My DIY experience | Mark’s Remarks

I decided to redo the basement bathroom. 

Did you know some home improvement stores open at the crack of dawn?  It’s very true. Off I went, very early in the morning. The morning was still frosty and raw and I was relieved to see there were few cars in the parking lot as I pulled in, bleary-eyed but still determined.

My desire was to talk to only one or two employees and get out of there. I was not used to rising so early on the weekend, at least with such a purpose in mind.

As I walked in, I figured I needed one of those big carts for hauling heavy things like new toilets, so I pulled one in. When I walked in, there were at least 30 people in fresh employee uniforms. Some were holding balloons.  Others were holding clipboards. All of them were staring at me with pleasant, fixed looks on their faces.

Usually, I am fairly congenial and not a shy person.  But remember, I was only wanting to talk to a couple of folks. Here were 30 at my disposal, all staring at me. All saying “good morning.” 

It was nice, but I was mildly annoyed.

“What’s the occasion?” I managed to ask as I tried to sink into the woodwork.

“We’re all here to greet you!” said an enthusiastic lady.

For a brief moment, I thought maybe I was the millionth customer or something. Maybe I was a prize winner. I stood anticipatingly still for about five seconds until things got uncomfortable and I realized this must be some type of staff bonding thing.  I slunk away disappointedly, pulling my orange cart behind me.

Not even a pamphlet or coupon for a few percentages off. Nothing.

I did exceed my earlier wish, though. One wide-awake salesperson listened to my admission that I was a novice DIYer who was attempting to put in a sink and toilet. He assured me I had everything I needed, wished me well and recommended that I watch Youtube videos again before I started.

After I got home, I made quick work of getting all the supplies laid out and organized.  Because the two water lines were capped off but occasionally dripping a little, I decided to get the already purchased sink put in first.  I followed the instructions the two Youtube guys offered and soon had the new faucets and drain ready to go.  

I had the whole thing put together and was ready to fit the top of the sink to the cabinet. It occurred to me that I should check to make sure the water lines reached to the place they’d be hooked up before I added the caulk that the Youtube guys told me to.

I’m glad I did. They were a smidge too short.

I uttered some words I usually only think and sat there for a minute. Maybe my maddening glare would cause the water lines to grow a little. Nope.

So, off to the local hardware store I go. I usually avoid it because it is overpriced, in my opinion.  However, the people who work there are top notch.

I went in equipped with one of the too-short water lines and left quickly with two longer ones. Visit No. 1.

Once home, I hooked those babies up pretty fast.  I grabbed the rest of the drain stuff (how do you like my technical terms?) and hooked those up, too. The drain pipe was a little too short.  I needed a little more to hook up to the drain pipe.

Visit No. 2.

“Oh, you’re back. I knew you’d be back,” said the well-meaning cashier. 

 “Yes, here I am,” I said through clenched teeth.

This time, I went straight back to the pipes and was sure the piece I chose would fit.  

 “Good luck to you, sir,”  he said again as I checked out.

 “I think I got it this time,” I said, pretty sure of myself.

Visit No. 3 came 15 minutes later. The drain pipe coming down from the drain was too skinny. Too skinny? Yes, too skinny. I yanked out the entire system, pipes, drain and all and trudged back to the store.

 “Don’t worry, we aren’t keeping track,” he said with a smile.

This time, three salesmen helped me and assured me I had the things I needed to fit the skinny part into the rest of the pipe system.

  He was right. I fit it all together. Check. I carefully tightened everything up, but not too tight. Check.  I went over all the pipe connections and made sure it was all done correctly.  Check.

It was time to turn the water back on. Finally. My daughter was already crying that she’d get bubonic plague because she was unable to wash her hands in the bathroom. I was relieved to turn it back on.

I turned the crank, heard the water start surging back through the house and went to check my handy work.

Opening the doors of the vanity, I plunked down in front of the drain as I filled up the sink. The moment of truth had arrived.

I watched in anticipation as I pushed the stopper slowly down, releasing the water into the drain.  

Ever so slightly, the pipes began to sweat and there were very tiny drops sliding down the pipes.


I turned the water back off. My daughter screamed that she still hadn’t washed her hands.

“Tough!” I yelled. 

I hated everything and everybody.

Once again I tightened and gingerly checked every connection, thinking that such a slight drip could possibly be prevented by a simple turn of the wrench.

Water back on. Sink filled again.

Drip, drip, drip. This time, faster.

So, I did what every man in my position would do. I sat and whimpered, wondering why life was so cruel and unfair.

And I called my friend the plumber. He could come tomorrow.

God had pity on me and I kid you not, I hooked up the toilet in less than an hour. It was almost too good to be true.  I followed the instructions to the T.  I sat on it to make sure it fit to the wax ring. I put the level on top of it 5,000 times to make sure it was level. I flushed it 6,000 times. No drips. For real.

Thank the Lord. My water bill will be enormous as it is.

My plumber friend came the next day. He told me plastic piping is something he battles every day. He put some tape around all the connections. He checked all the connections. He tightened everything up.  He filled the sink. He let ‘er go.  All the while, making polite conversation and acting as though he does such things in his sleep.

No drips. It took him about three minutes.

We now have a fully functioning bathroom.  There are still a few cosmetic things to do, but we have avoided flood and catastrophe.

And my plumber friend gave me a C+.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Republic-Times has been Monroe County's hometown newspaper since 1890. Serving Columbia, Waterloo, Valmeyer, Hecker and every town in between, we strive to provide the news that matters most to you in the timeliest manner possible. For more information on subscribing to the Republic-Times, call 939-3814 or visit the "Subscribe" page on this website.
HTC web