Monday, March 05, 2007

Terrible toilets

This story, like all good ones, starts in the past. This one only starts a few months in the past, so I'm not sure how good of a story it can be, but I'll try to make it interesting...

I'm a light sleeper, nearly anything wakes me up, so a number of times over the last couple of months I've woken up to the sound of the toilet stopping, mainly because the plumbing sucks and the pipes hammer quite loudly when it shuts off.

I thought it was the master bathroom's toilet, but was never able to catch it in the act. Then, last week, I heard the guest bathroom toilet running and knew I had my culprit. I checked the seal of the flapper with the body and that seemed OK. I turned off the water and came back an hour later to see the toilet bowl empty. How much water have I been wasting?!?

I go to Menards (a local Home Depot like store) and get a new flapper and body since a flapper is $4 and a new flapper and body is $2. I figure if it's just the flapper, I've got spare parts for later, or if it is as I expect, the seal of the body to the tank, I can replace that too.

Of course it's not just the flapper. I take the tank off (which is conveniently already drained), and begin to try to get the flapper body out, but it's stuck, and the rubber seal that seals the tank to the bowl is making it nearly impossible to get a wrench on the giant nut. At some point in the process of wrestling with the tank it falls, and unnoticed by me at the time, cracks. Eventually I use a screwdriver and hammer to pound the nut around and get it off. It looks like it was on so tight that it crushed and destroyed the rubber seal, which is why it was leaking. I wonder if it's been leaking for years.

It's not until I get the new unit on that I realize that the tank is cracked. I'm not going to risk putting it on, so it's off to Menards to see if I can get a replacement tank. But, none of the toilets at Menards use a three bolt mounting system, so I drive over to Home Depot and find that the Kohler toilets use the same three bolt pattern that the Sterling toilet I have uses. A new tank is $57. I figure if it doesn't fit the bowl I have, I'll come back and buy the matching Kohler bowl later.

This morning I mount the tank to the bowl and get everything nice and tight. The old hard supply line needs to bent just ever to slightly to match up with the new tank and things are looking good. A few adjustments and everything's flushing just like it should.

Then I notice the puddle below the shutoff valve. It's leaking at the valve, not at the tank. The hard line has a compression fitting on it, so I try to tighten it down a bit more, but the green corrosion on it tells me that the thing hasn't been sealing well for years, and at this point, it probably never will. I'll buy a new flexible line tonight and that should conclude my toilet troubles for this week. I hope.