Monday, January 6, 2014

In which it takes 12 hours to change out a toilet.....

Take it from one who has learned her lesson. 7pm on a sunday night is NOT the time to decide to tackle the removal and replacement of the ONLY TOILET IN THE HOUSE.

Old Nasty
SO, the tiny batcave bathroom came with what looks like a REALLY old toilet complete with microbes and bacteria that look to have been thriving for the last 40 years or so. I have avoided looking too closely or tampering with it in any way (aside from dumping numerous bleach and cleaner products within) because, well, it's a toilet.  But since I have a bit of free time on my hands this week, I've been compiling a list of "need to do" projects that are inexpensive. Swapping out the old toilet is inexpensive because I've been intending to put the larger, higher toilet from the master bath in its place. And so. Last night I had an impulse to just do it.

Which led to the discovery that my water main does NOT shut off all the way. I thought it was just the water in the pipes that needed to be bled off, so I started dismantling the old toilet. 15 minutes later, with the tank already thrown in the trash and the shutoff valve at the tank completely frozen, I realized my error. 10 minutes too late. The tank cracked when I chucked it in the trash. So now it's 8pm and I figure I'll just keep a bucket under the valve until I can do a quick swap of the toilet bases. Except the old toilet has FOUR bolts. And 2 are so rusted they do not want to budge an inch. I use a penetrant and keep dinking away at them (emptying the 5 gallon bucket of overflow water every 45 minutes). And then, magic, the old toilet gives up the ghost and comes off. I rejoice. I scrape all the old wax off the flange and install a new waxless ring on the new toilet.

Water off, dismantling begins.
And then. I can't get the waxless ring to allow the toilet to sit flush on the tile. Without the ring, it sat perfectly. With the ring, it sits about a half inch high and my body weight is not enough to force the waxless ring all the way down. And then I realize my goof.  While perusing the various toilet replacement reccommendations on the internets, somehow none of them mentioned that instead of just scraping off the old wax, you also have to REMOVE the reinforcement ring that the old wax ring sat upon. It came out. On the end of the waxless seal, which I also managed to tear. So now I have to way to seal the toilet until lowes opens at 6am. NICE.  and my water main is dripping at the rate of One 5-gallon bucket per hour.  I cover the sewer hole, empty the bucket and set my alarm for an hour.  And I repeat all night until all curses have been used and my eyeballs feel like sandpaper.

new wax ring. and new bolts.
The old wax ring, and steadily leaking water valve
At 6am I go get a WAX ring and come home to install it flawlessly. SCORE!  and then I realise that the old toilet was small. The new toilet is larger and taller. Thus the 12 inch connector line from the toilet to the water line is now about 1 inch short. Fuck.  Empty bucket and run back to Lowes. Lowes does not have a 1/2 to 7/8 line in any length greater than 12 inches. Fuck. Debate running home to empty bucket. Run to OSH instead. Victory. They have the line and I am racing home to beat the bucket deadline. At this point it is neccessity. I've been holding it for 12 hours. I need to go.

 I make it home in time to empty the bucket and tighten up the new toilet installation. Then I risk turning the water main back on. The new low-flow toilet fills, it holds water, it flushes beautifully and finally, relief.  and I do mean RELIEF.

Who knew toilets were so simple parts wise, but such a pain in the arse to dial in?  Next time, I will be better prepared.

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