Four Sinks for 2004

Another quarter, another plumbing project: replacing all four bathroom sinks because the overflow drains have rusted out. These weren’t that important until my kids reached the magical age where they easily become mesmerized by rapidly flowing water. I can’t come down on them too hard because I want them to wash their hands.

When I had the toilet installed by a real plumber, I got an estimate on the sinks of approximately $900 each. Times four. $3,600 buckaroos. Crikey!

The actual cost of me doing them was far, far less.

Parts $400.00 Sinks were $50 each; the first set of popup assemblies were total crap and I had to buy new ones. While I had the sinks apart, I installed new pop-up assemblies. I also put new washers in the faucets ($3/set)
Tools $24.97 For a really good basin wrench (anticipating the kitchen sink next). I had the other tools, but if I needed to buy them, I would have spent another $100.
Supplies $45.00 For various caulks, putties, greases and tapes.
My time $600.00 Assuming $60/hour. The actual work took eight hours (including trips to the store), but if I were a plumber, I’d have to bill myself an hour each way to get to the job site.
Total: $1,075 (really $475)

Removing the sinks was easy: disconnect all the plumbing, cut the layer of caulk around the sink, and remove the screws anchoring the sink. This gave me a lot of room to replace the shutoff valves.

The shutoff valves were the original issue with steel flex tubing permanently welded to them. I don’t know if they were engineered to break, or if I’m just unlucky, but they leak when I even look at them. As I’ve done projects around the house, I’ve replaced them.

The valves use a compression type fitting, and are relatively easy to replace. The trick seems to be wrapping teflon tape around the compression nut.

I reused the faucet from each sink, taking care to clean it with vinegar before putting it on the new sink.

The hardest part was applying adhesive caulk for the new sinks. I initially and wrongly assumed I could just apply a bead of caulk where the old one was and the sink would magically fit in the same spot. This made a huge mess. The cutouts were on the large side of 17″x20″. Adding to the challenge was the tile countertop, with its uneven surface, and our cooler than normal temperatures. The caulk had to set overnight before the sink was sturdy enough to work with.

I replaced the pop-up plumbing. The new sinks were a little smaller, requiring an extension tube (and another trip to the store). The initial set of pop-ups leaked because of a design flaw, and I found another brand.

Eveidently when I cleaned the faucets, I jostled whatever calcium buildup was keeping them from leaking. I found a source for the washers and rebuilt the cartridges for about $3 each.

Next on the home improvement kick: new tile in the guest bathroom, paint the master bathroom, and install a closet storage system.

p.s. Happy New Year!

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