Fast Tip Friday: Let’s talk about THAT smell.

I recently got myself stricken with food poisoning and so spent an inordinate amount of time bent over my toilet bowl.  In doing so, I noticed that, no matter how many times I diligently scrubbed the toilet from top to bottom, I was still smelling … THAT smell.  Like a boys’ bathroom in a college dorm.  You know what I mean.

THAT Smell 1

Turns out that the problem isn’t my bad cleaning habits, but a gas leak from around the u-bend.  Fixing it is easy peasy.  Grab some all-purpose silicone and a pair of gloves.

THAT Smell 2

Run a bead of silicone all around the bottom of your toilet to seal in the bad smell.

THAT Smell 3

Run your gloved finger around that to smooth it down, and wipe off the excess with a dry cloth.  Let it cure, and you’re good to go. Smell solved.

THAT Smell 4

Trouncing our Tempermental Toilet

We moved into our house in August 2008, and even then our toilet (at least forty years old to look at it, probably fifty) didn’t work.  It ran.  And ran.  And RAN.

There was much jiggling of handles and lifting and bending of wires.  And swearing.  And stamping of feet.  And turmoil.

I don’t know why we didn’t make an effort to fix it.  Well, there were several reasons.  One, we always figured our landlord would get around to it at some point.  Two, this isn’t our house, and we were terrified that in attempting to repair an antiquated toilet (of which the landlord is inordinately fond), we might break something.  So we didn’t.

Three years went by.

Also, we kind of hoped that when the Elizabethan explosion occurred some months ago, one of the nice plumbers would take the old toilet away and bring us a new one.  But of course that didn’t happen.

This winter, the rubber tank ball completely disintegrated.  The Pie fixed it all by himself (as I was in Ottawa) and we thought the problem was solved (a running toilet is a sign that there is not a complete seal around your tank ball).  Soon after my arrival back home, however, the toilet situation got worse.  The toilet still ran, only now you couldn’t jiggle the handle to get things to fall back in place.

With an impending houseful of guests and only one bathroom, this was a problem we couldn’t ignore any longer.

Here you can see that the lift wires for the handle, and the handle itself, are all corroded.  So even though the Pie replaced the tank ball, the corrosion on the wires makes them rub against each other and won’t allow them to slide smoothly up and down, which prevents the tank ball from sealing itself and means that the toilet will continue to run as it tries to fill the tank unsuccessfully.

So all we had to do was replace the handle and the lift wires and we were set. 

Really, plumbing is a very simple thing, especially when it comes to toilets.  Don’t be intimidated.  And all the stuff you get comes with instructions anyway.  I just want to show you how easy it actually is. 

Even Gren could do it.  Only his legs are a little too short.

First, you turn off your water.  That’s the little knob under your toilet somewhere. 

Then you flush the toilet so that it will drain, but with the water off, it can’t fill again.  Now you can work.

First you need to remove the old handle. 

It’s held to the toilet with a simple nut, but the Pie had to use some RoboGrips and some man-strength to get it to turn, as it was very corroded.

Then you stick the new handle in and screw it in place.

Now the lift wire has two parts: the first one screws into the tank ball and moves up through a little guide hole.

It connects to the other wire, which is bent to loop around the handle.

This is how the lift wire screws into the tank ball.  I showed you here because you can’t see it inside the tank so much.

Then it loops through this other one and bob’s your uncle, you’re set.

So you put the tank ball in place, loop the second wire through the first, and feed the first wire through the little guide (different on every toilet).  Screw it into the tank ball.

With a pair of pliers, bend the second wire so it will loop through one of the holes on the handle. 

You will need to cut the wire with a sturdy pair of wire cutters in order for it all to fit.

You may need to play around with the wires and which hole they go into on the handle so that everything works the way it should.

Then turn your water back on and test it out!

The novelty of having a flushing toilet at last has us almost giddy. We have vowed to never be intimidated by a toilet again.

Because our toilet is so horribly ancient and inefficient, we have also placed a bottle of water in our toilet tank to save water.  The water in the bottle displaces other water, convincing the toilet tank that it is fuller than it actually is.  You end up with less water in your toilet bowl, but in older toilets the amount there is really wasteful anyway.

Fountaining Fiasco – Elizabethan Explosion

***WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOGGING FOR AN IMPORTANT SYSTEMS BROADCAST.***

It's hard to see, but the street is more or less flooded.

Sunday night: a raging downpour that continues to Monday.  Kº hears a steady dripping sound in his bathroom ceiling.  Is it the rain, or is it something else?

Monday evening: the dripping continues, despite the fact that the rain has stopped.  All Elizabeth residents, Il Principe included despite his age, are called in for consultation.  The bathroom ceiling is noticeably bulging.  The Pie, given his freakish height advantage, gives the ceiling a good poke.  Everything is squishy.  The dripping can be heard by all present.  This is obviously an internal leak, and as our bathroom is directly above KK’s bathroom, the culprit is either our ancient sink or our even more ancient toilet, which our landlord has decided not to replace, as the matching green fixtures are kitschy and cool.  Landlord and contractor are notified.  We wait.  I didn’t take pictures, sorry.

Tuesday morning: the ceiling, full of water, gives way (obviously).  Elizabeth is full to the brim with unintelligible Newfoundland handy men and their tools.  The carpenter’s pickup is pulled into KK’s driveway (the bed is full of pieces of wood, that’s how I can tell), and the plumber’s pickup is pulled into our driveway (the bed is filled with tubes and piping, that’s how I can tell).

Plumber's truck

Tuesday afternoon: the ceiling comes down and is taken away.  KK’s bathroom is full of people fixing it, but the water is turned off in our apartment, because the pipe behind the toilet is spraying water everywhere downstairs.  Nobody can pee.  My research proposal takes a back seat to the chaos that reigns in the house (and the fact that my new kitchen scales and artisan bread book have arrived).  At one point the plumber comes in and drills a hole in my bathroom floor, and sticks a tube in it.

The new tube.

Later he comes back and attaches a small pipe to the toilet.

A little pipe to bypass the old burst one.

Later, the water comes on and spurts and burbles all over the place.  Then it goes off again.

Air in the water pipes.

Tuesday evening: the super-nice plumber leaves for the night.  KK’s ceiling is completely missing but nothing is leaking.  The contractor will replace the ceiling in a couple days.

The new white bypass pipes.

Interesting information: the carpenter tells Kª before he leaves that Elizabeth is actually one of the oldest houses on the whole street (which is a freaking long street, for that matter), and that back in the day (this is circa 1920 or so), it was quite the fancy establishment.

You can see the high old ceilings in this distance shot.

More interesting information: you can see the old crown mouldings in the bathroom after they removed the ceiling.

The contractor told me there was a double floor there that they have removed.  Lending credence to my belief (judging from the decor of my kitchen) that the house was converted to apartments in the 1960s, the carpenter found a beer bottle in the ceiling, an old one (India Beer is a local brew – the logo is a Newfoundland dog – it’s not bad).

The date on the inside of the label says 1 63 5 (5 January 1963? 1 May 1963?).  The modern stuff is made by Molson and looks like this, but I just found a link that told me bottles like this from the sixties are selling on eBay for $20.  Go figure.  Kª saved it for me, and it’s on my mantle now.  I think my dad might get a kick out of it.

What’s awesome is I took a ‘before’ picture of the bathroom to get a good perspective if they were going to take out the floor or whatever.  Aside from that little pipe, nothing has changed.  I feel bad because the leak was all because of our toilet, and it’s KK’s bathroom that got destroyed.

KK's chaotic bathroom.

Kª has taken some pictures, too – I’ll post them if I can get ’em.

Stay tuned!

***THIS HAS BEEN A TEST OF OUR EMERGENCY SYSTEMS BROADCAST.  WE NOW RETURN YOU TO REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOGGING.***

%d bloggers like this: