How to Avoid a Bathroom Renovation

Anybody who lives in a home that is more than a year old will be able to relate to this little story.

It began when I went upstairs to get a shower. I turned on the taps, reached to pull the little thingy to make the water switch from the faucet to the shower and that is when it all began.

The Faucet
The Faucet

As I pulled the shiny little knob it came off in my hands. As it came off I saw the tiniest little screw/bolt thingy pop off, hit the bottom of the tub, bounce and then disappear without even a good bye gesture down the drain. Never to be seen again.

Seems relatively simple. Go to the local hardware store, show the plumbing department person the part and get a replacement. Right. Actually, wrong.

When you show the part to the plumbing department person they look at it like it is something you have brought back from the middle ages of Earth’s history and typically say something like, “Wow, they haven’t made that style since…You know you might consider replacing the faucets with this new style.”

Except I have already gone down that road. Rather than being able to replace the faucets, because they were installed in some arcane way not seen since at least the 1990s, I would also need to replace the tub. And the shower surround.

And then Sweetheart gets involved and suggests we replace the toilet, the vanity, the exhaust fan and…

I see a $20,000 bathroom renovation looming on the horizon.

Seriously. I am looking for what I now know is a machine screw. A tiny one. Preferably brass or stainless steel. But really, I don’t care anymore. I am just trying to fend off a massive reno project that will consume my soul.

So I go to the next big bow hardware store retailer, wander down into the plumbing area and grab the first guy I see. I tell him that failure is not an option because I will not be leaving the store without a solution to the problem I have.

He understands. Finally, someone who gets it.

The Machine Screw
The Machine Screw

He suggests two things, get a magnet on an extension handle that I can lower into the drain and see if the original screw is still lurking in the shadows.

He also suggests going to aisle 19 and looking at the fasteners (fancy pants word for screws, bolts and nails) and see if I can find one there that fits.

I find a rack of brass screws and bolts and find a selection that look like they might fit. I buy two of each size from what appear way too big to way too small and I return home.

And believe it or not, the littlest one fits perfectly! A 21 cent screw saves me from a $20,000 bathroom renovation. This is almost as cheap as the paper clip I used to piece the inner workings of our toilet back together.

Yep, keeping it simple.