Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Adventures in Toilet Repair

Once again, it has fallen to me, The One Who Actually Fixes Distasteful Things Around The House, to repair the toilet.

This time the toilet was leaking from the gasket between the tank and the bowl. It took me a while to pin down the exact location of the leak, mostly because after having lived in the manufactured home with crappy plumbing, I was convinced that a Real House couldn't possibly have a leaky toilet, and that the kids were just slopping water all over when they brushed their teeth or took baths. After I got over my denial, it wasn't hard to follow the hard water residue and figure out where the leak was.

I shut off the water to the toilet and drained the tank. Then I removed the tank by loosening the bolts that held it on. The bolts were so rusted that they looked like relics of the Titanic. The gasket was so crusted with hard water that it was gritty all over. Also, the washers on the bolts were deteriorated, which was probably not helping guarantee the watertightness of the tank either. So I was glad I bought the kit that came with new bolts, instead of getting all cheap and getting just the gasket. (Not like it was that expensive anyway-- only about $4.) I took the opportunity to clean off the hard water residue with some full-strength CLR. Once that was done and the new gasket and bolts put on, I hooked the water line back up and voila! instant fixed toilet. Upon inspecting the finished job, we noticed that the valve inside the tank is also leaking, but that will have to wait for another day. The toilet had already been down all afternoon, and since it was the kids' bathroom toilet, I was not too keen on having it be down for the night as well. The kids would have to either climb down two flights of stairs to the basement toilet, or traipse through our bedroom to use ours.

I am very proud of being able to fix a toilet. I couldn't fix toilets a couple of years ago; they were just great big mystery tanks to me. You flushed them, and stuff just disappeared. I was ashamed that in the thirty years or so since I'd potty trained, my knowledge of toilets had not expanded in the slightest. I couldn't believe I had neglected this obviously important area of my education. And besides, FH wouldn't touch toilets with a ten foot pole, and my dad thought I was being whiny by asking him to come help me fix one, so I was the only one left to do the job. Now I can replace valves, gaskets, and I even once did a wax ring (for the uninitiated, that's the ring that goes between the very bottom of the toilet and the sewer pipe... really gross, and you have to remove the entire toilet to replace it). I think I could probably even manage installing a toilet, if I could carry the damn thing home from the Home Depot.