Friday, June 20, 2008

Finding a Round Tuit

This week Alison was talking about putting off starting something because there was a part of it she didn't like doing. And she said 'we all do that'. I'm not sure we all do- I sometimes think my mom's motto is 'never put off until tomorrow what you could have done yesterday'. But it's for sure that *I* resemble that remark.

I put things off all the time, and very often the trigger is uncertainty or distaste for some part of the project. I waited until the rest of the sweater was nearly done to frog and reknit the sleeve that irritated me, for example, in the non-Christmas cardigan. And I waited until it nearly expired before renewing my passport (despite the fact that it wasn't actually useful for some months before- a lot of countries won't let you in unless you have at least 6 months left before your passport expires- it's been on my to-do list since about February).

In a more immediate example, the chain broke on the toilet in our second bathroom. This is only a mild inconvenience- most of the time, one bathroom is sufficient for two adults, and the second bathroom doesn't get used a lot anyway because the main bathroom is more centrally located. And in a pinch, you can reach into the tank and raise the flapper valve manually. (Which is not nice, but you were going to wash your hands anyway, weren't you?)

This project is a double whammy in the project starting department. I don't know how long it will take, or if it will require parts. And mucking around in the toilet tank is not on anyone's list of ten favorite leisure activities. (I'm pretty sure.) Now you're probably wondering what the heck kind of engineer I am, and don't I own a paperclip? Well, on this particular toilet, the 'chain' is a plastic strap, which was apparently molded into top of the flapper.
flapper valve

If it was just a matter of wiring two broken pieces together it would be no problem. But no- first I needed to figure out how to attach a new chain to the valve. So, I put it off.

But yesterday, inspired by Alison and a lifetime of exposure to my mother's sterling example, I decided to tackle it.

My plans in order of least to most trouble:
a) Can I just shove a large needle through the tab where the old strap was attached, threaded with cording?
b) Dismount the flapper, drill a small hole through the tab and then rewire it with a substitute material (fishing line, most likely).
c) Replace the flapper entirely.

I wasn't too sanguine about a) but it was the only option that didn't involve taking things apart. (There wasn't room to wedge the drill in the toilet tank to put a hole in the flapper tab, even if I thought it was a good idea to get electricity that close to water.) And c) required a trip to the hardware store (irritating), spending money (see previous post on torturing small change), as well as the chance of getting a wrong part, which would require even more annoyance to sort out.

But once I'd turned off the water and drained the tank, it turned out to be fairly easy to take out the flapper, whisk it down to the basement workshop (which in a fit of energy I'd finally partially shoveled out a couple of weeks ago- only two years after the House Renovation Project of Doom that filled it with crap!), and drilled a hole in the tab. A few more minutes of messing around with fishing line (which I don't use for fishing but rather for minor repairs where water-proof-ness or transparency is advantageous). Et voila! (That's French for 'I finally got around to it.' )

One more task off the eternal House Project List. And the moral of the story? Not *every* project is doomed to enormous complications and added expense. Every once in a while the fates will pitch you an easy one to keep you off-balance.

1 comment:

  1. That looks like what we have to do one ours. Three toilets, three people, (but a lifesaver when we had four teenagers), we've been ignoring the one that's taken itself offline. Thanks for the nudge showing that yes, it can be done if you just do it.