The toilet’s not working

These are the kinds of words you don’t want to hear, especially if you are like me and not good at plumbing. Water and I just don’t mix. This time though it wasn’t really my problem but rather a problem in one of my daughter’s flats. Being the caring father I was happy to try and help. 

The problem was that the cistern wasn’t filling and so the toilet was unable to flush. Due to distance, our correspondence had to be by phone and WhatsApp and using these we arrived at the assumption that the inlet pipe wasn’t working. Assumptions, of course, are dangerous things. Off I went to buy a replacement one, not really understanding how it worked and whether it would resolve the problem.

On arrival, a quick inspection of the inlet pipe showed that it was indeed broken yet easily repairable. Once fixed though it didn’t solve the problem. Water was coming into the cistern but flowing out into the bowl. The toilet was, in effect, flushing continuously. We then realised that our assumptions had been wrong and that it was the outflow that wasn’t working. Something was stopping it from sealing the flush mechanism.

After a lot of head scratching and dismantling it turned out that the cable between the flush button and the mechanism was sticking and not closing the valve. Its sheath was kinked slightly and once straightened and with a liberal application of WD40 and olive oil we got it all to work again.

The level of human ingenuity never ceases to amaze me. I know it is only a small example, yet the ability to dismantle a problem, understand its cause and put a solution in place is something we do without stopping to think about it, even though we have to apply a lot of thought. Our foray into plumbing shows how humans work together to come to a resolution.

Now we have fixed the toilet, understand how the mechanism works (inlet and outlet are separate)… and I got my money back on the inlet pipe.

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