Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I was very frustrated last night. I was sweating like a pig and cussing like a sailor. And all the while I had this feeling that I would not like the results.
It was repair time again in the tenants space. I could hear their toilet making this loud screeching sound every time it was flushed. Sometimes it would end up running for long periods of time. Good thing they came down and told me about it. Yeah right, like that last sentence happened.
Fixing a toilet isn’t supposed to be a tough task. I have done it a number of times. But I had forgotten about my bad streak with plumbing issues. There has been nothing simple about any of these projects lately. And I am not about to turn my man card in over a stupid toilet valve.
The fix did look easy. I went upstairs, took the lid off the toilet, and flushed it. Watching the water come bubbling out the top of the valve told me the valve had to be replaced. I also noticed the small hose from the valve to the overflow was gone. I wonder where that went?
I told my tenants I would be back and that this repair should be simple. Maybe I doomed myself with that statement. Soon I was at the Home Depot getting the replacement valve and was back home. I grabbed a crescent wrench and headed back upstairs.
This is where it all went wrong. I closed the shutoff valve and began to disconnect the water supply line. But it wasn’t budging. Hmm… reverse thread? Yep. Got the supply line off and then realized I had made a mistake. I hadn’t considered getting a new supply line. The one in place was the rigid kind, not a flexible hose. I would have to work with it in my way.
I then tried to undo the nut on the bottom of the toilet that was keeping the valve in place. Five minutes of putzing around and getting angry led me to remember to turn it the other way. Fifteen minutes later I was back to cussing as I couldn’t get a good grip on it. I was working in a very tight space. The most I would be able to get was a quarter turn at best. This was going to take a long time. Back downstairs I went to find my plumbers wrench. Ten minutes of looking around for it I was back upstairs with a vice grip. It was the only thing that seemed bigger than the wrench. Fifteen more minutes of cussing and I was ready to give up. I told my tenants that I couldn’t get the damn thing apart and mentioned I had a pipe wrench somewhere but wasn’t sure where it was. I got that “yeah right, like you know what you are doing” look in response with a few pity head nods.
But I did have a pipe wrench that would work. I just didn’t know where the bucket was that I had left it in. Wait, the bucket! I knew where the bucket should be. Five minutes later I was back upstairs on my knees, sweating like a pig, trying to get that damn nut off. Ten minutes later I was about to quit. I reconnected everything and turned the water on. It leaked. But it was leaking from the bottom of the tank. That meant I had loosed it up a bit. I turned it all off again and hunkered down, determined to get that bitch of a valve off.
Soon I had it turning. Slowly but it was moving. I was soon wrenching around the valve inside the tank to help turn the nut. Finally I got the valve out. I want to spike the thing to the bathroom floor and do a victory dance. But getting the new valve in came first. That part was easy. Adjusted the height and made sure the washer was in the right spot. Got it in securely with a tight fit inside the tank. Supply line seemed to match up ok and attached it. I then held my breath and turned the water back on. So far… so good. Adjust the float so the tank could fill. I think I am… not done.
Sonofabitch. The shutoff valve was leading. And the valve was making a slight hissing sound. What should have been a 20 minute job had taken well over an hour and it was done to my satisfaction. There was nothing else I could do last night. I am hoping to go up and find the valve has stop hissing so I don’t need to disassemble everything and return it for another one. I am hoping the valve itself isn’t leaking but that the connection at the toilet is the problem and replacing the supply line does the trick. Replacing the valve could be a bitch as last time I tried that the pipe came out of the wall, breaking in the process.
In frustration I went downstairs and changed out of the wet, sweaty t-shirt. I grabbed a beer and tried to relax. Five minutes later I was back at the fridge and getting another beer. Though I guzzled them, they tasted great.
I am tempted to find a handy man who will take $40 and get the job done correctly for me. I am willing to have my man card temporarily revoked for personal happiness.

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