We had a bit (ha!) of tidying (ha!) to do at Steve's old place last weekend. While Steve went to ride his bike on Saturday morning, I thought I'd get that cleanin' party started. Sometimes even the most mundane event can become an adventure. I was cleaning the shower and tried to turn the shower head to rinse off the shower wall. That's when the shower arm ripped off in my hand. Not the shower head, the shower arm. That thing that goes through the silver donut and into the dark recesses of the wall.
Hmm. I tried to screw it back in, but it wouldn't go. When Steve got home I asked him to help. He was stumped too and he's an engineer. The shower arm was threaded, so it should screw in, yes? But when I reached inside the wall (scary!) the inside of the pipe felt smooth and there weren't any threads.
Sunday morning I stopped by my neighborhood hardware store, North Park Hardware. This is old skool hardware, not Lowe's. At North Park Hardware, they don't have lawn furniture, rubbermaid containers, barbecue grills or a website. They have hardware - every type of wall molly and screw, tons of tools and all the obscure stuff that the old houses in this neighborhood need.
They also have very knowledgeable staff. No one says "it's not my department"; these dudes know how to fix stuff. So I was a bit ruffled when the owner glanced at the shower arm and said "You don't even know how much trouble you've got." Turns out I'd ripped the pipe in half. The reason I couldn't screw in the shower arm was the old pipe was stuck in there.
The owner walked through the store with me and tried to find a tool to clean out the pipe. He found the closest fitting tool, but it wasn't exactly right so he took out his saw and modified it for me. I went home and tried it, no luck. Back to the hardware store. He found another tool which was slightly too large, so he took it on over to his grindy wheel thing and ground it down to size. Really, does anyone at Home Depot customize tools for you? No, they don't.
Then he did something extra awesome. He pulled another tool off the shelf and loaned it to me. He said it was expensive and I was only ever going to use it once. How many times was I going to rip the shower arm in half? The tool was also pretty much indestructible so he said I could use it and bring it back the next day. Not that I could buy it and return it. Or even leave your name and address. He just pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me. How friggin' fantastic is that?
Went back to the apartment and spent the next few hours engaged in the knuckle scraping work of removing the snapped off piece of pipe. It was a strenuous, frustrating job. And frankly Steve had his doubts that I could do it. (He was busy sorting and packing stuff so the plumbing repair job fell to me.) In the end I got the old pipe out and installed the new shower arm.
I'm proud to report that:
- I'm strong enough to rip pipe in half.
- I'm tenacious enough to spend hours making the repair.
- I returned the perfect tool to the world most awesome hardware store.