My toilet has been running for months. It’s in New Mexico by now.
Okay, so it’s not running anymore. And it wasn’t running all the time – just randomly enough that it would scare the liver out of me. Just imagine … you’re falling asleep… it’s nice and dark… you’re just about to drop off into unconsciousness… and then your toilet starts to refill as if a ghost just went in and flushed it.
I knew that meant there was a leak. Solution? I closed the door to my bathroom so I wouldn’t hear it at night.
A few weeks ago I decided I should probably really solve the problem. And being an independent woman, I decided to fix it myself.
Well, to be honest, my first reaction was to call the plumber. But one of my friends at work – we’ll call him “Bill” — told me that I could easily fix it myself. He encouraged me for days — just go to the store, buy the kit, and you’ll be fine.
Really? I could do it myself?
Yes, he assured me. Anyone can fix the inside of a toilet. And think how proud you’ll be of yourself after you do it.
Well, sure. I was proud of myself when I painted the bathroom. But fixing a toilet?! I could rule the world.
Plus, it meant visiting my friends at the hardware store. So I stopped there on the way home from work one day and headed in to buy the inside of a toilet. A nice-looking young man asked if he could help me. He sure could. I need the inside of a toilet.
I think he was rather skeptical, but he didn’t show it. After I expressed to him that my friend told me I could handle it, he assured me that he had faith in me.
As I drove away with my kit, I noticed an important phrase on the back:
Hm. I was fairly certain I had a one-piece toilet. Of course. This wasn’t really going to be easy, was it?
But I wasn’t going to be stopped. I got on the internet (of course I did) to see if I could somehow make it work. A YouTube video (of course it did) informed me that I couldn’t. In fact, I needed a special flush valve and some wonky tool.
Hm. Well, maybe I didn’t really need to replace the whole inside of my toilet. Maybe I could just replace the flapper. It was clear that I needed a new flapper, so why not start there? So it was back in the car to the hardware store.
I think my friend had a twinkle in his eye when I arrived. Here she is again. With the unopened box.
I explained my dilemma and informed him that I was going to start with the flapper. We headed back to the aisle and he grabbed a universal flapper for me.
First mistake. (Or is this my second? Or third?)
Notice how that flapper attaches. Notice it, because… I didn’t until I was heading into my bathroom to replace it. Wait, I don’t think the flapper should look like that…
It was now beginning to thunder and look rather threatening outside. I wasn’t going to let a little rain deter me — this project was getting done now. But I wasn’t about to go back and see my friend at Ace. I decided to head to Home Depot and pick up another flapper there. I know, I’m a big chicken.
As I was heading out, I ran into my wonderful neighbor Faye. After asking where I’m headed, she listened with disbelief at my answer.
“I’m going to Home Depot. I’m fixing my toilet!”
“Honey, why?! That’s why you live here!”
Right. In a condo building. With maintenance. Undaunted, I shook my head. “I’m going to fix it myself to show that I’m an independent woman!”
I drove to Home Depot in a monsoon. I ran into the store, look at the flappers, and grabbed one that looked just like the one that I just removed from the toilet.
I returned home and got to work, confident that I was about to fix this problem myself. Think how how proud you’ll be of yourself after you do it.
Well, perhaps we should have covered the other side of the spectrum. Think of how you’ll feel when you can’t fix a simple problem like a bad flapper. What a doofus.
Yes, the flapper didn’t fit. I left it sitting in the empty tank, washed my hands, and headed down to the front desk.
“Tony, could I put a maintenance request in? My toilet is running.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Thirty bucks later, the flapper and the fill valve are both replaced and my toilet works like a charm. I was somewhat comforted when George told me that he had difficulty finding a flapper that worked and that my fill valve was acting up on him as well. Thanks, George. I feel slightly less like a doofus.
I’m an independent woman with a maintenance crew. What can I say?