All / Originally Posted on Skirt

Water Sports

My dear Skirts, as usual you will have to excuse an extended absence on my part.  In fairness I have been away from a computer for about ten days, and I will write about my many adventures very soon.  But before that, I have another tale to tell. 

So remember how, when I arrived on my houseboat in the Nile way back in September last year, the bathroom drain was clogged up and it was all flooded?  And then I moved into an apartment in Zamalek and the washing machine door popped open in the middle of a cycle and flooded the whole hallway all the way into the living room before I noticed?  And then I went back to Florida and the drain in my shower backed up and flooded all the way through my bedroom, into the porch and out the door onto the deck? 

I think you know where this is going.

A few weeks ago my roommates and I noticed a small stain developing on the living room ceiling.  A day or so later it started spreading down the wall.  It had taken us a while to notice, because it was very faint, but it looked sort of damp.

We had a leak. 

Like all new houses, ours has started to settle a bit and in so doing the various bits and pieces of household innards have shifted around this way and that.  After much debate, discussion and deliberation (and calling a plumber) we discovered that my roommate’s shower tiles had started to separate a bit from the wall, causing water to drip in and run down towards the ceiling below.  It turned out to be a relatively easy problem to solve, to our great relief.

I forgot to mention this until just now, however, because I’ve obviously become so accustomed to floods and leaks that they just strike me as a natural part of everyday life.  But yet another watery disaster (okay, it was more of a dilemma than a disaster) occurred today, causing me to reflect on the series of panic-inducing fluid-based incidents I have experienced in the past year. 

This morning when I left the house, I could hear the toilet in my bathroom running.  When I came home again eight hours later, it was still going.  Upon removing the top of the toilet to have a look, I discovered that the tank was completely dry despite the water coming out of the fill valve.  Actually, it wasn’t really coming out of the fill valve at all, but rather spraying upwards from another piece of the tank equipment in a comically face-drenching manner.  I also noticed with great trepidation that instead of being an old-fashioned, simple chain-and-plug style tank it was a far more complicated-looking affair involving nozzles, a great big plastic pipe thingy and not one but two plastic floats.  One of these had detached itself from its point of origin and was resting gently on the bottom of the tank like a beached ship.

I experimentally tried to flush the toilet, just to see what would happen.  Naturally, it behaved as would any toilet with an empty tank and did nothing at all.

Landlord time.  I called my landlord to indicate as a matter of some urgency that I couldn’t get the toilet to flush.  Murphy’s law dictated that after I called him, for seemingly no reason at all the tank started to fill again.  Once it was filled it flushed just fine.  I nevertheless tried to describe the random extra piece I’d found in there as well as the very strange design feature of the tank converting itself into a fountain.  “Hmm,” he said.  He suggested I have a look in one of the other toilet tanks to see if I could determine what exactly was going wrong. 

Well, I discovered much to my surprise that the water, instead of misting gently upwards out of a blue wheel-shaped thingy on the side of the fill valve, was supposed to be coming out of a plastic tap-shaped thingy on the top of the valve and then going down what looked like a cellophane tube and filling the tank up from the bottom–I assume this in some way makes the tank less noisy as it fills.  But the thing is: my tap-shaped thingy was completely blocked up, hence the water escaping at an odd angle through the blue wheel (and what the heck is that for anyway?!), and even more excitingly my cellophane tube has somehow been shredded to bits. 

Despite much speculation on the types of forces that could cause this to happen without also destroying the toilet tank, my flatmate and I remain mystified.  An army of open safety pins?  A very, very small explosion?  Attack of the Toilet Demon? 

After looking at the innards of her toilet for comparison, we also couldn’t figure out what on earth the function of the intriguing second float was, though we do know where it goes now, nor how it became detached from its customary abode in the first place.  Were the shredding of the tube and the detaching of the Other Float seperate developments or are they in some way connected?  Has there just been a series of gradually escalating system failures in my toilet tank?  Is my toilet engaging in self-harm? 

We may never know.