Toilet Talk

A few years ago our  bathroom toilet was making sputtering sounds every time it flushed. It wasn’t horrible during the day, but at night, it was super annoying and woke up the entire house when it caused the pipes to bang with each sputter.

I was dreading a plumbing bill so my mom suggested I go to the plumbing supply store and ask them to show me how to fix it. I was so not in the mood to be talked down to or confused so I put it off…until no one could sleep. I buckled. I snapped pictures of the inside of the tank and ventured out to be belittled.

To my shock, the guy I talked to was incredibly nice! He diagnosed the problem quickly and then got me the parts to fix it. He even went as far to do some of the assembly of the fill valve in the store and then give me step by step instructions on how to install it. A half hour of time and I had successfully installed the new part for $20 vs a $200 plumbing bill. I’ve also fixed 3 other toilets at my house and some of the rental houses.

This week, I walked in from taking out the trash to a loud, strange noise. I began to scour the house for the source and found water blasting out of the toilet area and quickly flooding the joint. I quickly turned off the water and realized that the supply line nut had cracked (it’s worth noting that this is not the same thing I fixed prior). I took the tag off the line, shuttled the kids to the plumbing supply store for new lines for all the toilets in the house. $8, a wrench and towel later, problem solved.

As I relayed the story to my mom, I realized how nice it is to know how to fix your house. Not only is it annoying to have to pay someone to fix issues, waiting around for them to show up (which is ALWAYS during nap time) is the part I have the hardest time swallowing.

So the lesson for today is; go to a small specialty store and ask for help when you have a problem…. And also to replace your supply lines if the nut is plastic. You’ll thank me when your house doesn’t flood.

 

Handy Home Improving

Any homeowner will say that the job of improving, maintaining and updating a home is never done. Even friends of ours that live in brand new houses are always doing something. Our story is the same – it’s always something.

That something (besides the dishwasher) was the master bathroom toilet. For weeks it would fill. STOP. Fiiillllll. STOP. Fiiiillll some more. STOP. And on and on until it was done filling. And because our water pipes are in the attic (yes East Coasters, they are in the attic because we don’t have to worry about them freezing) the process was heard throughout the house as the pipes banged with each pause. Not exactly what you want to hear at 3am – or worse, at 5:30am because the sound will inevitably wake up Baylie.

Now when Peter and I were both working, we would have certainly called a plumber and gladly handed over the $100+ to fix the toilet. We were both working 60+ hours a week and it made sense not to waste the precious time we had outside of the office on trying to fix something we know nothing about. But now that we only have 1 income, that’s no longer the case. And after a quick pep talk from my mom – the woman who can fix anything – Bay and I ventured out to the plumbing supply store. After a quick explanation and a new flush valve, we headed home to fix our commode.

Fixing a toilet is a challenge. Fixing a toilet with a busy, curious and eager-to-help 20 month old is an Olympic sport. Thankfully she was very content to play with the extra parts that came with the new valve (yes, there were supposed to be extra parts, I asked) and hand me rags to mop up the water. 20 minutes after we started we were calling everyone we knew to make them listen to the toilet flush without pausing. Yes, we fixed it and fixed it right in one try – $20 worth of parts, a patient salesman at the plumbing supply, some elbow grease and a blind eye to the fact that there was toilet water leaking onto the floor and we did it. The best part is that when we called Peter, A. he was stumped by what the hell I was asking him to listen too and B. was convinced I had called a plumber. When I actually showed him what I had to do to fix it, he was most impressed.

I contemplated taking pictures of my work in anticipation of a blog, but realized that pictures of the back of the toilet was pushing it. However, this goes down as my new “best” when it comes to home improvement. Next up: sprinkler repair!