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P. N. Elrod

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Into the depths! (:snicker!: She wrote "ballcock!") [Jul. 6th, 2010|03:07 pm]
P. N. Elrod
[mood |grim]


Plumbing repair.  Not my favorite household chore.

Truthfully, I could go for having another back molar yanked instead. The cost was about the same, they gave me drugs, and the dentist and his assistant were cheerful sorts.

I'm cheerful. Sometimes.  Today, not so much.

My hall toilet's been leaking from the tank to the bowl. It makes a low-key tinkly sound. Probably loses a couple gallons a day. Can't have that kind of waste. It ain't "green."

I'm pretty sure it's the thingie at the bottom where there is a plug-thing that has to be pulled up for a flush to happen. I poked at it with a long screwdriver a few days back, but could still hear water dribbling into the bowl, so the seating is likely fubbed in some way.

I've also come to realize that the plumber who installed that toilet--he did do an excellent job--put in a ballcock  (:snicker!: She wrote "ballcock!") mechanism, which is SO last century.  THAT has to come out.

Went down to the Depot and studied the toilet repair aisle offerings with the same concentration I usually devote to picking out a new book to read. This isn't my first time at replacing such mechanisms, but one should refresh the little gray cells.

Not a ballcock (:snicker!: She wrote "ballcock!") in sight in that aisle, BTW.  They're likely embarrassed about the unfortunate name.

There will be complications to this procedure, always are when I'm on the job. For instance, I have a water-saver 1.6 gal toilet, and the thingie in it looks different from the thingies on the shelf.  (Sorry for the techno-babble, but I DO have experience with this stuff!)  The smaller tank also means less elbow room to work in. I hate that.

NOW--the toilet in the master bath is a full-sized model and it looks like the old thingie there is the same as the new thingie I just bought. I have more elbow room and the tank is bone dry because I shut it off a year back when it would insist on running in the middle of the night, usually when I'm about to drop off to sleep.  Or it would suddenly run just at the scariest point in whatever I'm watching on TV. Either way, annoying and NOISY.

So I shut the water off and let one of the great inventions of civilization collect dust until I was damned-well good and ready to fix it.

Yes, I've been using the hall toilet for a year or more rather than fix that master bath toilet. THAT'S how much I dislike plumbing repairs. Since it's just me and the dogs in the house I can put repairs like that on the back burner.

And I'm cheap, too. I thought of calling a plumber, but hey, pricey.  Really, this IS an easy enough fix. I read the directions, and they are idiot-proof. Pictures. I likes me a lot o' pictures!

I'm stalling. Posting this on the blog is decidedly a big, fat stall. I better break out the elbow grease, more lighting, a bucket in case I'm wrong about the bone dry angle, and all the paper towel and germicide sprays in the cupboard. If I'm gonna fix the danged thing, it's gonna be CLEAN afterward.

Maybe by doing this one, I'll be able to tackle the leaky seating for the hall toilet tomorrow, having gotten in some practice.

That or I will be so traumatized that I won't use the hall bath ever again.

I'll let you know.

Directions SUCK.

They say "remove flush valve mechanism" but fail to show just HOW that is accomplished. Apparently it involves taking the tank out.  Screw that.

Or wrench that. It says to use a wrench, if necessary, again failing to indicate how to get that size wrench into such a cramped space.

Thingie replaced in master bath toilet. Everything cleaned. Turned on water. Flush.

Oh, snap. I forgot that THIS toilet is slow. It flushes in slow motion and sends up ominous bubbles. The plumber said the pipe in front of the house is cracked. He's come two years in a row to gouge out roots. What moron planted trees and shrubs over the damned pipes, I ask you!

So, I can shut off the master toilet for another year and  A) replace the thingie in the hall toilet for less than 10 bucks, or B) see if I've got a thousand bucks lying around the house so the plumber can dig a big hole out front and replace the cracked pipe, THEN come in to replace the master toilet.

Hm. I don't have a grand lying around, what a shock. I thought all writers were rich, dammit. How did I miss that memo?

Okay, I'll try Plan A. Thingie comes out of master toilet, old thingie goes back in. See if new thingie works in hall toilet.

Plan C is I start digging a hole in the back yard for an outhouse.  They weren't great, but hey, no moving parts!


Plan A worked.  Yay.  (And there was much rejoicing!)

Ballcock (:snicker!: She wrote "ballcock!") and old whatsit (which is not a thingie) in hall toilet replaced. Thingie replaced. Several flushes later and the house has not flooded. The toilet has not exploded or shot through the roof like a Mythbusters gone terribly wrong. (Or right. They love that kind of thing!)

I will consider this a success.

Most delighted that I had foresight to position the wastebasket under the hole in the bottom of the tank where the water comes in. When I undid the whatsit's plastic nut doo-dad (I'm SO sorry on the technobabble!) the remaining tank water went GOOOSH.

But not onto the floor. Yay. Minimum splashing.

Everything has been cleaned, including myself. I scrubbed like House prepping for surgery, but I'll scrub again, just-because.

Tools cleaned, put away, old whatsit and plastic ball--(NO not typing that again!) are in the recycle bin.

I have beer and today bought popcorn and special popcorn oil. Party time. I didn't wanna cook supper anyway.

Do I know how to live or what?

I have mini bags of microwave popcorn, but the venerable old microwave that came with the house can't heat the kernels up enough for them to properly pop. I need to replace IT.

Sometime. That can be another epic posting in the sprawling domestic saga of homeowner (with the bank) Elrod.

Meh, microwave popcorn is bad for you, anyway. I forget why. Don't remind me, I've dealt with enough terrors today.

(Looking up school mates on FaceBook can be a shattering experience! You go, "Who the hell are those old coots and slags?? Then realize you're all the same age, you look like THEM, and then it IS time to break out the Shiner. If you've passed the legal drinking age [twice] take advantage of it!)

I know regular popcorn can be bad for you, too. As Sophia on Golden Girls noted, "Once you pass a certain age, corn is no longer your friend!"

But if I have enough beer I won't care. Besides, I gotta make sure the hall toilet gets a good workout tonight!


[User Picture]From: alexandrablume
2010-07-06 08:23 pm (UTC)
My condolences as another handy female. The worst part for me is going to the hardware store and having "the guys" ask me if i really should be doing it myself. HA! SOOO Last century. Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: morgi
2010-07-06 08:29 pm (UTC)
Plumbing problems are the WORST. We have an old house and have had more than one plumingpocalypse.

(And our upstairs toilet used to flush once a day at around midnight for about a week until we figured out the problem. HAUNTED TOILETS ARE NOT FUNNY.)
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[User Picture]From: jslinder
2010-07-06 09:39 pm (UTC)
This is really important. Having a dry toilet for an extended period of time can be really bad for a few reasons..

1> the water in the trap is what prevents nasty gases like methane from coming up and out of the sewer pipes, not to mention the odd vermin.

2> The seals can dry out so that when the toilet is used again, leak city.

You don't need to reactivate the old toilet, just every so often pour some water in to make sure there is an inch or two in there above the exit hole.

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[User Picture]From: p_n_elrod
2010-07-06 11:04 pm (UTC)

I've not had smelly problems, but I might as well keep some water in it.

What I want is to drag the bath into this century. It was designed by a moron.

Over the tub is a big, deep shelf for the window, which sticks out from the rest of the house like a huge wood and glass wart. (An 80's thing.)

The idiot didn't give the shelf even a tiny tilt so shower water drains into the tub. It drains toward the window. Or the water sits there, breeding mold every time I blink.

My shower has two curtains, one for each side. Norman Bates has a choice on where to come at me.
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[User Picture]From: jslinder
2010-07-06 11:53 pm (UTC)
My only advice on that score, when we redid our bathroom we put two showerheads in with separate controls. Since it was a full gut and rebuild the extra cost was minimal, but it give you a lot more options (we have a rainfall showerhead on one)
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[User Picture]From: jmward14
2010-07-06 11:05 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad Plan A worked. I hope you can get the "dry toilet" fixed soon. Believe me, I feel your pain on this. We had to replace our main toilet, one of the old water-wasteful models, this year. Ouchouchouchouch! Here's hoping the reduced water bill will ultimately ease the pain.
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[User Picture]From: layrenelement
2010-07-07 12:02 am (UTC)
Writers are rich? According to who? :p (or is that whom? I always get those confused.)

I found that toilet thing most entertaining to read about, personally. And I totally tip my hat to you for fixing it yourself.

I loved the Mythbusters episode where they shot the water heater through the house roof. Mythbusters is one of hubby and my favorite shows.

Edited at 2010-07-07 12:03 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kyryn
2010-07-07 04:20 am (UTC)
Congrats on fixing the hall toilet. Those darn things are not at all easy.

On the master bath toilet issue: If the cracked pipe is in the front yard, then it would most likely be the sewer pipe leading out of the house. If that was what was being blocked, then the whole house would have problems (I know all too well about main drain/sewer line issues). If it is just the pipe for the toilet in the main bath, then the issue is likely a clog in that pipe before it goes into the main line or a clog of some sort in the air pipe that comes down from the roof above that bathroom. In an old house, I would suggest trying some CLR in that toilet. Old iron and bronze pipes develop nasty calcium, lime, and rust deposits, especially since the builders of 1960s and earlier houses thought that 90-degree elbow bends were the thing to use. (Yeah, speaking again from experience here.)
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[User Picture]From: macgyvergal
2010-07-07 05:51 am (UTC)
Ya know you could have called me. I've done lots of plumbing stuff 'cause why should I wait for a man to do it? Plus I also have Chris and his "man hands" is needed.
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