Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blame it on the Drain

It's too bad I didn't take any pictures today*, because it would have been a good day for it.  Things got off to an interesting start when I set out to tackle our first real plumbing challenge here at home.  We have lived in our house for just over a year without having to deal with a whole lot of plumbing issues, and in that respect I consider us fortunate.  In terms of house problems, water can be a biggie.  Anyway, a few days ago we shut off the water supply valves on our toilets in order to clean them, but discovered that one of them would not turn back on properly.  Along with that, the float inside the toilet tank was also not working right, which resulted in a slow but steady drip into the toilet tank for the past few days.  Not exactly the worst thing that could happen, but something that should be fixed nonetheless.

While I have tacked a handful of home repair projects before, plumbing is not one of my favorites.  If we mess up while painting, the worst that happens is we have to re-do something or clean up a spill.  But if something goes wrong with a plumbing operation, you're basically sunk.  Leaky pipes and dripping valves can cause all kinds of problems, and attempting to fix them can often make things even worse.  Nevertheless, I figured the toilet was something I could fix on my own, so armed with a couple video tutorials and a healthy dose of prayer, I set out to bring new life back to the ol' commode.

The hardest part of the whole operation was actually getting the house water supply shut off.  The valve outside was incredibly difficult to turn, and it took several tries over the course of at least 10 minutes to finally rotate it into the off position.  After that it was kind of a trial-and-error operation with the valve that involved a crescent wrench, channel lock, drip pan, and two trips to Lowe's to find a valve with the correct fitting diameters.  It actually wasn't that difficult to install the new valve, but it was kind of tricky figuring out just how to go about getting it done.  The intake line and new float were honestly a piece of cake, and soon enough the toilet was flushing and refilling properly without any leaks or drips.  Hooray!

The master shutoff valve for our house. See how close it
is to the sidewall? Yeah, that made it super hard to operate.
Our new high-tech $8 float shutoff. Whee!
New valve and intake line. To leak, or not to leak.
That is the question.

Only downside was I had no sooner fixed one toilet when we discovered basically the same problem with the toilet in our hallway bathroom too.  Thankfully I kind of knew what to do (and what parts to buy) so it wasn't too hard, but still...

Later in the day we went out to help one of my co-workers at her farm property a half hour north of here, and after doing some weed-whacking and shoveling, my wife and I got to feed a baby calf with a bottle. Having grown up firmly within the city limits there's a host of farm-type activities I have never done before, and it was fun helping the two-week-old calf with its dinner.  My co-worker's husband warned us about the calf's tendency to basically head-butt the bottle from time to time, so my wife had to wear these big puffy utility pants over her jeans to keep her clothes dry.  And yes, I may have to trade in a few points on my man card, but it was pretty cute when the tiny little cow let out a tiny little "moo."  :)

And so with a plumbing problem solved and some yard work finished, we capped off the day with an episode of Star Trek: Voyager and some ice cream.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday (even if Nebraska lost their game against Texas...).

*I went and took some photos anyway, ex post facto, as I wrote this blog post.

No comments: