I have always been a fairly handy girl. I owned my own power drill in my early 20s. I have power washed my deck and worn the resulting leaf debris in my hair as a badge of honor.
But now that I am a newly minted semi-single person, my Handy Girl skills seem more critical than ever. It is as if I must prove to the world (and myself) that I am capable of taking care of it all. I don’t need no skinkin’ man to fix stuff.
So when the toilet in my powder room developed it’s own voice – moaning and wailing with every flush – I did what every independent girl does.
I called my Daddy.
He came and checked things out and declared that what I needed to do was replace the fill valve.
This seemed like perhaps the sort of task that children should not witness. There was certainly the chance that I would need to have a serious chat with the toilet parts about cooperating. And there was a vague chance that I would not use G-rated language during this conversation.
Yesterday, the kids were out. I was feeling brave. I was ready to unleash some serious girl power on that whiney toilet.
I remembered to go into the basement and turn off the water supply to the toilet. We have some funky kind of plumbing where all of the shut-off things are in one place in the basement. It is like an enormously impressive web of blue tubing. There is a little black key that you use to turn things off and on. I turned the key. Water off.
I grabbed my pipe wrench (you are already impressed, right?) and strode confidently down the hall to face my opponent. (I was actually using a Locking Wrench, which probably has no business messing around with pipes. Lucky I did not know this until the whole thing was over.)
I drained out the tank. Used a sponge to dry it all out.
First challenge – why on earth do they put all of the connections UNDER the toilet tank? It is very difficult to maintain any sense of confidence and empowerment while contorting yourself under the tank, with 3 inches of space to the wall. There is no real option but to straddle the seat. Or lay on the floor. Neither of which is ideal.
With some twisting and possibly a few PG-13 expressions, I managed to extract the insides of the toilet.
My next step according to Dad was to take the parts to the hardware store to make sure I got the correct replacements. Unsure of the protocol for transporting used toilet parts, I put them in a Target bag. Target makes everything better.
Even used potty parts.
Off I went to Home Depot for a very uneventful visit. I found the appropriate parts. Turns out they are Universal – meaning that the whole transportation-of-parts-that-used-to-be-in-a-toilet thing was unnecessary. The man at the checkout was quite helpful in disposing of my desecrated Target bag.
At this point I was feeling quite confident. All that remained was to screw the new parts into the space left by the old ones.
I swaggered on into the powder room, with my dog on my tail. She wanted to watch my moment of triumph. She’s cool that way.
I contorted myself back into the space between the toilet and the wall. There was straddling. The pipes didn’t quite seem to want to line up properly. Once I had the stuff attached to the toilet, getting the pipe into the bottom was a little tricky. Plus my arm was cramping up from sticking it around the bottom and trying to torque the attachment tight enough.
Dad had said to just hand tighten it. Don’t over tighten.
It seemed tight-ish. Nothing was wiggling.
I walked down into the basement – the dog followed closely on my heels.
I turned the little black key to turn the water back on and walked back upstairs.
There was a water-y sort of sound. The tank refilling, I thought.
I turned the corner to see water spraying wildly out of the corner of the power room. Ruh roh.
I RAN back downstairs – dog hot on my heels – and turned the water off.
RAN back upstairs…grabbing towels and sponges. There was a large puddle covering about half of the floor. Rats.
Right around this point I thought – “What kind of idiot sets up the plumbing with the off/on thing on a different floor from the fixtures???”
I cleaned up the puddle. And the wall. Rejiggered the different attachments…hand tightened…adjusted.
Walked back down to the basement – dog follows – she thinks this is some sort of super fun game. We are up…we are down…what will happen next?
Water back on. This time I RUN back up…and RUN EVEN FASTER back down…
More towels. More adjusting. Walk down…RUN up…RUN REALLY FAST back down…
The dog is in her glory. We haven’t run this much and had this much fun in MONTHS! WOO!! Plumbing is awesome!!
After the 5th flood I had to take a break.
I sat down. I had a beer. I ate some chips. I chatted a bit with the dog.
“We tightened the top thing, right?” She just stared at me.
“And we made sure the screw on the bottom was straight. right?” More staring.
She is really not much of a plumbing resource.
The kids were going to be home in about 20 minutes. I was wet, sweaty, frizzy haired. Defeated.
And talking to a dog.
I decided to give it one more try. I loosened. I retightened. I made sure everything was straight.
We took one final jog to the basement. Turned the water on for just 15 seconds and went up to clean up the inevitable mess.
But there was no mess. Things were dry. The tank had some water in it…and that was the ONLY VISIBLE WATER!!
What on earth???
We went back down…turned the water on and RAN up. No fountain of water. No puddle.
HOLY COW, DIXIE, we did it!!!!
I literally WHOOPED. And danced. And high-fived the dog. (Well, low-fived – she’s pretty short).
In the midst of my Girl Power Plumbing Victory Dance, the kids came home. And they were proud of me.
Now I am looking for my next adventure. I am hoping it doesn’t involve quite so much intimacy with bathroom fixtures.
Or so much running.
Although Dixie disagrees with the last part.
You are both a very funny and a very capable woman! You go, girl!
YAY! You’re back. Looking forward.