About a week ago, I discovered a very small trickle of water leaking into my toilet bowl from the cistern. I didn’t bother about it as I thought the trickle was very small and I was hoping (stupidly) that somehow, the problem would go away by itself. Well the leak got progressively worse, and a few days ago, I tried turning off the inflow valve to see how long it would take the cistern to empty. I left it overnight and by the next morning it was empty. This was too much water being wasted (at least an extra flush a day) and I decided it had to be fixed.
Knowing how much a plumber would cost me, I tried trawling the Internet for information on my Caroma toilet. I did get some ideas and good instructions, but I could not find the exact instructions for my Caroma model, which I think is quite old. I guess I could have tried harder and sooner or later I would have gotten the information I needed; but there was also the ‘yuck’ factor. I mean, do I really want to mess around with my toilet bowl just to save some money? In the end, my sense of cleanliness won out and I called in the plumber.
He came today and initially tried to simply use his hands (no tools!) to yank out the innards of the cistern. I think he was a little confused. From what I read on the Internet, he must have thought, like me, that my system was like a dux flush and needed to be unscrewed, which he couldn’t do (and which I had tried and failed myself earlier on). Later on, after he dismantled the cistern from the pan, I realised that he could have simply unclipped two plastic lugs and he could have removed the mechanism to get to the outflow valve shield. I think he realised it later on too, but we both didn’t say anything and I didn’t want to embarrass him.
Well just before he actually dismantled the cistern, he was telling me that I could just change the washer ($300!) or get the whole innards replaced ($584!!). Chances of things working by just changing the washer – about 60% to 70%. If I changed the whole innards, well that would practically guarantee that the leak would be fixed. However, if he changed the washer and then it didn’t work and then he had to change the whole contraption, it would cost me over $700! Fixing a brand new low-end loo would cost me only around $1000.
In the end, I took a chance and told him to just change the washer. So he does what I described (unnecessarily, in my view) and puts the whole thing back on and lo and behold, the leak into the bowl is fixed, but now, water is gushing out through the joint between the cistern and bowl. Off comes the cistern again, and he examines and adjusts some washers, puts the thing back on and it still leaks through the joints. Off it comes again, and he hints to me that if I changed the whole innards, we wouldn’t have this problem. So I tell him, dejectedly, to go ahead and change it, since by this time my toilet was in a mess and I just wanted the damned thing fixed and him outta my toilet!
So he makes a few calls and his suppliers tell him to bring the innards to their warehouse/shop so they can see what model it is. He goes off and comes back about 45 mins later and tells me he has good news and bad news. Bad news is that they don’t make these innards anymore, and I’m stuck with this old one. Good news is that he managed to find another washer which might do the trick.
So up he goes and finally, everything is fixed.
Final bill – $350.
Sigh. At least I didn’t have to pay for the replacement components.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that in a couple of years, when the outflow valve shield rots away again, I will know exactly what to do on my own. I will just have to bear with the ‘yuck’ factor!
Hey Chongs, Chias and Cheongs and all other friends in Melbourne; if you have a problem with your cistern, call me! I won’t actually fix it for you (yuck factor) but I’ll sit beside you and give you exact instructions on what to do, for a minimal fee. :)