Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Rule

Tonight, I fixed a leaky toilet almost all by myself, and I only went a little psycho doing it. I think I deserve a cookie.

When the mail arrived this afternoon I was hoping that my government bribe to pretend everything is all right with the economy would be in it, but it wasn't. Instead there was a letter from the city saying that in the past six months our water usage has gone up quite a bit, and that because of it we would have to start paying a higher rate. The letter said that if we hadn't drastically changed our water usage habits the increase probably meant there was a leak somewhere on the property. Well, Ryan shot down my plans for a swan and princess fountain/ice rink, so I know we aren't using more water. So, there had to be a leak. And I just knew it had to be bad.

Instantly my mind started picturing the broken sprinkler pipe or water main under our house, filling a small reservoir that would eventually turn into a sink hole and swallow our house. I pulled out the phone book and Googled "sprinkler repair" at the same time, looking for any business with "sprinkler" in the description and then frantically leaving my name and number on every machine that picked up, and cringing every time I got a live person who inevitably said they had a backlog of work and wouldn't be able to come out right away. I HAD A LEAK, DAMMIT! THIS WAS SERIOUS!

Finally, I called the number on the letter to find out what they would recommend. I expected they would say all of my pipes would need to be pulled out, and that their cousin could do the job, and was quite reasonable when it came to costs. I also expected whoever answered the call to be very mean. Instead I got a very nice woman on the phone who told me to check my toilet.

"Toilet?" I asked, incredulous, "How could my toilet make my water usage go up so high?" She very patiently explained that even a small leak in the toilet could leave it running all the time, like leaving on a tap. Over the course of a month that can double water usage. Who knew. She said to put food color in the tank, wait an hour and then check it. If the water in the bowl is colored, that means there's a leak. Well, I knew she was wrong and that it was something much more serious, but I have always enjoyed playing with food coloring, so I tried it out. And I instantly had to pee.

I tried to hold it, waiting for the proper amount of time for the color test to work. I got to the ten minute mark and couldn't wait any more. And inside the bowl? The water was blue. Bright blue. I had found my leak. Of course, that just made me crazier. After all, everyone knows that plumbers are crooks that will charge you a million dollars just to step foot in your house and show you their crack. I couldn't believe this! What was I going to do? I saw my "stimulus" check going right down the toilet.

Ryan was unfortunate to call during this time, and I'm not sure what I said to him, but I think I insulted his manhood, and insinuated we might have to start peeing in the backyard. Whatever I said, he walked home very slowly. Luckily, that gave me time to pull a self help book off the shelf and look up "toilet leak repair." It was only one part that wasn't working -- the flapper. And according to the book it could be replaced without even using tools. Now, I don't know how Moses felt when he was given the 10 commandments, but I think how I felt learning I might be able to fix this by myself has to be close.

The hardware store had a wide selection of flappers, all with their own charm. When I got it home, I turned off the water, took out the old flapper, put in the new one, and turned back on the water. I let the tank fill, and then added a little food coloring -- green this time. Then, I waited. Twenty minutes later, the water was still clear. I was victorious.

Oh, and the new flapper only cost eight bucks (I bought the nice one). I was feeling so good I treated myself to a nice bottle of wine. It cost $11.


Ellen said...

Way to go Libby. I once replaced a flapper too... including the chain! And... AND... I reprogramed our garage door opener all by myself. More proof of why the internet is the awesomest.

mskitty23 said...

But can you program the VCR?

Amanda said...

Mom would be so proud that you carry the latent plumber gene.

Jamie said...

I got the SAME notice in the mail. Maybe the city is just trying to be more efficent...YOu're better than I am. Instead of checking to see what's wrong, I'm insisting that they come back out. How in God's name could our water usage increase 100%? I'll keep you posted.