Three months ago, the toilet would not flush. The chain that connects to the handle had broken off from the “flapper” (the rubber plug thingy inside the tank that makes the toilet flush). Although a typical job a lovely wife, like myself, would assign to her husband, my loving husband does not do dirty jobs. In fact, he doesn’t do any jobs that require “fixing.” He is a man who believes, if something is broke, just replace it with a new one. Then later complains about our broke bank account while sitting on his new porcelain throne. Luckily for him and our bank account, I am a MacGyer of Housekeeping.
I can band-aid just about anything. Although I do own tools of my own (pink and petite), it is amazing what you can also do with a penny, a few rubber bands, a box of paperclips, floss, and a handful of alphabet kitchen magnets. I am serious!
When you need to solve a problem using common household items, it is important to not just think about an items intended function, but its strengths in general. Although a rubber-band can be used in a variety of different ways to hold things together, it’s elasticity can be used for other purposes, especially, since elasticity has the potential to store energy. Paperclips can conduct electricity. Floss is a sturdy string. Kitchen magnets, although mostly silly decor, are still helpful magnets. With a little science, creative imagination, and access to the internet, anything is possible. One of the many reasons I love science!
A Dirty Job
I do not mind a little dirt, but I draw the line with toilets. Being elbow deep into the tank of a toilet does not sound very sanitary, regardless that the water in the tank is supposedly “clean.” But, a girl has to do what a girl has to do to save a little money.
Standing over the toilet wearing my yellow-colored thick dish-gloves, (later to be properly disposed of) I remove the toilet tank lid. By the way, I do not understand why the tank lid weighs more than the toilet itself. Anyways, peering into the tank, I found that the chain was still intact, but the rubber loop on the flapper (rubber plug thingy) that connects to the chain is broken. So, when you flush the toilet, the handle pulls the chain and the chain unhinges from the flapper. The flapper remains in place and the toilet does not flush. The flapper needs to be replaced, not the chain. Although an inexpensive $5 replacement, that is $5 that I can spend on milk, a package of diapers, or a celebratory ice-cold refreshing bottle of soda when I am finished.
Like the amazing petite, pretty, plumber that I am, I turned off the water to the toilet, pulled the flapper to drain the tank, and got to work on repairing the rubber flapper. The easiest thing to do would be to glue the rubber loop back together so that it holds the chain again. I used Gorilla Glue, but a week later, it broke again. This is because the rubber flapper is old and cracking. That is what happens when rubber is submerged in water for longer periods of time, it eventually cracks.
Hot Glue For The Loo
Unfortunately, Google, Yahoo, and Bing told me to just replace it. Youtube was not helpful either, because nobody has ever had the need or wanted to repair a rubber toilet flapper. Just as I was about to order a new chain and flapper, I had an idea. HOT GLUE! Yup, you never thought hot glue could be used to repair a toilet.
Hot glue is basically a liquid plastic. Have you ever noticed that when hot glue dries its all rubbery? Yup, so the idea was to reinforce the glue (Gorilla Glue) with the hot glue. First, I used Gorilla Glue to glue the rubber loop back in place, attaching the chain to the flapper. After the Gorilla Glue set (about 24 hours) I covered it with hot glue. The hot glue dried over the vulnerable parts of the rubber holding the chain to the flapper. When the chain pulls on the rubber loop to lift the flapper, the hot glue should take most of the force and the chain should not break the the rubber loop. Science at it’s best!
It has been three months and our toilet has been flushing ever since. One day, I will need to replace the rubber toilet flapper, but for now, it works just fine. Oh, and the $5 I saved from having to buy a replacement, bought my kids a couple color books at the grocery store.
The next time you need to fix something, I challenge you to find your inner MacGyver and come back and share with us your experience!