I was helping out a friend of mine with some plumbing issues. Her roommate had buggered up the toilet while trying to “fix” it and wound up snapping off the overflow tube. While fixing the issue I was going to make a video showing how someone could do the same thing themselves.

I had done the operation before back in Cleveland so I was confident that this would be an easy job.

“20 minutes. No problem.”

Famous last words…

It turns out that the toilet was old and the fittings haven’t been changed out in maybe 30+ years. I’m making that judgement on the fact that the overflow tube and the hardware associated is solid brass. Everything in the past 30 or so years (or more? comment if you know more!) has transitioned to plastic.

The bolts that hold on the tank to the base were corroded. We managed to get them off enough to apply a hacksaw to them… Then it came time for the spud nut. The spud nut holds the overflow tube onto the tank and is itself covered by the tank gasket. The gasket came off… but the spud nut was on there for good. Not only that but this was an oversized nut to boot (another clue about age — nut size was around 3 1/4″). No amount of force would get it to budge.

Two trips to the hardware store later — one for a larger wrench, another for some penetrating oil — we were still (literally) stuck.

Here’s where it comes lesson time.

I had a new set of everything that was going into the tank. There was nothing to be gained by saving anything.

Before attacking things to the point where I would cause damage to the tank I decided to simply cut the nut off. I rode home to get a Dremel and simply machined off the aluminum spud nut.

Problem solved.

The 20-minute job turned into 3 1/2 hours.

Once I had the nut off the rest of the job took 10 minutes… sigh.

The takeaway is looking at the situation and realizing when simply destroying your workpiece is the right solution or not.