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Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Art of Fix-it-yourself

It's that time of the year when hubby is gone on another bout of travel and things in the house start to break apart again,. So Yours Truly is now stuck with figuring out how to get things back up and running.

Case in point: a few days ago, the flush lever on the toilet broke. It had already been replaced once, and the replacement was unfortunately a cheap metal finish painted plastic which didn't survive much beyond the one year mark.

"I'll call the handyman to help with this." just as Hubby headed to the airport. "I don't want to be struggling with manually lifting the flap in the tank all the time."

"It's a simple replacement, we may even have the required spare part in the basement."

"Really, what do I have to do then?"

"Just unscrew the part by hand and put in the new one, reconnect to the chain."

Famous last words.

I gamely face the wall of replacement toilet parts in the nearby Home Depot. Should I get the silly plastic one (cost $4.97) or maybe go for the largely metal 'Brushed nickel' finish one ($6.97)? That looks sturdier and should surely last for longer than a year.  That's what I grab and rush out to the checkout counter.

Back home, I am trying to unscrew the old broken part. Boy, this is way harder than anything I have had to unscrew in the kitchen. I need to locate a spanner maybe, to muster enough leverage. I trot down a couple of flights of stairs, fish around in the toolbox, locating about 5 different sizes of spanners, including what looks like a regular heavy duty adjustable spanner.

I spent about 15 minutes with the various spanners before realizing that the plastic part was starting to come apart, not unscrewing. Time to back off.

Next day, same story, when I tried again. In the evening, I went to the old go-to for information : Videos on Youtube, and got my first clue. "Reverse threading" hollered the annoying guy in the video. I had been attempting to unscrew the nut the wrong way, tightening it instead of loosening. "Also, just take the broken part with you to the store when you get the replacement!"
Too late for that, since I already have a replacement, but I am sure it will be interchangeable, and better quality as well!

I gingerly positioned the adjustable spanner and tried the other way. Did it just budge a little? Once again, and it finally started to move. I could now unscrew it by hand and finally remove the old part.

Time to put in the new part. But it didn't fit properly and the chain was too short to make it to the lever. Was I supposed to bend the lever to make it reach? It didn't seem quite right. After a couple of useless tries, I looked again at the broken part. The appearance didn't match the new part.

Next day, it was time to return the replacement and walk the aisles again, this time to find another equally flimsy plastic but correct replacement for the type of  cadet tank and mechanism that we had. I was back in business.

Now it is day 3 and the lever is finally fixed with the new part, which took about 5 minutes to put in once I worked out the correct sequence for insertion and screwing the nut on, for a grand total of two hours of my time over the three days, including driving time to and from the store.

Next time, I will do this in 5 minutes flat once I get the proper part, since I have this blog post as a reference for what not to do.

But next time, it might be something else that breaks, and that may end up taking a few hours to figure out, just like this one.

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