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How to Fix a Friggin' Faucet

I have a friend who can fix anything. I call him MacGyver. I kid you not; if it’s broken, he can fix it. A few years back we vacationed in Arizona with him, his wife and three other families. We rented two houseboats on Lake Powell. We also dragged along a speedboat and two jet skis just to increase our chances of somebody getting injured or drowning. At some point during the week, they all broke. Somehow MacGyver kept them running, and all he had to work with was a roll of duct tape, a pair of pliers, a screwdriver and some wire. Take a listen to Bob Dylan’s classic song Everything is Broken. That was our theme song for the week.

Me? I can’t fix anything. It’s not in my DNA. I’ve been a longtime proponent of the Theory of Fixitivity which states the following: When something breaks, if you leave it alone long enough, it will eventually fix itself. “Hey, that just might work!” said no one ever. MacGyver and his wife come to visit a couple times each year. I try to hold off on fixing anything until he arrives. I usually have a list of four to nine things for him to fix when he gets here. And, giddy up, it’s free!

Last week I noticed that the faucet in our kitchen sink was leaking. It’s one of those touchless gadgets made by Kohler. Not cheap to replace. When I pulled the nozzle out, I could see water spraying out of the hose. I called MacGyver and explained the issue. He said, “You’ll have to replace the hose. It’s not that hard. Take a picture of the small tag on the cold water inlet and it will give you the part number for the faucet. Go to the Kohler website and order a new hose. Make sure it’s a Kohler product because they have proprietary connectors on both ends.” (Sheesh! Who knew?)

After I got off the phone I said to myself, “Self, let’s take a peek.” At first glance, it seemed he might be right. Maybe I could fix this myself. Next, I hit up the Google for some YouTube tutorials. I typed in ‘How to change the hose on a Kohler touchless faucet part #1186677.’ Voila! No less than a dozen videos popped up that explained that exact maneuver. I clicked on the first one and I must say, the guy in the video made it look so easy. I ordered the parts from Kohler, confident that I could fix the issue without the help of a plumber. The replacement hose arrived two days later. I looked under the sink again. Not only was it difficult to reach the base of the hose due to the garbage disposal being in the way, but I saw the box of electronics that operated the touchless features of the faucet. It dawned on me that if I broke something, I’d be on the hook for a new $1,100 faucet. I chickened out, called a plumber and spent two more days doing dishes without a sprayer.

Let me preface the rest of this tale with this: I have the utmost respect and admiration for people in the trades. When the plumber arrived, he did, however, fit the stereotype. His clothes were unkempt and dirty. He wore his trucker hat backwards; his shirt was untucked; his pants were saggy and hung down low; his name patch said ‘Butch’. We emptied the cabinet under the sink and he got to work. The YouTuber had replaced the hose in seven minutes and 20 seconds. This was no YouTube video. The plumber had a hard time reaching the base of the hose. When he tried to disconnect it, it wouldn’t budge. I was in the other room and I could hear a lot of banging and words that, had they been spelled out, would have looked like this: “*Holy$%%#@! Whatinthe%*$%**! Fortheloveof@&$*%#*!” After struggling for 20 minutes, I heard him yell, “Got it!” Once he got the hose disconnected, the rest was easy. He replaced the hose, reattached the spray nozzle, hung the lead weight at the bottom and turned the water back on. He got up and tried the touchless feature. It seemed to be working, although it was a bit spotty. I thanked him and he left.

Ten minutes after he was gone, I was sitting at my desk in the other room. Suddenly I heard the water in the kitchen running. The faucet had turned on by itself. Then it stopped. Then it turned on again. Then off. Then on. Off. On. Off. On. It looked and sounded like the faucet was possessed. Now I was concerned I might have to call a priest and schedule an exorcism. I waved my hand under the neck of the faucet several times. The touchless feature would not work so I turned it off manually. Frustrated, I called the plumbing company and explained the situation. She said she would send the guy back to take a look. When Butch returned, I could tell he wasn’t happy. He started futzing around with the sensor and had the same results. It wasn’t working. He disappeared under the sink again and detached the electronics box from the wall and took it apart. He was here for another hour before he said, “I cannot figure this out!”

I said, “Just put everything back together and let’s see what happens.” He left reluctantly, knowing that he had not successfully completed the job. I emailed the plumbing company and explained the whole story hinting that since their plumber had broken my faucet, they would be on the hook to replace it. The receptionist was very nice and said, “Before we do anything, let me send out a different technician who has more experience with that sort of faucet.”

I agreed and said, “Yeah, sounds good. You know, I’ve found that sometimes if you leave things alone, they tend to fix themselves.” *Crickets* Apparently she was not familiar with my theory. I got up the next morning, went out to the kitchen and turned the faucet on. I waved my hand under the sensor. It turned off. Waved my hand under the sensor again. It turned on. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Weeeee! It worked perfectly! Whatever Butch the Plumber had done must have fixed the problem. Or.....maybe.....???

I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with this: When I had called MacGyver earlier in the week, I knew he and his wife were building a swimming pool in their back yard. He had sent me pictures of the mess. What I didn’t know at the time was that they were dealing with a more significant problem. Because of the summer drought where they live, the ground beneath their house had settled causing a crack down the middle of their foundation. The two sides were settling, causing all manner of trouble inside their house. Not only was his back yard destroyed by the pool builders, but the rest of the place was wrecked by the construction crew digging holes under their foundation in order to install jacks to lift the foundation. Despite all the chaos, he had taken the time to help me with my silly little faucet issue. I’ll figure out a way to repay him. In the meantime, I’ve already started a new list of things for him to fix the next time they visit!

Broken bottles, broken plates

Broken switches, broken gates

Broken dishes, broken parts

Street are filled with broken hearts

Broken words never meant to be spoken

Everything is broken

-Bob Dylan

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