On the way back from Austin to Houston after a 2 month stay at a dealer getting the larger bedroom slide fixed… we blew a tire. That sucked.

Immediately after having said tire replaced in the driveway of a random apartment complex we were forced to pull into… the toilet sprang a leak. That sucked even more.

It just HAD to get a spot on the problem list...

It just HAD to get a spot on the problem list…

Luckily, I was able to quickly shut down the water pump and stop the flood from continuing. Of course the leak lowered the pressure in the system enough to engage the pump again immediately if it was turned back on, so this meant trying to use any water in the RV would cause the problem to immediately return.

Since we were apparently destined for an adventure on our 3 hour drive home anyway, I did some research and found the replacement part I would need to complete the repair. After just settling up a bill with a dealer that itemized their hourly labor rate, this was one problem I was hell bent on trying to fix myself! If I was going to spend that kind of money again, I would make it worth it – like a full bathroom rebuild after I destroy all plumbing and cabinetry by getting too far out of my repairing depth. That, luckily, was not the end result.

What happened next will amazing you… or not. I fixed the toilet. End blog post, right? No. I wanted to brag a little because after some very in-depth research into technical requirements, recommended tools, and advanced RV construction techniques (I watched You Tube for about 20 minutes), I started the task. I also did it completely differently than ALL of the toilet fix videos I was able to find because that’s how I roll.

Everyone suggested that I remove the entire toilet to be able to work on the valve parts in the rear of it. If you saw what was involved, and the idea of having an open black tank hole in the floor of your house put into your mind even for a second, you would have gone my route as well, if at all possible.

Along the way, many discoveries were made.

One: I can add yet another reason to the list on why you should always have latex gloves at the ready.

Two: It has once again been confirmed that a straightened paperclip is THE tool to have along side a large hammer.

Three: My RV is a 2013 model, built on a 2012 Ford, with a 2005 toilet, using 2004 parts. The part that failed was already 7 years old when I bought the thing. It also comes with a ‘replace every 3 to 4 years’ recommendation from the manufacturer. Go figure.

5 years past it's life before I bought the thing?

5 years past it’s life before I bought the thing?

Four: Dealers charge way too much for little things like this.

Five: Next time this happens I will probably just take it to the dealer. Maybe.

The whole process wasn’t as bad as it could have been I guess. It was daunting as I peered down in the dark corner behind the toilet and looked at all of the workings of the plumbing while blood rushed to my head and I tried to read numbers and direction arrows upside down. It was daunting until a voice in the back of my mind reminded me that all complex systems are just collections of simpler parts and mechanics working together. That’s the voice that reminds me that, with time and patience, I can understand and work on just about anything. That voice gets me in trouble sometimes.

The first step was confirming that the water was indeed off. No water pump, and not hooked up to city water. Easy enough. Double check the water pump. Triple check. Good.

After that, it was the easy removal of 2 screws holding the whole assembly to the back of the toilet, followed by the disconnection of the tube feeding water into the assembly. Check the water pump again. Off? Good.

A view before I began, and a view before the cursing started.

A view before I began, and a view before the cursing started.

Removing the tube feeding from the assembly into the toilet bowl was even easier, which you would think was a great hint at what was to come when putting it back. That tube lied. Replacing the part and screwing it in took about 25 seconds. Reconnecting that tube into the bowl… 25 minutes. The tricky part is getting the small o-ring gasket on the fitting to continue to site evenly in it’s grove as you put it all together.

Now to test it all and see if we’ve succeeded.  Water pump back on. Step on the pedal and … victory!

What I was also able to avoid having to do by not removing the entire toilet from the coach to work on it was replacing the larger o-ring gasket between the toilet and the floor. I’m pretty sure I DON’T want to mess with that one unless I absolutely need to, but I now have a spare since the assembly came with one. They assume you’re going to do this whole process after pulling the toilet outside. Amateurs.

It's good luck to end a repair with extra parts, right?

It’s good luck to end a repair with extra parts, right?

In all fairness, my RV happens to have a small corner behind the toilet so it gave me space to put most of my arm down behind and work on everything even if I could’t see anything while doing it. The drawback is the lack of knuckle skin after the process is done, and the AWESOME head rush of hanging upside down in between each step and figuring out how to re-do it again, correctly.

One comment on “Fixing a leak – the easy/hard way.

  • This was hysterical to envision! Melody should have been video tapeing the whole process for America’s Funniest Home Videos. I’m proud of you and impressed that you took this task on and won in the end. You’re definitely a “Russell-of-all trades.” I’m glad you were able to avoid complete removal and having to deal with the seal. I once witnessed two men doing that chore and it wasn’t pleasant.

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