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Early Spring Showers

It’s warmer in Chicago than it is in San Diego.

I want you to think about that. Sounds normal for, say, August, right? It’s March. Too bad my ‘spring showers’ are in my toilet.

I have to get a new ‘tank fill valve’ (I thought it was called a ‘water control assembly’, whatever) because the one we have is constantly running until you reach in and flick the arm bit up. The big black ‘bouy’ part in the middle is supposed to float up as the tank fills and, when high enough, shut off the water. That isn’t happening. It’s sticking. So it’s $6-10 to replace.

I suppose I could call my landlord about it, but I think I’ll just replace it myself. The Home Depot reviews are mostly ‘Good, but noisy’ except for two people who installed them wrong or had defective units. If the water doesn’t shut off when the float is at the top (you can pull it up to test), then the unit’s defective, bring it back to the store. The cheap, durable, model is the Fluidmaster 400A Toilet Tank Fill Valve, which gets an average of 4 stars everywhere.

Then I saw this awesome review:

My nephew, the plumber, gave me the story on this years ago and I’ve benefited ever since:

1. If you have a different kind of ballcock and it works ok, leave it there until you need to fix it, of course… then install this one. It’s not the absolute cheapest but after you install it, you’ll be glad you did. It works well, is simple to install and it is REPAIRABLE without having to go to the store to buy a new one, or without having to have a toilet problem for a week while you order another one.

2. If you already have one installed (lucky for you, somebody was thinking clearly and installed the right one last time), you can fix it if it’s simply stopped up (water doesn’t come out to fill the tank).

–First, turn the water off with the valve handle under the toilet tank.

–Reach down under the little float that moves up and down and you’ll find a plastic collar ring. Slide that ring up so that you feel it release it’s hold on the vertical shaft it’s on. Pop the 1/4 inch tube off the unit and gently pull it out of the vertical shaft. The whole unit slides up and out. Let the water drain out of it before you take it away from the toilet tank.

–Hold the unit over the sink and pop the little cap off the top. You won’t hurt it and it won’t break unless you do something illogical. Inside there is a white portion that has been twisted past a detent. Raise the little tabs (one on each side) so you can turn it counterclockwise past the detents and it will come out. Voila! There is all kinds of sediment in there that is stopping up the system. Thump it out and rinse it under the sink faucet to remove the stuff.

–Carefully replace the white portion into the unit and twist it clockwise until it clicks past the detents again. Take it back to the toilet tank and slide it back in place on the vertical pipe and slide the collar ring back down to lock it in place.

–Slowly turn the water back on, making sure nothing flies apart or leaks. You’re done! Two minutes this took!!!!

3. If you don’t want to repair the unit as explained in option 2, buy another Fluidmaster 400 and install it as follows (you DON’T have to take the intake pipe apart and drain the toilet tank!):

–First, turn the water off with the valve handle under the toilet tank.

–Reach down under the little float that moves up and down and you’ll find a plastic collar ring. Slide that ring up so that you feel it release it’s hold on the vertical shaft it’s on. Pop the 1/4 inch tube off the unit and gently pull it out of the vertical shaft. The whole unit slides up and out. Let the water drain out of it before you take it away from the toilet tank.

–Replace it with the same part in your new kit, then slide the collar ring back into place. Adjust the height of the unit so that the top is just below where the tank lid goes, so it’s as high as possible without obstructing the tank lid replacement. You may have to readjust this so that the fill level in the tank is where you want it… you want as much water in the tank as possible without flowing over the overflow … easy to see what I mean.

You’re done!

My nephew explained that this is the favorite item for repairing ballcock problems because the plumber can replace it in a minute or two and charge for his full hour and for a new ballcock. No offense, but anybody can do this themselves… no need to pay somebody a hundred dollars to fix it.

Heh. I love directions! I’ll try it out tonight!