September 27, 2010

How I Fixed the Toilet and Saved the World

When we last left our hero, she was bravely Googling toilet diagrams and assuring her husband that "Fixing a toilet is no big deal."

YOU GUYS! We did it. I did it. Neale helped and stood back, amazed. (He occasionally and anxiously suggested hiring a plumber, which I ignored.)

So here's what was happening: for about a week, our toilet was not actually flushing, just sort of bubbling. The water in the bowl would rise, and then 25 minutes later, drain almost completely out of the bowl. Puzzled, I  Googled our problem and learned that we had a clog that no plunger could fix.

Upon the suggestion of various DIY sites, I purchased a toilet auger from Aubuchon Hardware. It was about $15. I followed the instructions to the letter, and still, the toilet did it's weird-bubbly type thing. (Reminded me of lava.) A toilet auger is a truly odd piece of metal-- reminiscent of a fishing pole, but the only thing you're going to get on that line is a whole bunch of gnarly toilet paper. And poop.

Feeling depressed and not interested in spending money on checking out some dude's butt crack (I mean, I'm married-- it's available 24/7), I Googled MORE and learned that most likely, the problem was at the very base of the toilet, and the best way to address it would be to remove the toilet and clear the clog from the base.

This seemed doable. I removed a toilet seat once, and that was pretty darn easy. (It's also an inexpensive way to pretty up an older bathroom, FYI.) So, I told Neale to stand by in case I needed his man power and went to work.


1. Turn the water off. Usually, there is a little thing near the hose coming out of the back of the toilet that you can turn clock-wise. This will do it. Awesome. Flush it a few times to get the remaining water out. Take an old nasty throw-away sponge and get all of the water out of the tank and bowl.

2. Next, disconnect the water supply from the toilet tank. This was tricky for me, and I almost gave up. There are two weird plastic bolt-like things. You want to turn the larger piece on the bottom, just like you would a regular bolt. It's so ridiculously simple but if you don't know what to look for, it can trip you up.

3. This is optional, but you can remove the tank (back part) from the toilet bowl. It's just a couple of bolts. We did not do this.

4. Remove the bolts from the floor at the base of the bowl. It was pretty clear that our toilet had been updated recently, as the bolts were brand new.

5. Get someone stronger than you to put the toilet on a nasty, dirty old towel. You will then see the sewer hole. Shove an older, nastier towel in there. That's where the poop goes. You don't want to smell that.

6. I had Neale tip the toilet backwards so I could look at the base. IT WAS SUPER DISGUSTING. Neale had to leave the room. I was just so excited to be clearing the "problem," that I dealt with it.

7. Work backwards now: put the toilet back on the base. (Do you need a new wax seal? If it's old and grody, you can replace it now. Ours was newish. Thank you Dani for that tip.) Screw the bolts back in the floor. Reconnect the water and turn it back on.

8. Flush a few times, and .... VOILA! YAY! Now cackle maniacally, pat yourself on the back a few dozen times, and order your husband to make you homemade french fries in the oven.

9. A few other items: GLOVES. Wear them. Throw them out after. I took the opportunity to clean up under the toilet a bit. I also sprayed Fantastik on pretty much everything as I went along. It made me feel better and less gross. Clean everything really, really well and thoroughly. I mean, you just handled something you poop in. Don't be stupid.

With all of my new-found toilet knowledge, I took the opportunity to learn a little about how the flushing mechanisms work. With our downstairs toilet, we noticed that we had to hold down the lever for a proper flush. I learned that the chain on the valve was too long. I bumped it up a few loops, and we now have TWO properly functioning toilets.

A funny piece of this, and further proof that I have very little shame: I tweeted about my toilet adventures, and my boss replied, offering his help if needed. Here is my victory tweet:

1 comment:

I hope you say nice things, but if you don't, I'll get over it eventually.