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Tap dance

My faucet was going pip.

When I first noticed the faint, repeating sound from my kitchen sink, I thought it was a drip, but there was no drip. Just a faint, recurring pip sound from somewhere inside the faucet assembly. I could sometimes get it to abate by adjusting the knobs just right, or maybe it just seemed that way through random variation. But though it was quiet, it was enough to be distracting to me, because I’m easily distracted. (Oh, look, a shiny thing!) It sounded like maybe some kind of air bubbles forming and popping inside a pipe or gasket somewhere, but I couldn’t be sure.

So at one point last month, I mentioned it to the building manager, along with the fact that there tended to be small amounts of water leaking around the edges of the faucet assembly from time to time — which, in retrospect, was probably the more important thing to mention. Anyway, the maintenance guy came in and put in new valves or whatever they’re called inside the knobs. The pips stopped, but the knobs became stiffer and hard to turn. This is a problem for me, since I like to turn the knobs with my forearms in order to keep my hands clean after washing them. It was hard to apply enough torque with my forearms with the new knobs. So I happened to mention to the manager that the knobs were too stiff.

So the maintenance guy came in again a few days later and tried installing a different kind of valves or whatever in the knobs. He also put plenty of grease on them to lubricate them. But afterward, the knobs were even stiffer, and seemed to get harder to turn by the day. The maintenance guy couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Although I did learn more than ever before about the anatomy and functioning of my sink knobs.

But that knowledge quickly proved moot, since the maintenance guy decided just to replace the whole faucet assembly, and that’s what he and the senior maintenance guy did today. The old assembly proved difficult to take out, since the nuts were so old that they’d become stripped or worn or something and the senior guy needed to use a drill to break them open (they were plastic). Apparently, I’ve been living here so long that they haven’t had a chance to renovate the kitchen in over a decade. (I could ask them to, but it’d mean a rent increase, and, well, I’m a writer.)

Anyway, he gradually made progress, and it was fun watching the effects up above as he wrestled with the pipes below. It was like the faucet was dancing in gleeful anticipation of finally being freed from its bonds. (Hence the post title.) But I happened to be looking away at the moment it finally came loose, so I missed its triumphant leap into the sink.

So now I have a gleaming new faucet assembly, and the best part is, it has a single lever rather than separate hot and cold knobs! That’s the kind of kitchen faucet I used to have before I moved here, and it’s the kind I’ve always wished I had again, because it’s so much easier to turn on and off and adjust the temperature with, especially without using my hands. Come to think of it, it’ll probably be easier to keep clean as well. It wasn’t easy to clean underneath the old knobs, and they tended to accumulate mineral deposits or gunk of some sort. (The water in this neighborhood is alarmingly hard. I’d make some geeky joke about it giving Jay Garrick superpowers, but the science of that is so dreadful that I just can’t bring myself to do it.) Now I’ve just got a nice smooth plate with the faucet and lever in the middle, and fewer places for water to leak from.

EDIT: I just remembered the most important reason I prefer a single-lever faucet. In this building, in the winter, the cold water gets really cold, and the hot water tends to get really hot to compensate for it. So while in the summer, I can get by comfortably using just one or the other, in winter I need to find a tolerable mix of the two, and that’s a lot easier to do if I can just nudge a lever, rather than having to constantly use both knobs and try to find a good balance between them. At this time of year, when both hot and cold are at more moderate temperatures, it doesn’t make much difference, but I’m sure I’ll be grateful for the change come winter.

So all in all, I’m very pleased with the end result of all this. I guess it pays to mention it when your faucet goes pip.

Although I still wish I knew what that sound was.

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