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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

let's talk about toilets

Did you know that when you type "anatomy of a toilet" into Google you get a site called Toiletology? No, I'm serious. They have all sorts of helpful diagrams. Including this one.

On Saturday, we got to learn what this chart is all about. See, when you remodel a bathroom (hint: don't), and it's been wallpapered, part of the whole taking-down-the-wallpaper thing involves taking down the wallpaper behind the toilet. And as we discovered a couple of weeks ago, that's pretty hard to do. Turns out you have to take the toilet apart so you can move the tank out of your way. Which is what we did on Saturday. Taking out the pump assembly is simple. You just lift it out, basically. But if you look at the diagram which Toiletology has so helpfully provided to us, you'll see, at the very bottom, two screws. Those are what holds the tank onto the bowl. They're actually bolts, about three inches long, and their heads are surrounded by a rubber seal. Sensible, of course, since they're going to exist permanently surrounded by water, and water and holes generally don't do so well together-- and holes are what bolts go into.

This is all relatively straightforward. The problem lies below those bolts. They're held on by a nut and a washer. Thing is, to unscrew the nut, you've got to somehow get your wrench down below and behind the tank, into a tiny dip, and hang onto the nut while trying desperately not to crack the tank, which is of course made of porcelain. In a townhouse bathroom, it's pretty hard to do. Compounding the problem was the fact that the last person to put the toilet together-- possibly Little V, when he wallpapered-- didn't do it quite right. The seal around the left screw leaked. And rusted the nut. Oh yes.

The result was that I spent a good half an hour lying impossibly contorted on the floor with my head under a stranger's toilet and my shoulder bent at a very strange and painful angle while I held grimly on to a vice grip pliers gripping the rusted nut and listened to Don cursing as he tried to avoid kicking me in the face while still getting a good angle for enough leverage to turn the bolt against the pressure I was applying.

Then, once we got the wallpaper off, I did it again. So we could put the toilet back together, sans leakage. I'll get to do it twice more, when we put the beadboard up in there. I can hardly wait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know, you don't /have/ to take the tank off. You can just unbolt it from the floor and (with two people) pick up the whole shebang. I had to do that in an old house's half-bath where nothing short of a miracle was going to work to get the tank off.