When the Daughter was about three, one day one of our toilets stopped working. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never held household appliances or thingamajigs in reverent awe. I mean, if it’s got screws, it can be unscrewed, right? And if it can be unscrewed, it can be put back together.

So I went to the balky toilet and started taking it apart. By the time my hubby came home, I had the entire toilet sitting in the bathtub . . . and still had no clue why it had stopped flushing. So we called a plumber. Turns out the darling daughter had dropped a plastic toy boot down the sewer, which clogged the line.

Years passed. We moved, at one point, into a thirty year old house, which meant, of course, that it had thirty year old plumbing. (Did you know you should always check the date stamped inside the toilet tank when you’re buying a house? I don’t know why, other than to find out the age of the toilet. Most of them are stamped in the year the house was built.)

Anyway, in the 30 year old house, with four toilets, I replaced all those ball floaty thingies with those upside down cup float thingys. The salesman at Home Depot said they were easy to install, and while I don’t think I’d consider it EASY, I did get it done . . . without calling a plumber.

Fast forward. We’ve been in present house for four years, and the toilet right next to my office has developed a leak. Not the water-on-the-floor kind of leak, but the kind that makes the toilet run and runs up your water bill. (Trust me—in drought season in Florida, our water bill is high enough.)

So on a recent Saturday I went to Home Depot and wandered down the toilet aisle. Found a picture of one of those upside-down-cup thingys, and was confident I could install it myself.

Got home and started reading the directions. Right away, the directions tell me to remove the water AND THE TANK, and that strikes me as odd. But hey, I figured, maybe things had come a long way in the toilet world since I’d fixed my last flapper.

So I start taking the toilet tank apart. Trouble is, I’d put one of those blue blocks of toilet bowl cleaner in the tank. Most of it had dissolved, but there was still a glob of blue in the tank. I didn’t worry much about it, though, because I was sure I’d be in and out of the bathroom in no time.

Well, seems that this toilet (which is original with the house) was factory assembled or something, because all the plastic nuts are screwed on TIGHT. I have to wake Hubby from his Saturday afternoon nap in order for him to exercise the family brawn. Finally, he gets the thing unscrewed that holds in the ball flap thingy, then I look at the box in my hand. Uh oh. I didn’t BUY an upside-down-cup thingy, I bought a FLUSH VALVE KIT. I had been misled, because there’s a PICTURE of the upside-down-cup thingy on the cover (though it is slightly greyed out) and the box clearly says EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A COMPLETE FLUSH VALVE REPLACEMENT.

Doesn’t that sound like the entire kit-and-caboodle to you?

So I tell the hubby that I’ve bought the wrong thing. So he grumbles a bit and goes to Home Depot and brings me one of the upside-down-cup thingys. Trouble is, when I start to install it, it’s missing the little parts. I think—I KNOW—those are important, so he grumbles again a bit and goes out to exchange the part and pick up our dinner from Cracker Barrel. (We usually go there on Saturday nights, but by this time, I am covered in bright blue goop from my fingers to my elbows—and have some on my face and knees, too.

Then I have to turn the tank upside down and remove the huge nut holding the FLUSH VALVE in place. Well, this baby isn’t gonna move. No way, no how. Hubby can’t move it, I can’t move it. We get the pliers, we get the wrench, we get the Tupperware jar opener, we get the rubber gloves. We even get a screwdriver and hammer, trying to dislodge the thing. No way.

So I tell hubby I’ll work on putting the toilet back together while he replaces/exchanges the upside down cup thingy. If we can at least get that part fixed, maybe the leak will stop. IF the new part will work with the old part. IF I can get the old parts back on. If my chewing the plastic screw threads with my pliers hasn’t completely ruined it.

Oops—hubby is home. Maybe he brought a plumber.

Update: float thing is in, toilet is back together, and the blue is fading. Mission accomplished!


  1. Anonymous

    I can so understand and follow what you wrote about the toilet-thingy job. got a good laugh and needed it since I’m going on 3 hours of sleep on my way in to work to help with a crew breakfast I volunteered to help make….KNOWING I wouldn’t get out til late last night. *sigh* Why did I say yes to this again??? LOL

  2. Mara

    About 1 1/2 years ago, my son flushed his Thomas the Train down the toilet!

    The plumber couldn’t get it out with the snake deal so it had to be taken apart. $150 bill. Agh!

    P.S. I finally received your book, “Uncharted.” Life is good 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    Oh, Angie, I can so identify with your potty story! We are in a 17-year-old house with four potties, all of which have had flush value or ball-thingy woes. The only difference in our story and yours is my husband is the one taking the tanks apart and I’m the one dashing back and forth to Home Depot while he sweats and mumbles something akin to “suffering succotash.”

    The only reason I’m anonymous is because I couldn’t figure out how to post otherwise.

  4. Pam Meyers

    LOL, I can so relate. A year ago last Memorial Day weekend I went through a similar thing only with the bathroom faucet. I’d just started dating my guy whose name is Ed. He thought he’d change out the faucet for me real quick like. NOT. We spent the better part of two of the three days of that weekend with his head in the cupboard under the sink and me running back and forth to Home Depot. By Monday it was finally done and a year later the faucet still looks beautiful. I think it’s a conspiracy and Home Depot is involved. How else do they stay in business? LOL


  5. daartney

    It could have been worse – your bathroom could have ended up torn apart like the Wickam’s in Heavenly Daze. That fiasco really made me chuckle and so does yours. Though I’m sure you were not chuckling at the time.


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