New Plumbing Expertise?

My toilet tank developed a leak over the weekend. The refill valve kept running after the tank was full. The problem was that the ball valve didn’t shut off as it’s supposed to with the rising level of water in the tank. I tried to adjust it, as I have at other times, but this time a plastic control screw broke off and the over-flow got worse. After shutting off the water supply to the tank, I pondered the dilemma. Could I fix this problem, or should I call a real plumber? – on a Friday afternoon? I decided to drop by our nearby Home Depot to review the self-help possibilities. There I learned that ball valves are passé, having been replaced by float cups. I should have heeded this clue that I didn’t even know how the modern toilet tank operates, but the young salesman assured me that replacing the old tank innards with the new ones would be a snap. He showed me the smart-looking plastic container, and sure enough, the label said “Install in 15 minutes in three “Easy Steps.” I bit the bait.

Hours later, as I wrestled with the 15-step installation guide on the inside of the package, I realized that I didn’t really know what I was doing. Carol took a careful look at the instructions and then said rather doubtfully, “I don’t know if we can do this.” This was another strong clue, because she’s a lot more tech-savvy than I am. Then I discovered that the replacement flapper was smaller than the old flapper. It would never shut down the flow from the tank to the toilet when it was flushed. I took the old innards and the new parts back to Home Depot, only to find it had closed for the night.

The next day, an older sales clerk confirmed the obvious – the new flapper would never work – but he had a solution. He had a larger flapper and a Universal Toilet Fill Valve that would positively do the job. But could I do the job? “Sure – just follow the easy instructions, ” he said, but he didn’t sound overly confident as he sized me up.

Three hours later, I was about ready to admit defeat. Although I had most of the new system in place I couldn’t identify the new “Angle Adapter” that the guide sheet stated was critical for successful operation of the new system. Then came a “Eureka” moment. I realized the plastic gizmo that looked odd and nothing like the picture on the guide sheet was in fact the Angle Adapter, and I suddenly saw how it was to be attached to the overflow pipe. Within minutes I had everything connected and ready to be tested. I opened the water supply to the tank and it began filling – and then it kept filling and overflowing just as before. I was crushed. The “Troubleshooting” paragraphs said to repeat steps 12-14 if the fill valve wouldn’t turn off. Actually, I had skipped those steps because they were supposed to clear the system of debris. Since it was a brand new system, I thought they were unnecessary. After doing them with a lot of skepticism, I tested the system again. Voilá – everything worked perfectly. I was stunned. Then a big grin spread across my face. He was slow, but this old dog could still learn new tricks after all!

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