Water covered the floor of the tiny half-bath, overflowing from the bowl. Dad had bailed and bailed to fill a five-gallon bucket, and had plunged and plunged until he was spent. “Don’t go in there,” he commanded Mom and me from his recliner. “I am going to fix it.” We acceded, but I drove to Lowe’s for a coiled plumbing snake. He tried and tried to feed the snake into the fixture, but it kept flopping incorrigibly out. Finally, he called to me, unable to rise from his knees, with nothing for leverage but the bowl. I wrapped my arms around his big chest and hoisted until he was vertical. “Dad, let me try,” I offered. “This is my home now, too, and I am part of the family.” He consented reluctantly from his convalescence. I struggled and struggled with that incorrigible splashing snake. The coil advanced no more than a few inches during 30 minutes of effort. I did not do anything Dad had not already done, but the water abruptly drained from the bowl, and I was able to pour in the five gallons of blackwater. How nice it was to flush and watch the water swirl down, rather than up and over the brim. We cleaned and disinfected the toilet and the floor, and then the bucket and even the snake. We both hope to never need that belligerent snake again, but have found a place for it in the garage, just in case.
(Reader, please do NOT bring up this episode with Dad. My life and happiness depend upon it.)
Though the float was up in the toilet tank, the water kept jetting into the tank and spilling down the overflow tube. The flapper was fine. The float was fine. So, the problem must be the fill valve. Until we could fix it, though, we would have to turn the water off to the toilet. But my brother was coming to visit, and the running toilet was in the guest bathroom. The time to fix it was now. Lowe’s had a good selection of fill valve assemblies. I chose the Fluidmaster 400H-002-P10 Universal Fill Valve because the box boasted of a three-minute YouTube video on exactly how to replace this exact part, and I knew I would need that video. Dad and I watched the video, twice. I thought maybe I might possibly succeed in replacing the fill valve, guided by both the written instructions and illustrations, and the video. Like preparing to cook a new recipe, I gathered all my ingredients, or rather parts and tools, and plunged into the project. To my utter relief, the repair went flawlessly. Within minutes, the new fill valve was installed and working perfectly. Why am I always so surprised when I manage to fix something I have never fixed before? I did fix my own washing machine switch, after all, thanks again to YouTube. Mom and Dad were pleased that the repair had been so quick (10 minutes) and inexpensive ($14), did not involve an extended delay or a costly plumber, did not prompt any swearing, and that Steve would not have reach behind the bowl to turn the water on and off with every use.