Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How a Leaky Windex Bottle cost me almost $200

I buy off-brand cleaning products. I reuse the bottles. I buy the gallon size of the clear cleaning fluid and refill the little spray bottles. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. Never had a problem. The products work and the bottles work until the pump sprayer goes.

Last week I stepped in a puddle on the floor in front of my bathroom sink. The countertop of my vanity was wet from the water filter (Philly water tastes dreadful) to the front edge.

I hadn’t changed the filter lately. That was my most likely culprit. I disconnected the water filter and ordered a replacement over the web. That’s the first $20. The filter cost $15, but I don’t live near a store that sells them. I could take a bus to the store and back, but that would take me most of the morning, and bus fare with transfers is $2.75 each way. It’s cheaper to pay shipping over the web, and I get to keep my morning.

The filter arrived. I put it in and tried to screw the filter back into the faucet. The connection leaked. The faucet had a plastic thread that was worn out. I took the thread to the hardware store. They don’t sell the thread. The faucet company doesn’t sell the thread either. I had to buy a whole new faucet. I ordered the faucet online. Another $80, with shipping. I got a solid brass, washerless model. These things have been discontinued, so it was on sale.

PRICE PFISTER 4" 1H Lavatory Faucet CHROME

As usual, if you buy from this link, my friends at will get a commission.

While I was waiting for the faucet to arrive, another puddle appeared on the floor in front of my sink. It couldn’t be the water filter. It couldn’t be the faucet. All water was turned off to the sink.

Then I noticed that the level of the fluid in my spray bottle was much lower than it had been the day before. I put the bottle into the bathtub. Within hours, I’d discovered my culprit. The bottle leaked. Everything I'd spent up to this point had contributed nothing to solving the problem.

Yes, the filter needed to be replaced eventually. And that faucet wasn't going to last forever. But if I hadn't touched them, I wouldn't have had to replace them. Not now.

The new faucet arrived. I called the plumber. He was in awe of the heavy solid brass faucet. He said he didn’t think they made them like that any more. He showed me the only 3 moving parts. He showed me how to order replacements from the manufacturer if I should ever need them. No plastic parts. Where it matters. There was a plastic fitting under the base. And if I’d wanted the pop-up in the sink, that was plastic, but I use a screen, so I didn’t ask him to install that. I gave it to him for another client. He lay under my sink for about half an hour and I paid him $98.

I still have to replace that leaky spray bottle for my cleaning fluid. The real culprit will cost me another $1 at the dollar store. The only $1 I really needed to spend.

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