My kitchen faucet had developed a slight leak. It would turn off all the way if I pushed a little extra when I was turning off the water, but eventually both sides needed this and it was time to change the washers.
You know how these things go. The first trip to the local hardware store (where they are always helpful) involved me showing them a picture of the little hole on the handle that I presumed needed some kind of little wrench. I left with an Allan wrench set, washers and o-rings.
After getting the handles off, I saw the stem. I turned and turned and nothing happened. I took more pictures, went back to the hardware store and got a set of locking pliers and got them out that way. They pulled straight out, as my bruised knuckle can attest. Did the hardware store have the right stem? No, but the guy did know it among the hundreds that are made, and I was impressed with that. He suggested Home Depot.
Did Home Depot have it? No, but someone there suggested I go to the plumbing supply store, which I left work early yesterday to go to. I was so impressed - I put the stem on the counter, and the woman said, "American Standard" and walked toward the back of the shop with me trailing behind. She got two off the shelf, and I think my whole visit took less than five minutes. The things cost a lot, but I considered it the cost of their expertise.
I was a little concerned if the new stems would fit, because I sort of dinged up the threads around them thinking I had to unscrew them. But I got each of them in, put the other pieces back together, cautiously turned the water supply back on, and they worked with no leaks. Success!
Almost. Instead of the faucet handles lining up with sink, they stick straight out and turn on by turning them toward the sink. I did something wrong, and might take them apart again and see if I can turn the stem, I might just have it like this for a while, or I might call the guy who installed my garbage disposer.
I'm OK with any of those; I'm glad I can use my sink. For some reason, though, this particular home repair has bugged me more than most, and underscored why I'm still bummed out about not having a partner. Now, before you think that I'd just turn the job over to him, my thoughts were that it would have been really helpful to have someone to just consult with about how to go about fixing the faucet. And, if he wanted to just freakin' do it, he'd have my blessing and I'd make him a nice dinner.
In the end, I do like living in my own house. At times like this I consider whether I'd rather be living in a condo with a maintenance department to fix things, and I always arrive at the same answer of no. I do have people I can call, so just need to do what I did, which is try to fix it, and then call in the professionals if I can't or think I'd damage the thing more than fix it.