50 cents is all it takes for toilet fix

By Morris and James Carey The Associated Press
Friday July 27, 2001

Q. I have a humming noise in my water lines, caused by a vibration that results when the tank float valve in my toilet nears shutoff. Is there a way to fix it other than by replacing the float and shut-off valve assembly? 

A. Your question contains the answer. Almost. No, you don’t have to replace the entire valve. All you need to do is to replace the gasket within it. It truly is a 50-cent repair. Turn off the water to the toilet and flush it. Next, remove the shut-off valve cover. How you do this will depend on the brand. However, most have four screws on top. Carefully remove the screws and then the top, locate and remove the gasket and use disassembly as a guide for replacement and reassembly. By the way, it is almost always easier to replace the entire unit. The humming? That’s the ballcock assembly telling you it has a gasket that is almost completely worn out. 

Q: My husband and I recently bought a 100-year-old home. In the process of painting the plaster-walled library we’re running into some bizarre paint problems. The walls were triple painted in a brush pattern when we bought the home – we think within the last 10 years. We bought Olympic flat paint and proceeded to apply two coats. After letting them dry we noticed dark stripes down the walls and the whole surface is crackling in 1/8th-inch sizes. We bought a new primer and primed the entire room. Now the primer is doing the same thing as the other coats What can we do now? 

A. We have to assume that the three-color painting detail to which you refer is sponge or splatter paint. We assume this because the glaze that is used with sponge or splatter paint – once painted – will render the crackling effect you are experiencing. Now that you know the cause of the problem, all you have to do is eliminate it – the cause, that is. The problem will then go away. 

There are several ways to do this: You can sand – very messy. Or, you can use paint remover – even messier. Or, you can try to encapsulate the problem by painting it with a material that will not be affected by the existing glaze. This we think would be the easiest. Try using a coat of oil-base primer. Do a 2-square-foot area. Water-base primer will simply not work.  

nce sealed with the oil-base primer, any kind of finish coat can be used. If the oil-base primer doesn’t work, you probably would be best off covering the walls with a quarter-inch thick layer of gyp board. We hope the primer does the job. 



James and Morris Carey are feature writers for The Associated Press