August 10, 2009

Aesthetic crisis averted

[the old sink]

One of the, um, features of my downstairs bathroom was always that the sink, because of its width and because of where the door swung, was not nicely lined up with the mirror. I hated this. (The mirror was also too high, but that was a separate issue, since fixed in the renovation.) One of the earliest design criteria when selecting a sink ("lavatory") for the bathroom was that it had to be narrow enough that it could align with the mirror and still not block the door. Not negotiable.

[the new pipes—askew]

When the plumber came to rough in the new pipes, this was more or less explained to him, and I carefully pointed out the marks to line up with so everything would look good. So you can imagine my consternation when I poked my head in to find that, although the drain was lined up, the supply wasn't. Specifically, the hot water pipe, on the left, was closer in than the cold water pipe. Since the sink is a pedestal, already purchased, this would be visible. Since the toilet is aimed straight at the sink, you would be staring right at the skewed pipes. I don't even know that anyone else would notice or care, but I would. I stared at this for a few moments, trying to decide how I felt about this, but I knew that every single time I looked at it, it would annoy me. It was at least worth bringing up to the plumber.

Who, happily, had not yet connected them belowdecks, which was going to make a fix that much easier. As he finished off sweating the drain pipe together, I brought up the issue and asked him about it. He said something about the pipes needing room, and that they always make sure to leave room so you can get at the trap. This... puzzled me, and he came up to look at it with me, dutifully pointing out how the P-trap would have to go in between them. Which was fine, of course, and I was just wondering if both of them could be moved over, like, an inch. What followed was an incredibly bizarre bit of talking past each other; I think maybe he thought I wanted to only move the cold water pipe to be closer to the other (despite my repeatedly and specifically saying this was not what I wanted). I knew they had to be a certain distance apart. I didn't even mind if they were a little further apart (and said so). A few times he told me that pedestals made it really hard to hide the pipes. Which was fine, that's the point, if the pipes are visible they should look good!

[the new pipes—fixed!]

Finally, something I said must have clicked, because about the third time I suggested moving just the hot water pipe, he said something like, "oh, so maybe just widen the gap between them?" Making it even easier to access everything, yes. Exactly. Now, the plumber was obviously not stupid, and this was definitely a communication problem rather than anything else; once he got what I wanted here, he was able to set it up just dandy, taking a snips to the support he'd run the pipes through (which I regret a tiny bit, because that thing was solid and those pipes weren't going anywhere) and readjusting, using steel tape to anchor it to the wall (the lath of the kitchen wall, which I fear he slightly went through, but I'll live). So now I have my nice symmetric piping. I am so glad I spoke up; for the cost of at most a half-hour's worth of work, I got something fixed that would nag at me for years and be fundamentally unfixable.

'If we wish to count lines of code, we should not regard them as "lines produced" but as "lines spent": the current conventional wisdom is so foolish as to book that count on the wrong side of the ledger.' --Edsger Dijkstra

Posted by blahedo at 11:58pm on 10 Aug 2009
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