Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Story of a Toilet

We have a brand new toilet in our master bathroom. It's not because we needed one though. It's because of a series of toilet-related events that I must share with you now.

A couple of weeks ago Nick sent me a text message while I was at a friend's house to tell me that he broke the toilet handle. He didn't really do anything to break it; apparently when he flushed the toilet it snapped in half. We had been meaning to change out that handle for one of the water saving push buttons like we have in the other bathroom anyway, so this was as good a time as any now that it was necessity.

I purchased the handle and it sat in the bathroom for a few days. I decided one morning that I would go ahead and change the handle out for Nick. The box said it only takes 10 minutes, and that would be one less thing he would have to do. I pulled out all the parts and began the installation, which required that I replace the section that allows the water to leave the tank with a whole new water saver unit. It fits down over the tank fill line tube, which is permanently attached to the tank itself. We seem to have a smaller tank than what this was designed for, because there wasn't enough room between the tube and the wall of the tank for the piece and it snapped the water fill line tube off.


I called my Mom to see if my stepdad was asleep yet (he works graveyards) because I knew replacing the water fill line tube was going to require taking the tank off, and to make matters just a little bit more fun the water to our toilet won't shut off all the way at the wall. So I had to prop a wooden spoon under the ballcock to get the water to stop running. I knew we were going to have to turn off the water to the whole house, but I didn't know if I needed one of those keys or not to do that. Richard decided to just come over and assess the situation because they weren't understand what part I broke over the phone. Once he saw it, he said "I was hoping that wasn't the part you broke."


Off to Home Depot he went to get the parts we needed. After a couple of hours, he had successfully replaced the piece I broke and even installed the new push button flusher. It was a few hours later that I went into the bathroom and discovered a very, very slow leak coming from under the tank. Where the water was dripping, I thought it was coming from the place where the tank sits onto the pedestal. I drained the tank again and we thought that perhaps lifting the tank and setting it back down would get a better seal; perhaps it was off just a tiny bit. That seemed to be the problem.

It wasn't.

Richard comes back over after a couple of days to try to reposition the tank. When he undid the bolts that hold the tank to the pedestal, one side had tightened way more than the other so he couldn't take them off simultaneously, and when he got one side off the pressure he was adding to it wasn't enough and the pedestal snapped where the bolt goes through it.

Now we needed a new pedestal. That meant wax ring and everything.

Off to Home Depot Richard went again. He purchased a pedestal and all the parts he'd need to replace that. He got the new pedestal successfully installed, and when he went to put the tank back on he noticed a hairline crack in the back of the tank. Apparently this is where the leak was coming from, but the water was running down the back of the tank and underneath before it dripped. He gave me a choice: patch the tank (that looked like it had already been patched once) or buy a new one for $29. I bought a new one. However it was already late in the day and he hadn't slept yet, so the new tank was going to have to wait a day before he could install it.

Kate and I went to Home Depot the next day and bought a tank and a new seat. Might as well replace it all, right? I got a fancy seat that has a kid's potty seat inset in the lid. Seemed like a useful thing to have with a kid in the house. Saturday morning around 11:30 Richard and Nick began the process of replacing the tank. After about an hour, they had it all ready to go. They flushed it once, and everything seemed grand. After a minute, they flushed it again just to be sure and water began pouring from underneath the pedestal!

For real.

Apparently a regular size wax ring just wasn't going to cut it because of the tile that is in the floor. The toilet wasn't even touching the wax ring. They needed a super thick one, only a trip to Home Depot and then one to Lowe's proved that they couldn't find a thick enough wax ring to help. They ended up stacking three wax rings together before they finally got a good seal. Then they reinstalled the whole toilet, again, and said a small prayer before flushing it again.

It worked. All that is left is caulking around the bottom of the pedestal, which I agreed to do myself. They had already spent about 5 hours on the toilet that day, so I figured the caulk was the least I could do.

All this because Nick broke the toilet handle.

No comments: