Gas station without pumps

2018 June 22

Repairs: kitchen sink and lawnmower

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 15:48
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Now that my grading is done for the year and all my grades are filed, I finally have time to take care of some chores around the house.

One of the first chores was to fix a slow leak under the kitchen sink.  It has been there for a year, and I believed that the leak was coming from the adapter between the faucet (which had ⅛” female pipe thread) and the sprayer hose (which had ¼” female pipe thread).

The first thing I did was to try to shut off the water to the faucet (not that I really needed to, since the faucet valves were still working). The quarter-turn shutoff valve seemed a little stubborn, and when I pulled hard on the lever, the whole pipe broke, spraying water all over the kitchen.  I ran out to the whole-house shutoff and managed to shut the water down with only about 2 gallons (8 liters) of water to mop up.

The pipe snapped right next to the body of the shutoff valve.

Some idiot (most likely me) had attached the brass shutoff valve directly to the steel pipe, with no intervening galvanic break, so there was a lot of corrosion due to galvanic currents.

Inside the valve and the pipe the corrosion was rather extreme.

So I went down to the hardware store and got a new shutoff valve, a CPVC nipple to replace the steel one (thus getting the necessary galvanic break), and a replacement for the adapter.  The hardware store did not have ⅛” MPT to ¼” MPT, so I ended up getting ⅛” MPT to ¼” FPT and  ¼” MPT to  ¼” MPT.

I put in the new shutoff valve and reassembled the faucet-to-sprayer connection.  The new shutoff worked fine, but the sprayer hose connection leaked worse than before.  It was now clear, however, that the leak was coming from the ¼” MPT-to-hose connection, and not earlier in the system.

I went to the hardware store again to get a new washer for the hose.  I was sold a 00 faucet washer, though I was bit dubious that it would work.  Sure enough, when I assembled hose connection it just squeezed the washer into the pipe, and the connection leaked as badly as before.

So I went back to the hardware store again and bought a whole new sprayer with hose.  I would have replaced just the hose, but the sprayer I had did not have a detachable hose—or rather, the hose was detachable, but neither end of it would pass through the sprayer hose guide, so I needed to replace the hose and the hose guide, at which point it was cheaper to replace the whole thing.

I replaced the hose guide and the sprayer, tightened up all the connections that I had just made, and the leak seems to have stopped.  One chore down!

My next chore was to fix the lawnmower again (see Electric lawnmower repair and Electric lawnmower repaired again).  There were two problems this time: the extension cord was not making good contact with the plug for the mower and the lawnmower blade was very dull.

Sharpening the lawnmower blade was pretty easy: I took the blade off with a crescent wrench, and brought it inside to grind on my wet wheel.  I could not get the curved parts of the blade that way, so I clamped the blade in a vise and used a half-round file to do those parts of the blade.  The mower blade is a fairly soft steel, to keep from chipping or shattering when it hits stones or other hard objects, so it sharpens quickly but doesn’t take a very sharp edge. I did manage to make it sharper than the rather rounded, dented edge it had before.

I determined that the problem with connection to the extension cord was with the cord, not the lawnmower, by the simple expedient of trying a different (shorter) extension cord, so I went to the hardware store (again!) to get a 15A replacement socket for the end of the extension cord.  I cut off the old socket, stripped the wires, and attached the new socket.  After verifying that I had connected everything correctly (using a standard 3-neon bulb socket tester), I checked out that the lawnmower worked with the fixed cord—it seems to be fine.

Another two chores done!

Tomorrow, when electricity is cheaper, I’ll try mowing the front lawn, which has gotten a little shaggy.  The back lawn is probably not mowable (the grass is over 3 feet high), and will need chopping down with a weed whacker before I can mow.

In between the faucet repair and the mower repair, I tried replacing the wheels on my son’s rolling luggage.  The wheels appear to be 76mm diameter wheels with standard skateboard bearings.  I went over to Skateworks on Soquel Ave, but they said that the wheels were too narrow for skateboard wheels, and recommended trying the wheels for inline skates (which they do not sell).  Rather than wander all over town looking for rollerblade wheels, I ordered a pair of cheap ones from Amazon (hard ones for outdoor use—durometer 89A), which should arrive on Monday.  With any luck, I’ll be able to cross another chore off my list then.

2013 January 3

Plumbing karma

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:42
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A couple of days ago in Is coding for everyone?, I wrote

Atwood makes an analogy to everyone learning to do plumbing, as if that were a ridiculous idea.  Personally, I think that everyone should learn a little plumbing: enough to clear a toilet or sink trap, or replace a faucet washer, and to know when to call in a professional plumber.

So, naturally, yesterday the kitchen faucet started dripping for the first time in about 15 years.  I figured I knew how to change a faucet washer, and that it would just take a few minutes today. Ha!

The first problem was that the faucet had not been opened up in so long that the threads had seized, so it took two people to get it apart: one under the sink holding onto the valve body with channel-lock pliers, the other using a lot of leverage with an 8″ adjustable wrench.  Even that wasn’t enough, so I had to go down to the hardware store for some penetrating oil and let it soak in for a while.

The Grohe faucet cartridge from the kitchen faucet.

The Grohe faucet cartridge from the kitchen faucet.

Eventually, the threads eased up and the the faucet came apart.  But there was no washer to replace.  Instead what I had was a Grohe washerless faucet cartridge.  The Grohe cartridges are pretty good (which is why I hadn’t had to do anything with the kitchen faucet in so long), but when they fail, there’s not much you can do but replace the cartridge.

I tried smearing everything with vaseline and replacing the cartridge, just in case the problem was with the rubber gaskets, but the drip continued as before.

Unfortunately, the local hardware store does not carry Grohe parts (too upscale for Ace Hardware), so I had to bicycle 3.7 miles across town to Bay Plumbing, the closest place I could find that stocked the part.  I was pleased that their prices were essentially the same as I would have paid online (cheaper than some of the online places), and I could get the part immediately, rather than waiting 3–5 business days for delivery.

I was not so pleased that Bay Plumbing had no bike parking, so I told them about the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission bike parking program.   Unfortunately, I found out when I got home that SCCRTC no longer has the Bike Secure parking program.  That’s a shame, because there are still a lot of businesses that need bike parking!

In other news, the Arduino Leonardo that I had ordered arrived today. I ordered the Leonardo to test whether the data logger code worked with the Leonardo’s different way of handling the serial interface and different pin mapping.  But I goofed—despite my admonitions to the students in the circuits class to make sure that they got the right USB cable to go with the Arduino board they bought, I had not checked to see if we had a micro-B USB cable in the house.  We had so many USB cables sitting around, that I was sure one of them was a micro-B.  It turns out that they were all either B or mini-B, not micro B, so we were unable to test the data logger code on the Leonardo until I got a new cable.  (Actually, we had one micro-B cable, but it was a power-only cable for recharging my son’s bicycle headlight.)

I ordered a couple of the cables online earlier in the day, but they won’t come until next week, so after buying the faucet cartridge at Bay Plumbing, I stopped in next door at Santa Cruz Electronics to pick up a cable. Unlike Bay Plumbing, their prices were about three times what the online price would have been, so the only reason to buy there was to get the cable immediately. I’ll report on the status of the data logger software later, when I get an update from my son on the code he’s been adding today and when we’ve had a chance to test the Leonardo.

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