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Agriculture.com Staff 02/08/2016 @ 12:01am

I just got done overhauling our one-year-old toilet.

It's an interesting way to spend a couple of hours -- lying on the floor looking up at a toilet.

It made me a little cranky. My opinion is that a toilet should last longer than a year before it requires major maintenance. The first toilet in this house lasted about 60 years. We put a new one in about 20 years ago when we remodeled the bathroom even though the original still worked fine; it was just a little ugly.

The next one we installed was one of the new water-saving models. It used half as much water as the old one, but since it usually had to be flushed three or four times with each use, I'm not convinced it was a big step forward.

We bought the new toilet during our latest remodeling project based on the observation that even though it, too, was a water-saving model, it could "flush a Buick."

I'm not completely sure why that image was a selling point for me. We haven't had a Buick since 1965.

The new toilet worked swell. We didn't actually try to flush a Buick, but everything else certainly disappeared. It made a loud "clunk" and a whooshing noise -- it sounded a little like a steam engine going over Niagara Falls, but I kind of like to compare it to a loud muffle on a Corvette -- not really necessary, but impressive. I was well-pleased.

But then it started to leak. That wasn't such a good thing. Apparently it flushed with such vigor that it sucked a sealing gasket right out of its slot, resulting in water oozing down the drain forever. It could still be used; you just had to kneel next to it and turn the water valve on, then turn it back off when you were done. It wasn't actually very convenient, and certainly not a procedure I wanted to explain to guests.

Things came to a head when we were gone for the weekend and forgot to turn the toilet off. It ran for three days, which used up all the salt in the water softener.

Some of you lucky enough to live in areas with soft water don't know what that means. We have a lot of minerals in our water and unless it is processed in a water softener, everything the water comes on contact with, such as white shirts and porcelain sinks, turns yellow, and when you take a shower you don't actually get clean or...wet. Now, if the water softener runs out of salt and the system fills with hard water, including the 100 gallon water heater, you can look forward to about four days of stained clothing, yellow sinks, and non-cleansing showers before the system is fully purged. That can make the atmosphere around the homestead a little tense.

I went online to try and find out if anyone else had the same problem. I found an entire Web site dedicated to complaints about this model of toilet. On one hand, that was bad, because then I knew for sure that I had a defective product. On the plus side, it wasn't my fault the thing wasn't working. There was more good news in store -- an update kit was available. I ordered it and then spent a morning working with a few wrenches and an instruction sheet written in five languages. Nothing leaked when I turned the water back on and when I pulled the lever everything flushed.

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