Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Toilet

The title says it all... that's what monopolized our time today, and has us now better friends with Kevin at Home Hardware across the street.

For some time now, we've noticed that off and on, the floor underneath the toilet has been getting wet.  A little research confirmed our fear that the wax ring on the toilet had gone.  Not such a big deal, but because of all the home repair shows we watch, I had an intense fear that if we left it too long, it would rot the floorboards, then what should be a simple fix would become a nightmare.

Especially with only one bathroom in the house.  Period.

SO, yesterday we went out and bought a new wax ring, and pre-planned to spend time today redoing it.  I need to make sure you know three things.  1) We are not at all skilled with plumbing.  2) Our toilet was essentially the original one, from 1939 - we're pretty sure anyways.  3) The only shut off for the toilet is for the whole house.

The original toilet has a separate (huge!) tank, elevated off the seat by a 2.5-3" diameter metal elbow.  The tank was so huge we had actually sunk two 600ml bottles of water in there, AND put in some baffle thingys to help it use less water per flush.  The metal elbow is huge too, and despite it's strength, the back of the toilet was also attached to the wall.  Geez.  We didn't have a wrench or other tool big enough to take off the elbow (which I knew was going to be an issue, but we had to try 'as is' anyways).  We took it all apart, and voila!  Wait... where's the wax ring?  Oh... flattened out entirely, dried and caked to the floor.

Thar She Be!!!!  Don't judge the mess.
Yah... that was apparently a wax ring
at some point.

So we scraped it away, cleaned up the floor, and put the new ring on the old toilet.  We successfully got it put back on, attached to the wall (crazy difficult), and then filled up.  No good.  As I feared, that stupid elbow joint was too old to be moved without damage, and was now leaking.  After 2hrs of work.... Let's start again, shall we?

We emptied all the water out again, and hopped in the car to go get a new toilet, get some lunch . . . and wash our hands and have a bathroom break.  Remember point three?  Well, since we had nothing to stop water from coming out the supply pipe (with no toilet there), the water in the whole house had to remain off.  Our only hope of having showers the next day was to get a new toilet.  Remember point one?  We are not plumbers.  This is how we felt;

There's Pokaroo.  A little sad, a little dejected,
and worried about what else might go wrong.

Off to Home Hardware next where we got ourselves a distinctly smaller toilet, well, a smaller tank anyways, and a new wax ring.  We went to Wendy's from there and while eating, I stressed that the smaller tank wouldn't reach the supply pipe from the basement properly.  SO, back to Home Hardware we went, and spent quite a bit of time with Kevin trying to sort out a solution.  We brought home three different shutoff valves (we didn't know the size of our supply line) and a flexible connector.  Here we go!

Old toilet off, and into the backyard.  That thing took TWO of us both struggling to get it out there.  It was even a b*tch to get it out of the bathroom itself.  Ridiculous.  Add to this that the three shutoff valves we got to try didn't work.  Not one of them.  Back to Home Hardware.  Kevin's suggestion after trying every piece in the place; make a work-around using the sawed-off end of the flusher thingy and a couple backwards plans.  Ugh.  We went to Home Depot and they actually had less options (weird) and the same idea by the end of it; make a work-around.

SOOOO.... we did.  At the end of the day, we think this one is good to go.  After only one or two 'soaker' moments, the nuts having now been double checked, some plumbers tape added . . . we're possibly back in business.  Well, we Are back in business, but hopefully won't have any incidents going forwards.  If we do, it's time to call a plumber because we've done our best!

Our best solution.  At least there's a
shut off valve!
New toilet!!  See how much smaller it is?
Those holes on the wall were 1-2" inside the other one

Don't worry, all you professional plumber types.  We do intend to have our plumber in here in the near future to pull apart our work-around and solder on a permanent shut off valve.  We just desperately needed a solution se we could turn on the water in the house again (ahem, wash hands, shower, laundry, y'know).

Hope everyone's wax ring holds tightly tonight!


  1. Oh my!! That`s quite an accomplishment! Good for you guys - you`re very brave to tackle that kind of job especially knowing that you don`t have the tools or the know-how for it. Kind of a shame that you had to get a new toilet, as the other one had...character. Great that you put in a shut-off valve, too!

    1. Thanks! I knew you guys had done yours, so worst case scenario, we'd pick up the phone. It's holding so far today, so we'll see what it looks like when we get home from work!