Monday, December 31, 2007

Potty Mouth

In mid-November I had to call the plumber.

The toilet in the basement had been slow for months. The waste would flush down, but the TP would not, and the same bits would float around in the iron-tinged water for days.

So I didn't use it unless I absolutely had to. But then the toilet upstairs got plugged. And the stopper lever kept coming off its chain.

So the plumber came, but by then, the upstairs john had cleared itself. He fiddled around with the chain, though, and it worked again.

The basement stool was another matter. He put the snake down, and couldn't find a thing that could be blocking it. But it was undoubtedly blocked.

"I've got awful hard water here," I mentioned. "Do you think it could be calcium deposits plugging it up?"

He took a probe and checked the holes where the water jets are supposed to squirt out around around the rim of the bowl.

"Yes," he agreed, "these are full of lime."

He dug around a little more, but to little effect. "The real problem is this inlet at the bottom of the bowl. And I don't have a tool that'll clear the calcium out ofthere. And I don't know if there's a chemical that's safe for you to try."

"How about white vinegar?" I suggested.

"You could try it. If it wrecks the stool, you're no worse off than you are now."

And he took the minimum service fee for the call under my home warranty plan, and went away.

Well, I tried the vinegar. Four gallons of it, in the tank and the bowl, for two or three days. And it worked! I still can't get over how gratifying it is to see that water swirl around and take everything down in my basement potty.

However. The upstairs toilet still doesn't work as it should. The flapper chain clip started coming loose again and I resorted to a safety pin to keep it on the lever. But that problem was nothing compared to--

Well, let's be civilized and say only that no, one does not insist on putting old socks and whole boxes of Kleenex and half the contents of the cats' litterbox down the stool and expect it to flush. Not at all. But there are certain things any competent water closet should accommodate, and mine, from time to time, emphatically does not.

So this afternoon, I use it, flush it, and put down the lid. I've washed and am about to leave the room when I hear "Guh-loomp! Guh-loomp!"

I turn around. My tabby kitten is lying on the lid. Oh, no, is he about to be sick?

But no. The noise is coming from farther down, from the bottom of the toilet bowl.

I shoo the cat off, open the lid, and see almost no water in the bowl. I flush the toilet. Water pours in, nothing goes down. I give it a few jabs with the plunger and flush it again.

Four-alarm red-alert MISTAKE!!!! The water flooded in and didn't go down and here came the potty water, up, up, up and over the rim and down onto the floor! And it wasn't clean water, either.

I turn off the valve to stop the deluge, then start to work again with the plunger. Of course, that splashes more water out onto the floor. I try easing it in at first, but soon discover that unless you push a good big bubble of air in with it, the plunger just won't work.

So I did what had to be done, and got the stool unstopped.

About then I noticed that oh! looks like there isn't as much water on the floor as I'd thought! Having fetched a couple old bathtowels from the basement, I wiped up the spilled water. And while I was at it, I cleaned the iron stains out of the toilet bowl. And got the vacuum cleaner out and sucked up the cat-hair bunnies from behind the sink and around the water dish and then got a clean towel and washed the rest of the bathroom floor.

Lovely! How nice to have a clean bathroom floor going into the new year, regardless of why I had to do it!

But then I went downstairs to get the clothes basket to put the dirty towels in. And in the kitchen I hear a funny noise: Dripp! dripp! dripp!

Oh, damn, that stupid toilet water went down those bloody bad joints between the wall tile and the floor vinyl, and it was dripping through the joint in the kitchen ceiling sheetrock!

Worse, it was coming down the walls and making big water bubbles of the paint!

(So to speak.)

Same damn thing happened last time the upstairs john overflowed, about three and a half years ago, before I got the kitchen repainted. But now it is repainted and oh, no, don't I have enough on my 2008 house To Do list without adding "Touch up kitchen ceiling and wall paint"?

Not to mention "Put a big honking bead of tub caulk around the base of the upstairs bathroom walls, you idiot!" Which I bloody well should have done after the first time it flooded.

Could be worse, I guess. The ceiling joint's in a handy place to relieve the pressure, and it is sheetrock, so I don't have to worry about falling plaster. And the textured finish I have on the walls should keep the water bubble places (which I poked with a needle to drain them) from being too glaringly apparent until I can get around to repainting them.

But still. This was not part of the 2008 plan!

Guess that's part of the joy of home ownership. And several gallons of white vinegar is definitely on my list for my next Costco run. The upstairs can would benefit from two or three days of the 3% acid treatment.

I mean, if it's not calcium deposits that's clogging it up, what could it be?


Sandy said...

Oh dear. Vinegar is wonderful for a whole bunch of things! Mix it with baking soda and it will take out the yellowish grey that happens to all of our lovely white blouses over time. Put it in bath water and it will take the sting out of sunburn. Magic stuff!

Happy New Year!

Sandy said...

Here is the recipe to clean dingy whites (I got this off of a blog somewhere -- it really works):

1/4 cup baking soda
2 cups white vinegar
soak article of clothing for a few seconds
wash in washer

I also have one for home made laundry soap from same blog (wish I could remember which one):
Soak a bar of Ivory Soap overnight. Take bar out of really soapy water. Add a cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. (I admit I haven't tried this one.)

St. Blogwen said...

And you get out of the bathtub and your kitteh licks you and sez, "U haz uh flavur! Sowwer!"

Sandy said...

I nevah taut of thet!