Hard fought DIY victory still satisifies

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/1/19

Things are going along great and then...they aren’t. Sometimes that’s the way things go.

And that’s the way it went with one of the two toilets in my house.

One day it was working …

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Hard fought DIY victory still satisifies

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Things are going along great and then...they aren’t. Sometimes that’s the way things go.

And that’s the way it went with one of the two toilets in my house.

One day it was working properly, as it had all those hundreds of days before, and the next, it wasn’t. When flushed, it continued to run, perpetually filling with water and not shutting off.

We recognized the problem immediately, and set about to correct it.

Never mind that we had to deconstruct a medicine cabinet that we’d built around the toilet just to get to the toilet. I’ve come to expect such complications when things go wrong.

Once the preliminary carpentry part of the job, which involved first finding the correct allen wrench, had been completed — no small task just to gain access to a toilet tank — we could lift the lid to see what was wrong and determined that a rubber seal was kaput and would need to be replaced.

It’s one of those “easy” fixes that a handy person can complete painlessly and quickly.

First stop was Lowe’s, where I surveyed the stacks until I found the part I thought I needed, “thought” being the key word.

This wasn’t my first toilet repair, so I brought a little past experience to the project. But I’m the sort of person who learns best by repetition; and when a few years have passed between such projects, I tend to forget the finer points.

At Lowe’s, I bought the wrong part.

But I’ve learned through my years of DIYing that no project gets finished without at least two, more often three trips to the hardware store, so why should this project be any different? I was just getting started, after all.

On my return trip to Lowe’s, this time to get the part I actually needed, I decided to swallow my pride and ask someone with more knowledge than me for advice. And, I took with me a picture of the problem piece.

I found what I needed: both a helpful staffer and, with his patient assistance, the proper part.

I went home again, confident now that I’d have the toilet fixed and operating again in short time. Some time later, with toilet parts and tools scattered about the bathroom floor and a half dozen bath towels soaking up water from the floor, I was feeling defeated.

I’d read the instructions. I’d installed the part, several times. And yet...I had a personal tsunami in the bathroom every time I test-flushed the toilet.

Call a plumber? Maybe. With an increasing sense of despair, frustration and defeat, I went as far as to consider phoning a professional.

But, still determined to do it myself (and reminding myself that this was, in fact, an easy job) I nixed the plumber notion and did something completely risky: I took the only other working toilet in the house apart to ensure I was putting everything in the non-working toilet back together properly.

And that, it turned out, did the trick.

I realized the error I’d been making and, after a couple more failed attempts to get things just so, and a few more drenched towels, I fixed the problem.

So what that I spread a job out over hours — even turning one toilet repair into two — where it would have taken a more skilled worker 20 minutes to complete.

So what that I wasted a lot of gas driving back and forth for parts when someone else would have made one trip.

No matter. I still felt a sense of accomplishment, hard fought as it was, having done it myself.


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