Artist in Residence 26: DIY… or not

Mention anything out loud and someone will tell you there’s a Youtube video with instructions on precisely how to do it.

Which is probably great, if you already know what you’re doing.

Here I sit, with a Plumbing Problem or Three in the bathroom. You’d think that maybe the Quarantine would have been a good time to catch up on all the Youtibe videos and gird up my loins and sail in and fix it all myself. But oh dear god.Here’s teh simplest problem analysis:

  1. here’s the tools you need. This one is called [something you don’t recgonise although it LOOKS like a wrench. But IS it a wrench? or is it a specialised tool? how do I know?) Oh, and plumber’s tape. You’ll need plumber’s tape for the screwing back together of connections. Sure, I have that just lying around. So, special tool… plumbers tape… possibly a new fixture taht I need to replace the one that’s ailing… none of it is all THAT expensive individually but it adds up and then there’s the inescapable conclusion…
  2. …that I do not have the first clue what I would be about, and would probably drown the place if I tried. It all looks SO simple on the video instructions, except…
  3. …I ALSO looked at video instructions for removing my obstinate bathtub drain stopper thingy (see? I don’t even have the VOCABULARY) and in every single video it’s, do THIS, unscrew THAT, and voila, out it comes… except that mine DOESN’T. And if I can’t get THAT going with just the youtube videos for instructions, how am I supposed to have the raw courage to tackle something that might have a live water connection to it?

So. Call plumbers for quotes.

Remember I told you I watched videos? THis is how I know that the doodad that replaces my bathtub faucet diverter dingus can be bought in a hardware store for anything between $10 and $30 (depending on how fancy, or how much of a brandname, you want to go for). And yes, I know that by calling in a plumber I am paying for the knowhow as well as the doodad – but one of them quoted me TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS for the job. WHich, and I know this because I watched Youtube videos of gifted amateurs doing it, takes about ten minutes to do – a professional can probably do it in less. let’s call it ten – that’s twenty dollars a MINUTE. That makes for a base rate of $1200 an hour.

I really missed my calling. I should have gone into plumbery.

Should I even mention that there might be an issue with the toilet with a good possibility that I may need to replace it? I have heard quotes that reach four figures, for that. Yes, there are videos on how you can replace your own toilet, too. But just how many people here would jump at that opportunity? Raise your hands? (thought so…)



About Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander's life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website (, her Facebook page (, on Twitter ( or at her Patreon page (


Artist in Residence 26: DIY… or not — 3 Comments

  1. Having called the plumber many times I have learned that the first 1/2 of the bill is their time getting to your place and the gas to get there and a few bucks toward licensing and insurance etc. This will be the same on every visit. The rest is parts and actual labor. So, better to have the specialist come and fix several things at once. It will be cheaper in the long run.

    Good luck.

  2. The old joke is “You’re charging me that for knowing that water runs downhill?”
    And the plumber says, “It’s not all water.”

    But yes. Trades are a good idea for kids who really don’t need college. Think about your car mechanic too.

  3. Well you will all be glad to hear that the issues I had were fixable… and were fixed by a neighboorhood handyman whose fees (including parts and labour) came to probably a third of what a plumber would have charged. But everything seems to be funcioning properly now touch wood. (and the guy changed a difficult lightbulb when he was here, too. Handyman people are worth gold…)