Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Plumbing Gods are Angry

This morning, I got up and noticed that the mat I keep under the kitty litter box (in a futile effort to keep litter from going all over the house) was wet around the edges. That was odd, but since it was time to change the box anyway, I picked it up and saw that the middle of the mat was wet too. VERY odd. I lifted the mat and the thing was dripping. Uh-oh. Either we have an extremely careless kitty (not likely as they barely use the box now anyway) or we have a problem.


You guessed it.

The problem only appeared when the toilet was flushed - but the water was clean, so it was the tank. However, every toilet in this house needs to be replaced. This one was actually slated to be last, as it was part of the most functional bathroom we have. It was bumped to first in a hurry though, as none of the others, as bad as they are, spew water all over the floor when you flush the toilet.

I borrowed Darling Man's truck and went to Lowes, where I bought THREE toilets. May as well. And if I get all three now, I pay no interest for 6 months. So two are sitting in the garage and one was installed today by yours truly.

I had no idea I was going to be doing this today. In fact, I was supposed to be running away today. Darling Man took the old toilet off, asked me to clean up the mess, and took the kids away for lunch and a trip to the flea market.

"Cleaning up the mess" was labor intensive. Scraping wax (eewwww), then trying to get the rusty bolts out of the flange ring. I actually wound up breaking them apart and picking the pieces out with pliers - they were that rusty. I got the tile clean, but the flange ring was still a mess and I wasn't sure what to do about that. Then I remembered my steamer, so I pulled that out and blew steam in there. THAT got it clean! I pulled all the pieces out of the box and had everything laid out when Darling Man got back. I'd even pulled the ugly wall paper off the back wall where the toilet would be and primed it because eventually, we're going to do something about that room.

"You haven't finished yet?" Excuse me? I'm doing this? Turns out that I was. That's okay, I grumbled to myself. You have to learn how to do these things sometime. So I read the directions. Big mistake.

As it turns out, the French (who made these toilets) aren't all that good at writing directions. The pictures didn't look like anything I had on hand, and as near as I could tell, there were lots of extra parts that didn't go anywhere. I mis-measured one of the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor, so I had to make do.

I got these really nice "comfort height" toilets, not really thinking about the height of the ones I already had. Guess what? The supply line was three inches short. Another trip to Lowes...

So close... I got the supply lines (for all three, since I knew we'd have this problem again), and installed the one for this toilet. Got everything all snugged up tight and turned on the water. Nice, nice... oh no! Where's that water coming from? Oh. Forgot the teflon tape on the safety shutoff. Unscrewed it, taped it, reattached firmly and turned on the water. Oh, yes! It filled, it flushed, it... leaked. Damn it! Where is it this time? Back on my hands and knees - not the supply line, not around the seal... Aha! one of the connector bolts between tank and bowl isn't tightened all the way down. Let's see... that got it!

Finally, I put on the seat. Screwed it down tight. And I only had 6 extra pieces left! I wonder what they're for????

Looks good though. It has a taller, narrower tank than the regular toilets. High performance, water-saver toilet. And it WORKS!

Now that I know what I'm doing (I've made my mistakes now), I can proceed with the replacement of the pink toilet, and finally, the rocking chair toilet that lives in my master bath. But not today.


Sandy said...

Hurray! I have a toilet that needs replacing and now I know that I can surprise my husband with a completed job some day. Thanks for the inspiration.

Dad said...

As the patriarch of toilet installers in our family, I welcome you to the brother/sisterhood of plumbing. You have discovered the best reason in the world to use the nifty rings which have the sort of rubber skirt, rather than wax. Easier to install and Lord knows easier to uninstall when the day comes, as it inevitably does. Congratulations on learning just how firmly to torque those tank bolts. Too much and the gasket rips and trickle. Too little and trickle. You have done well. Enter into the joy of your father.

Anonymous said...

So is a comfort toilet higher or lower than a regular one?


Sayre said...

Sandy - It wasn't as hard as I feared. There's something rather intuitive about putting one in, even if the directions don't make sense. The trick is to go slowly and think each step out.

Dad - thanks! It's going to save me literally thousands in plumbing bills. Matt wants to watch me do the next one.

Cordie - "Comfort Height" is a little higher. Darling man is tall, ZBoy is going to be, and since we're getting older, sitting down on the shorter ones may get harder in the future. It's not quite as tall as a handicapped toilet (which leave me feeling like a small child due to my height). I can touch the floor on this one.

Babzy said...

What a pretty toilet! I bow to you oh wonder woman.

Anonymous said...

Darn. I thought maybe the plumbing gods had smiled on me and started making plumbing fixtures for short people.

--Cordie (way too old to be keeping a stool in the bathroom)

min said...

Where do you get the strength? I'm going to have to do this too and I'm afraid I'll break all the porcelain to bits.
You are my inspiration.

nikki said...

I'm totally impressed that you installed a toilet all by yourself. I would have run for the plumber and the heafty prce tag!

AJsMom said...

You are my hero. The Friday after Thanksgiving, the toilet in my parents' guest bathroom started having MAJOR issues. We were just having the discussion about replacing the toilet...I shall call you when I start getting ready to fix up my house to put it on the market.