Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another leak!

There have been too many unpleasant coincidences lately. It's very eerie.

Only a few days after getting the mysterious leak in the kitchen fixed—the one that appeared simultaneously with the visit of the water-meter man—another leak appeared in the bathroom, in the pipe that leads into the toilet. The meter man had never been in the bathroom, so it could not have been his fault. I had not touched any of the plumbing in question, so it wasn't my fault, either. And yet there it was. At first it was only a drop every two seconds, but it accelerated rapidly, and soon was filling my 5-liter bucket (the same one that I had sacrificed only days earlier for the other leak) within an hour or two.

After asking several people for advice, since I cannot afford a plumber and don't know anything about plumbing myself, I decided to try to fix the leak. It should be simple, or so I was told, since I only had to unscrew something, put in a new washer, and then screw it back together.

I went to the BHV, which has tons of stuff for do-it-yourself fanatics (like Samaritaine, in the days before LVMH destroyed it). In the plumbing section I located a little pack of washers of all different sizes (I didn't know what size I needed), and I got a small wrench and some Teflon tape. I already have one wrench, but I suspected I'd need two (I was right).

Returning home, I gathered my resolve and entered the Lair of the Leak, after turning off the water at the meter (something I had learned to do the hard way quite recently). I had to guess at which parts of the fittings I needed to fix were mobile, and which were not. Fortunately, my guess was correct, and within a few seconds I had separated the toilet tank fitting from the supply fitting. The fiber washers inside came apart in my hands. (I don't understand why the French have such an affection for crummy fiber washers). I found two new washers in my pack that looked the same, and installed them. Then I screwed everything back together. I turned on the water, and sure enough, the leak had stopped.

I accidentally tilted the flush mechanism inside the toilet tank a bit as I turned the supply-side fixture, so I had to move it back to the vertical. Later on, I discovered that this seems to have greatly reduced the incidence of the flush button on the tank getting stuck and letting water run endlessly through the tank and bowl—a problem I've had ever since my neighbor broke a hole through my wall and knocked chunks of plaster into the toilet tank. Now it hardly ever gets stuck. I don't know exactly what changed, but it's nice to see an occasional sliver of good luck separate from the tree trunks of bad luck that I usually have.