plumbing washers

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 09:36 am
darkoshi: (Default)
If you have any kind of filters or adapters on your faucets, especially in the kitchen, check the rubber washers once in a while. While replacing the filter unit on my kitchen sink, even though it hadn't been leaking, I discovered the old washer had completely disintegrated, leaving behind nothing but black goo. That's not something I want in my drinking water.

In the past, I've encoutered washers partially disintegrated, but I've never seen one completely gone to goo, like this one was.

the weekend work

Monday, October 26th, 2015 12:20 am
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Yesterday I washed a section of the garage wall that had gotten moldy, with bleach. Boxes had been pushed up right against the wall, not allowing enough ventilation. This is the 2nd round of bleach on it, as after the first round a week or so ago, it still smelled musty from somewhere. I hope there isn't mold on the inside of the wall. It's plain unpainted plyboard.

Then, as I was doing bleach anyway, I mopped down (up) the sun-room ceiling too, as it had accumulated a bunch of mildew spots from the frequent moisture in there.

I looked up info on adjustable beds, as Qiao is planning to get one. Currently he switches back and forth between the bed and the recliner at night, trying to get comfortable. His foot hasn't been hurting him much the last few days though (hallelujah!).

Today I washed the dogs. They really needed it.

Then I tried to figure out why the kitchen sink drain was suddenly (since yesterday) making glug-glug-glug noises, even though the water was draining fine. Suspecting a blockage in the drain vent, I got out the ladder and went up on the roof to check the vent. There wasn't anything blocking it up on that end, and water I poured into the vent seemed to be draining fine / not backing up.

While up there, I cleaned out the sun-room gutters. Zorro chose to stand directly in the path of the falling dirt and debris. It occurred to me that I had just gotten her all nice and clean... Yelling at her didn't help any, but I finally managed to sweet-talk her into moving away.

I debated whether to go to the hardware store to buy a drain auger. I had tried pushing some cable wire down the vent, but it wouldn't go further than the bend at the bottom of the vent. But I didn't really want to go to the store.

I left the kitchen faucet running and checked the drain pipes in the basement. They were vibrating from the glug-glug-glugging. After a while, there was a change in sound - a larger rushing of water as if someone had dumped out some water into the sink. Whatever had been clogging it must have unclogged itself, as the glugging noise was gone.

While in the basement, I saw that water had leaked in during the flood-storm. It was absorbed into the dirt and didn't look too bad, but I carried a fan down there to help dry it out.

After the fact, it occurred to me that I could have simply tried using the sink plunger instead of going up to the roof and down to the basement.

I took advantage of the remaining daylight to cut down a branch that had cracked in the storm and which was leaning down on the shed. I had to use the extendable pole saw, with it extended to the maximum height.

And I washed 2 loads of clothes/towels, and made brownies. Finally.

Next, sleep-sleep-tired-tired.


Monday, October 12th, 2015 12:10 am
darkoshi: (Default)
The boil water advisory started last Sunday and hasn't been lifted yet in my area (though it may be soon). I had previously stored away a few gallons worth of water in glass bottles, for an emergency like this. I've been using that for drinking water and for brushing my teeth. Forestfen also brought me 2 gallons of bottled water she had bought, but it tasted funny to me. Probably from the plastic - it was the non-clear whitish translucent kind. I must remember to only get water in the clear plastic bottles. Or maybe it was just that unfamiliar water often tastes weird till you get used to it.

In the first few days where the water pressure was low, I brought a large plastic garden bin into the bathroom and filled it with water, in case the water were to completely go out. It would at least let us flush the toilet a few times. Haven't had to use it so far.

I've also been boiling water in a large pot once or twice each day, to use for washing dishes, and for the dog's water. I plan to use that for drinking water too, if my other water runs out.

The water coming out of the tap has looked clear/clean/normal all along, and we've been using it as-is for washing hands and bathing. If it actually looked dirty, that would make things much more difficult.

Several free water distribution points have been set up in the city, but I haven't needed to use them so far.


Well. That was one thing I wanted to write about. The rest will have to wait.

Update: As of Wednesday 10/15 at 4pm, the boil water advisory has been lifted.
I had begun drinking boiled water; it tasted fine.
darkoshi: (Default)
On a related note, here's info on getting rid of unpleasant mildewy odor coming from a sink's overflow vent.

My bathroom sink was having this problem for quite a while, and I tried several things over several months to get rid of the odor:

- Run hot water for a while. Then dump 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar.

- Same as above, but spoon as much baking soda into the overflow vent as possible, followed by vinegar

- Applied an enzyme drain cleaner

- Poured bleach down the overflow vent

- Applied foaming drain cleaner (contains bleach) down the overflow vent

- Pushed a small snake with a brush attachment down the overflow vent to clean it out

None of the above attempts got rid of the smell for long. Often it came back after only a few days. I started taping the overflow vent shut as nothing else worked. After a while, I could smell the bad odor even with the vent taped shut.

I also tried these methods in vain:

- Boil water, carefully carry the pot of hot water to the bathroom, and use a small measuring cup to scoop up and pour the very hot water down the overflow vent.

- Hang a balloon down in the drain, partially inflate it, and tie it off. Then apply drain cleaner down the overflow vent. The balloon blocks the bottom end of the vent, so that the drain cleaner doesn't drain out as fast.

The odor problem started in February. None of the above fixed the problem. I started considering getting a whole new sink.

Finally in October, I used the snake again. But I also used some small wire-centered bottle brushes to clean out the bottom of the overflow vents, from the drain holes in the pipe where it connects to the bottom of the sink. (The sink stopper must be removed in order to do this.) The brushes weren't very flexible, and I couldn't push them far into those bottom holes. But I cleaned out the holes as best I could. And this did the trick, even though I didn't see much gunk come out. It's now 2 months later, and since that day, the bad smell has been gone.
darkoshi: (Default)
(I'm on vacation now. That's why so many posts.)

My toilet normally has a pseudo dual-flush feature. If I want a short flush, I press and release the handle. If I want a long flush, I press and hold it for longer.

A week ago, for no reason that I can figure out, the toilet started always doing a very long flush - even longer than the normal long ones (what some people call a triple flush, as the water drains out of the bowl and fills up 3 times before stopping). But from reading about how toilets work, it seems to be working exactly as designed. The flapper in the tank goes up and stays up until the water level falls to the bottom of the tank. The only way to make it fall back down earlier is to push it down with a stick.

So why/how was it working differently before?

It is not an adjustable type flapper. Nor does it have a float. It's the kind with a rubber bulb on the bottom. When I installed the flapper 2 years ago (as well as when I installed the prior one 3 years before that*), I trimmed off all but ~2cm of the bulb, specifically so that it would close faster than the default.

*Yes, I keep notes. Those flapper replacements were done to fix leaks.

Now, to try to fix the problem, I put a zip tie around the overflow tube and positioned it to stick out to prevent the flapper from rising up all the way. (I got this idea from a webpage.) But in most positions, it had no effect. In one position, it made the short flush way too short. Yet even with the zip tie in that position, if I hold the handle down for more than a split second, it again does the triple flush. So that's no solution.

This thread indicates that some toilets need to use a flapper with a float to avoid the long flushes.

This page suggests adjusting the chain, though I'm not clear how that would help. My chain currently has hardly any slack, so adjusting it would require lengthening the chain.

In the end, I decided to trim the rubber part of the bulb even further, and that fixed the problem. Now it flushes about like it did originally.

This is a dual-flush converter kit that might be worth trying some day.

Some good related videos:

How to repair and buy the right flapper valve - I didn't know that rigid flappers only require a rubber ring to be replaced rather than the whole thing. If I had known that, I might have been able to keep the original flapper that this toilet had when I moved in.

The Flush Toilet - an army training film, apparently. It shows a cross-section of a toilet and explains how the water flows through it. (listen to the unique background music!)

The Toilet Part 1 - has some more cross-sectional views of toilets.

all caulked out

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 01:52 am
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The brown silicone caulk I applied to the rim of the tub 2 years ago worked as I had hoped, in that during these last 2 years, no signs of mildew appeared on it. The brown color was truly unattractive, but it was better than seeing mildew.

Recently, however, a section of the brown caulk came loose from the tub. So I replaced the section with (not-so) new brown caulk. Unfortunately, that caulk was too old and never hardened. So it had to be replaced again...

At the hardware store, this time I found silicone caulk in a metallic grey color. Surely gray would look better than brown and would hopefully still be dark enough to mask any mildew that might appear over time.

So I decided to remove all the old brown caulk and replace it with the new gray one. I also removed the older light-colored caulk in the other sections, as it had gotten visibly mildewy in the meantime too.

The light-colored caulk had been the "Polyseamseal" brand. It was so well stuck to the surfaces that it was a right pain to remove. I had to use a razor-blade scraper with a lot of force. The razor blade ended up breaking.

I began to worry whether I was doing the right thing, using a silicone caulk again this time, as there had been other previous occasions where silicone caulk had come loose. Silicone caulk never seems to stick very well for me. The Polyseamseal one seems to stick much better. Yet I'd had other problems with the Polyseamseal one (like cracks in the middle, and it being a right pain to remove!!!)... Yet everything I read says that silicone caulk is the best kind for tubs.

As I had already bought the metallic gray silicone caulk, I went ahead and used it. The metallic gray color truly DOES look much better than the brown color did.

This time, I even caulked around the ends of the 2 handrails, which never had been caulked before. I had to first clean out a bunch of rust that had accumulated around the screws under the end cover-plates.

I know it is in vain, but I hope NEVER to have to caulk that tub again.

I had a mini-breakdown/tantrum while laying down the caulk. All this work! And it might all come loose again anyway! I went through all this work already in the past; why am I having to do it again and again?! Why do I have to do this kind of work during my vacations?! I hate this! It hurts my hands having to press down the trigger on the caulk gun! And no matter how much effort I put into it, and in spite of having more experience each time I do it, it still always ends up looking like sh*t! The bead never comes out nice and even. Even after I smooth the bead, some sections end up being a total mess. And then I have to spend time with toothpicks and q-tips trying to make it look better, but that only helps somewhat. Is there really any purpose to this caulking? Does it really even matter if water gets into the seams? The old silicone caulk that I removed seemed damp underneath, even in the sections where it hadn't been loose... maybe water gets underneath it anyhow. Maybe I'm going through all this effort for no good reason! Other people don't do this! What am I going to do when I get older and am no longer capable of putting so much effort into these tedious tasks?!

Sigh. I managed to get past the break-down with only a few tears, and without hitting anything, though I was tempted. What is it about rage that makes one want to hit things?


I also finally replaced the toilet fill-valve which had been malfunctioning for over a year, but still technically working. Then I also had to replace the flapper which suddenly wasn't sealing well anymore. Then water starting dripping/leaking from the supply line! But it seems it may simply not have been tightened enough - hopefully I've fixed that now.


Before (with part of the old brown caulk already removed):

After (nice and silvery):

Update (2014/01/12):
I'm really pleased with the new caulk color. Its silveriness, and the contrast between the color of the tub and caulk, looks very fancy. It looks just as good, if not better, than white caulk would have.

(no subject)

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 11:34 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Things are getting more back to normal: Qiao has installed Diablo 3 and started playing it.


We had a clog in our drain pipes today. I started hearing strange gurgling noises from the toilet while taking a shower. Luckily, I was able to clear the clog out without a big mess. It was odd, as I plunged the toilet for a long time with seemingly no success. Then a few minutes after I had stopped, I heard noise in the pipes, and the water started draining.

I should put up some markers by the sewer clean-outs, so that they're easier to find when they get covered by dirt.

If the clean-out is full of water, that indicates the clog is downstream from the clean-out. If it is empty, that indicates the clog is in the other direction.

I need to buy a better toilet plunger. Or 2.

(no subject)

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 01:10 am
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The drain of my bathroom sink smelled mildewy, so I poured in some vinegar and let it sit overnight. The mildewy smell went away, but now the drain emits a foul vinegary smell. I'm going to pour something else down it tonight.


I was out shopping today and passed a new consignment store. I went in to look what they have, and saw a very nice-looking rug. It was expensive, but I'm not sure how much a rug like that usually costs. I didn't see any tag saying what the fiber content was; if it is silk or wool I wouldn't want it. So after getting home I did some web searches, and came across this:

It will take one girl about half a year to make a 2×3ft carpet of 300 lines (90,000knots per square foot), 1.5 years to weave a 2×3ft silk carpet of 500 lines(250,000knots per square foot), two years to knot a 2×1.5 feet silk carpet with 800 lines(640,000knots per square foot) and 3 years to make a 1.2×1.5 feet silk carpet with 1000 lines(1000,000 knots per square foot). The silk thread used to knot top quality carpet is as thin as a hair. When knotting, weavers even need to use magnifier. The work is so harmful to weavers' eyes that they seldom can make the second same piece. So this kind of silk carpet is named "soft gold".

Good gosh, I wouldn't want a hand-made rug; the thought of someone tediously and painstakingly working for years just to produce a small portion of a rug makes me shudder. If I had a rug like that in my house, I'd feel guilty just looking at it. Surely the rug in the store was machine made, but I'm still not sure about the fiber.


I also went to Bed, Bath & Beyond. They have so much neat stuff there! I got some solar-powered lanterns to put in the back yard where it is very dark at night. And some other things. Their website has neat stuff too. I wonder how this thing works - a chess set with LED pieces which glow when they get close to the board.

telephone static

Saturday, October 10th, 2009 11:10 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
The phone box's ground wire goes into the basement, and it was connected with a clamp to one of the hot water pipes. I thought that perhaps that was part of the problem; perhaps the water heater was interfering with having a direct path to ground. So I considered moving the ground wire over to the cold water pipe instead. Then I remembered that after I moved in, I had a plumber install a shut-off valve on the main water pipe coming into the basement. When he did that, he replaced a small section of the original metal water pipe by the new valve with a section of plastic pipe. So it is possible that before then, the water pipes were grounded, but afterwards, they no longer were. So I installed a new ground wire going from the clamp on the hot water pipe out to the grounding rod outside. Maybe I should have just removed the original ground wire from the phone box, and connected the new wire directly to the box instead of to the pipe. I'm not sure.

Now I shall monitor my phone line over the next few days to see if the static is gone. Here's hoping!!

(no subject)

Monday, August 18th, 2008 01:59 pm
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I've been trying to figure out a mystery of why my bathroom sink drain would smell slightly like sulfur after turning the cold water on in the mornings or after the sink wasn't used for a while... and the kitchen sink drain too. It started happening after I plugged a small leak in one of the drain pipes in the basement. I've been thinking it could be a problem with the main vent stack, but normally there would be other clues if that were the problem, which haven't been the case for me. And the kitchen sink has its own vent stack, anyway, which I noticed today. I removed the plug I had put in the pipe, and the smell went away. Now I put the plug back in, to see if the smell comes back again. It's hard because it's one of those things you have to wait several days to test out.

The basement is a maze of pipes, vents, and cables. Whenever I go down there, I notice something I did not notice before, or figure out how something is connected, which I had not realized before.

It is boggling how many different pipes and lines there are down there, criss-crossing everywhere. Input cold water lines. Hot water lines. Drain pipes. Vent pipes. Gas lines. Heater exhaust pipes. Insulated HVAC ducts. Uninsulated HVAC air input ducts. Power cables. Telephone cables. A bunch of other old cables lying around which probably used to be connected but look like they aren't anymore.

The water lines and drains go to and from each and every fixture that uses water - the sinks, the toilets, the tub, the washing machine, the dishwasher, the refrigerator (even though I don't use the water from the fridge dispenser).

Then there are the vents on the roof and side of the house. The drain vent stacks. The heater exhaust / the shower fan ... haven't figured out yet whether those 2 are using the same vent or not ... the stove vent, the oven vent (since the oven is an enclosed fixture), the dryer vent, the water heater exhaust vent.. the attic fan...

(no subject)

Thursday, September 6th, 2007 07:07 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Wow, the 2 trees in my back yard which had lost nearly all their leaves appear to be growing new ones back. I wonder if that is due to some restorative ability the trees have, to recover after a time of drought, or if these trees are some variety for which it is normal to grow new leaves this time of the year?

Something I learned this week: If a plumber from a well-known and apparently highly-regarded plumbing company quotes you a seemingly outrageous price for some work you want done, even if the prices come from official-looking listings in a company binder, that doesn't necessarily mean it is a take-it-or-leave-it deal. If you say, no, that is more than I was planning to spend, they may actually give you a lower quote. And if you say no again, they may actually go even lower. Who knew that plumbing repairs were something to haggle over? It might have saved me a lot of money a few weeks ago, if I known that.
darkoshi: (Default)
I had the air conditioner on earlier today so that the person whom I had hired to install tile flooring in the washer/dryer area wouldn't be too uncomfortable while working. The temperature in the house was down to about 83 degrees (which felt way cooler than outside). Around 2pm, I turned the AC off and haven't had the windows open since then. It supposedly got up to 102 today, and is supposed to go down to 78 tonight. Now it is 11:16pm, and is about 87 degrees in the house, but it still feels hotter outside than in!

I'm not complaining, mind you. Just marvelling.


Now I am trying to decide which washer and dryer to buy. I really have a hard time making decisions like this sometimes... there are so many factors, so much data to consider, so many potential problems. On the internet, you can find stories of problems with pretty much every brand and model, so you have to figure out which problems are wide-spread versus not.

And should I get the smaller sized ones which would fit better in my w/d area, or bigger ones which can handle larger sized items... no, I don't have a king-size-comforter at this time, but is it possible I might ever need to wash something that big in the future???

And I'm not sure if I will need to get part of my standpipe replaced, since one brochure said it should be a minimum of 2 inches, and mine is smaller. While checking the pipe in the basement, I noticed that the insulation on the electric cable to that area is frayed off, leaving the paper wrappings exposed.

I wish that the w/d area were located somewhere else... not in the main part of the house where it could cause a big mess if the water ever leaks. But it is where it is.


I wonder if I can get my shower faucet which has a single control replaced with one which has 2 or 3 separate controls, or if that would require cutting into the shower wall to get to the pipes behind it.

(no subject)

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 05:33 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
SC will be voting on an amendment to the state constitution which would define marriage as being only between a man and a woman, and would prevent the establishment or recognition of any other kind of domestic union. It's been somewhat heartening to me that so far I've seen several yard signs and a few bumper stickers against the amendment, and only one for it. But this is South Carolina, so that probably doesn't mean much in terms of the eventual outcome of the vote.


I wish we didn't have any plumbing problems in our house. I noticed recently that when our hot water heater was replaced earlier this year, not only was the old water heater left standing in the basement, but it is still full of water! So it's too heavy for me to move, and I'm not sure how to go about getting the water out without it all ending up on the basement floor.

The one shut-off valve under our bathroom sink is leaking slightly, so we keep a bucket underneath it. I already tried replacing the washer to fix it, but without success. And apparently it is an older style shut-off valve, so Lowe's didn't have the right piece to replace the entire thing.

We don't have a main shut-off valve for the water to the house, other than the city's one which is in a hole in the yard. So to turn it the water off, we usually first have to dig out a bunch of dirt from the hole where the turn-off mechanism is, to even reach the mechanism, and then use a special metal tool to turn it just the right amount in order for the water to be shut off.

Our toilet has been leaking water into the tank; it's a slight leak, but if we didn't turn the water to the toilet off inbetween flushes, it would lose about a tankful every hour. I've tried replacing the flapper several times, but it still leaks. Perhaps the entire flush valve needs to be replaced, but to do that one would need to remove the toilet tank, and that seems too complicated for me to try. At least considering that that is the only toilet we have in this house, and if I ran into difficulties with the replacement, we would no longer have a working toilet.

Part of the problem is that I have no experience in hiring plumbers. Forestfen usually asks one of her friends to help us out when we need house repairs. The one who has plumbing experience unfortunately has been rather busy. I could call a plumber myself, but I don't want to end up paying hundreds of dollars to get things replaced, and then discover later that the leaks were still occurring.

I want to get the house repainted too. And we have some water damage from a roof leak. I'm not sure how to go about getting those things fixed either.
darkoshi: (Default)
these 2 old water-faucet knobs i had lying around finally told me what to do with them... make them into bells! of course! nuh, duh! (how is that spelled, anyway???) seems so obvious, it's odd it didn't occur to me sooner.