Happy Fix a !$@# Leak Week

If you’re looking for a happy-clappy everything-went-perfect DIY inspirational story, better keep looking! (Although in this story, we do live happily ever after in the end.)

For “Fix a Leak Week” I was armed and READY. Before we discovered it, our running toilet leak had caused us to lose about 6 gallons of water an hour, every single hour, around the clock…or, 144 gallons per day, which would be enough to add one Australian to my household.

This seemed the perfect opportunity to install a dual-flush retrofit kit. For $28.00 from Amazon.com we’re poised to be as cool as a hip, pseudo-European hotel! The One2Flush is SIMPLE TO INSTALL, and says so right there on the box.

dual flush toilet kit

It’s 8:30 am and I’ve got all my tools and supplies laid out as neat as a surgeon’s tray. I’m a little worried that the One2Flush box looks like it has previously been opened; there’s only basic instructions on the box, which directs us to an online video for more detailed guidance.

Get real, who the !@#$# can work on a toilet while following video instructions online? Whatever, we’ll wing it. After all, this isn’t my first toilet repair dance.

dual flush toilet kit parts

So let’s get at it—the daughter tells me she’d like to take a shower and I assure her I’ll certainly be finished in an hour or so.

First, I turn off the water supply valve on the wall and begin sponging out the excess water from the tank and the bowl.

Strange…I’m sponging and sponging and sponging but STILL there’s water the in bottom. Hmmm. How can that be, with  the water supply valve turned off?

Aurghhh, I see why when I remove the supply line from the tank, it’s because the supply valve also has an !@#$# leak! I scramble for MORE old towels because the !@#$# water is spreading all over the floor! Suddenly it’s a Fix a Leaks Week celebration extravaganza!

toilet water supply line leak

Tough up, team! This unexpected setback will not defeat us but we will now work much faster. So I loosen and remove the disgusting bolts connecting the tank and bowl and lift it off. Observation: the areas behind, between and underneath this 80s-era toilet tank have never, never, ever been cleaned. I feel a little sick.

I plead for the spouse to bring some hand sanitizer. Next I lay the tank over across the toilet seat and remove the so-called “valve nut” from the bottom of the tank. Or, try to. This thing is ON TIGHT and I don’t happen to have a wrench the size of my fist.

So instead, I employ the DIY-ers secret ace weapon: brute force. I knock it for a bit with a hammer and screwdriver until it loosens and I can remove it. (Note in the photo, !@#$# leak number 2 is dripping away into the tank lid.)

OK! Now I can remove the old hardware in the tank, along with the old flush handle assembly. GAG, what’s all that black slime everywhere? It is the by-product of this disintegrating seal, the evil source of my original leak!

Nasty! Now I have to stop and clean up all that black goo from my hands, clothes, floor and toilet bowl. Aurghh, I am TRASHING my fresh manicure!!!

With the clock ticking and the supply line dripping, all this picture-taking was becoming cumbersome, so here we’ll just skip ahead and to where the praise and accolades rain down. (You can watch the aforementioned video if you’re curious!) Here’s my new dual flush retrofit, installed and ready to go, with only a couple minor hitches getting it in!

All that’s left to do is tighten up the tank bolts, reconnect the water line and triumphantly open the floodgates! Turn that water on, yea! Look at me, baby, I “Fixed a Leak!” Woot Woot!

Water on! I’m proud and mesmerized as I watch the tank fill and can’t wait to try it! Almost full…done! Uh…wait. What’s that? I can hear it: drip….drip….drip. What the !@#$#, THE TANK IS LEAKING!!! FROM AN ENTIRELY NEW PLACE, RIGHT ONTO THE FLOOR! ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ALSO LEAKY SUPPLY LINE!!!

And now I see it. THE CRACK. I CRACKED THE !@#$# TANK! I over-tightened the bolts and it CRACKED THE !@#$# TANK!!!

I shamelessly howl and moan. So now what? Turn the !@#$# water off again. More towels. More profanity. I’m Googling “how to fix a cracked water tank.” And it doesn’t take long to determine that this is a fatal error. It’s nearly impossible to repair a cracked tank, and newer toilet designs mean I have to replace the entire toilet and not just the tank. So the next step…

At my neighborhood big box, the cheapest dual flush is $250 so this got-it-all model for $98 is looking pretty good–5-star flush performance, elongated, comfort height, Water Sense. And hopefully, leak free.

So to summarize: 3 leaks, 7 hours, $138.00, 2 trips to the big box, dozens of profanities, ruined manicure; and in the end, leaks fixed.

So you could say I was ultimately successful, but next year around my house we’ll be celebrating “Call a Plumber Week.”

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…before removal, I did test out the short-lived dual flush…and it did seem to work as advertised, !@#$# crack and all.

The Friday Fiver: Good Stuff You Missed This Week

ONE: Ebay Water Item of the Week:

Las Vegas Gaming Water Bottle Caddy $2.99. This is for all the folks who are ready to cast their chips on a Las Vegas water gamble! Winner takes all!

TWO: Weird Water News Item of the week:
Screenshot of video from www.wsvn.com

Screenshot of video from www.wsvn.com

From nbcmiami.com: A drunk Fort Lauderdale man had enough with the water bills on his mobile home, so he decided the only way to handle it was to burn the house to the ground.

Johnny Dossey, 43, was arrested yesterday after his home on the 1300 block of SW 21st Terrace exploded from the gasoline he poured on it, according to the Miami Herald.

The water bill was reportedly $70. The now-homeless Dossey is charged with first-degree arson. Police believe he may have been drunk when he set the house on fire.

THREE: Quotable Quote of the Week:

“I guess he got fed up with it.”
Luis Alvarez, neighbor of Johnny Dossey, drunk Florida water rate protester and arsonist.

FOUR: Water photo of the week:

Water before and after the reverse osmosis process at the water treatment plant in Nanjangud. (nestlecsv on Flickr)

FIVE: Water Blast from the Past:

From shorpy.com: Washington, D.C., circa 1920. “Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Co.”  Really?! I would have SWORN that it was Restoration Hardware, 2010!

Austin, Beware of the Blob

Austin Water Utility demonstrates that slimy, greasy, fatty subject matter can really get the creative juices flowing!  “Stop the Grease Blob” sounds like a band playing at Austin’s SXSW, but is actually a video from the city’s campaign to alert customers to the horrifying consequences of putting greases and fats down the drain. We love the screaming females and melodramatic music. Made me laugh (and snagged them an award.)

And if, like me, you imagine sewer blobs as more brownish and stinky-chunky, there’s also a campaign poster with a more surreal, scary-cute sewer savage. Repulsive, yet adorable!

Aussies + Fish = Funny

Two recent items prove the equation true!

First, it was raining fish from the sky! Twice! Read all about the ultimate fish story from the territorial town of Lajamanuat via ntnews.com.au and don’t miss the memorable first-person account in the story:

Mrs Balmer, the aged care co-ordinator at the Lajamanu Aged Care Centre, said her family interstate thought she had lost the plot when she told them about the event.

“I haven’t lost my marbles,” she said, reassuring herself. “Thank god it didn’t rain crocodiles.”

And there’s hard proof that Mrs. Balmer hasn’t lost her marbles: she had enough of her wits about her to snap the following photo of some of the fish collected in a bucket!

The second item again involves fish showing up in an unexpected spot. In the inland community of Mutchilba, Tony Bambino nabbed the catch of the day by grabbing a 30kg barra from an irrigation channel with his bare hands!

While driving home he spotted the huge fish swimming in the Sunwater irrigation channel.

“It was about 4pm in the arvo and I saw something shiny in the water,” he said. “Once I realised what it was, I grabbed it by the mouth with my hands. It took about 10-15 minutes to catch it and the hardest part was pulling it out of the channel and into the back of my ute.”

The story at Cairns.com.au notes that “Mr Bambino said the irony of his large catch was that people spend thousands of dollars on fishing rods and lures and he managed to bag one driving along the channel.”

And there a photo! (Jennifer Eliot, Cairns.com.au) Good thing, or we’d all think he’d lost the plot!

h2o mp3: Water in the Ground – Catherine MacLellan

This talented Canadian singer-songwriter provides us a perfect track for National Groundwater Awareness Week (a great idea since most of the populace has enough to worry about with the things that they CAN see.)

Water in the Ground is from MacLellan’s third 2009 release and is a melodic, clean, pure folk-influenced song that gets better with every listen. (Visit Catherine MacLellan’s website here.)

Play the track

Download Water in the Ground – Catherine MacLellan
Support the people who make music! Buy the CD at amazon.com or from True North Records.


All the snow will melt into the stream
leading me back to where I want to be
right by your side
watching as the leaves pour out of the trees
everything’s alive, everything’s alive
never could guess you’d be the one
you said the world’s coming undone
tie em up together round and round
water from the heavens pouring in the ground

Flush with the Success of Twitter

Debugging the Twittering ToiletWow, Twitter is overloaded with crap! Seriously! One resourceful, twitter-hating hacker has conceived and built a toilet that tweets with every flush! (We previously blogged on a tweeting water meter here.)

Declaring it “more useful and relevant than just about everything else on twitter,” the inventor has posted detailed instructions in case you’d like to try it on your own. You can also follow the Web 2.0-water closet on Twitter (@hacklabtoilet) but it appears that “John” has been “down for repairs” since last summer. (Via an article on Huffington Post about High-Tech Toilets.)

Telepene Water: Gush, Gush, Fizz, Fizz

I hope the gas comes after the gush! From quisnovus on Flickr comes this photo of Telepene, the official water of the Albanian national football team. (Americans: surely you understand by now they mean soccer!)

Suffled how it gush from the woods of Tepelene

You might be surprised to hear that Albania has a football team. Perhaps you’re confusing Albania with the Dilbert outpost of Elbonia. Albania is a tiny Eastern European nation with a rich, conflict-riddled history reaching back to ancient Greece and Rome. Most recently it is an independent free market democracy since communism fell in 1991.

Grandeur in the Ocean Garbage Patch

This new awareness advert from Rise Above Plastics combines the ick factor of the ocean garbage patch with the majesty of a giant whale with predictably repugnant results. (From their website, we learn that “In some places of the Pacific Ocean, the amount of plastic suspended in the water outnumbers plankton six to one.”)

Two other items on the Rise Above Plastics website that make us say, “Hey, that’s neat!”…
Above, this rapidly escalating-counter shows, in our face and in real time, the runaway rubbish rate for plastic water bottles.
Below, the site alos includes this photo of plastic shopping bags masquerading as jellyfish, which reminds us of this “Dangerous Species” poster as well as the much-loved-by-me Ariston washer ad.

San Antonio’s Mutant Ninja Sewer Turtle

SAWS sewer turtle videoFrom this angle, I can’t quite tell if this is Michaelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, or Donatello! A few mutant Ninja skills might have helped this fully grown, totally stuck turtle found trapped inside a Texas sewer pipe. The San Antonio Water System’s snaking sewer camera caught the oddball obstruction during a routine sewer line check.

It took hours of dirty digging and dismantling to free the native “red-eared slider” who was then safely relocated to a nearby pond.

Here is a screenshot from the camera video (I guess they don’t have spell-check on those rigs!) which can be seen in total on the San Antonio Water System’s Facebook page. Also, see www.kens5.com for the complete video of this story as seen on the local news broadcast.

SAWS sewer turtle rescue

SAWS sewer turtle rescue

SAWS sewer turtle

A Water Symphony Sings for Skoda

For all the irritation wrought by boorish, intrusive advertising, let’s remember: occasionally advertising offers us some rare, aesthetic delight that stops us in our tracks.

Such is the case with this ad for Czech auto manufacturer Škoda featuring experimental Czech musician Petr Spatina. He is seen playing 597 water-filled Schott Zwiesel crystal wine glasses… arranged in the shape of a car! You might assume that since this is a lowly advert there’s bound to be trickery or illusion involved. But there isn’t. The sweet melody is real and authentic.

See more at Petr Spatina’s website goodwatermusic.com.