Look out MacGyver, there’s a new master of practical science! Who needs a plumber when you’ve got a Vittel bottle and some chewing gum?
Last week I noticed a drip coming from my upstairs toilet. This drip became more frequent enticing me to it’s damp origin. Inside the cistern I found the plastic nut was leaking, causing the water to reach the overflow drain. I quickly discovered upon tampering with the nut, that this would not be a simple fix.
My brother is quite a handy guy to know when it comes to home maintenance, but alas, was not available this weekend to lend a hand. Although he did offer some much needed phone support.
Before I could take the valve unit apart, I needed to remove the water from the system. Unfortunately the mains supply stop-cock under my kitchen sink does not work, and is therefore constantly on. So, in order to drain the tank in the loft without it filling straight up was to tie up the ball-cock to keep the valve here closed. Then, drained the tank by opening all the taps in the bathroom (saving what I could in buckets, to use for flushing the toilet).
Once there was no water left in the pipes I could take the ball-cock apart and pin-point the problem. Luckily, the fault was down to the little rubber washer that had become clay-like in it’s years of service. I popped down to the local bathroom showroom and picked up a new fibre washer.
After re-assembling the unit I released the ball-cock in the tank and left it to fill up, thinking the job was nearing completion. Did the taps work? Did they f***! Two feet of water was back in the storage tank, creating all the pressure usually required, but I had a chuffin’ air lock in the pipes.
Apparently when this happens, the only way to re-gain pressure in the pipes is to suck, blow, or attach a hose to the tap fed from a mains water line (such as the kitchen sink or garden tap).
This left me with a problem. I didn’t own a hose. If I sucked, I’ll cut my mouth on the lime scale or eat it, or fill my lungs with water. I was left to blowing into the tap until my eyes were popping out of my head. The tap would spit out a shot glass amount of water and resort to the slight trickle.
Then came my MacGyver moment. Looking around me at the buckets of water and plastic bottles I racked my brains to find a way to create simple suction that was release the air.
Of course… an empty water bottle and chewing gum!
The Vittel bottle fit the tap quite well, but to create a near as water-tight seal as I could I spat out my chewing gum and lay it around the rim. Then I cut a small hole near the bottom of the bottle and bent it upwards to my mouth. I was then able to suck the air out twice with the full force of my lungs, before the bottle filled up and I backed off to witness the water spurt out and FILL THE PIPES! Hurraah! Richard Dean Anderson would be proud!
What a great feeling to fix your own house all by yourself. I’m dead chuffed with myself. Next week, gas fires!