Monday, April 13, 2009

The floaty ball's connected to the...

I've been having an issue in the bathroom for several weeks now. And as you may have figured out from Male Restroom Etiquette and some of my other writings, I do not always adhere to the old adage, "What happens in the john stays in the john." So prepare yourselves.

Some time ago, I went to flush and--how shall I put this--it didn't go down. The whole swirling/draining mechanism came to a complete stop. Through trial and error, I found that if I held the handle down for approximately 4 to 7 seconds, the flush cycle would complete. And so, this is how I've been living for several months now--holding down the handle to ensure a full and proper flush. This went on for so long that whenever I used a toilet that flushed properly, it caught me off guard.

Then Friday, more trouble erupted. The water wouldn't stop running after a flush--a not uncommon problem in toilet circles. So I did what any normal person would do. I jiggled the handle. And waited.

It kept running.

So what do I do when something goes wrong around the house? Eventually, I call the property manager. But not before I have a look at the situation myself.

Do I consider myself a handyman? Let me put it this way: I do not. Not in the class of a Bob Vila, Al Borland, or Handyman Negri anyway.

But I am a man. Therefore I possess an unshakable, innate belief that I am equipped with the ability and know-how to fix any device, grill any meat, and find any place on Earth without asking for directions. And so, I took the lid off the back of the toilet and looked inside. Also known as, pretending to know what I'm doing.

You may think a toilet is nothing more than a base, a seat, a lid, a hole, a tank, and sparkling blue liquid that magically fills the bowl when you flush. But the inner workings of this magnificent invention are as intricate and complex as any simple lever or pulley machine.

As I opened the lid, I saw the familiar floaty ball, the chain, the bendy tube, and the stopper thingy. (These are all highly technical terms. No need to concern yourself with them at this point.) My keen eye noticed that one arm of the stopper thingy was broken. Aha!

Now what to do? I knew the property manager wouldn't come out for something like this until Monday. So it was either run up a $200 water bill, cut the water off and go to a public restroom anytime I had to go, or plunge my hands into the bacteria-infested waters and try to fix it myself. *shudder* Talk about a germophobic nightmare. I'd rather lick a shoe.

It wasn't an easy decision. But the Taco Bell bathroom really wasn't all that bad.

I'm kidding. I went to Wal-Mart and found a stopper thingy, which they call a flapper--layman's terms, I'm sure. Then I came home, got out one of the four or five tool sets Dad has given me for Christmases past, and entered the bathroom, which had just become my personal workshop.

Not surprisingly, or very surprisingly, I was able to affix the flapper to the crapper with fleeting aplomb and only nominal water spillage. I didn't even have to use any of my tools. Just some scissors.

And who knows, maybe in thirty or forty years, my hands will feel clean again.

"I washed my hands in muddy water. Washed my hands, but they didn't come clean..."


  1. You wrote, 'But I am a man. Therefore I possess an unshakable, innate belief that I am equipped with the ability and know-how to fix any device, grill any meat, and find any place on Earth without asking for directions. And so, I took the lid off the back of the toilet and looked inside. Also known as, pretending to know what I'm doing.'

    You cant be all guy as you admitted it! lol

    Your story made me think about the old saying. "you never know where those hands have been"... I;m not shaking anyones hands today without sanitizer spray first!lol

  2. This really tickled me!

    Also, I'm wondering if I can take some advice here... our toilet flushes away merrily to itself too. At the moment, holding the handle up for 5 seconds stops it, but I'm waiting for it to figure out how to get round that one. I think it's actually trying to work up the courage to make an escape...

  3. You gotta fix what you gotta fix. No easy out.

    BTW, I am a woman and am very good at fixing taps, electrical appliances and what have yous. And I don't brag about it either!!

  4. I'm not usually into toilet humour, but this was a goody!

  5. J Adamthwaite - Sounds like the chain from the lever to the flapper is too long. Try shortening it up some.

    Bone - Murf once paid a plumber an unseemlingly amount of money to do what you just did. It was definitely well worth sticking your hands in the clean water unless you get confused occasionally on where to make your deposits when in the bathroom.

  6. "I've been having an issue in the bathroom for several weeks now."

    How could a sentence like this NOT entice me to read this post?

    Props to you on fixing your problem. I would have had to call a plumber.

    Sister #1 had the same problem with her toilet. She fixed the flapper. She told me the other's connected to my toilet with a paperclip. I freaked out! I'm sure in a few years that will screw up my toilet! AHH

    By the way, this made me laugh really hard...."Not surprisingly, or very surprisingly, I was able to affix the flapper to the crapper.."

  7. My toilet has been running lately. Do you make service calls? ;)

  8. I laughed and laughed throughout this entire post, but when I came to this sentence, I had to actually stop and give myself a couple minutes to recover I was laughing so hard: "It wasn't an easy decision. But the Taco Bell bathroom really wasn't all that bad."

    You're hilarious, Bone. AND you can fix the toilet. I'm sure this means something, and when I figure out what, I'll let you know ;-)

  9. This should have grossed me out but it didn't
    The water wouldn't stop running after a flush--a not uncommon problem in toilet circles. very funny

    As you know from my pictures I have new toilets. The handle is this little plastic thing that looks like the plastic in a package you throw out. Yesterday I thought it broke and had visions of hundreds and hundreds of dollars in water charges. Fortunately it wasn't broken

    Newsflash--all girls think they can fix toilets also--but my old ones didn't have a tank and I swear they have changed the ball mechanism.

    I wanted reasonably priced toilets and have been having problems with the plumber so I think he got his revenge

  10. ArtistFormerlyKnownAs - Yeah, I'll probably be reprimanded at the next man meeting for revealing that.

    I'm a much bigger fan of hugs than handshakes. Much better our clothes touch than our hands.

    J. Adamthwaite - Haha. I'm being asked for plumbing advice? Wow, I never saw this day coming :)

    It could be a problem with the flapper. Before mine went completely out, it wasn't landing squarely in the hole, so jiggling the handle worked a few times.

    Or, what Ed Abbey said.

    Gautami - Oh, I hope it didn't seem like I was bragging.

    Purpleronnie - Thanks. I think bathroom topics can be discussed in an open forum in a tasteful manner. It's all in the delivery.

    Ed Abbey - Oh man, I love these little mini Murf history lessons.

    OK Chick - Thanks. I thought that was a pretty good lead in. Wow, a paperclip. How very MacGyver-ish of her.

    Jennifer - Sure! Find out what the average plumber charges, and I'll come out for half that.

    Though I'm gonna have to invest in some gloves. Maybe some of those thick yellow dishwashing gloves. And a hazmat suit.

    TC - I'm sure this means something, and when I figure out what, I'll let you knowHaha. Yeah, I was kinda in the same boat. I mean, it's gotta mean something, right? Do let me know when you figure it out :)

    Pia - Thanks for the newsflash. I have no idea what all girls think, so any info you can ever provide will be appreciated :)

    Ah, the plumber's revenge. Sounds like the title of a bad B movie.

  11. I don't think the water in the tank is actually dirty, or at least that's what I tell myself. I've done these kind of repairs a lot over the years; it's easier than waiting. And you should deduct the cost of your "stopper thingy" from your rent.

  12. The word "erupted" scared me. I'm impressed that you figured this out.

  13. Bone, just so you know, the water in the cistern comes from the same source and flows through the same pipes as the water that comes out your other faucets, including your shower head, so if it is filled with bacteria-infested water then so too is the rest of the water in your house.

    "Ah ha!" says you, "but this is toilet water! Is it not water in a tank attached to my very toilet! Thus it must be veritably seething with bacteria!"

    Think again. This tank is covered with a lid, yes? Thus the tank and its contents are far more protected from the spray of water droplets that occur as you flush than any other area in your restroom. Not to put the fear of microbes into you, but the shower where you go to get clean and the basin where you wash your face and hands are probably more bacteria-infested than the inside of your toilet's cistern.

    I'm just saying.

    I'm not a plumber, either, but I still managed to do this. Toilets aren't that tricky...for men ;)

  14. This made me laugh- I am also known to be "pretending to know what I'm doing" on almost all things that require tools.
    add this task to your acomplishments list.

  15. Wow. Plumbing advice from the blogging world... who'd have thunk it?! I'll give it a go. Thanks guys!

  16. I was able to affix the flapper to the crapper with fleeting aplomb.Bone, I can't come here without laughing out loud. You've outdone yourself, especially with the above line! Not only did you get your toilet flowing smoothly, but also your words. Oh, how I love your posts. :P

    By the way, that line would make a great FB status, or tweet...just sayin. lol

  17. Toilets are easy to fix. Unfortunately they are pretty easy to break too. glad you were able to get it all figured out.

    oh if I'm going to send you those coupons for the Clorox wipes (that you want really badly now!) you're gonna have to email me your address. I'll go make sure my profile has my email addy.

  18. Glad you attached the flapper to the clapper. For some reason, that reminded me of the hokey pokey. I'm guessing, though, that you no longer want to 'put your right hand in' if it involves any toilet-tank-water.

    Kudos, Mr. Fix-it.

  19. When the flapper in the crapper isn't working any more,
    When the water doesn't go down but comes up over the floor,
    And you think that you're a Plumber but you just don't know for sure,
    It might be time to check and see if Al Borland's at the door.

    Next verse, anyone?

  20. this made me laugh out loud.
    mainly because the first half of it with all the talk of holding the handle down and jiggling when needed is everyone's life at some point.
    and mine right now.

  21. This has made me more nauseated than the Tequila shot contest I was on after a wedding years ago before I could legally drink.

    I thought jiggling the handle was fixing the toilet.

    Is there a way to autoclave hands? I will for ever remember never to shake your hand.

  22. You have been baptized into the fraternity of handymen, my son.

  23. Oh my gosh I laughed so hard I cried. Okay all the people I know that own a GPS are men so they do ask for directions.

  24. Ally - Haha. I actually thought about that, but it was only like three bucks. I'm almost embarrassed to ask for that. Now if it was like five, that'd be a different story :)

    Actonbell - I'm glad someone noticed that. I thought it was a very toilet-y word.

    Capn John - Yeah, but it's all brown on the bottom. And there's a mildewy ring at the water line. But you're right, I do need to start closing the toilet when I flush.

    That was a great story. I especially loved this: "our daughter, who loves playing with the toilet (and who has been caught coming out of the bathroom drinking from a cup, but she can't reach the taps!!!)"

    Daily Panic - Glad you got a laugh out of it. Oh, I will. This is right up there with assembling my desk and changing the plug wires on my old Jeep.

    J. Adamthwaite - Yeah, I've been thinking about it. Try Ed's advice first :)

    Fledgling Poet - Aww, thank you. That was personally my favorite line, I think. Good point. I've been needing a new FB status update :)

    Renee - Oh, sure, you'll send me some Clorox wipes but no Girl Scout cookies :)

    Charlotta - No, I hope I never have to stick my hands in that again.

    Capn John - Wow, that was pretty good. For a couple lines there, I thought you might be quoting an actual spoof. As I was trying to think of a lyric to use for this post, I came across Weird Al's "The Plumber Song" which is a spoof of Milli Vanilli's "Baby Don't Forget My Number."

    Cami - Haha. So you've been gettin' jiggly with it, huh? :)

    Cooper - I thought jiggling the handle was fixing the toilet.I know, right? But evidently, that sometimes doesn't work. And one has to resort to other, shameful acts.

    Doohickie - Well, my hands were immersed in water. Wait, shouldn't the congregation be singing about now?

    PennyCandy - Aw, thanks. I love knowing I make people laugh.

    You do bring up an interesting male conundrum. Our love for technology (and maps) versus our aversion to asking for directions. Hmm. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

  25. That's why I'm a gadget curmudgeon, Bone. I don't have GPS. I don't have an Ipod. I don't have a Blackberry. I do have a cell phone but resisted texting for as long as possible and only do it when necessary. The gadgets I love are mechanical ones. Like bikes. And toilets.

    My conscience is clear.

  26. I would probably still be there jiggling the handle (one more time) and waiting for results!

  27. I knew Ed would bring that up. *sigh*

  28. See, you should have been reading my blog last October. ;)

    I agree with those who insist the water in the tank is clean. On one of my international adventures, I once returned 'home' to find that the water was off. I definitely needed to freshen up before going out to dinner that evening, so I washed my face with water from the toilet tank.

    100% true story.

  29. 'i'd rather lick a shoe'
    haha YOU my sweet friend are so so funny!
    I am proud of you that yOu took thee plunge and made it work!
    and I though jiggling the handle made everything work?
    so happy u didn't have to use taco bells b.r.

  30. Aww, Bone. I hope you're not too traumatized from your germophobic nightmare. For one brief moment while reading your post, I actually did believe you went to Taco Bell to use the bathroom. I found myself thinking, "Yeah, those are normally very clean."

    (Hangs head...)Maybe that could be a new post for you: Rating the cleanliness of fast-food bathrooms and describing their inner workings...

  31. Bone, I'm proud of you! But the Taco Bell bathroom line was wonderful. And I read the whole thing thinking about Murf and Ed's long diatribe about Murf paying 70 bucks (I think that was the amount) to get her toilet fixed.

  32. I paid $150 in the townhouse here to find out that something hadn't been clipped right--very simple to fix if you know and would have exploded had there not been a metal shelf we all hated over it

    Bone you know my love for the number 33--couldn't resist and get this gmail message
    We’re sorry, but your Gmail account is temporarily unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest trying again in a few minutes.
    Have tried. And tried....

  33. Being a germaphobe, I'm shocked that you don't have those yellow housewife gloves. That way, you can clean without fear of gross stuff touching your hands.

  34. Oh, Bone, licking a shoe really isn't all that bad. It takes motivation. If you cup the heel just so, and ask the wearer to lift his leg at JUST the right angle...oh, you were being sarcastic, right? Oops! Yeah, I'm not mechanical in any regards. Sometimes I pass the automotive area on my school campus (where they teach oil changes and rotating tires and what not) and think to myself "Do I really need to learn about the solar system and why bodies orbit other bodies? Or should I roll up my sleeves and pretend to be a man?!" Ultimately I wind up going back to astronomy class. Sigh. p.s. Sorry I haven't been to your blog in ages!!