The humorous dialog between Wig and Wag

Repairing a contractor repaired sink

19 January 2010 Leave a comment

My Dear Wig, 

I saw something that demands recording as you will see and so unbelievable the scene had to be shared.  I am considering it for possible inclusion in an upcoming book on Barely Believable Home Repair Methods.

 Your servant Wag, spent 4 hours yesterday in Carol’s downstairs half bathroom under the pedestal sink fixing for free what she had paid a “contractor”, hereinafter referred to as Bubba, to fix.  You know a pedestal sink….one of those free standing porcelain wonders that stands unsteadily on a “foot” that is several times smaller than the “bowl” 42 inches above.  You would not have believed, without seeing it, what Bubba did to put this, unsteady by design,  sink back in place after he removed it to retile the floor.  Bubba tried a gluing repair strategy that left one edge of the pedestal foot up off the bathroom floor enough to allow rats to use the opening as a doorway (a scenario dreamed up by Sink-Owner-Carol who was prepared to install a door in this hole with a carefully aimed can of Great Stuff even while I was in the process of repair).   I can’t imagine how Bubba got the sink to stand in that position while the caulk hardened. Possibly, Bubba’s sidekick, Other Bubba, was instructed to stand there and hold the sink off balance for 4 hours while the caulk set up.  In any event there it was, the Leaning Tower of Sink, which without the professional application of sink glue, would  have toppled to the newly tiled bathroom floor breaking, no doubt, both the new tile and the sink into a zillion pieces.  The pedestal sink would normally be secured to the drywall with butterfly lag bolts of some type as was indicated by the two carefully placed holes in the back of the porcelain.  These hold down holes, similar to the hold down holes in the pedestal of an American Standard Toilet, are designed to hold the sink firmly against the drywall without too much force such as that force that could be applied with a 3/8 inch Craftsman chromium-plated socket handle with 7/16 inch, 5-point chromium-plated socket.  Alas, Bubba, in the process of removing the sink, ripped 3 inch holes in the drywall at each of the two holding points rendering this drywall useless for retaining this sink again without repair from Bubba’s Brother the Drywall and Tape Professional.  Further, Sink-Owner-Carol, upon inspection of  these gigantic holes, suggested they would be used by the aforementioned rats as garage door openings where they would park their rat pickup trucks after work before entering her house through the front door for dinner. 

 So, Bubba, having beautifully retiled the bathroom floor, if you can ignore the one broken tile he tried to cleverly conceal through careful application of grout, realized that upon sink reinstallation, he had nothing to attach to (since attaching to 3 inch rat garage door openings didn’t occur to him) so he opted for the highly professional caulk gluing method.  But not so fast…..apparently the right side lag bolt remained attached to the sink even after being ripped out of the drywall (amazingly Bubba did not apply enough rip out force to cause dreaded crackus porcelainus at the bolt hole) giving him opportunity and motive to perpetrate yet another bathroom repair felony.   Seeing a dangling 3/8 inch butterfly lag and a 3 inch rat hole Bubba immediately seized the readily available building material (aka, all purpose tissue, toilet paper) and wrapped the butterfly lag bolt  to increase its size to approximately 3 inches which you will recognize as about the size as of the garage door rat holes.   Then Bubba cleverly applied some type of brown carpenter’s glue (unavailable only to professionals who buy it at the professional contractor’s store where secret materials are available that allow these people to easily repair home maladies that stump the common homeowner thereby making the home contractor business economically viable).  It took me, a mere homeowner easily stumped by fixing-it-up problems of this complexity, several moments to see Bubba’s intent was to have the carpenter’s-glue-impregnated-tissue, now jammed (jamming is a professional repair method) into the garage hole, magically attach itself to the drywall inside the wall and thereby hold  the sink firmly in place.   There I was, standing in awe, jaw dropped and drooling , marveling at the ingenuity of this solution which had failed only because Sink-Owner-Carol was dissatisfied with a half inch lean and a rat door.   Although, the sufficiency of this attachment  was not seriously in question, Bubba decided to make the sink even more secure to the wall through application of not less than one full tube of Type II (hardening) clear silicone caulk applied liberally across the back of the sink immediately before pressing (another professional repair methodology) the sink to the wall.  With sink pressed firmly to the wall, to “seal-the-deal”, Bubba then applied an invisible  ¾ inch bead of clear caulk around the sink where it met the wall.  Job now professionally set up and almost finished, Bubba left Other Bubba to hold the sink in place for the approximate 4 hour set up time of clear caulk and brown carpenter’s glue which, of course, was his undoing as Other Bubba held the sink in place about a rat door out of balance to the ultimate disgust of Sink-Owner-Carol and ruining the entire job.   

 Now enters common (vice professional), barely-talented, free-fixer-guy Wag, who after removing the sink again, being careful to prevent the now dried clear caulk from pulling paint and layers of drywall from the bathroom wall, used some 4 inch pieces of 1×2 to span the 3 inch rat hole inside the drywall to “lag to”.  I wasn’t about to replace drywall, although that would have been more proper fix, and anyway I could find a stud in the wall immediately behind the sink.  Of course, during the complicated sink replacement process, the water supply lines (original equipment) would not seal (aka leaked) and had to be replaced and the miniscule opening at the bottom of the faucet fixture under the sink allowed only at most one thirty-second of a turn on the connector with a Craftsman 7-inch adjustable wrench before the wrench reached the stops and had to be turned around to again obtain further wrench purchase.  All that time lying upward with one arm wrapped around the back of my head and the other hand hopelessly and uselessly tangled in the hoses, clamps, and pipes and with legs splayed over Carol’s downstairs half bathroom talking toilet, Bob, (I started talking to Toilet Bob after only 2 hours) who kept telling me “I told Bubba not to use that glue”.  

This standard, under the sink repair position, was much easier when I was younger.  Can you believe this? 

 As Always, I Remain Your Most Humble Repair Servant


Categories: Household, Sink

Downstairs Toilet Day

19 December 2008 1 comment

19 Dec 2009

My Dear Wig,

Today is downstairs toilet day.  The one that occasionally flushes itself.  I had heretofore completed a maintenance “quickfix”, with heavy duty Reynolds aluminum foil, then readily available, at hand as it were, in use supporting an in-progress, 16-rack Baby Back Rib Cook.  This quickfix was necessitated by some serious toilet business being conducted by my mother-in-law when the fill valve unilaterally decided to adjust the angle of water spray to straight-up-vertical causing a stream of high pressure water to impinge on the bottom of the tank top and, apparently defying gravity, leak out the sides of the tank top filling the bathroom floor to a depth of approximately ½ inch before anyone noticed it, leastwise the then user of said offending toilet. 

 Against my better judgment, I will only be doing a limited maintenance action, which I’m sure is a mistake, but I’m doing it anyway.  I will be installing a Korky QuietFill, Chlorine Resistant, Easily Adjustable, Proven Quietest, 5-year Guarantee Toilet Fill Valve (Valvula de Suministro de Agua de Inodoro) given to me by you, Wig, a fellow graduate of the Advanced Institute for Toilet Psychology.  I have never used a Korky, as they don’t sell those in Virginia Home Depots, and I would have to order this fine device from Korky headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany for $7.95 plus $36.56 shipping.  Fortunately my fellow graduate obtained one of these on my behalf, no doubt at great risk and expense, in the black market for quality toilet parts created in America by the Evil Toilet Repair Parts Consortia (Toilet equivalent of OPEC) that insist on flooding the marketplace with cheap “Quick-Fail” repair parts manufactured in Quig Chong Dong, People’s Republic of China. 

Wish me luck….I’m goin in….Wag

Categories: Toilets

Various Toilet Recommendations

19 December 2008 Leave a comment

19 Dec 2008 

Dear Wig

Quest Auto Parts has a wonderful product called RED SHIT. It is a sealant in a tube that is used in places where it will be exposed to gasoline. The stuff is great for sealing toilet tank bolt hole washers. A couple of gobs of this stuff and a perfect rubber-like gasket is formed between the tank and washer. For safe measure, I liberally apply Red Shit inside the tank and outside. Never have I known this stuff to fail.

Tubes of Red Shit are intermixed with tubes of Black Shit in the bin at the auto store. Black Shit is inferior and the chemicals found in Chesapeake water render it useless just after a short period.

Quite by accident, two of our three toilets are high tech models that flush with such force they are a marvel to behold. One I purchased at a liquidator place for $99 and it came with a pedestal sink in a set. This model actually flushes, then rinses and then flushes a second time. We put this keeper in the bathroom just off of the kitchen and I built a 3.5″ platform for it to sit on so it it raised somewhat and provides easier access. The toilet itself is one of those models that is high off the ground anyway, so this toilet is just right for adult use. The bowl is extra large and when flushed, the contents are literally sucked down the drain. This is a toilet for Al Bundy. 

The second good toilet we bought came from Lowe’s. It too is a high off the ground model and flushes with vigor but not nearly as motivated as the adult model in the kitchen bathroom. Its a keeper but on the ragged edge of being useful.

Our third toilet is one of those woosie, low slung environment friendly numbers that we had to buy from an interior decoration place so it would match the color of the rest of the fixtures in the master bath. This wimpish thing won’t handle a full load dump without a minimum of two flushes, and every time I use it I panic because the water level rises just about to the rim prior to emptying into the drain. I fear the thing is about to overflow but just before the water level breaks the plane, it empties… thank God for surface tension. This thing has to be replaced someday & I think that I will put the replacement on a platform as well to make it sit higher up.  

All this of course in the event your repair efforts fail


Categories: Toilets

Red Shit

17 December 2008 Leave a comment

Mr. Wag

Your Toilet Troubles, as we can refer to them collectively, do not appear to be all that difficult now that you have avoided the heartbreak and aggravation of Crackus Porcelainis.

As a side note, the clever adaptation of the hacksaw blade into a draw-only cutting implement is commendable several similar configured devices currently reside in my toolbox. There is a new tool on the market that every homeowner should own, especially those who do not want to own a grand size, Snap-On manufactured, NASCAR certified, 8′ high roll-around that is filled with all sorts of expensive tools. Its a Dremil tool on steroids and has an attachment that converts rotary action into push/draw action for saw blades. I have the basic tool which I use all the time, and the saw attachment is on my serve-mart shopping list. With its procurement, I should be able to retire a number of large, dull, hand held implements that current reside in my grand size, Snap-On manufactured, NASCAR certified, 8′ high roll-around. 

It seems you have a respite from the Troubles until 9 March, which incidentally is MA’s 62nd birthday and the commencement of a cash influx to our family economy from the good folks at the Social Security administration. We are all giddy because we are going to get some of that money before SS goes broke. 

I suggest that in the interim until 9 March, you collect grade 8 steel or stainless hardware suitable for use to secure your tank to the seat. Hardware such as this can be found at Lowe’s in the special hardware drawers, not the bins for general public consumption that are filled with Chinese made faux steal. Look around and you will find the drawers. For the rubber washers, buy the type suitable for application in gasoline systems that are available at NAPA auto stores or you can coat the rubber ones with Red Shit (RS) for acid protection and to increase the sealing integrity. I will send you a tube of RS if it is not available in your area.

Another option is to purchase a small sheet of composite gasket material from the auto store and make your own gaskets. If you use hedge trimmers to cut the gaskets out, you can replicate the ascetics of the forward head on a 1052 class frigate after a hull technician repair. Actually I find home made washers far superior to “store-boughts” and there is no need to over torque the nuts that are on either side of the tank bottom. Compressing the washer thinking leads to Crackus Porcelainis. Tighten the nuts just snug enough to keep the tank in place so it will not shift when someone leans against it. You will notice the bolt holes are substantially larger than the diameter of the hold down bolts so the tank can shift if not tightened sufficiently. The tank water is just under 1 atmosphere pressure and has no motive to squirt out except when the toilet monster decides to make your life miserable, so just a snug tightness on these bolts is all that is needed.

Another option to combat washer failure would be to use hard neoprene washers that are liberally coated with silicone sealant. Its easy to tighten down on these puppies until Crackus Porcelainis occurs, so be cautious.

I do not see any reason why the addition of a pliable rubber washer on the outside of the tank between the porcelain and the faux brass washer and compression bolt would not add significantly to the integrity of the seal and provide you with many more months of happy flushing in the event a systemic failure develops in the upper washer.

During assembly, regardless of what configuration of hardware & washers you use, at a minimum, fill the bolt-holes and surrounding surfaces inside and outside of the tank with RS or suitable substitute before installing the hold down bolts, washers & nuts. As you tighten the nuts that make the seal for the hold down bolts, make the RS ooze out and let it set-up before proceeding to the next step of mounting the tank to the seat. I would not remove any of the RS ooze inside the tank but you may have to “clean it up” a bit on the outside so the tank will sit correctly on the tank seat. Be sure the surfaces around the bolt-holes are clean and dry before applying the RS. Actually I’ve used RS in applications with water dripping out of the bolt-holes and it works fine, but considering your need of a permanent fix, drying the surfaces so the RS actually sticks to the rough porcelain would be a better toilet engineering practice.         

I also use RS as a lubricant/sealant for the giant red rubber seal at the flow path between the tank and the seat. My experience with these types of plumbing gaskets is they get hard over time and fail RS keeps them pliable and sealing properly. 

I believe Big Washer (Chicago Fasteners and others) could not compete with cheap imitation washers because all of the factories were located in non-right to work states and legacy costs drove Big Washer to close US plants. To my knowledge China is the only supplier of washers now and Chinese products are inferior by all measures. This is why I recommend RS as a salve that can heal Chinese inferior manufacturing practices and use of low-grade materials. 

A wild card factor that I do not know how to account for is the acidic quality of Chesapeake water but I know it is a major problem. When we lived there, pregnant women were cautioned not to drink it. Puryear’s suggestion of a piece of limestone in the tank to act as a sacrificial anode might have some merit but I would think you would need limestone in powder form so it can go into solution rapidly given the frequent turnover of water in a tank. I don’t think putting a limestone rock in your tank will do anything except reduce the volume of your tank by a small amount. However, Ky sits on top of the greatest limestone pit in the world and if you want a hunk, its yours.

In any event, your fix in place now seems like it will sufficient to shield you from toilet travails during the holidays. Hell, when Major & Mrs. Butch return to Yankee land, secure the water supply to offending toilet and put it on dry lay-up.

Finally, on your Quarterly PMS board, I would make a pen & ink change and submit a feedback report to add a D-1 check to see if the rust spot appears. Don’t forget to have Roberta sign the P&I change.   Wig


Categories: Toilets

Upstairs Toilet Day

15 December 2008 Leave a comment

15 Dec 2008 

My Dearest Wig,  

In preparation for the much anticipated visit of my newly married kids for Christmas, yesterday was upstairs toilet day.  Apparently we would not want our kids to know that we are unable to ensure courteous behavior from our toilets as these toilets are likely to embarrass us at any moment.   Did complete toilet overhaul with Fluidmaster W43AK Complete Repair Kit with Whisper Fill Valve with 5-year Guarantee (Juego de Reparaciion Completa con Valvula Whisper de Fluidmaster con Cinco-Anos Garantia for you Espanol speakers).   During said overhaul I had the following musings:

             1.  Never quite understood why Big Toilet Company would invent a rubber gasket that dissolves in water.  Of course it’s economic.  An engineer would never do this on purpose.

            2.  Leveled the offending toilet that sat half a bubble right for years after amateur reseated toilet on new tile floor.  Not sure that mattered but it seemed the right thing to do.

            3.  One is instructed to ensure that the top of the fill tube on the flush valve is at least one inch below the Critical Line on the fill valve as indicated by “CL” etched on the fill valve in print visible only through an electron microscope.  Should the dimensions of your tank prevent such configuration one is instructed to “saw” off the tube to ensure the one inch minimum is met or one would be in violation of plumbing code and the Plumbing Police – Toilet Detachment would sweep down upon you and disallow use of the offending device with attendant fines for the owner for endangering the integrity of city’s water and sewer systems.

            4.   Repair Kit costs $18.42 plus VA sales tax everyday at Home Depot.  It is not possible that anything in that box could last 5 years.  Particularly the mild, cheap, steel flush chain which has a one sigma life expectancy in Chesapeake potable water of 37.34 days.   Of course the cost of pursuing your rights under the terms of the guarantee would cost at least $20 making such protection economically unattainable.   

            5.  All threaded parts installed….experienced immediate leak in the right side tank hold-down bolt which would only stop leaking when tightened to a torque of just 0.000375 inch-pounds below the breaking strength of ¾ inch porcelain.   Fortunately my lifetime-guarantee, chrome plated, Crafstman ¾ inch drive, ½ inch star-point-deep-socket is calibrated to such precision. One itty bit (technical wrench term) more torque would catastrophically pull the bolt head through the tank hole, irreparably damaging the tank, thence requiring I obtain a tank replacement from the Illegal non-Green Great Toilet Graveyard in Minot, ND (assuming I was willing to travel to ND and could match the color) or install a new Algore approved, fully-Green, Water Saver Toilet which requires exactly 2.17 flushes to perform the same work as my unruly, ancient toilet.   

The upstairs toilet is now expected to behave at least until the kids arrive when it will again disappoint and embarrass us at the least convenient moment. 

More later when this toilet misbehaves.  Until then I remain as always your most humble admirer Wag.

Categories: Toilets