Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hail the Fluid Master

Shortly before leaving on vacation I received an urgent call at work. JB was in a panic because the toilet wouldn't flush. I have a hard enough time helping people troubleshoot technical problems over the phone when I do know what I'm talking about. Not being a plumber I advised him to use the bathroom in our condo building's pool house until I got home from work. (Our version of "dropping the kids at the pool.")

Never the patient type, JB hung up and immediately called the condo association manager to complain. She correctly laughed at him.

When I got home I discovered that by turning off the water supply into the tank then turning it back on, the tank would fill. It just wouldn't refill automatically again after the next flush. While I didn't fix the problem, turning the water valve off and on after each flush provided a work-around until I could replace the fill-valve in the tank. This would have to wait until after vacation.

Yeah, I probably should have given the cat sitter a heads-up about that. But at least the litter box was immaculate.

Anyway, it was off to Homo Depot last Saturday to fulfill my manly duty. The strategy changed when I saw that the hot guy in the kilt was working. Turning down two other friendly offers of assistance, I made my way to Handy McFreeball and pretended I never saw the inside a toilet tank before.

Sadly for me, all the necessary parts were shelved above knee level. After my third stupid question he assured me installation couldn't be simpler. There's even a step-by-step picture guide right there on the side of the box, see? But what if I get home and find I need help? "There should be an 800 number in there," Handy offered as he turned on his heel (not fast enough) and abandoned me in the plumbing aisle.

It was only after Handy disappeared from sight that the Fluidmaster Duo Flush™ caught my eye.

A common feature on toilets in Europe is the ability to choose between a full flush and a "half flush". Because the fact of the matter is all flush requirements are not the same. Why waste a full tank of water when four out of five times (random estimate, less if you drink beer, more if you're Jamie Lee Curtis) just a fraction of a tank will get the job done?

It's one of those simple things we don't think about in the Land of Plenty. Until a drought hits, like the one that panicked Atlanta four years back. Nothing says you're in deep shit like hearing a respected local TV news anchor say the words, "If it's yellow, let it mellow..."

My project Saturday afternoon was to install the Fluidmaster ™. Mr. McFreeball was right, it only takes fifteen minutes. An hour and a half if cocktails are served. After final adjustments, I set the heavy porcelain lid back on the tank and called over JB to proudly show off my accomplishment.

After a brief instructional lecture ("Down for full flush, up for half flush") he asked, "How do I do a full flush?"

"You push the handle down."

"And a normal flush?"

"Push the handle down."

"No... a normal flush."

"What's normal? Number one or number two?"

"I don't know, you installed it!"

It was around here that I began to feel like I was doing a bit in an Abbott and Costello routine. I hope I have an easier time explaining it to the cat sitter.

It's really quite simple. All you need to remember is:
"Blue is for poo."


  1. Or you could of just installed a trough. I hear those are fun.

  2. If you're standing up, lift it up.
    If you're sitting down, push it down.
    I got it!

    Or the trough works too...

  3. Why aren't the dials yellow and brown? Blue and green are not intuitive . . . just don't make sense!

  4. I agree with uncuplus. The colors are all off. :-o

  5. I totally didn't know they made these! I was going to do a whole new toilet install with the euro dual plunger thing. I need to look into this.....