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.