I’m proud of myself. I recently saved myself a ton of money and learned a valuable new skill in the process. I even got a confidence boost: I fixed my own toilet!
I knew something was wrong for a few weeks. After the tank filled, the fill valve would sometimes not shut off completely. It wouldn’t run constantly, but you could hear it turn on and off in a slow pulse.
Giving the toilet tank a shake seemed to resolve the issue for a while, but plumbing problems have a tendency to get worse. Water is relentless.
One morning, as I was preparing for work, I noticed water on the floor. At first I thought I had neglected to pull the shower curtain properly in place for my morning shower, but that wasn’t the issue…and the next time I flushed the toilet I found out where the water was coming from.
There was a leak at the top of the infill valve and it was spraying the inside of the toilet tank lid, and from there, leaking out onto the floor.
I quickly shut off the water to the toilet because there was no time to deal with this before work. But I talked it over with my Step-Dad and he walked me through the basics. He said it was a fairly straightforward fix, so I measured things and headed off to Home Depot that evening.
I picked up everything I thought I would need – it was all easy to find – and headed home only to find that I had measured incorrectly. The valve I bought was too short.
I headed back to Home Depot (irked by my own stupidity and frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t get this fixed on the first try.) Oh well, once I got the right valve, the job was pretty straightforward. All the pieces fit together nicely and when I turned the water back on, it seemed to fill the tank just fine.
I went downstairs to watch TV, filled with a sense of achievement.
You can imagine my panic when I heard dripping on the dining room table!!
I rushed upstairs to take a look and found water pooling around the toilet. Not a lot, but apparently it was enough to have started to drip through to the floor below!
I had to figure out where it coming from. I shut the valve again and put down some towels so I could take a closer look. I thought the valve might have been misaligned, but no – that connection was perfectly dry.
The water was actually coming from where I had attached to the pipe sticking out of the wall. I simply hadn’t tightened the connection with the hose that runs to the tank!
I cranked on the connection with a wrench, adding silicone tape to help improve the seal. And then I turned things back on and monitored it VERY closely…but everything stayed dry.
I was worried it might have been the shut-off valve on the pipe itself – which would have required a plumber because I have no idea how to solder pipe! But I got lucky. It was my own mistake and one I could fix.
I was happy. I had resolved the problem with minimum fuss. Business as usual could be resumed.
But over the next few days, it became apparent there was another problem in the tank. There was a dripping noise that I couldn’t identify.
Thankfully, the toilet wasn’t leaking on the floor or anything, so it wasn’t urgent, but it was loud enough to be annoying. I decided I must have damaged the other major toilet component – the outflow valve – when I was installing the inflow valve. Somewhere inside that mechanism, water was leaking and dripping loudly.
So back I went to Home Depot and picket up a new outflow valve. But when I got home, I quickly learned that this repair would be trickier. I had to separate the tank from the bottom half of the toilet in order to replace the valve… and the bolts holding the two halves together had corroded beyond belief.
I worked for hours trying to loosen the nuts, but to no avail. In the end, I simply had to destroy them with a hacksaw. And of course I didn’t buy replacement ones when I bought the valve… so back to Home Depot once more and then home again to finish the repair.
Again, once I had all right parts, things went smoothly. It’s nice when you can rely on standard sizes. I put everything back together and, after a few adjustments, everything was back in place and working splendidly.
And no leaks this time! I made sure to sufficiently tighten all the connections.
I’m sure the toilets in this house have been around since it was built about 30 years. That doesn’t seem like such a bad lifespan for the inner workings of a toilet. Sadly I can’t afford a whole new toilet or bathroom reno yet, so I’m happy the replacement worked out as well as it did – even if I had to make 4 trips to the hardware store!
I assume the downstairs toilet will require the same work soon enough… But at least now I have the necessary skills and the confidence to get’er done myself.