly well. Perfect when you have no to time to use filler. Or not filler to use, as was often the case.

  4. I keep forgetting how few people there are who can do simple urban survival tasks, like replace a tap, or a toilet, or fix a furnace, or do simple car repairs, or even thaw a pipe (which can, admittedly, be tricky). Probably, because I grew up on a farm where in addition to growing crops, I had to fix about everything that broke, including plumbing, wiring, and machinery (which sometimes needed welding, which I taught myself to do, torch, stick and TIG), I’m disgustingly handy.

    They’ve removed all the shop classes from high schools and middle schools, so there’s about no chance of people learning such mundane urban survival skills.

    I recently met a grown man who didn’t understand how a door bell was wired. He asked how I’d learned that. My dad taught me when I was in first grade. We didn’t have TV (hadn’t showed up yet), I wanted to use a small DC motor on my erector set, and add a bell, so he taught me the concept of circuits. When I explained it the guy that was clueless looked stunned.

    Pity. Pathetic, actually. Stuff like that is so easy…


    1. You are indeed a dinosaur.

      I look at the tap situation like this. I have two options:

      Option 1: I could spend half an hour researching on Google how to fix a leaky tap (I think it has something to do with washers). Then go to the hardware store (20 minutes each way) to buy tools and pieces I need, discover I have the wrong tools and pieces, return to the hardware store twice for a total of 6×20 minutes travel and 3×15 minutes at the hardware store, and spend an hour arguing with hubby while we try to fix the tap ourselves, and a great deal of aggravation.

      Option B: I could sit down and write for all those hours and pay someone to fix my tap for me.

      For me, option B is the clear winner. I’m delighted option A works for you. You’re welcome to come and fix my taps any time you like.

  5. My hubby and I are currently unplugging our microwave after every use, because if we leave it plugged in it makes odd sounds, somewhere between a scrabbling insect and a stealthily invading space alien, or perhaps a stealthily invading space alien who resembles a scrabbling insect. The sound makes us think the microwave may blow up at any moment, but it hasn’t yet, and it’s a tedious drive to the appliance store to get a new one. But we’re going to do that any day now. As we have been for weeks.

    1. Oh no! You’re making a big mistake. Aliens are trying to ‘port in through your microwave and you keep turning off their door. Have a bit of consideration!

  6. You have no idea. . . When we bought our condo a couple years ago, one of the major selling points for me was the clawfoot tub. It was105 years old—original—and even though the bathroom was tiny, the tub’s presence *screamed* character! It’s a really long story. . . we ended up having tons of problems with the height of the shower attachment, blah blah. . .

    But shortly after we moved in and got everything else settled, we started to notice a drip, drip, drip. I’m pretty handy and come from a long line of carpenters and contractors. My house growing up was in a constant state of renovation, so I can do some stuff. I learned all about seat wrenches and what to tighten, and behold! I fixed it!

    For about a day.

    Our solution for the next two years was to just turn the water off and on at the valve that came up through the floor. It seemed like an easier solution than finding new parts. So yeah, I’m pretty handy, but apparently also pretty lazy. Finally this last spring my husband wore me down enough that I did a proper fix.

    Yeah, pretty much life changing. Small joys indeed.

  7. I let one leaky tap go for so long that I had to lie about how long it had been leaking and even then the landlord was upset I waited a week. (I waited a lot longer than a week.)

  8. I totally leave things out of order for too long before fixing them. “Better make sure it’s really broken before bothering the husband/janitor/plumber about it.” I only call for help once I’ve made sure the malfunctioning items don’t miraculously fix themselves. (I wish they would!)

    1. That’s an excellent justification! Because sometimes broken things heal. The weather changes and doors that don’t close start closing again… That’s the only one I can think of right now.

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