Memorial Day in the Bathroom

So guess where I spent 85 percent of my Memorial Day holiday? That’s right, in the bathroom. Thankfully this wasn’t a nightmare of the gastrointestinal variety, just the home repair type.

The bolts holding my toilet’s tank and bowl together started leaking because they’re old and rusty and it was a federal holiday. So I got up by 9 a.m. and figured I’d fix those bolts, fix the jiggly handle thing we’ve been having to do lately, and it’s such a nice day out maybe I’ll mow the lawn, too. If I’m lucky I can be done by lunch. Famous last words.

Of course the bolts were old and rusty, so they wouldn’t come out. The first one came out with a minimum of profanity, but the second one called for a whole new class of swear words. Not only were the bolt and wing-nut rusted together, but this bolt was against the wall where you really couldn’t get at it. I went to Sears for a bigger screw driver. No luck. I beat on it with a hammer (and any other tool I had lying around). Nothing. I tried a hacksaw. Not a chance. I tried WD-40. Nope.

Finally I decided to just drill the bolt out. Of course my cordless drill is of the wussy variety. The batteries were also dying, so that didn’t help. I borrowed a friend’s much less wussy cordless drill and that did the trick. Bolt popped out, tank came loose.

Now I just had to put everything back together. Turns out the water shut-off valve didn’t quite shut off right. Or it shut off too well. Now when I turn the handle nothing really happens. The toilet keeps filling at the same incredibly slow rate, and I can’t really flush. If I manually fill the tank with water it works just fine (so I know I fixed everything), but I think my shut-off valve is broken. All that after a good 8 hours of work. On what should have been a 20-minute job.

So today, rather than readjusting to work like everyone else does the day after Memorial Day, I’m going to be replacing my shut-off valve. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into an 8-hour ordeal. Thankfully a friend is coming over to help. He’s done plumbing work before and is actually installing a second bathroom in his house. My only experience with plumbing is yesterday when I forgot to wear a belt and had to keep hitching up my pants.

This is what being a homeowner means. Every three or four months you have to sacrifice an entire day off a 20-minute project. In this case, two entire days.

UPDATE: (Wednesday, June 2, 2004)
You may flush at will. The second day of fixing my toilet went without a snag, and everything seems to be flushing fine now, thanks. I even learned a tiny bit about plumbing.

And yes, thank you Abby for mowing the lawn on Monday.