Sometimes it takes an effort to put together a simple leak in the washroom Image Credit: Supplied

I will never make it as a plumber. Absolutely no chance of me ever switching careers and becoming a full-time leak fixer.

My toilet wasn’t flushing properly, and it was taking too long to fill up, so I thought I’d have a go fixing it myself. How difficult can it be, after all? It’s just a matter of a plastic mechanism, replacing it if needs be, and putting it all back together? It’s not rocket science.

So, the first thing I do is turn the water off to stop the cistern from filling up. Easy peasy, just a turn of a little valve with a screwdriver — one of the slotted ones. Like I could find one — my set is the other sort and I couldn’t find a slot to save my life. So, a kitchen knife makes for a good substitute. I nicked my finger with it — not the end of the world — but the water was off.

Flush to empty the cistern

Then a flush to empty the cistern. Next, it’s a matter of getting the top off the cistern — which sounds fine in theory. In practise, the lid was stuck to the ceramic wall by a load of silicon. So, back to the knife to loosen then. And I nick myself again — but not the end of the world either.

Off comes the cistern lid and I can tell then it’s all gummed up with calcium deposits. Not the end of the world either. A quick trip down to the plumbing supply shop and the woman behind the counter was very helpful, fixing my up with a new plastic floaty thing that shuts the water off when the cistern is full.

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Back home to replace it and turn the water back on — no I didn’t nick myself this time. Twice bitten, twice shy. So, when I do get the water on, the bathroom floor is quickly flooding. It’s not where I fixed that’s the problem — but there are two screws with rubber gaskets that bolt the cistern to the toilet itself — they’re all corroded. And by rooting around in the cistern trying to make things right, they gave up the ghost.

So, I go back to the plumbing shop and try to explain to the nice woman behind the counter what I need. She tracks them down and offers me a plaster as well because my nicked finger is bleeding again and smudging her counter.

Put everything back together

Back home and I try to get the old seals out. They are rusted and corroded in place. After two hours of swearing and huffing and puffing I finally get them out, replace them with the new ones, put everything back together and turn the water one again.

More water on the floor.

It takes me an hour more to realise that the big seal between the toilet and the cistern is gone. I take the whole thing apart again and head back to the plumbing store.

The woman, I swear, laughs at me when I come in again. She gives me a doughnut ring. I go home and install that, redo the screws with the seals I did before, turn the water on. Now the valve where the water is turned on and off is leaking. Not the end of the world. A couple of twists with a spanner and it stopped. All seems to be OK … But there’s a wobble when I sit on the seat. Back to the plumbing shop for a new seat … I honestly thought the woman was going to collapse with laughter when I walked back into the shop for the new toilet seat. She handed me a plumber’s business card with my receipt.

Mick O’Reilly is the Gulf News Foreign Correspondent based in Europe