A FAIRLY heavy jar or metal article dropped or dislodged from the shelf above a lavatory basin is quite capable of cracking it, and if the fracture is not promptly repaired it will not only result in leakage, but the fracture will probably extend, causing parts to become dislodged, and the basin will have qualified for the rubbish heap.
What at first sight may appear to be a temporary repair, made with the aid of soap, whiting and a piece of linen or muslin, will endure for years, providing the job is carried out with some care and nothing further falls into the basin. These reinforcements are applied to the outside; the inside of the basin may need only trifling attention, to be attended to when the major repair has been effected.
The soap (any kitchen brand, uncoloured for choice) is reduced to a thick paste with a knife blade after softening with water, until it is easily workable with the fingers. An equal quantity of powdered whiting is added to the soap paste and thoroughly mixed. Any lumps in the mixture may be picked out and if it is too stiff a few drops of water should be added to give it the right consistency. It must not be fluid but rather like putty, if it tends to be sticky, work into the mixture a little more of the whiting.
This is then to be plastered thinly over the cracked area (on the outside of the basin) after the surface has been thoroughly cleaned with one or other of the proprietary scouring powders sprinkled on a damp cloth, and then dried. The mixture is most easily applied with the flat of a flexible knife, and the layer should extend about an inch on either side of the crack. When this has been evenly smoothed, a second layer is to be added, though the total thickness need not exceed about ¾ in., the outer edges being smoothed down flush with the surface.
If the crack runs in more than one direction, or if there are two or more cracks, each branch of the fracture, of course, must be covered. The final step consists in placing on top of the mixture a strip of some white thin material such as linen or muslin, to the full length of the covered area and a little more in width. This is smoothed down with the same knife-blade until it is attached to the adhesive mixture, and, until the whole is quite dry, no water should be allowed in the basin. When it is obvious that the patch is dry and hard it can be given a thin coating of white paint, and when this is no longer tacky the basin can be used again.
If, in cracking, small pieces were’ chipped from the inside, these can be stuck back with a waterproof glue, the smaller surrounding crevices, if any, being made good with a suitable filler, or any similar preparation having a plaster of Paris base, several brands of which are sold under proprietary names. The places whence the chips came may alternatively be neatly filled with the same substance, mixed according to the directions issued with it at the shop.
A leak where the outlet pipe joins the bottom of the basin may be repaired with red lead putty (red lead mixed with linseed oil) or a brand of plaster of Paris filler, a sufficient quantity of the powder being tilted into a saucer and cold water stirred in until it is of the proper consistency for application. This mixture should be put on with a pliable knife and worked into corners with the finger-tips. The junction should be wiped dry first and no water allowed in the basin until the mixture has hardened completely. If, later, a drop or two of water sweats out, a second coating, worked an inch or two up the basin (on the exterior, of course) should prove quite effective .
The same mixture may be used to fill a space at the back of the basin where it joins tiles or the wall, this space first being cleaned of soap or grease by means of a piece of stick and a rag dipped in hot water. If the wall is papered, this should be eased up a trifle in the neighbourhood of the repair, and pasted down again after the mixture has dried.
Again, a hard, quick-setting plaster compound will prove useful in refixing a plug-chain in its socket, if it has been attached to the basin in that way. The sides of the small socket are first cleaned and then smeared with the stiff mixture, and the fixed end of the chain pressed firmly in. If necessary, sufficient of the mixture should then be added to fill the small hole completely. Jobs such as these are perhaps most safely done last thing at night, when the basin will not be used again until morning; otherwise a cautionary notice should be displayed, to prevent the repair being ruined by some hasty hand. Too vigorous rubbing must not be indulged in when cleaning a repaired basin. Though this will stand up to all ordinary usage, sudden pressure on a weakened area may prove too much. Routine cleaning consists of the daily use of one of the specially recommended scouring powders (not so harsh as to jeopardize the glaze) applied with a damp cloth. When the entire surface has been wiped with this, another cloth completes the operation, and flushing will leave the basin spotless.
Obstinate stains, failing to respond to routine cleaning, may respond to the following. Apply a hot strong solution of oxalic acid to the stained parts, allow it to penetrate the stained surface, then rinse the surface. When the water drains off, the stains should go with it. Do not attempt to remove stains with a harsh powder; this will do no more than roughen the surface, thus providing a foothold for soap and grease. Oxalic acid is poisonous and should be used with discretion. A stain of long standing, such as is sometimes caused by a dripping tap (particularly where there is a trace of iron in the water), may call for a repeat of the foregoing method, and, of course, a new washer for the faulty tap. Another, safer, and very effective method for greasy and dirty basins is to make a thin solution of soft scouring powder and paraffin. Rub vigorously with a cloth saturated in the solution, flush out the basin and wipe the surfaces with a clean damp cloth.
If the taps are of brass, there should be no splashing, or prodigal use, of the metal polish, and the polishing cloth should be kept from contact with the glaze of the basin. The labour and frequency of cleaning the basin are increased by sluggish action of the outlet pipe. If used water runs away reluctantly it will almost certainly leave a smear. For the clearing of clogged waste pipes, see instructions under WASTE PIPES AND TRAPS.
A raised beading fixed along the edge and ends of the shelf, having a rise above the level of the shelf top of½ in., is useful in reducing the possibility of articles falling into and cracking the basin.