Toilet Wars: The fill valve strikes back

You should recall from an earlier post that I know my way around repairing a toilet. I've replaced the seat and (previously unmentioned) the tank lever, commonly referred to as "the flusher." After installing the new seat just last week in our master bathroom, I thought I could take a break. Those dreams were flushed down the toilet when Sergio let me know that the water wasn't refilling in his bathroom toilet.

Why, God, why? I felt like Job (Biblical, not Arrested Development) being tried in my faith, but instead of losing wives and children, I had to deal with a series of toilet repairs. So be it.

First, I had to diagnose the problem. I was immediately concerned that a pipe had froze on me, which would SUCK. I could turn on the hot and cold water in the bathtub next to the toilet, so I figured this wasn't the case, but I had to double-check.

Strangely enough, crawling under the house doesn't scare me. It should. Our house was built in 1904. It could crumble at anytime. There are lots of "fixes" under the house that have been applied over the years, and basically you've got a lot of pillars of wood upon brick upon wood and it all looks like a Jenga stack to me. I was careful moving under the house not to accidentally nudge one of the pieces. The ground is very uneven and for all I know there could be dead bodies buried beneath. We joke that there are dead bodies in the ceiling for all of the room between the downstairs ceiling and upstairs floor. Either way, it makes for soundproofing and good insulation.

Back to the story, I maneuvered to a location under the bathroom and saw a minor leak but no frozen pipes. This was good news.

I went back in to the house and did what any guy in my situation would do, I messed with things. I took pieces apart and tested. I evaluated. I swore under my breath. I had moments of enlightenment. These were masculine moments.

I was able to determine that the water was coming in and the pressure was there, but something in the fill valve wasn't working. Bad, fill valve, bad. Go to your corner.

What is the fill valve, you ask? It's the thingy-majiggy that draws water into the toilet tank after you flush, I think. See the artsy graphic below.


I ran to Lowe's the following day to pick up a replacement Fluidmaster fill valve (~$10) and got back to replacing it last night. The whole installation process took about 25 minutes - 20 minutes longer than it should have - but I managed to do so with little self-inflicted stress or frustration and without getting toilet water in my mouth. Win-win.

After completing the task, I ran up to tell Sergio in my best Tim-Taylor-Home-Improvement voice: "I have fixed the toilet!"

Sergio shrugged, unimpressed.

I guess you had to be there.