Saturday, December 09, 2006

Not exactly according to plan

The plan for today:
1. Wake up
2. Make photo CD-R to include in Christmas gift
3. Shower
4. Purchase some Snyder's Honey Mustard Pretzel Bits to include in Christmas gift
5. Mail 12 Christmas cards, an important piece of mail for my mom, and the Christmas gift. Post office closes at noon, so time is of the essence.
6. Go to friends' place to make cookies

This is how things actually went:
1. I woke up. So far, so good.
2. To free up sufficient space on to allow me to create the CD-R, I had to delete chunks of crap from my hard drive. This took about five attempts before I got it right.
3. I realized that I should take advantage of the relatively mild temperatures to do some minor yardskeeping that I had been ignoring. Empty the compost buckets into the composter, bring up the recycling containers from near the garage, put perennial covers on two stunted blueberry bushes and one stunted rosebush, detach and thaw/drain the garden hose. This all took a while.
4. Then I realized I should check out my house to make sure no pipes had burst, particularly on the unheated side. (The two sides leak heat across the center wall pretty easily, so this isn't much of an issue. One side serves to heat both. So far.) So I added this to my to-do list.
5. Showered. By now it was after 2:00 and the schedule was way off.
6. Went to post office. Mailed the cards and the letter.
7. Went to supermarket to buy pretzel bits.
8. Went to house to check everything out. No flooding, no water spilling out of ruptured pipes, everything seemed good. Checked the Min/Max thermometer I had left in the bathroom on the unheated side to see that temperatures had stayed tolerably warm even with some of the surprisingly cold weather we had had this past week.
9. Went to my side of house to use bathroom before going to church. Noticed thin film of water on the floor by the toilet.


I drained the toilet tank, shut off the supply valve, and tossed towels on the floor. This was something I would have to deal with after church.

After church the toilet tank was half full. At this point I knew everthing I needed to know to avoid the fiasco that followed, but I chose to plow ahead.

I reasoned - based on previous issues with the toilet and certain assumptions about where the water was coming from - that something was wrong with the float valve and it would need to be replaced. The leaky shut-off valve was irrelevant (wrong wrong wrong) because the toilet was designed to operate with the valve fully open anyway. Right? (No no no you, sir, are in error)

I called my friends and begged off coming down to make cookies tonight. Plumbing emergency. Be down tomorrow. We'll have fun, a lotta laughs, be like old times. With cookies.

I picked up a Fluidmaster complete replacement kit, containing everything I would need to replace the entire contents of the toilet's plumbing. All I wanted right now was the float valve, but you never know when you'll need the other stuff.

I came back to the house and realized I had no idea where my wrench or vice grips were. I went into the basement and located a wrench. My house came complete with tools and repair items. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

I began to remove the old float valve. Step one, remove from water supply line. Valve closed? (no no no no) Good. Attach the wrench (stop stop stop stop) and turn counterclockwise from the point of view of the nut.

Water began to spray everywhere.


It goes without saying, I think, that simply revesing the action of the wrench did not make the water stop leaking.

My cousin's cousin is Bernie, an all-around handyman who is willing to do anything to help anyone, even a miserable jerk like me. After a few frantic calls to various relatives I was finally able to get my mom in touch with him. She sweet-talked him into coming out to the house right away to see what he could do.

Bernie showed me where the main shut-off for the entire house's water is in the basement. The things I was trying to shut off in the basement (once I realized that the valve next to the toilet wasn't getting the job done) were actually the valves controlling the water to the second floor, where the bathroom is. These would have been exactly the right things to turn off if they were working. But they, like the toilet shut-off valve, were not.

After some grunting and fitting and struggling Bernie determined that the toilet was almost but not quite fixable with the stuff I had bought. The valve needs replacing, and a new connection hose is needed, too. I need to pick these up tomorrow, and Bernie will come up in the afternoon to take care of this for me.

So: no trip to make cookies tomorrow, either. I think I may make them on my own, in between buying the plumbing gear in the morning and playing assistant plumber in the afternoon. I may run down to my friends' place just to drop off some cookes after the toilet repair is done.

Oh, well. Such is the life of a homeowner. Lucky for me I know someone like Bernie.

No comments: