Idiot Son-in-Law Strikes Back

Another plumbing incident, another near disaster. This time it was the toilet. I broke it. If you really want the details on how I broke the toilet, email me and I will give you all the sordid gossip. Otherwise be content with this: one of my superpowers was more powerful than the combined efforts of the toilet, gravity and a plunger’s combined might.

As proud as I was at my feat, there was no time to celebrate. The tank on the toilet was not filling up, and when I tried to stop the flow of water to the toilet by closing the shut-off valve, I discovered that the decrepit old valve gushes like a chick during “Steal Magnolias” when closed.

So I threw down a bunch of beach towels, put my dog, The Nudge, on guard duty and ran off to Osh to get a new valve. On my way out the door, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to shut off the water at the main source before I leave. “What a great idea!” I thought to myself. It could have easily spelled disaster had I not shut of the water main. Lucky for me, one of my other superpowers is “whimsical afterthoughts that would otherwise be common sense the layperson.”

I purchased a new valved from Osh and installed it like I knew what I was doing. I turned the main water valve back on, then turned the toilet valve back on. Well, the toilet sort of worked now. The tank would refill, but it took 30 minutes to refill. That didn’t seem right. I went upstairs and checked the other toilet. Nope, that one clearly refilled in less than 30 minutes. Maybe a water pressure problem? I checked all the faucets. Nope, everything seemed fine there too.

Well, I’ll tell you right now, a 30 minute refill was just not going to cut it. What if Montezuma came to take his famed and cruel revenge? With great panic, I tallied my recent meals. A few questionable foods, but nothing to raise alarm. (I realize I had the toilet upstairs too, but at this point I had no trust in any of my plumbing.)

Then the horror struck. Did something, some pipe burst in the wall?! Holy Moses, that was sure to be expensive. Worst of all, I had a meeting to go off to. “CRAP!” was the only appropriate phrase to encompass the moment. It’s what got me into this mess, and was also what I was in deeply. So, I shouted it with vigor to the amusement of Karma, The Fates and my dog, The Nudge.

I went off to the meeting and sweated it out for two hours, all the while envisioning my house filling up with water like a Warner Brother’s cartoon. But alas, my fears were for naught as my house was intact when I returned home.

I was baffled. So, I did what I always do in these matters of enigmatic home repair. I had my wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen, call my father-in-law, Phil and ask him was to do. (Phil might possibly be the handiest dude in the world.) Yes, I am totally aware that having my wife call Phil is akin to telling a psychiatrist that you have a “friend” who wets the bed. It’s how I have to handle these situations. It’s all part of the wonderful jumbalaya that is me. Just for the record, I also have low-grade OCD. (My wife, Miranda Kopfschmertzen may contest the severity of my OCD.)

Anyway, Phil’s first suggestion is this: test the water coming from the valve. Unscrew it from the toilet, aim the tube a bucket, turn the valve on and see if water comes out. Cripes, that was genius. (My whimsical afterthought superpower did not work in this situation because its kryptonite is plumbing. I know what you are thinking – why did it work before. I don’t know, dude. It’s a superpower. They are tricky like that; and it’s not crucial to the story, which I will soon show has no point or definable end.)

So I tried the water-to-bucket test and it worked like a champ. So then he says that if water is getting to the toilet, then the problem has to be the fill valve (which makes a lot of sense after the fact, since there are like two parts in the toilet tank: the fill valve and the flappy thing). Just to be clear, the fill valve is the thing that is attached to the ballcock. How that relates to the story is that I got to write ballcock…twice. This is extra funny because the fill valve we have is not the kind with a ballcock. It is one of the new-fangled kinds without the ballcock.

So, I replaced the fill valve (without ballcock) and the toilet is once again tip top. And Phil had to rescue his idiot son-in-law…AGAIN!

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