Thursday, April 08, 2010

How to Fix a Toilet in Three Days

I've been at it again--fixing toilets. Why do I do these things? I guess because people ask me to!

On Day 0, my coworker described a puddle of water behind her toilet which sounded like a little thing to fix.

On Day 1 I went to her house to examine the situation. It didn't take long to realize that at least two things were wrong with her toilet. I removed two faulty parts and headed for Home Depot. This is trip number one, if you're counting.

At Home Depot I let that cute young salesman talk me into buying the whole repair kit. Which really was the right thing to do, but it wasn't my original plan. "Oh, it's easy!" he said. This video claimed the same thing. Yeah. Right.

On Day 2 I took the tank off the toilet. From past experience, I expected this to be difficult, but the nuts weren't actually rusted onto the bolts, so it came apart pretty easily. The perishing rubber parts assured me that the entire guts DID need to be replaced. I followed the instructions carefully, as best as I could. I hit a small snag when one of the new bolts was too big to go thru the premade hole in the bottom of the porcelain tank--odd that one went through but the other wouldn't. That meant I had to reuse one of the old bolts and hope that the old washer had enough life in it to do the job.

I got to the point to hook the water supply back up and discovered that I had broken the plastic coupler the day before when I removed it. I removed the faulty part and headed to Home Depot. This is trip number two, if you're counting.

I must have looked like a true oaf, standing there with my faded kerchief and ragged jeans, there in the toilet parts aisle, because some other customer took pity and "helped" me decide which braided pipe was the right one. I smiled charmingly and said, "OK, if this is the wrong one, I'm going to blame you."

On Day 3 I installed the braided pipe to the inlet using that white tape stuff. Took all my muscles (and two pipe wrenches) to attach it firmly, but I finally got it. Then I went to attach it to the toilet flush valve, and, of course, it didn't fit. It was the wrong size. I removed the non-fitting part and headed to Home Depot. This is trip number three, if you're counting.

This time I found the one that said "For Toilets." Now why didn't I see that sign the first time??

I managed to get through all 27 number instructions and turned the water back on. Yes, there was a leak. Of course there was. I tightened the braided inlet hose even tighter, and it quit leaking. At least I think it did. I made a few more adjustments and left.

My friend will have to use this toilet for a few days and let me know if it leaks or if it doesn't flush well. Then, I'll start over again. Or, I'll call a plumber.


LadySaotome said...

Wow - you're industrious! I hope your friend appreciates all that hard work (& mileage)! We have to replace the diverter valve in our shower and are trying to knuckle up the nerve to do it ourselves. You've given me a little encouragement. Thanks!

(this is the one formerly known as Samwise from ZealforTruth, btw.)

Thainamu said...

Hi Lady! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, these repairs aren't too hard if you have the right tools, a handy-dandy fix-it book, and a certain amount of patience/persistence. My one piece of advice: ALWAYS take the broken part to the store with you, because there are ALWAYS a million to choose from and none of them will look exactly right. MAYBE there will be someone to help you.

Thainamu said...

Oh, and I've already told this friend she has to take us to the airport and then pick us up again--at midnight--for payback!

LadySaotome said...

That's great payback - lol!

Luckily, the company I work for does the books for a plumbing supply store here in town - I'll take him the broken piece - or call him if we get stuck!

Dana said...

I've learned not to go to Home Depot, but rather to a locally owned hardware store if I have any question about what part I need. Our locally owned store's employees are very helpful. They even have a toilet set up to show you how to do various repairs, and also a partial toilet for showing one specific type of repair.

P.S. You are one VERY good friend!

Thainamu said...

Dana, a local hardware store with real salespeople would be great--hard to find those around here.