My Toilet Hums to a Different Beat


Are parents suppose to pass down home repair skills to their kids? Someone please check the daddy manual for me. I’m asking because my dad didn’t teach me anything about maintaining a home and our house is falling apart. I find myself learning as I go — sometimes with disastrous results (pay no attention to the big hole in the wall). I’m not sure why my dad didn’t teach me how to be a handyman. I suppose it could be because my dad hired people for most major repairs. Back in the dark ages, Home Depot and Lowe’s didn’t exist and people couldn’t go online for do-it-yourself information.

My lack of home repair experience could also be because I rarely saw my dad when I was growing up. He worked the night shift (5 pm to 2 am) at a Chinese restaurant six days a week (including holidays — except for Christmas). He was asleep when I left for school and gone by the time I came home. What repairs my dad did make were made during school hours.

So here I am, a few centuries later, dealing with one home repair after another. Recently, my house was making a weird humming sound. I have never not heard a pipe hum, but if I did, it would sound like my house. Like any clueless dad, I just ignored it. It’ll just go away by itself. But after a few days, the house was still humming and it was humming loudest in one of the bathrooms. It got so loud in the bathroom, I thought a pipe was going to explode.

After I consulted my friend, Google, I determined that the problem was because the ballcock in the toilet needed to be replaced. Talk about awkward. Try asking someone at Home Depot where they keep their ballcocks. And don’t bother trying to describe it. It’s a ball about the size of two fists and it has a long shaft sticking out of it. I wonder who came up with the name “ballcock” and what he was thinking of at the time.

Replacing the ballcock is actually fairly simple:

  • Turn off the water shutoff valve below the toilet tank
  • Flush the toilet
  • To remove the remaining water in the tank (not the bowl), you can either use a sponge to soak up the water or place a bucket under the supply tube inlet
  • Unscrew the supply tube from the bottom of the tank
  • Remove the bad ballcock and replace it with a new one
  • Reconnect the supply tube to the tank

That’s it. I recommend purchasing a combo kit that also includes tank bolts and flapper. You might as well replace them too while you have the tank drained. I speak from experience. Last year, I drained the tank to replace the tank bolts. This year, I drained it to replace the ballcock. Next year, I’ll probably have to drain it again to replace the flapper.


27 thoughts on “My Toilet Hums to a Different Beat

  1. The guy that came up with the word “ballcock” did it on a dare. Him and his plumber friends were sitting around coming up with words for all things plumbing. His buddies dared him to name the ball thing in the back of the toilet a ballcock. He thought it would be funny for manly men to have to go in Home Depot and have to say that word to another manly man.
    What gets me are the “male” and “female” connectors.

    Read peepnroosmom´s recent blog post..Wiggly Fingers, Everyone!

  2. What a great post! I’m in a very similar situation where my dad wasn’t around to show me how to fix cars or houses so it makes repairs very interesting to say the least. For some reason my wife thinks all of those skills were automatically present when I was born. Her dad is extremely handy so she assumes I should be as well. I mean who else doesn’t replace a rear hub bearing in their car?

  3. I don’t think there’s any shame in NOT knowing how to do simple home repair. Lots of men are not skilled at that, and I know some women who truly ARE. My husband is good at diagnosing problems, but we usually hire someone else to do the big jobs. The little ones he seems to handle okay, like replacing toilet parts.

    Read Desert Songbird´s recent blog post..More Miscellany than Random

  4. Oh it’s crazy to have to admit knowing what ballcock (clearly a man named device) is and having done this myself! ROFL Ironically, as I replaced another flapper (must not make them like they used to) I was chuckling to myself over the concept of home repair and what you learn through experience…..ah the joys.

    Good job daddy!


    Read Holly Schwendiman´s recent blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Arizona Sunsets

  5. I might have to go into a Home Depot and ask them for help finding a BALLCOCK, how a BALLCOCK works, and that my husband sent me to buy one since his is totally broken. I will pick out a young male that reeks of virgin. Villainous!

    Read Autumn´s recent blog post..Visit from grandma

  6. This post was both hilarious and humbling. I, too, feel clueless most of the time because my dad wasn’t around to teach me stuff. He was working the night shift, too, only it was at his secretary’s house (ba-dum-bum).

    Anyway, until recently, my response to problems such as these would be to replace the entire toilet. That kind of thing gets expensive after awhile, so I’m having to learn as I go.

    Read Phil´s recent blog post..The Written Word

  7. Every now and then, I have to admit I consider dropping your blog from my reader (there are more than 100 there!!! Forgive me!!) but every single time I read one of your posts, I love it! Looks like you’re a lifer. And a damned good ballcocker at that! Nicely done.

  8. You know….I am really glad that you turned off the water first..

    My super handy never read or goggle instructions DH in his life….changed the ballcock ONCE…

    Guess which part he didn’t do….x

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