OK, so for reasons of decrepitude, the water shutoff for our place doesn't work (they weren't installed very well and our valve is snapped off entirely) so to do plumbing without local cutoff, like the showers, I have to turn off the water to our entire building (three apartments).
Anyway, the shower we don't use has been leaking since we moved in here, but recently it's been a lot worse. I've been meaning to get around to it, but during the day the neighbors need water, and during the night, the kids sleep right next to it.
But the wife and kids are at Boy Scout camp tonight. (Not me, I grew up in a log cabin, and that was all the camping I need for life.) So after a grueling day of paperwork, at 2 AM I figured, well, why not now? I've got the gasket set, etc.
So I shut off the water, go up, take a firm grip on the faucet with my pliers, and wrench it.
The whole thing came off in my hands. As in, ripped off the pipe.
OK. So, I have the water shut off to all the neighbors, it's 2 AM in Ponce and nothing is open (I mean nothing), and I don't have a car anyway.
Think, think, think. This is not so different from shooting yourself in the foot with Unix sysadmin work, and I've done that often enough...
OK, so the inside of the faucet is this weird thing, with hot and cold in one pipe-looking thing, each feed with a, what, 3/8" or something copper tube. I found the biggest screws I have on hand (remember: no car, no stores -- have to fix it with stuff I have in the house). They're not big enough, but it's close.
Things I learned:
1. Electronics soldering irons are useless on plumbing.
2. There is a limit to how much teflon tape you can wrap around something and still make it work. This limit appears to be a thickness smaller than the actual thread.
3. Despite our extensive collection of laboratory glassware, we don't have any rubber stoppers. (This should be rectified.)
4. Although a stopper could easily be fashioned from duct tape, we don't have duct tape. (This should definitely be rectified.)
4. Rule #47: if you don't even have duct tape, electrician's tape sometimes works.
5. Electrician's tape, rolled into a plug and jammed into the feed tubes, then screwed into place, reduces explosive leaks to drippy leaks.
6. Although a drippy leak at 3 AM is probably good enough for most people, I appear not to be most people.
7. Aquarium tubing, with electrician's tape wrapped around it to make a gasket, inserted into the copper tubing, then screwed in place with a 1/8" wood screw, doesn't even drip.
8. It is probably not quite balanced to blog about this instead of going to bed at 3:30 AM.