Even a DIY rookie can fix a bro­ken sink stop­per

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Front Page -

Ques­tion: Is it true you said in a past col­umn you’re a mas­ter plumber? If it is, I need your help. My bath­room sink stop­per is not work­ing right. When I pull up the knob in the cen­ter of the faucet, not much hap­pens. It used to work great. The sink also drains slowly. Can you tell me how to fix all of these is­sues? Do you feel it’s a DIY project? Be hon­est, as my skills are lim­ited.

An­swer: I’ve been a mas­ter plumber since age 28 or 29, as well as be­ing a builder, re­mod­eler and car­pen­ter. My in­ter­est in plumb­ing, I be­lieve, was rooted in the three-di­men­sional na­ture of cre­at­ing a drainage and vent sys­tem in a home. If you ask me, it’s like solv­ing a real puzzle.

If you have a cranky bath­room sink like Roxanne’s, I’ve got good news for you. You can get the sink stop­per work­ing cor­rectly and have the drain cleaned out with just a small amount of work. It’s ab­so­lutely a DIY project even if you’re a rookie. Of­ten, it takes more time to get things out of the way and put them back than it does to make the ad­just­ment.

My fa­vorite go-to tool for this sim­ple job is an ad­justable set of pli­ers. I have one that has jaws shaped to grab hex nuts as well as larger rounded nuts. If you don’t have this ex­act set of pli­ers, you’ll just need an ad­justable wrench as well as the stan­dard pli­ers.

When you lie on your back and slide into the van­ity cab­i­net, you’ll see a strange set of rods and a per­fo­rated metal bar that makes up the sink stop­per mech­a­nism. A chrome rod con­nects to the ac­tual drain­pipe that ex­its the base of the sink. The end of the rod con­nects to the sink stop­per.

When you pull the con­trol knob on the faucet up, the end of the chrome rod be­low drops down, tak­ing the stop­per with it. Push the con­trol knob down and the stop­per lifts up. If you have a helper do this ac­tion while you look at the mov­ing parts, you may see the con­trol knob rod is slip­ping just a bit. Tighten the nut on the flat metal bar to solve this prob­lem. The flat metal bar may have dis­con­nected from the chrome rod that con­nects to the sink drain. Re­con­nect it.

The horizontal chrome rod that lifts the stop­per con­nects to the drain­pipe with a round nut. Turn that coun­ter­clock­wise to pull this rod out of the drain­pipe. Once you do this, you can lift the stop­per out of the sink. A large glob of hair and goo may come with it. Clean all of this out and your sink should drain like new. Do ev­ery­thing I said back­wards to put ev­ery­thing back to­gether so you have no leaks. A PRIMER ON WET BARS

Ques­tion: Can you share any thoughts about wet bars? I want to in­clude one in my home and don’t want to mess it up. Have you in­stalled any, and what are some of the best prac­tices? What’s the big­gest mistake you’ve seen some­one make?

An­swer: I’ve built quite a few for cus­tomers, and I put one in the last home I built for my fam­ily.

You can get into trou­ble quite fast with wet bars. The big­gest mistake I’ve seen is home­own­ers think­ing they can use stan­dard kitchen base cab­i­nets for wet bars. They soon dis­cover they can’t reach the bar sur­face with­out some dis­com­fort.

The first thing I’d do if I were you is to go visit no less than four real bars. Do this when they’re not busy and chat up the bar­tender. Ask if you can take photos and some mea­sure­ments. De­ter­mine what’s the best width for the bar top. Do you want your guests to be able to have a plate of food on the bar, or just drinks? The width of the top de­ter­mines this.

Pay at­ten­tion to the width of the lower counter that the bar­tender works on. Note its height and the height of the ac­tual bar. Ask the bar­tender what she/ he loves and hates about the bar. What would they change if given the chance?

You need to also de­cide what di­rec­tion the bar­tender will face at your home.

Tim Carter

Ask the Builder

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