Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

DIY Blues

Let it be known for the record that I, like my Father, hate doing plumbing.

Here’s the full story: I needed to replace the fill mechanism in my toilet. Earlier, I had installed one of those water saving fillers, and it sure did save on water — after about three months it wouldn’t work about half the time! So, I got a more reliable part and got busy. Replacement successful, but wait, what’s that trickling sound? And why is my new fill valve giving short bursts of water when the reservoir is full?¬†After a little online research, I did a little experiment. I placed my hand on the flush valve and gently pressed down. The trickling stopped. That pretty much spelled it out: bad flush valve.

Sooooo back to the hardware store to pick up that part. To change that out, I have to take the reservoir off the bowl. It’s held in place by three bolts in a triangular pattern. The top of the triangle is right behind the flush valve, so I’m constantly banging my hand against the porcelain. Honestly, my hands look like I’m southpaw boxer. On top of that these are old bolts and washers, and I’m in this odd hunched-over-while-seated pose, trying to lock vice-grips on the nut while working a screwdriver. Eventually I get the reservoir off, rip out the old mechanism — literally — and install the new one. Put everything back together and… I have a leak. In the back. Water dripping off that rear bolt. My guess is that the bolt and washer are done, so I empty the reservoir for umpty-jillionth time and get back to work.

For two hours. On one. Fucking. Bolt. It was becoming stripped right before my very eyes.

Sooooooo I go back to hardware store for new bolts and washers. Ended up buying this little kit that includes a gasket for ¬†where the reservoir goes into the bowl. Why not? Yet even with this new bolt and gasket the leak persists. So I take it all apart again and shuffle the bolts around, replace all the gaskets, reassemble and — because I’m a Schmott Guy— I pour some water from a bucket into the reservoir and check for leaks. None! Yay! Time to start the flow!

At this point I need to pull you, Dear Reader, aside to bring up some details. There’s a little valve where the water flow goes into the reservoir. That valve is wonky in that I can’t shut it off any more. Tried replacing it a few years back and the goddam thing wouldn’t budge. Since then I’ve tabled it for whenever I should do a major renovation on the bathroom that requires help. Now, because this thing is busted, I need to cut the water off elsewhere. I have no idea where the cut-off valve to the bathroom is — chalk it up to impatience and laziness — so I just cut the water off to the whole house. This is REALLY REALLY dumb, although it does provide some warped impetus to get shit done. After this recent bit of plumbing, I went down stairs and opened the main, thinking I was done.

Then I heard the sound of running water. In my house. Hopping up two flights of stairs, I see my bathroom is starting to flood. I then zoom back down kill the flow, but now there is sufficient water to drip down through the floor, and muck up the kitchen ceiling a little. Okay may a smidge more than a little. I need to redo the kitchen anyway — oddly enough the reason it needs redone is due to the LAST TIME I WORKED ON THAT FUCKING TOILET!

Once everything’s mopped up I took a look to see what went wrong. What I had not done was connect the piece of flexi-pipe to the fill valve so water could flow into the toilet reservoir and not onto the bathroom floor. I told you I was a Schmott Guy, didn’t I? Reconnect and restore the flow and — drippage again. And no amount of tightening that damn back end bolt helps. It occurs to me that something in that gasket beneath that flush valve may not be set up right. Once again I take everything apart and check the meager destructions for enlightenment. Least I could figure was there was this carboardy-gasket like thing that was not mentioned in the instructions at all. I guessed it needed to be between the plastic nut that held the flush valve in place and the reservoir, so I did my modified reassembly and… voila! I have a working non-leaky toilet again!

And it was 9 PM. I had started at 12:30…

Did I mention I hate doing plumbing?