After a day of rest I decide to finish repair of the plumbing problems. My task today is simple, fix more than I break. I need to replace or match the bath tub handles, stop a leak in the second shower and replace the aerator on the kitchen faucet.
First step is to turn off the house’s master water value. Then into the shower and remove the valve stem from the leaking faucet. This removal goes quickly after the previous day's learning curve and all parts are soon in a baggie.
Off to the hardware store, my new friend is on duty and we match the valve stem, the kitchen spout aerator is available, but in the wrong finish. I need a brushed bronze aerator to maintain the current optics and only fake stainless steel is available in the size required. Replacing the handles is another problem in optics and quality, the selection is cheap and the design will probably fail within a couple of years. My final purchase is one valve stem and some super glue.
Back at the house, I gather all the broken parts from the old handles and super glue them back together, doesn’t look that good, but it is fully functional. Gathering the broken parts from the aerator and super gluing presents a challenge in fine movement manual dexterity, with patience all is properly assembled and glued into place. As expected my fingers are now super glued together, this is anticipated and a little acetone later my fingers are free.
Now for the leaking water faucet in the shower, with the learning curve of two days back and my homemade custom tool the valve stem replacement takes less than 5 minutes. Back outside and turn the master water valve on. Return to the bathroom and all is well, nothing leaks and all faucet handles turn in matching direction.
The last task, replacing the aerator onto the kitchen faucet, some of the super glue has run onto the threads and I need some more acetone and careful cleaning. The aerator easily fits and my task is complete.
Packing my tools for their return to the garage I fondly remember earlier encounters with home plumbing, the frozen pipes that burst, the constantly running toilets, replacement of heating elements in the hot water heater and the clogged kitchen traps, all taking at least twice my first estimate to complete. I look at tools purchased over the years to complete plumbing repairs and my eyes stop at the strap wrench, a strap wrench lets you work an easily damaged object without any damage to the finish or look of the item being worked. A strap wrench is also useful for opening the many food containers that laugh at a strong wrist, with a strap wrench the vacuum sealed catchup bottle pops open with the least amount of effort and no damage. I look at my box of homemade special tools, most used only once, years ago, the original purpose long forgotten, and feel the pride of a craftsman.
I have saved myself a lot of money, if I consider my labor as free, and have an unlimited timeline.