Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Great Toilet Flapper Caper


I blame the election. Instead of blogging, I've been lured into following
all the post election clatter on Facebook and in other venues.
I have my own strong opinions, but I don't want to do research
to support those opinions. I have retired from research!

The travel season is on its way, and there'll be lots of pictures 
to take and things to talk about.



The phone is ringing on Thursday afternoon when I unlock the back door and race into the house. Too late, I locate a handset. I say "hello" but the caller is already recording her message.

Paraphrasing: "This is the water district. You've used 8600 gallons of water so far this month. Normal for you by now is about 530 gallons. You have a very expensive leak. You need to call a plumber right away."

Yikes! I go into brain freeze for a moment as I probe around it for my plumber's name. It eludes me as names do more often these days. I remember from the last time I needed him that none of the phone numbers I found for him were correct. (Damn, but I miss the old White Pages.) Thank goodness I seem to have entered a number that works into my phone. I leave him a message.




A Faux Flapper to add a little color
(The title will be clearer later on)


He's back on the phone with me quickly. He has four calls ahead of mine to take care of but he will be out.  (He takes good care of us old ladies in our little community.) Before he lands on my doorstep, he has checked my meter and turned off the water. There is no water leaking through that point in the plumbing, nor out of hose bibs around the perimeter of the house. He knocks and picks up the key to the basement to check out hose bibs and water connections down there.

He tours faucets and toilets in the house, finding no readily apparent leaks. Some kind of dye agent goes into toilet tanks. Two of three toilets are newish, put in when I did the room addition, the taller ones, more suitable for easy rising for old ladies.

"Lee, come see this," he hollars from the bathroom off the laundry room past the kitchen.

He's seated backwards on the closed toilet seat, his hands plunged into the open tank. He pulls one hand up, with black slime oozing down his upraised hand.

"The flapper is disintegrating."

He changes all the guts. This is likely for the first time in the 28 years I've had the toilet.

I've also wanted to put a tall toilet in that bathroom for some time, but would the door clear a new bowl with its tight fit?  Indecision.  I ask.  He assures me it's no problem, as long as we put in a round bowl and not an oval one.

He appears at the door a few days later, the toilet wrapped in his arms. I'm sure this must be wrong. I'm sure things occurred in a more logical order, but that vision is what lingers!

"Lee, I have to show you something," comes a call again from the bathroom. He stands inside the tiny room, with me on the outside, the toilet between us. He reaches across to shut the door. He opens the door. I hear a slight drag as the door passes. The edge of the toilet seat scribes a pencil-like mark across the edge of the door. He repeats the motion. "I need to get another seat." He explains this is an upgraded seat he prefers. It's sturdy. It feels like wood. He'll have to get the standard one from the maker of the toilet.




My nightmare scenario

I make a suggestion. "Just give the door edge a few swipes on the line with a rat tail file and a touch of paint and it'll clear." I'm serious, but he'll have none of it. The seat must be replaced.

A couple of days later, he arrives with a same-branded seat as the toilet. It does feel flimsier. But it's comfortable and it has that slow self-lowering feature like that high priced brand.


Success is celebrated with a parade
(Not really, but it gives me a chance
to use the photo)


Now at this point, I think my problems are solved and the story is over. I have only to worry about the water bill. I've visited the water company and she allowed me onto a forgiveness program for water charges for people with undetected leaks. She could not, however, forgive sewer charges, since the leaked water was processed through the district sewer system. My water/sewer bill is a mammoth conglomeration of water charges, sewage charges, water bonds (several, I'm sure), sewer bonds, all compounded. I'm pretty thrilled when my 8100 extra gallons only result in an extra $100 or so on the next bill.

Well, time has passed since I started this sad tale (owing to the distractions mentioned in the header) and another month's bill has arrived. Rather than the anticipated reduction in price and quantity, it is up, with more like $150 over normal. The billing periods lag way behind the bills themselves, but I can't figure out whether it's a timing thing that  throws me off here.

It's time for another talk with the water district. Do I still have a leak, or do I have a meter reader who just enters the same use quantity as the month before?


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