Signs of a vacant home
October 31, 2016
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Once you’ve had a good look at it…

Great title, no? Doesn’t give you much to go on but after this read, you’ll agree it changes everything. Home watch caretaking requires many hats. One of those hats is that of the plumber. If you’re envisioning a painter’s hat, that’s pretty much it. Some argue a the hat of a train conductor from the 1900’s. At any rate, plumbing is one of those things where you never know how long it will take until you’ve had a look at it.

One of my own tenants at a rental unit called and reported the sink had “gotten wiggly and fallen off.” Luckily, I watched the original installers put it in with the granite counter tops but they were shady and I knew then they didn’t do it properly. If was part of the deal of the countertops, not my deal, and they were all Brazilians and spoke basically no English. They originally mounted a stainless steel, two basin, undermount sink under the granite by using four thin pieces of floor tile at about 2″x1″ and angled them across the four corners and epoxied the tile. I’d heard of that but thought the proper way was to drill and put inlaid threads in the granite and use clips. I didn’t question it and it lasted 7 years. Then, the epoxy failed. So, I knew exactly what happened but I had no idea what I would need or find until I got under the sink to have a good look at it.

Yep, sink fell off and down. It took a few pieces of pvc plumbing connectors with it. Also, when I walked in and greeted the tenants son, he says “oh and the disposal doesn’t work either, mom dropped a rag in it.” Great…one repair is now three (pushes sleeves up). In starting to disassemble things I notice water under the sink in a big bowl. It’s from the leaking faucet hose that is just saturated and worn from age. Four repairs now!

Got it all knocked out and done in two visits. It’s one of the more difficult and time consuming tasks because you have to thoroughly clean sink and underneath to apply new glue and caulk. It’s not technically difficult, but crawling on your back under a foreign dirty sink and plumbing is not high on anyone’s list and it’s quite uncomfortable and painful if you’re not prepared with a soft thing to lay on. Also, when you’re working on your back in a very dark place and working up with you hands over your head blocking the flashlight light, having the right tools and being fully prepared for the situation makes it go much better. If you encounter rusted nuts/bolts, stripped threads, frozen fittings from corrosion or don’t have the proper tool…there will be lots of fussing and mumbling. It may involve curse words.

Words of advice:

  • When you look at the problem, make sure everything connected to the problem is still okay
  • Look at the parts you will need and write them down somewhere or on your phone (best)
  • Look at the exact size tools or specialty tools you may need and get them:
    T-Handle Wrenches

    T-Handle Wrenches

    A “Basin Buddy” tool is great:

    basin buddy

    Basin Buddy from Superior Tool

    A telescoping basic wrench:
    basin wrench

    Universal Basin Wrench

    Thread tape
    thread tape

    Thread Tape

Look at the colors and finishes in the kitchen so when buying anything new you know what to match if you have other fixtures
Take your time, if you’re watching the clock on these jobs you’ll make it worse for yourself. Take your time and do it right so you never have to come back. Take several pictures with your camera of the problem and area…focus on the parts you have to change or work on as that will help you immensely when you get to Home Depot or wherever your go for parts etc. I do this for nearly anything I work on…and I like ‘before and after’ pictures for both reporting to my clients and for my own reference later.

I hope this helps if you’re jumping into a repair. The camera trick really helps in any capacity.


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