The toilet isn’t flushing again. And the leak is not fixed on the holding tank. But it’s OK because I have a plan (and a resolute determination to fix this myself).
One of my neighbours said that the flushing problem happens when the pressure release valve on the holding tank gets blocked by a stray piece of toilet paper. He advised I use poor quality toilet paper that breaks up more easily. Which I was absolutely going to do as soon as this pack of toilet paper was finished. I still had one roll to go when the blockage became apparent again.
The same neighbour also said the easiest way to unblock it is to spray the hose into the valve outlet to unblock it. This worked last time I tried it, so I was confident this would be an easy fix. But spraying the hose alone did not seem to provide enough pressure, so I bought a hose gun attachment. This also failed to get the toilet flushing properly, so I thought I would fashion my own attachment to the gun to get it spraying at a higher pressure. Using a Formcard (which I’ve also used to make a washing up brush holder) I made this attachment, which still didn’t get the job done. Argh.
In the meantime I had got brave enough to check the top of the holding tank, and was disappointed with the result. It was still leaking. My current theory is that it only leaks when the pressure release valve gets blocked, and under normal unpressurised situations is just fine. But as the chances of this situation never arising again are pretty slim, I thought I should try to come up with a better sealant solution. As I foolishly checked on the leak situation about 10 minutes before I had to go to work, all I could do was throw half a dozen silica gel packs on the leak, cover that with a couple of nappies and then top it all off with a towel before I left. I spent a good deal of the night wondering whether the floor would be covered in sewage when I got back, and how I would go about sorting that out in my sleep-deprived state. (Fortune was smiling on me, and the leak remained small and contained by the eclectic mix of materials covering it.)
Back on the outside of the boat, I had managed to get my hands on a pressure hose and the help of my parents. But the pressure hose fared no better than previous attempts, and so a brave decision had to be made. It was time to go to the pump out.
Long-term readers may recall an unfortunate incident about a year ago in which I went to the pump out and ended up covered in the contents of the tank. There was an excellent possibility I was about to repeat this, and everyone in the boat knew it. Armed with waterproof outerclothes, rubber gloves and a plethora of nappies (they really are very useful) I was ready to take my chances. Dad was at the ready several feet away; I like to think this time he would have been armed with a camera just in case.
I began to unscrew the cap to the tank slowly. Instantly fluid began to seep out, and was quickly mopped up with a nappy. I continued unscrewing, and frantically swapping the nappies over as the fluid flowed ever faster (try that out as a tongue twister) until the cap came out along with a gurgle of tank contents. (I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty sure that my nappy skills were such that barely anything reached the river.) The hard bit over, we started pumping out.
In my unending wisdom, I decided to rinse the tank out a little by running water from the shower down the toilet. This was all going great until I knocked a box of disposable gloves into the toilet. Imagine my dismay as I saw a dozen pink gloves disappear down the toilet. There’s a blog post to look forward to in a few months when they chose to rear their ugly fingers again.
So the toilet is now flushing normally, and it is time to fix the tank. I thought I would splash out on specialist bonding gel instead of using whatever I could find on the boat (though had I decided to ‘be creative’ with the products at my immediate disposal, the mouldy cream cheese was looking like the front runner). The silica gel packs had exploded and so the top of the tank was covered by unpleasant smelling jelly (I could describe it in greater detail, but no one wants to read that). Slime cleared away, area sanded, and £6 sealant applied. Will I live to regret not splashing out on the £8 sealant? Tune in to find out in another thrilling episode of Tank Wars.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Hold back the river‘ by James Bay.