August 2, 2019 by phicks2012
Toilets are not interplanetary vessels. They have very few moving parts, and do not require a doctorate from MIT to flush.
I say this because I have a tenant who keeps calling to say that her toilet won’t flush, and neither she nor her teenage son can seem to figure out how a toilet works — a feat I mastered at age six.
Here’s a how a toilet works: There is a tank. If the intake mechanism is working properly, the tank fills up with water until it reaches a certain point, and then a mechanism (either a literal float or other thingie — “thingie” being a technical term) turns off the flow. If the flow does not stop, then the mechanism needs to be adjusted or replaced, but in the meanwhile there is an overflow tube that sends the extra water down into the toilet bowl so that the tank does not overflow.
To flush a toilet the user depresses a small lever, which in turn lifts an attached arm inside the tank. That arm is connected (usually with a chain) to a rubber flapper whose function it is to keep the water (other than overflow) in the tank. When the arm lifts the flapper is raised and water rushes out of the tank into the toilet bowl, flushing the contents down.
If the bowl will not empty, then the toilet is stopped up and a plunger is needed to loosen whatever it was you foolishly flushed down.
If water is continually running into the bowl then either the float mechanism has failed (or is mis-calibrated), or the flapper has deteriorated or is (for some reason) not seating properly.
If water does not rush from the tank into the bowl (which is supposedly her problem) then either the arm is broken or the chain is broken (or has come loose).
End of discussion.
I drove 15 miles into town just the other day (stopping along the way for parts, just in case) to look at her toilet — mainly because I didn’t want to pay a plumber over $100 to look at a minor issue — and there was nothing wrong with the toilet! I examined all of the moving parts and flushed the toilet repeatedly, and it worked just fine. The water filled the tank to the proper level and then turned off, and it rushed down out of the tank when called for. When the toilet was flushed, the water in the bowl went right down the pipes.
Okay, the toilet seat probably could stand replacing for purely cosmetic reasons, but THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE TOILET.
So late at night two days later I got another text message from my property manager saying the same toilet wasn’t flushing — why is it that things like that always come in late at night, do you suppose?
In any case, I’m afraid I wasn’t feeling very gracious. I texted back that I’d already checked it out two days previously and found nothing at all wrong with the toilet — but that if the tenant was still actually complaining (and this wasn’t simply a matter of a delayed complaint) I’d have Jason give them “an informed second opinion” when he was available. Hopefully his “informed second opinion” won’t be that the problem is “stupidity”, because people don’t tend to take that very well, right?
I really didn’t need to be dealing that day with silly, non-issues. I had just replaced yet another leaking hot water heater (for another tenant) and had to deal with the fact that her nosy neighbor had convinced her she was probably (after two days of fairly minor leaking) going to have a major mold problem that needed to be professionally (and expensively) treated. Woman, soak up the water with some towels and when it’s gone use some bleach along the baseboard before mold has a chance to get a foothold! It’s what I did when my own hot water heater decided to start leaking and had to be replaced, and this, again, is not rocket science!
And “yes ma’am”, the techs who replace your hot water heater will very probably re-light the pilot light, but “no” I will not repaint your entire (already recently repainted shortly before you moved in) apartment because you have put a few smudges (that easily can by wiped off — it’s good quality semi-gloss after all) on a single wall. Sorry you’d prefer a different color, but them’s tha breaks. 😉
If you’re going to complain, do it about a major issue, not about something a person with a second grade education could figure out and fix themselves, okay? <primal scream>