What is your quest?

I seek to replace some ugly bathroom faucet handles.

This post is part of Sian’s Storytelling Sunday, which she hosts the first Sunday of every month.


These plastic crystal faucet handles came with the house. The stoners put them in in 1978.  They are in each of the double sinks in both bathrooms. They are ugly and I have never liked them, I want metal handles, but they have always been such a minor nuisance that it took 15 years for us to finally decide to replace them.

As with all household projects, our first stop was Lowes

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One of the reasons we have failed to act before this is cost. We have what they call widespread faucets. They are not one unit, the handles and spigots are independent of one another.

They cost more than the single unit.


Significantly more. You can get three of the single units for the cost of one widespread unit.


We need two widespread units per bathroom. And it isn’t like you can just swap them out because of the holes already drilled in the countertop.

So cost has been a factor in the replacement. But they do sell just handles


So we looked through the handles, found a style we liked and bought two of them


However we failed to notice that big green sign that said “Brand Specific” and the handles we bought were for Kohler faucets


Do we have a Kohler faucet?

Damned if we know. There is no easy way to tell.

Turns out we don’t. Different brands have different connector shapes, or splines. This package says it fits spline C.

So we went back to Lowes, this time with one of our knobs to match the spline shape.

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We don’t have spline shape C or H or D or E or B or any other brand specific shape except possibly Delta, which only come in the the disliked crystal. But they do make generic handles in a variety of styles. We choose a new pair


A perfectly nice style, easy to turn for small hands and easy to clean. Only one problem


So it’s back to Lowe’s for another exchange.

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That style does come in a larger size, we’d just thought it would be too big.

Ah, that’s better


Only one problem. When you turn the water on, this happens


The thing we failed to notice over the past 15 years is that 3 out 4 of the sinks have their faucets set up wrong. In a normal house your faucets are generally set up so that you turn the hot counterclockwise & the cold clockwise to turn them on. In our house only one sink does that. The other 3 have you turn both handles counterclockwise.

Or maybe 3 are set up right for that style faucet but one is wrong. Either way, something needs to be changed, either the handles or the faucet set up.

DH looked at the way the faucets were connected and corroded and the effort involved in taking one apart to change it and decided he was only going to do that if we were replacing the whole thing.

All this faucet switching caused this to happen


Broken spline.  This means we can’t actually use those long handles but have to go with the knob style. The long handle style on this broken spline falls off after the second or third time you turn it.

Back to Lowe’s yet again!  This is trip #4 and day 6 for those keeping track

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Lowe’s was having a sale on their Aqua Source brand faucets. This sale had been going on since the first time we went there but unexpected expenses being what they have been this year our price point for a faucet is $50 and there are no widespread faucets for it, not even on sale.

But here is the thing. To get the metal style I want, in the large size that we need, in the knob style that is all that would work on the broken spline, we would be spending $35 a set, and they still might not work with the broken spline.

You cannot replace just a spline.

And I wasn’t really loving the two styles of handles we were left with.

So we dithered, walking back & forth between the handles and the sale display

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It is only $8 off the price point, or $16 overall. We could probably find the $16. $50 was sort of arbitrary anyway, mostly driven by resentment over the price difference between widespread and single unit faucets.

dither….$16…dither…$70…dither…actually $116, less the $40 in exchanges to date…dither…have you see the boys lately?…dither

In the end we bought the new faucets and DH went to work removing the old faucets

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Yep, he cooks, he cleans, he is handy with a hammer, can build a porch thingy, lay wood flooring, wire new electrical outlets, set up a computer network, change the oil & make many repairs on cars and he is also good with plumbing.

And he is all mine ladies

Or course it wasn’t simply a matter of getting under the counter & unscrewing a couple of bolts.

Oh no no no. Not that easy at all. The corrosion from 34 years of use made it almost impossible to loosen the bolt and the cramped nature of the pipes under the sink led us to believe the faucets were installed in the counter before the countertop was put on the wood base. So you couldn’t get the drain portion out of the sink without a reciprocating saw & needed tin snips to take apart the bases of the faucet handles. It took 5 hours to remove those two faucets.

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And not before this happened to the hot water connection on the left sink

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So there was one more trip to Lowe’s! We are now on day 8 and trip #5 of this quest.

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It took less than an hour to install the two new faucets.

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We still have the master bath, to do. We’re just going to buy new faucets the next time we have a spare $120 or so lying around and not even mess with whole handle debacle.

We’d like to think that at least this time we’ll know what we are up against.

But we all know better than that.

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26 comments to What is your quest?

  • Wow – that’s a lot of trips back and forth to Lowe’s, but how nice to finally have new faucets (at least in one bathroom!). We’re getting ready to do the same thing but my hubby isn’t going to do the plumbing part – thank goodness!

  • Rinda

    And at least they look fabulous.

  • wish we had a Lowe’s, great story!

  • Oh that sounds soooo familiar – glad you got it fixed and without any flooding to complicate matters.

    Your list of abilities made me laugh, Wookie has the same and yep I’m delighted that he’s all mine :lol:

  • Oh this made me giggle, but I totally understand your frustration. I hate it when “quick” jobs drag on and on – it’s so irritating!

  • Great story and what a wonderful hubby. Who knew that purchasing new bathroom fittings could be so fraught and expensive? The new fittings look perfect.

  • Wow, that turned into a marathon. It’s always the jobs which sound simple..

    Thanks for sharing your Sunday story today – I think I’ll be looking at out taps with a new respect from ow on!

  • Alison

    What a marathon..but well worth it in the end..they look really good!
    Alison xx

  • Been there, done that! I feel your pain, but it does make for an entertaining story and the new taps look terrific :o)

  • Abi

    Oh my word! What an epic mission! This made me laugh though. We don’t have lowes here but do have a B and Q which is sort of the same thing!

  • At least they are now looking good!!

  • Helena C

    What a saga – and they look great

  • Amy

    Well, what you have ended up with looks fabulous – what more can I say? As one who is living through the renovation to last a lifetime; I understand, I hear you, I cry with you, I pull my hair out with you … and I laugh with you!

  • S

    Oh, the joys and frustrations of home improvement. Your hubby does indeed sound like a keeper. I’m glad that in the end your quest was successful.

  • Ooooo dear Stacey… sounds like our kind of Quest! This is why I’m always reluctant to start a Project. I haven’t counted how many unfinished Projects there are in our house just now, but I’d guess at… um… 7 or 8. Plus the various ones we haven’t dared start…
    I think you are very brave to carry on, after Attempt #1. I think I’d have just stuck the old tops back on and said “another time”!
    What a lot of trips to Lowes… soo much frustration. Your Mr Superman there is a brave chap!
    Looks great though, now that it’s finished. Lovely new taps – very smart!

  • Jen Hart

    Oh no, what a nightmare. You have great patience……..you don’t need me to tell you to hang on to him!

  • OK, well at least the faucets look amazing, right?? Because they do and now I wish I had them. But I don’t have a Lowe’s, and my Menards (all 3 of them) and Home Depot does not have that style. *shaking fist in air*

    But yes, we have the wide spread faucets too on everything and while I appreciate it is easier to clean than the single unit, the cost is enough to make me think soap grime isn’t so bad after all.

  • Isn’t it always the way with home improvements? Especially when the original was built by stoners… In any event, the new faucets look gorgeous. Definitely an upgrade! I still have that old crystal knob in my shower – boo!

  • lizziejohns

    Oh, my. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry while reading your story. What a soap opera! I thoroughly enjoy reading your saga and wish you luck on your next bathroom. By the way, I appreciated all the photos. They really added to the story.

  • Oh, I’m so glad to know we are not the only ones who require numerous trips to Lowes any we embarked on a home improvement project! The new faucets look great.

  • I have so been there with a home improvement project. Of course, my husband would have been ranting about the third trip back to Lowe’s and my daughter and son-in-law would have come over and finished the project. Your new faucets and handles are beautiful.

  • Is it sufficient to say the new faucet set looks terrific? Nope, definitely not!–especially not after all that. What an ordeal! I’m glad you finally have a happy ending to this saga.

  • Great story Stacey.
    Do you want Havoc or Mayhem to learn the ways of the Faucet and become a Handyman like their father?

  • Mel

    Oh, my… What a saga! Beautifully and hilariously told, of course – and the final result looks amazing, wow :) Perhaps, after a suitable interval to recover from all the drama, it will feel worth it?

  • Projects like this always take longer and cost more than you expect them to, don’t they?! I’m glad the end result was so gorgeous, and worth all the effort! x

  • Oh what a pain! We have the hot and cold tap the wrong way round in our bathroom too and we never noticed until the plumber told us. At least you managed to sort it out in the end.