Saturday, May 17, 2014

About that water closet

These cabins have been around for a while—more than 50 years. Consequently, they require a good bit of maintenance—as I'm sure you can imagine and have seen in my posts : )

One of the areas that seems to require the most attention in plumbing and plumbing related problems. Between faucet, toilet, and bathtub/shower leakage, the floors take a beating. That's why we replace two bathroom floors this year. Usually, it's been a matter of slow leakage over the years; you just don't notice it until suddenly, the floor is soft or—worse yet—starts sinking. That happened last fall in one of the motel rooms. One day I went in to clean the bathroom, and there was a 1 inch drop in the bathroom floor by the toilet. I climbed underneath only to discover that the original plumber had cut the floor joist to install the toilet!

I've discovered since then that this was a fairly common event around here. "Good enough for a seasonal place" seems to have been the motto. Anyway, when that happens, you are supposed to install a header/daughter board to tie the whole thing together. They didn't. And it held for 58 years. Until one day, it settled. I got out my hydraulic jack and pumped up the floor to level again.

Obviously, that was just a temporary fix...although I'm sure that if you look under some places around here...anyway, I digress. I ordered a post and installed it. It wasn't practical to install a header and it would just rot out eventually anyway. Maybe the post will rust, but it will probably outlast the rest of the building!

But, that's not the subject of today's musing. This one is a fast leak and a pool of water. We had rented out this particular cabin for most of the summer, so we hadn't been in it much. This spring, after we turned on the water, I went back through the next day to take off the water heater bypasses and bleed the air before turning on the hot water. I didn't expect any new problems; we had already discovered enough—or so I thought. Until I walked into the bathroom! Swimming pool! Or it would have been if there weren't a way for the water to drain under the cabin. And coming from the water closet. I turned off the water at the shutoff, only to discover that the shutoff leaked. back to the house and shut off the water to the cabins (beats the claustrophobic route). It was obvious that the water hadn't leaked from the valve, though. I checked the water closet, to see if it was tight. It wasn't. In fact, the thing was so loose I think it must have been leaking a good part of last summer...

No biggie. Just buy replacement washers and reset it. So I did. I also replaced the shutoff valve at the same time. I turned the water back on and figured I check it again later. I came back in an hour to two and had a new swimming pool...OK, now what? I checked the seal where the ballcock joins—see the graphic (which I stole from here). No leak there. No leaks on the screws that hold the tank to the toilet.

Must be the flush valve gasket. No problem; I'll just get a new one. I bought what looked like a replacement, but when I got home, I realized it was the wrong gasket. It was close enough that it looked like it would fit, and almost did, just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit too big. I'm nothing if not stubborn, but even I couldn't make it work. Bummer. Back to the hardware store. Turns out I have to buy the whole flush valve assembly just to get the gasket!

I replaced the whole thing, tightened it down to what I thought was tight. By now, I've wised up a bit, so I just put about 2 cups of water in the tank and wait. No need to wait! The water came pouring out as if there weren't a gasket there at all!

I took it apart and cleaned the tank area where it connected. It was pretty messy, but should have sealed. I tried again. Slower, but same result. OK, I need some serious wrenching action on that connecting nut! Only I don't have a 3 inch wrench. And neither did Max. I walked down to the hardware store again to find a large ChannelLocks™ that I had seen the plumber use when he replaced a valve earlier this week (that's another story...). They didn't have any!

Too late to go to the other hardware store outside of town, so I waited a day...

Next day, I got the 18" ChannelLocks™, cranked on that monster and cranked on it some more, just enough not to break anything! And turned the water back on just enough to get a few cups in there. Turned the water off and left for a few hours. When I came back, there wasn't a pool. The floor was damp, but that was only from being a swimming pool for a few days...success!

Now, about that valve the plumber replaced...maybe tomorrow.

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