Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Adventures in Plumbing
Some of you may remember my toilet woes. Originally the toilet wouldn’t flush. That issue was expertly repaired. Then the same porcelain beauty developed a new problem - one that began suspiciously close to the last repair; the tank periodically filled. Not wanting to delve further into toilet anatomy I ardently ignored the leak. I did so for several months. Then I opened my water bill - $80.00 over previous summers. As I poured over the bill I heard the toilet fill. At the same time someone reached inside my head and yanked the pull chain on that dusty old lantern - the light bulb finally went off. The toilet required repair.
Step one: Investigate the problem. The water level is not too high; it’s not spilling into the overflow valve. The problem must be the flapper valve.
Step two: Replace the flapper valve; a quick and simple repair. First remove the old valve and take it and the four-year-old to the hardware store. Find and purchase new valve, drive home and snap valve into place. Wipe hands back and forth and stand proud. You are queen of the home, mother extraordinaire! Then listen to the tell-tale filling of the tank as the toilet continues to leak.
Step three: Elect to replace the gasket. Remember that you already have a gasket in the garage from your previous excursion. Retrieve said kit. Remove the bolts from under the tank and pull the tank from the back of the toilet. Attempt to budge the large plastic nut on the underside of the tank. Realize you don’t own a wrench large enough to move the nut. Wander up and down the street begging for a wrench. The third house will relent. Return home. Wrestle with the nut while the toilet tank is balanced precariously on the lid. Envision the tank falling, porcelain crashing over bare feet. Stabilize tank between thighs. Shun the gym. Who needs gyms when there are plumbing projects to tackle? Check watch. Realize that you need to start cooking the pork shoulder for dinner. Intermittently braise shoulder and work on loosening nut - washing hands in between tasks. Finally loosen nut and remove flush valve. Change flush valve but leave old gasket on bottom because it appears in good shape and appears permanently adhered to the tank bolts. Replace all fittings. Fill toilet. Listen to the toilet run. Shlump shoulders, sigh heavily and turn off toilet water supply.
Step four: Panic because you are late to pick up your son who has a doctor’s appointment. Load the four-year-old into the car and race to the middle school. Freak out because cars are already lining up and there is no place to park. Park on street in the next neighborhood over and haul the four-year-old old out of the car. Coax her to run. Watch her melt into a pile on the sidewalk. Half-running half-walking carry the 50 pound child to the school. Once again shun the gym. Retrieve son and go to doctor. After doctor pick up middle daughter and her friend from the elementary school. Watch middle daughter fall apart when she discovers you are not armed with a snack. Ground middle child. Take friend home.
Step five: Return to your house. Send bawling girls to their room. Send boy child out to play. Disassemble the toilet once again. Cut the old gasket such that rubber remains around screws. Replace with new gasket. Reassemble toilet. Fill tank. Listen to the toilet run. Wipe tear from corner of eye and debate about calling a plumber.
Step six: Stare at toilet. Stare at instructions. Stare at toilet. Have an epiphany. Notice that the refill tube from the ballcock is seeded too deep in the overflow valve. Trim tube. Clip tube above the overflow valve. Place food dye in tank. Close eyes, cock head and listen to the sound of silence. The toilet has been repaired. No sweat! Well, okay, a little sweat but it's fixed, it's fixed!
I think I passed Toiletology 101. Know anyone who needs a plumber?