Residential plumbing

Our downstairs toilet has been in rebellion for a few weeks. Every once in a while, I go in there and find a lot of water all over the floor and the toilet running. I sop up the water and jiggle the handle, and eventually it stops.

But I was gone for a few hours yesterday, and when I got home and found the toilet in that condition, despite jiggling the handle and even opening the tank and manually shoving the rubber seal down, it would NOT stop running. And the thing on the left was spraying like crazy and water was going everywhere. I worked on it for about ten minutes, getting pretty wet and messy, and finally, it stopped. Well, sort of. It was still running quietly, and water was leaking out of the thing on the left, but no longer spraying violently. I did a little more handle-jiggling and seal-pushing and float-holding. I figured out that if I held the float up another half inch, it would all stop, but I knew I couldn’t spend the rest of my life standing there holding the float.

On top of the thing on the left – the thing the water was spraying sideways out of – I saw a couple screws (maybe set screws?), and I thought that if I adjusted on of them, it might cause the float to stay up, but really, why should I have to do that now, when I haven’t done it for the past nineteen years, ten and-a-half months? Something was clearly wrong, and whatever it was, I clearly did not know how to fix it. So I did what anyone in that situation would do. I texted Mr. Bill, explained the problem, and asked if he would consider looking at (and hopefully fixing!) my rebellious toilet if I paid him for his time and parts and if I gave him some fresh-baked homemade cookies. For those conditions, he was happy to come.  = )

Mr. Bill is not only the nicest neighbor imaginable – and married to one of the most wonderful women in the world – he can fix anything and is known for always having (over in his garage, up in his attic, or out in his pole barn) whatever it takes to fix whatever needs fixing. I happen to know that once a long time ago, the most wonderful woman in the world did get a wee bit frustrated with the nicest neighbor’s massive collection of potentially usable items, but since that one day some twenty-five years ago, she hasn’t let it get to her. Mr. Bill works as a plumber for our local college. In fact, I haven’t kept up with the details of his career in recent years, but by now he may well be the head of the plumbing portion of the college’s maintenance department.

So he was able to quickly diagnose my problem. I needed a new fill valve (the thing on the left). He happened to have one which he proceeded to install. I also needed a new flapper (the rubber seal), which he said he had at home, so he left to go get it while the most wonderful woman in the world and I caught up on various aspects of each other’s family news. Mr. Bill returned, apologizing that he didn’t have the flapper I needed. He may have been shocked and slightly embarrassed. I told him that if he would write down exactly what I needed, I could go get it the next day, but he said, “I’ll get it. You need a red Korky flapper.” I agreed that red would be a nice touch; you know, to add a splash of color to the inside of my toilet tank. I told LaShell that I thought a flapper was one of those 1920s crazy ladies! Well, yes, but a red Korky flapper actually looks like this:Red Korky FlapperSo Mr. Bill said he’d pick one up and bring it by tomorrow, which was tonight, and sure enough, at 5:37 PM, they both showed up, he bearing a red Korky flapper, which he promptly installed, and voila! We were in business! I did pay him for his time and expertise, and he was most grateful, but I’m not sure if that was for the money or for the cookies. I thanked him profusely, and he said he was glad to be able to help, even though he “doesn’t do residential plumbing.” Specifically, I think he only does residential plumbing for his own family and maybe one other: ours. We are most blessed. Everyone needs a Mr. Bill in his life, but you can’t have ours. We’re too fond of him to share.



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