What’s all the flap about?

SETTING: Jennie’s house, three of the four bathrooms.

ISSUE: leaky toilets.

How can I have three leaky, constantly running toilets all at once? I learned many years ago that leaky toilets usually mean one thing: they need a new flapper. Installing the flapper is easy as can be, but then proper flushing has to reestablished and that can be tricky. Good thing I have honed my sharp plumbing skills. The nice thing about plumbing is that everything is rather straightforward. Unlike, say, anything having to do with appliances where even the most simple gadget has a computer inside. A toilet is so basic that even I understand how it works.

Or take the shower: Every year or so the shower starts backing up. In our master bathroom it’s much more often that that for reason I will explain shortly. If you have a clogged pipe and you’re a dummy, you use some drain cleaner. That just makes everything nasty. Don’t do it! Drain cleaner is no substitute for elbow grease and a bent hanger. I choose to forego the cleaner and remove the drain cover (in my current shower that means simply lifting it up. For some reason it was never screwed down. Which makes it a handy place to toss unwanted legos, toy animals and other plastic flotsam that the kids have gotten tired of playing with while they get clean. Hence the need to clean the drain often.) A wire hanger stretched out as long as it will go is your best bet for removing the offending clog. If you have never done this it’s disgusting and smelly but also rewarding (much like cleaning the wax out of dirty ears). Most clogs consist of hair. Lots and lots of mildewy hair. In our case there are a few toys and ponytail holders tangled in the glob. Vile.

If you and your husband both have short hair and your shower isn’t the most popular one in the house than you probably don’t have this problem. But sadly it’s my lot in life to be the solver of all problems plumbing-related. Which is only fair, I guess, since it’s mostly my longish hair that’s down there.

As fond as fond as I am of going to the bathroom, though, I had nothing to do with all the leaky flappers.

| Filed under Bad Things, Fix-it, Yuck

10 thoughts on “What’s all the flap about?

  1. Well, I can relate, since with 5 girls (who each have long hair), there is enough hair in the sink and tub and shower drains to make a new wig, weekly.

    But my pet peeve is having toilets that never get flushed!

  2. I was told by a plumber just recently that the leaky toilet is indeed caused by the flapper not sealing properly. He said that because I use the bleach toilet tablets that it warps the flapper over time and the warping causes them not to seal. Thus they need replacing more often. I tried not using the tablets for a few months, but with 3 boys who refuse to flush on a consistent bases I figured it is worth the 3 bucks to buy a new flapper every few months!

  3. My gag reflex kicked in, as I was reading. knowing what would be encountered upon removing what goes down the drain. I do it the way you do, but I make sure no one is around to see me wretching, and peeing at the same time (gotta love what those kids have done to my bladder control!) At least i don't have to do it often.

  4. I am so glad I have a husband who deals with this stuff. Despite being smart enough and capable to do it myself if I had to, I don't want to. Enter Handy Husband. Hurray!

  5. EEWWWWW—-HATE taking out those plugs to see what is attached—-gag…

    But my hubby and I DO have short hair, so I don't have to deal with that one. Good luck with those flappers.

  6. Oh my, dirty toilets and icky drain clogs, not such a fun topic, but I too will say that it is quite satisfying taking care of the problems yourself. Good luck with the flapper task, maybe you should do a little tutorial on it for the less handy like myself.

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