How to fix a toilet.

On Saturday night the chain inside my toilet broke, the one that connects the handle to the flush valve. I jury-rigged it with a paper clip, thinking I would stop after work on Sunday and pick up a toilet repair kit. Later, I get to the store and there are different levels of kits, up to a total replacement of all parts. I thought, “Well the old refill valve is acting up and not shutting off properly sometimes, I might as well replace everything. I’ve done it before, shouldn’t be too hard.” Which leads us to the first rule:

#1. Do not utter the words, “It shouldn’t be too hard.” There is no god, but there is Murphy, and Murphy will fuck you. Hard.

I get home, I eat dinner, I watch Doctor Who on the TiVo, then I get to work on the toilet. Which leads us to the second rule:

#2. Do not start projects on Sunday night. Seriously, what the hell were you thinking?

I shut off the water to the tank, flush, sponge up the remaining water - so far, so good. Then I go to unscrew the fittings, and discover that the parts have corroded and either won’t turn or strip really easily. This results in much cursing, contortion, and bruises.

#3. If you know your house is older than Cthulhu, [del]expect probems[/del] [del]prepare for problems[/del] brace for fucking impact, you poor dumb bastard. Also, Cthulhu’s best access to your house is through your toilet, so it’s bound to be horrible.

Finally I get all the bolts and other metal parts off, lift off the tank, and I’m left with a plastic nut holding the flush valve and fill pipe in place. It’s supposed to be hand tightened only, but whoever installed it used a wrench, or had hands like vices. I either need to get a bigger wrench, or saw the plastic off. I decide to try to find a bigger wrench in case I want to stop and put the existing parts back in place. The problem is, it’s late Sunday night at this point and Wal-Mart is pretty much the only place open.

#4. See #2. (Sunday rule)
#5. Wal-Mart does not have bigger wrenches. Even if they did, it would probably be made out of tin. Don’t bother.
#6. Next time, just saw that shit off to begin with. It’s already broken, dumbass.

OK, so now I’ve hacked off the remains of the old valve, adjusted the new parts and installed them inside the tank, and now I’m ready to put the tank back and hook up the water line. At this point I notice that the water line is an old, rigid copper pipe that has been poorly bent around into position. The new fill valve needs the water line in a slightly different position, so I try to rebend it and the goddamn thing falls off at the water shutoff valve. In a way it’s probably good I discovered this, because it might have burst with the water turned on and made a giant mess. On the other hand, now I have to replace the fucking thing. So I try to find either a 24 hour plumbing supply or a 24 hour plumber.

#7. See #1. (Murphy rule)
#8. See #2. (Sunday rule)
#9. See #3. (Cthulhu rule)
#10. Chuck Norris will cry before you find a 24 hour plumbing supply. And then, because no one can be allowed to tell that tale, he will roundhouse kick you in the head. While Murphy laughs at your stupid ass.
#11. 24 hour plumbers will not actually come to your house late Sunday night, even though their ads claim they will come forthwith at your summons. The earliest they can come is in the morning, at which point you might as well go to the then-open plumbing supply and do it your damn self.
#12. EZ Rooter and Rescue Rooter share a dispatcher, because they are in fact the same fucking company. And they still can’t come until the morning, but now they have twice as many opportunities to be lying assholes.

So now I have a toilet bowl sitting by itself in its normal place, and a toilet tank and various parts lying around on the floor. If you have disregarded my previous advice on this matter, there is one more rule that may be useful:

#13. In the event that you have a thick skull and now have only half a toilet, you can still flush it by pouring a bucket of water in the bowl after you do your business.

Rule #1 should be changed to #1b.
Rule #1a. Always ask someone who has had the worst-case scenario fixing a toilet (or anything) before fucking with your jury-rigging…ALWAYS.

When someone else asks about toilets…RAISE YOUR HAND.

P.S. Since you took the tank off the bowl…Re-inspect the gasket between the bowl and tank. Take the broken supply tube with you, the ends come in different sizes. Make sure the tank gaskets are water tight before you put it back on the bowl and fill it.

You poor, sad bastard. I completely sympathize with you. Emergency repairs on a dark and stormy night blow beyond comprehension. I had to replace a water heater at 3 a.m. once, because I was going on a cruise for about 6 weeks.

Doncha love plumbing? I feel your pain.
Your Sunday Night rule should be** chiseled in stone. **
On the Murphy’s Law portion: My BIL is a plumber, somehow when I have plumbing problems that I cannot handle, he is on vacation. :wink:


I’ve had to install two of these, and the damn things never stopped leaking until I wrench-tightnened the sonsabitches to an inch of their lives. But I profoundly suck at these type of things, I have no doubt that somebody more skilled in these areas might not have had the same problem.

Bravo! I give this rant 10 of 10…

From someone who is about to get involved in real estate that uses a septic tank…

I can’t help you with the plumbing, but might I suggest you pop an Immodium & practice clenching your bowels? The local Shell station restroom is none-too-clean.

You’re damn lucky the plumbers wouldn’t come out on a Sunday night, damn lucky.
Really damn lucky.
I just figured that the bill for a plumber on a Suday night to repair that toilet would have cost about $1,287.

Oh wait, I’m off a decimal place. $12,870. That’s more like it.

You think HE would have had the parts on his truck? Not. He would have had to call his budy at Pete’s Plumbing Parts and woke his ass up and made him open up shop (for a nominal fee, mind you (thanks for doing business)). Then drove 47 miles to get the parts at a 10,000% mark-up.
All on quadruple time, plus shift premium, plus mileage, plus parts, plus tax, plus union dues, plus a reach around.
Afterwards which you could have paid a general contractor the likes of Bechtel to remodel the entire bathroom.

Count your blessings.

At least you didn’t lock yourself out while you were at Walmart. 24 hour locksmiths don’t come at night, either.

We’ve been battling our toilet for some time now. We just noticed Saturday that there’s a drip, drip, drip from one of the pipes that has the on/off knob on it. My husband had that glimmer in his eye like he was gonna strap on the tool belt. I threw myself over the toilet and stopped him, as we were expecting a house full of guests in a couple hours. And I know damn well it would have turned into an all-day project (and we only have one bathroom).

Plumbing sucks.

If your plumbing sucks maybe it’s tied into the PVC pipes that the central vac uses? :smiley:
Buh dump bump
Really, about that valve leaking - try opening the valve all the way. Sometimes if they aren’t seated (fully open) they can leak. Turn the valve counterclock wise untill it stops and then snuggly give it about a quarter turn more. This is assuming that the leak is coming from the body of the valve, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

I’ll have to take a look at that. I did try the whole open/close thing a number of times, but I’ll definitely give it another look before I let “you know who” fuck things up again.

I turn the water off when I clean the toilet. This is due to the rust stains. I need as little water as possible in the bowl so The Works can touch as much of it directly as possible. I may have worn the poor thing out!

Rule #2 needs to be tattooed on certain people’s hands, so they remember it. I think I might be first in line.

Regarding 24 hour plumbers (or 24 hour anything), it’s good to remember this story from Steven Wright.

Seriously, I’m sorry to hear about that horrendous problem. I’m sure just about everyone (including me) has encountered similar difficulties when attempting a home repair. My usual plumbing problem is encountering a fitting with threading that has been out of date since the 1930’s. ARRGGHH !!!

It was probably just the flapper not seating/sealing correctly as can happen when they start to age not so gracefully or when the chain gets loose and gets caught under it. Easy to replace and no need to take the tank off. Feel better, now? :smiley:
(good luck!)

Forgot to add, that it could be the float or the bar holding the float, rather. Those can get bent out of shape and sometimes you just have to rebend it a little and you’re good to go. No replacing needed.
I’m not helping, am I?

My brother is a mech eng who works in construction.

But it was me (chemeng working as comp consultant) who managed to fix the leaky toilet in his house that he’d failed to fix after dismantling it and putting it back. SIL went to the toilet, came back out saying “has anybody done anything?” “uh, me, why?” All I’d done was straighten the bent lever.

She says next time anything leaks she’s calling me first, if I’m in the country. buffs nails

What? The Gods of Wax Seals was not invoked?
The goat feltching developer of this complex, may he develop a flaming case of herpes, thought it would be a fine thing to build a perm. shelf over the tank.

About 3/4" over it, in fact.

Now, in order to replace the 18 year old leaking toilet guts, I have to either rip the shitter off the floor, or break out the skillsaw.

Whisky, Tango Foxtrot? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???

Now do I do major plumbing work, carpentry work, or just replace the whole thing with something higher, to ease these old bones in daily rituals?
We are going with option 4—cycleing the fill valve after use. It’s on the ‘future project’ list.

Well, you could always try my husband’s school of thought on toilet repairs.

Our former home had only ONE bathroom. We were a family of four. Big time suck to deal with.

However, at this time, both the kids were very young tykes. Young tykes who liked to put stuff in the toilet and flush. Are you getting the picture yet?

So, this had happened on more than one occasion and we felt we were old pros at handling the issue. This time, however, it wasn’t working. We snaked the toilet from above, we took the toilet off and snaked from below, but whatever was in there, WAS NOT COMING out. This is several hours into the operation now, it’s getting late, etc.

The hubby was pissed and frustrated beyond all belief. His answer? He picked up the toilet above his head and FLUNG it back onto the bathroom floor where the toilet shattered into a million pieces. He exclaimed, “There! It’s fuckin’ fixed NOW!”

At this point, I burst into tears because now we had no toilet, we were broke after having paid our bills and bought food, and he was blaming me for the toilet being stuffed up because upon shattering the toilet we found out what was clogging the toilet: one of my make-up compacts. Yeah, like I’d deliberately plug the toilet up! :rolleyes:

Did I mention it was getting late? Late enough that the stores were starting to close down?

The fates must have felt sorry for us, though. He ended up calling his mother who lives not far away. She drove out to our house, went the hardware store with my hubby and paid for our new toilet and the supplies needed to seat a new toilet, without complaint or snide remarks.

The hardware store was just getting ready to close when my hubby got there, too.

So, the Shattering the Toilet on the Bathroom Floor mode of repair works well. You should try it sometime.

Wow. Wish I woulda thought of that!