May 3, 2012

Mr. (and Mrs.!) Fix-It

I consider myself pretty handy, but we’re not always the fastest when it comes to home repairs. I have a list of things I’d like to tweak around the house, but finding the time to get around to them is always hard. We had two leaks (that we know about) that we’ve been avoiding for over a year: the master bathroom sink, and the master bathroom toilet. I know what you’re thinking, that’s so bad for the environment. Actually, the leaks were both very slow. Our water bill shows our usage compared to households of similar size and we use significantly less water, leaks and all. So I never sweated it.

A few days ago I noticed the small leak in the toilet had turned into a constant flow. Not good! It was time to finally fix the problem. Trouble was we couldn’t figure out the location of the leak. Everything seemed fine. The tank filled, the water in the bowl looked undisturbed, there were no puddles. The most likely suspect was the flapper, but there were none of the typical signs of flapper leaks. No air bubbles rising up from the flapper, or water dripping down into the bowl. If I couldn’t hear the water running, I wouldn’t believe the leak existed. Since we couldn’t figure out what the problem was, we were left with no other choice but to turn shut the water off and call a plumber. Or so we thought.

That’s when my dad suggested food coloring. A couple drops in the tank and we could see where the water was flowing. It certainly looked like the dye was pooling around the flapper. That’s when I noticed the green dye wasn’t running down the sides of the bowel, but coming out the siphon jet! Yes, the toilet was leaking at the bottom of the bowl! No air was being displaced, hence no air bubbles. No water was running down the sides of the bowl, so no water displacement in the bowl. What a sneaky flapper leak.

Domingo went to the hardware store and picked up a $5 flapper. He installed it, but now we had a new problem – the chain was too long for the toilet to flush. No problem, I got out my jewelry tools and shortened about 8 links.

So there you have it, jeweler’s pliers, food coloring and a $5 flapper saved us a call to a plumber.

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