Fixing Toilets

My, how I love toilets. Its probably not something most of us think about but we really have it good here in the USA. A quick trip down to a country like El Salvador will give you an entirely new perspective on how amazing our toilets are, even our public toilets (gasp).

I’ve spent the last hour at work trying to fix our toilet. As it turns out, the handle had been put on incorrectly and the float was set to fill up the tank too far.  I am proud to announce that I fixed it. However it did take a bit of reading on my part about how toilets work in order to find the problem, especially considering there were 2 problems going on simultaneously. But never fear, plumber Rachel is here!

Returning to the comparison between El Salvador toilets and the one I fixed, I had always wondered about a toilet experience I had there. The public toilets at a park we went to were, well… disgusting. Let me paint the picture for you: a cinderblock building with water running everywhere, stifling heat and an obscene smell, no lights but small cut outs for windows, big sheets to create stalls (of course they didn’t close all or even most of the way – so much for privacy in your darkest hour), toilets with no seat and no tank on the back, and an “attendant “who stood in the corner manning a huge barrel of water with a bucket. The circumstances that led me to use this bathroom (for which I had to pay a fee and buy toilet paper) were less than pleasant. Let’s just say I was in a dire situation and probably would have gone for removing my stomach and intestines entirely if it had been an option.

Needless to say, I was desperately in need of a bathroom. There is nothing quite like hovering for who knows how long with water running around your shoes in stifling heat, stomach lurching, groaning, and churning. After spending an eternity in my “stall,” I learned why the “attendant” had to be in there as well. Instead of a flushing tank, the attendant brought in the bucket and poured a couple gallons of water into the bowl and it flushed. I have always wondered how that worked and only today did I have my curiosity satisfied.

By pouring so much water in quickly, the water in the bowl gets forced down the pipe, creating the suction action that pulls all the “stuff” from the bowl down the drain. After it is all flushed down, the attendant refills the bowl and waits for the next victim, I mean, paying customer. Who knew?


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