Exploding Toilet and No Water

Last week, Tom and I carefully planned our days off.  We would get all our domestic stuff done one day – laundry, cooking, cleaning, blog posts.  The next day we would take a longer hike to see some of the park.  The third day we would head east on US 58 and check out historical markers, a nearby state park, and some local stores.

All of that changed with an exploding toilet on the second day.  The first day went off without a hitch.  The second day started out as usual when I got up at 6:30 to go to the bathroom and turn on the hot water heater.  It takes about 30 minutes for the water to get hot and I returned to bed.  When I got up again, 30 minutes later, I stepped in a pool of water.  The water was coming from the bathroom, specifically the toilet.

I wasn’t sure what the issue was, so I told Tom, “We’ve got a problem.”  He immediately jumped out of bed.  As soon as he saw the volume of water on the floor he went outside to turn off the water coming into the RV.  Once the water was off, we realized the water valve that connects to the toilet had broken sometime between 6:30 and 7.  After mopping up the floor, Tom went back to bed to get a little more sleep before dealing with the problem.

I decided to take a shower in the campground bathhouse since our water was shut off.  But on the way to the bathhouse, I met fellow volunteer Julie.  She said that, sometime between 6:30 and 7, the water pump to the park broke and there wasn’t any water anywhere in the campground.  I found the timing to be very interesting because that was the time when our toilet exploded and we are the only ones in the campground who have a water hookup.  Julie was locking up all the bathhouses and putting up notices.

Instead of a shower, I went for a walk.  When I finished my walk, Tom was up and we talked about what to do.  Normally we would try to find a replacement water valve and use that.  But we weren’t really sure it was only the water valve that had malfunctioned.  And we didn’t want to turn the water back on to find out if that was the only exploding part on the toilet.

We decided, instead, to replace the whole toilet.  Denise and Bob Verba, who we work with at Fort Frederica, had a similar problem this last winter and they ended up replacing the whole toilet after hours of fiddling with replacing other parts.  At the time they said they wished they had just started by replacing the whole toilet.  We decided to follow their example.

The closest Camping World is in London, Kentucky, about an hour from us.  We called to see if they had the Aqua Magic Style II, 17 1/2 inch in stock.  They did not.  The next closest Camping World is south of Knoxville, Tennessee, about 90 minutes from us.  We called and they had several in stock.

Instead of taking a hike on Wednesday, as we planned, we drove to Knoxville.  We could have had a fun day in Knoxville but we had accepted a dinner invitation and needed to be back at the campground at 4:30.  Doable but close.

We drove straight to Camping World and bought a toilet without any problem.  It was a tight fit in the Prius, but we got it in.  Then we grabbed a quick lunch at Culvers and made a trip to Home Depot.  We were back on the road toward home by 2 p.m.

This would have been plenty of time except that we missed our exit off I-640.  We were looking for TN 33 but it is called US 441 on the exit of I-640.  We did not notice the change on our way in.  The GPS on my phone had decided to go on the fritz and we were several exits past TN 33 by the time we realized our mistake.

We got off I-640 and took to the backroads with me using a paper map to get us back on track.  But we were now pushing the boundary to get back to the RV in time for our dinner invitation.

We pulled in to our spot at the campground at 4:27.  We unloaded the toilet, picked up Volunteer Julie, and headed for supper right on time.  There was still no water in the campground but the NPS had delivered port-a-pots.  Fortunately we had loaded up on water on our way home.

New toilet installed

Thursday morning we got the new toilet installed in no time.  Thursday afternoon the water pump was fixed and water restored to the campground.  Shortly after that we found that the new toilet was working as it should.

Hopefully the new toilet will last longer than the old one.  We have wondered since then whether the malfunctioning pump and the exploding toilet were somehow related.  The park maintenance guy says there is no way, but it seems a strange coincidence that both would happen at exactly the same time.