Real life

All I wanted was a washer for my tap and I ended up with a new bathroom

Though when Tony the plumber will get around to fitting it is anyone’s guess

19 March 2016

9:00 AM

19 March 2016

9:00 AM

Diamonds are for ever. Plumbers take a lifetime. They never finish. No job is too big or small for them to not finish it.

All I wanted was a new kitchen tap unit. The hot tap needed a washer fitting but, according to Tony the plumber from over the road, there is no point fitting a washer. It’s more work than it’s worth. The thing to do is to rip out the old taps and fit new ones, which he can do almost more cheaply, but certainly no more expensively, than fitting a washer.

Fine, I thought. The old taps are horrible anyway so new taps it will be. Tony got a catalogue from the Plumb Center and showed me the pages of taps, which were all mind-blowingly similar. I chose the cheapest ones and he said he would order, pick them up and fit them. And then nothing happened for six months.

And nothing would have happened for another six months, or ever, possibly, but for a leak coming through the bathroom ceiling from the upstairs flat. Tony came to investigate and read the riot act to the boys upstairs about their leaking bath taps, which they promised to put right, and which, after a lot of wrangling, were put right.

But one thing leads to another, and while Tony was investigating the leak at my end, he noticed there was very low pressure in my shower. He pondered this at length, drinking 75 cups of sugary tea, before concluding the Grohe had ‘had it’. To fix it would mean taking apart the central barrel, then taking apart the disc inside that, then taking apart the pin inside that, then taking apart the… You get the idea. We appeared to be on the way to splitting the atom when I could stand it no longer.

‘Fine! Just fit me a new shower.’

This time I insisted on accompanying him to the Plumb Center to cut out the six-month wait between him giving me the catalogue and coming back. He sighed heavily as I spent a long time going through three catalogues, finally settling on a vast Mira rainfall shower with a built-in smaller hair-washing showerhead and ‘antico’ style white handles.

Tony declared this acceptable and we were about to buy it when I realised my new shower would not match my bath and sink taps. A further flick through the catalogue revealed that the Mira rainfall could be teamed with matching ‘antico’ bath and sink taps. And if you bought them all together the set cost only £500.

‘What a bargain,’ I declared, as we placed the order. Then a few seconds later came the inevitable ‘What the hell! I only wanted a washer in my kitchen tap and now I’ve spent £500 on a new bathroom! What happened to those kitchen taps, by the way?’

He hadn’t got them. So I chose some while we were there and Tony promised that they would get fitted first.

The next day, however, only the bathroom fittings came and he set to work putting them in. Two days later, after the usual mishaps to do with smashed tiles and missing widgets, the bathroom looked a treat. I had a rainfall shower with matching ‘antico’ taps.

The pressure was only so-so, but I wasn’t going to even go there. It was better than before and that would have to do.

‘And my kitchen taps?’ I asked Tony, pleadingly.

‘Yes, yes, my dear, all in good time. I’ve got to go back and pick them up in a few days.’

That was nearly a month ago and so fearing the worst, yesterday I set about nagging Tony as to the kitchen tap unit’s where-abouts.

He surprised me by turning up on my doorstep with a shiny new box containing said taps. I inquired as becomingly as I could as to the estimated time of installation. But Tony would only put the box of taps down on the draining board and give me an enigmatic look.

He informed me that in sorting out the leak upstairs for me he had been taken on by the owners to put right a few other things for them. And in doing that, he had discovered that it would be very easy to rearrange the two flats’ water supply so that I could be taken off the tank in their loft and my bathroom water connected to the mains.

That would make the pressure in my new rainfall shower even better — ‘two bar more’ as he put it. I have no idea what that means.

He is even now clattering around my pipes commencing a reorganisation of my water supply that I’m pretty sure I don’t want. And the kitchen taps? Well, they’re sitting in their box on the draining board.

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Show comments
  • mdj

    It costs pennies and takes a couple of minutes to change a tap washer.
    I’m a little baffled to know who would advertise their inability to do so, or be remotely content with that voluntary disability.
    They’re ringing the dinner bell for every kind of predator, not only plumbers.

    • Bonkim

      unless the tap is worn out and the pipe/joints, etc, all solid with lime deposit.

      Best to take the whole cartridge out and fit a new cartridge unless the tap seat is worn out or limed up. In which case best to replace the whole tap and if the pipe breaks doing that – higher cost.

      • BARROSO

        Probably a weird ceramic disk set which can be impossible to find

  • davidshort10

    I do wonder where Melissa Kite gets all her money from. I don’t imagine the Spectators pays much more than £100 and the odd Mail feature perhaps £500. Is she an heiress?

    • Father Todd Unctious

      An airhead?

    • Ingmar Blessing

      Maybe she writes for free and makes her money by attending on parties of the super rich for money where she poses as publicly known female figure, but not for her figure but her opinions.

  • Matt

    Google ‘how to change a tap washer’ and just do-it-yourself.

  • Last year I went to the local bike shop to buy a new wheel nut for my old three speed and came home with a new Brompton bicycle which cost me £830. The shop gave me the new nut, but I paid for the bike.