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Fun with plumbing

This morning the lead tile installer told me he expected to complete our job on Saturday. Looking at the floor, I think that’s possible, so I booked us the very last site available at the south rim of the Grand Canyon for next week. On Monday at the latest, we will check out of this carport we’ve got the Airstream parked in, and haul up I-17 to the cool higher altitudes of central Arizona.

It’s about time. The house should be ready for an extended absence. All of the neighbors will be watching, some will be parking in our carport while we are gone, and we’ve also got a house watching service to go in every two weeks to take care of things inside. The roof is now rain-tight for monsoon season, the exterior is painted, and the plumbing and electrical issues have been resolved.

But not before I had my own little “Three Stooges” episode. It started when I decided to replace the flushing mechanism of the toilet. Yesterday Jerry the handyman replaced three water valves in the house that either didn’t shut off completely, or which leaked. They all seem to be original 1971 vintage. So today I felt I would complete the task by fixing what I thought was the last item. The toilet sometimes runs endlessly after being flushed, and that’s unconscionable here in the desert. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix.

For those of you who aren’t as handy as I am, here’s how I did it. Step 1: Turn off the water to the toilet. Notice that the shut-off valve seems to be a little sticky. Scratch head, then proceed.

Step 2: Empty the toilet tank of water and disconnect the existing flushing mechanism. Note a sudden rush of water on the floor. This is because the shut-off valve, doesn’t.

Step 3: Attempt to shut the valve again. When that fails, go look for a pan as water continues to flood the bathroom.

Step 4: Since there are no pans in the house, find a stack of empty 5-gallon paint buckets outside. Try to separate one from the stack. When that fails, call for help.

Step 5: With an assistant, pull apart the buckets. You’ll discover that one has an inch of white paint in it, which will be dispersed around the area as the buckets suddenly fly apart.

Step 6: Call for help from wife. Ask her to clean up the paint before it dries while you deal with the impending flood.

Step 7: Realizing that the buckets won’t fit under the source of the flowing water in the bathroom, try to shut off water to the entire house. You’ll note that the house shutoff works, but when the valve is closed, large quantities of water come spewing out of the shutoff valve.

Step 8: At this point the cell phone will begin to ring. Tell the caller, “I’m having a toilet emergency!” and hang up, leaving him to wonder exactly what you mean.

Step 9: Call handyman. Tell him, “Get over here and replace every !@#$* valve in this house now!”

Step 10: Talk to tiler, who at this point needs several gallons of water to make more mortar, but can’t because the water to the house is turned off.

Step 11: Write a check to the handyman.

Step 12: Make a note for tomorrow: “Replace toilet flush mechanism.” Rinse and repeat.

Fortunately, as my friend Adam noted, the good part of this episode is that we have now replaced nearly every water valve in the house. It will be nice to start off ownership with known good parts, so we can be sure that when we shut something off, it will stay off. Our goal was to button up the house and we’ve done that. The rest can get done when we get back from a summer of travel in the Airstream.

3 Responses to “Fun with plumbing”

  1. Peter Says:

    Just another example of Murphy’s Law! If anything can go wrong, it will!

  2. Barry Says:

    You had better stick to writing checks to Larry and Curly!

  3. Andy Says:

    Very funny! Thanks for sharing!

    Here’s a story for you on a pertinent topic: a toilet tank cracked for no apparent reason in a co-worker’s house. Water ran onto the floor for the next day and a half or so until he got back from his business trip. You just might want to add the toilets to the list of things to be shut off (oops, almost mis-spelled ‘shut’!) when you leave for an extended time. Though I admit I’d never heard of a toilet tank cracking like that before.

    The flow of logic inspired by the flow of water is the key to your story… going from wanting a pan to wrestling with paint buckets … there’s a lesson there for all of us. Reminds me of a friend looking for spray-on oven cleaner, and not finding any, putting the pan into the self-cleaning oven.

    Did you figure out who called during your toilet emergency?