Congratulate Me

Next Stop:  World Domination

I fixed my very first toilet this weekend. It was rough, but I got through it.

And really, there wasn’t that much water in the basement when I was done.

It had been acting weird lately. Flushes okay, but fills reeeeaaaalllllllyyyy slowly. I did notice, though, that it would fill normally if you shut off the inlet valve and turned it back on right away. Weird.

My total experience with fixing toilets prior to this: replacing a couple of flappers. And this is after being a homeowner for over 20 years. Yeah, I’m not sure how that happened, either.

Figuring that it had to be either the filler valve — yeah, I’m down with new lingo, can you tell? — or the inlet valve, I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to shut off the water in the whole house for upwards of four hours, and replace both parts at once.

Two adults, three kids, four hours with no water.  What could go wrong?

In a brilliant attempt to plan ahead, I had already bought the new filler valve.  For those who don’t know, this is the tall cylindrical thing with a float attached, and its job is to, um, fill the tank and then shut off at the right time, based on the float height.

Then, on Saturday, just for grins, I decided to splurge on a new inlet valve. A nice, shiny, brass one. Sure, it was twice as expensive, at $20. Got a problem with that?  It is shiny brass. Hello!?  Plus it won’t corrode.

So I started at about 3:00 Sunday afternoon.  Just four hours later, it was done!  You may now bow down and kiss my ring.

And I only had to make one unplanned trip to the hardware store in the middle of the job. That is pretty darn good, if you don’t mind me saying so.

A little advice:  don’t have anything important in the room directly below the bathroom.  Expensive electronics, priceless art.  Anything that could explode if drenched with water.  That kind of thing.  Might end poorly for you.

If the details are important to you, here they are.

  1. Shut off water main.  Shut off water at toilet.
  2. Get a bucket or something else to drain water into, and make sure if fits under supply line.
  3. Remove feeder line (feeding toilet) from toilet, then from inlet valve.
  4. Remove inlet valve.
  5. Watch water flow all over the place, or into the bucket, if you’re smart.
  6. Decide if you’re really, really up for this.  If not, call plumber to fix it, and open beer #1 while cleaning up the mess.
  7. If really determined, and patient, and good at problem-solving, and handy with both your hands and various tools, proceed.
  8. Remove annoying little compression ring from water line, which last plumbing expert helpfully mashed into the soft copper pipe by over-tightening, creating a little ridge that makes it hard to get the damn thing off.  Thanks for that.
  9. Buff up and clean copper piple with some steel wool.
  10. Remove the filler valve by first loosening the giant nut underneath tank.
  11. Install new filler valve by following directions.
  12. Install new inlet valve on copper supply line.  Do not tighten all the way yet.
  13. Attach new feeder line to threads at bottom of filler valve.
  14. Attach other end of feeder line to inlet valve.
  15. Tighten everything down.
  16. Turn on water main.
  17. Turn on toilet inlet valve and check for leaks.
  18. Test new filler valve.
  19. You are now a certified Plumbing Expert, with just enough knowledge to be truly dangerous.  Congratulations!
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