I dislike double-bowl kitchen sinks. They might serve a purpose, if your domestic habits require the ability to soak a stack of tiny plates while simultaneously rinsing some other diminutive item, like a single grape. You take your one useful sink and divvy it into two pointless sinks, neither of which is big enough to fit a saucepan and one of which doesn’t have a garbage disposal. So when guests come over and inevitably clean a plate into the non-disposal side, you have to feign nonchalance and say, “Oh, haha, disposal’s on the other side! Let me just scoop out your half-chewed beef gristle with my bare hands!” while you grind your teeth to nubs and blood vessels explode in your eyeballs. OK, I hate double-bowl sinks.
So my wife, Heather, and I were almost happy when our garbage disposal started leaking. While we were replacing it, we could also rid ourselves of the dumb sink and with it our braided stainless faucet, which at one point was supposed to look cool and industrial but now evoked the chic ambiance of a bankrupt dog-washing facility.
I measured the sink and went to a plumbing place, where I ordered a single-bowl undermount replacement, along with a new faucet and disposal. The guy there told me they don’t install sinks but gave me cards for a few plumbers, so I called them. The plumbers in turn told me they didn’t want anything to do with sink installation and gave me numbers for countertop guys. Finally, the countertop guys said they could do it. But only if I signed paperwork saying that it was OK for them to break the counters, which they almost certainly would. And also the job would cost roughly the same as a trip to Tahiti. But other than that, they’d be happy to come over to break my counters and probably not install a sink.
Faced with this impasse, I did the logical thing and put a bucket under the leaky disposal while boxes of new equipment sat in the garage. In the meantime, I poked a knife through some of the adhesive between the sink and the counter and watched gravity slowly peel the sink down. I’d assumed there were bolts or something under there, but no: All this time, the sink was just glued in. To arrest its descent, I put two bottle jacks underneath it. This was the kitchen situation for about a month: a leaky sink propped up with car jacks. I think I could probably host an HGTV show called Good Enough for Now or maybe You Have Any Better Ideas?
Eventually, I confronted the reality that sometimes if you want a job done right—or at all—you have to do it yourself. So I bought supplies, disconnected the plumbing and wrestled the old sink out of the sinkhole. Now I was committed.
I figured I needed the strongest adhesive I could find, so I went to Lowe’s and chose the one with the scariest disclaimers. The glue was called something like Death Grip and carried warnings to the effect of: “If you get this on your skin, congratulations: You’re now permanently waterproof. But also flammable. Inhaling this product will cause you to become the Three-Eyed Raven. If any product is left over, ship the tube to Yucca Mountain in an armed convoy and pray that this wretched devil snot may never glue the sun to the horizon, plunging the earth into eternal dusk. Good luck with your project!”
With the new sink roughly in place, I carefully applied the adhesive and raised the jacks to clamp it against the counter. Staring down at that new pristine basin, uninterrupted by a divide, my heart swelled with triumph. A day later, I tentatively removed the jacks and…the new sink stayed where it was. Plumbers arrived and hooked everything up. The install was done, and I did it—mostly. When friends came over, I bragged about my DIY aptitude and how I’d tackled a job none of the so-called pros wanted to do. “That adhesive holds 285 pounds per square inch,” I’d say. “I could stand in this sink.”
You probably see where this is going. One night, I soaked a heavy iron saucepan in the sink, and for a moment I thought, “This pan, filled with water, is quite a heavy item to leave in a sink that is, after all, only glued in.” An hour later, we were sitting on the couch watching TV when a low groan issued from the kitchen. “What was that?” Heather asked, just before her question was answered by the singular sound of a sink crashing down into the lower cabinet.
Now, if I could do it all over again—well, actually, I am doing it all over again, because my sink fell out. But to salvage some karmic upside from this debacle, I decided to bring my perfectly good double-bowl stainless sink—the one I never should have removed—to Habitat for Humanity. It made me feel righteous, and justified in my tribulations, when the guy at the loading dock took a look, frowned, and told me they didn’t want it. ◆
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