This week was no exception, but at least this time the drama didn't involve an animal carcass. It did, however, involve a $170 water bill, which I assure you is QUITE a bit higher than it is supposed to be.
We actually got our bill a couple weeks ago when Dan was still home, but seeing as we both work full time, it was a good few days before he was able to swing over to the Village to question the insane jump in our bill. Thankfully, our Village tends to be more helpful than not, and someone immediately suggested checking to see if our toilet was leaking. I (of course) immediately panicked when Dan told me this, expecting a huge plumbing cost heading our way, or worse - a leaky pipe somewhere in a wall or the basement just forming a puddle of disaster. Lucky for us, a leaky toilet does NOT always mean an outside leak, and can be checked with a simple test. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank, wait 20 minutes, and see if the color starts to show up in the water of the bowl. If it does, there's a leak that's easily repaired with a new flapper.
As luck would have it, our dyed blue tank water started seeping into the bowl in less than 10 minutes, which leads me to believe ours was more than just a "minor" leak. Go figure. Some Googling confirmed that a leaky flapper can literally waste thousands of gallons of water (not good), and can end up costing homeowners hundreds of dollars (not good at ALL). So, we headed to Home Depot the night before Dan had to head out of town, planning to fix everything so I wouldn't be left to figure it out. We opted to try out a handy new dual-flush system for $25 that would supposedly save us all kinds of money year after year. Unfortunately, we fell victim to false advertising because the "fits every toilet!!" product does NOT fit toilets with a 3" fitting, which (surprise!), ours just happens to have. As usual, we did not go to Home Depot until nearly closing time, so by the time we got home and realized the dual-flusher wouldn't work, the store was closed and Dan was packing to leave the following morning.
Knowing that the leak was literally leaking MONEY, off I went to Home Depot 2 days later with Manda for a regular old replacement flapper. We found a helpful employee that assured me that "my daughter" and I could easily replace the piece ourselves, and we headed home with fingers crossed to give it a shot. (Side note: Do I seriously look old enough to have a teenage daughter? Manda found this absolutely hilarious; I didn't know whether or not I should be offended.)
The flapper piece is literally attached with a chain at top and two little "teets" at bottom (thanks for that name Home Depot man, that's not awkward at all), so the hardest part of the whole 5 minute ordeal was unclipping the existing chain at a weird angle. Piece of cake! Unfortunately the toilet flushes completely differently than it used to - you now have to hold the handle down until it's done, which is annoying and not what it's supposed to do - so Dan will probably still need to work on it. But, another food coloring test proved (I hope) that the leak has stopped, so at least we aren't wasting money for the time being. For the most part, my first minor plumbing excursion was a success!