Toilet Troubles Tackled: We Did It Ourselves

broken toiletphoto credit: Doug Noon

My husband and I have never been big on home improvement or repair projects around the house.   It’s not an interest of either of us, and we certainly don’t have much aptitude for these types of jobs.  And we do not always work well together. We once got into a huge argument just putting together a tool to do a job. Yes.. just the tool… not the actual job.

We often joke that it is better for our marriage to pay someone else to fix things for us.  But with our most recent repair it wasn’t an option.

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Because of all people, our trusted plumber (whom we’ve worked with for 12 years), encouraged us to tackle a home repair project ourselves.

We had the unfortunate problem of a leaking toilet.  Now, I have fixed a running toilet before.  But this was a leak from the base of the toilet, so it was a bigger (and more disgusting) repair.

My husband called the plumber, who was too busy to come the 30 miles out to our house to do the job.  He also told us exactly what we needed to do (replace the toilet wax ring) and that it would cost us less than five bucks.  He also explained what the repair entailed, and encouraged us to find a resource (either online or in a book) to find pictures and more info.

Knowing my hubby’s skills, I talked to the plumber, too.  After all, I was worried about our marriage.  But the plumber walked through the steps with me, and assured me that he was teaching us to swim by tossing us in… and that he would come rescue us if he needed to.  “But I won’t need to,” he said. “You guys are smart.  You can figure this out, and you’ll save money. It will be good for you.”

Black & Decker The Complete Photo Guide to Home RepairAnd guess what?  Our plumber was right.  The repair cost about $2 and a couple hours, but we did it ourselves!  And we didn’t fight at all.  We referred to Black & Decker: The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair a book, my parents had given us one Christmas.  It has great pictures and easy-to-follow instructions, and most importantly, it gave us an extra boost of confidence (in addition to the pep talk from the plumber).

I’m glad that we took the time to do it ourselves.  Was it a fun? No.  Was it hard? Not really.  Did it save us a bit of cash? Yes!  And that money can now be used for other things.

My point is this:  Don’t talk yourself out of trying to do things yourself just because you haven’t done them before. 

You just might surprise yourself when you succeed.

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About Christina Brown

Christina is a wife and mother dedicated to figuring out how to live a simpler, happier life on a budget.


  1. Amy says

    …oh yes…home improvement/repairs are otherwise known as marriage encounters at my home, but I’m glad to hear there is hope. Congratulations on your success.

  2. says

    I’m blessed with an exceedingly handy husband. He’s an engineer in his day job and a woodworker hobbyist (hoping to turn it into a business!) in his limited free time. It’s funny though that I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion you (used to?) have: It’s healthier for my marriage if I just hire someone to do the handyman jobs around the house because otherwise we argue about him getting it done. :-) To be fair, my husband has a lot on his plate: a full-time job, a chronically ill wife, a daughter in first grade that he does the bulk of caretaking for. But even before the wife got sick and the kid came along, he always preferred to do the stuff he considered fun than the jobs like fixing the toilet.

    I found your blog thanks to a link at Chief Family Officer’s morning coffee. And I’m sure I’ll be back again, too! :)

    • says

      Welcome, Aviva! Glad you stopped by!

      I still think that it for some projects it is better for our marriage to hire things out… after all, that’s what our emergency fund is for! BUT… it is also good to challenge ourselves occasionally and push ourselves outside our comfort zones.

      Knowing we could do it is huge… it’s nice to have the CHOICE of whether or not to hire a job out.

      Thanks for reading!

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