Has your biffy ever started talking to you? Toilets don’t speak English, instead they speak a type of gibberish known as Drip Latin. Not quite the Latin we spoke as kids – you know, when we didn't want our little brothers or sisters to understand what we were talking about. My favorite one, usually aimed at the most annoying sibling: “amscray upidstay."
Toilets on the other hand have a special language, and curiously, it sounds a lot like flowing water.
As a general contractor in Seattle, and now as a Seattle home inspector, I have learned to recognize and heed this toilet talk. I recall a kitchen floor tile job I did for a neighbor when I was contracting several years’ back. It was getting close to shutting down time and I had crawled around all day laying tile on kitchen floor. Well, I do drink a considerable amount of coffee during the day, so right before leaving the job I had to use the bathroom. I recall hearing Drip Latin coming from the toilet. I performed the “shake the handle” thing, but to no avail. The gibberish continued. So, thinking the owners probably knew about this, I kind of shrugged it off and went my merry way, thinking I would call the owners that evening when they returned home from work I had a few things to finish up before leaving the job and I was admiring my handiwork when I looked up and saw water cascading down the hallway and leaking into the floor cavity. Ohh sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Panic set in as I rushed to the biffy to turn off the water.
After clean up I, of course, wanted to find out what the issue was. As it turned out, the fill valve was not shutting off the water supply. Therefore the water continued to run to the point where it overwhelmed the overflow tube and leaked onto the floor from the handle penetration in the tank. I turned off the stop valve, left a note, and later called the owners to tell them about the incident. They told me that this “toilet talk” had been going on and ignored for a long time. The owners would just shake the handle to stop it. Well this worked until it didn't, and then it leaked until it was shut off and fixed.
The moral of this story is that it’s easy to take a toilet for granted - at least until something goes seriously wrong. When your toilet talks, remember to heed its warning.