Monday, April 28, 2014
What a Crapper
I hate remounting toilets. There is nothing that beats getting all close and dirty with a device that flushes away your byproducts and plant your ass on a fairly regular basis. When I can't put off the task any longer, I put on some dirty clothes, get the job done as quickly as possibly and take a nice long hot shower to get to feeling clean again. When I pulled the toilet to work on tiling the floor a month and a half ago, I cleaned it up and replaced all the internal parts which were in need of replacement, including scraping off a half tube of caulking that some previous owner had squirted between the bowl and the tank. Doing this makes me feel a little bit better about getting close and personal with it.
My first step was to place some new flange bolts into place since the other ones I took off were corroded. I unwrapped a new wax ring, put it in place and set the lower half in place. That is where I discovered my first problem. When I set the toilet in place, the wax ring didn't even touch the floor flange. When I inspected the underside of the toilet, I saw that it had an fairly deep recess plus the tile I had put down was a little extra thick compounded with the extra grout to even out the heated floors. So I made another trip to the store for the deepest wax ring they had and put it in place of the standard one I had previously bought. This got me closer but still didn't provide for a positive pressure I was looking for to ensure it was sealed well. So I cut another half inch off the old/new was seal I first tried and that did the trick nicely. Problem one solved.
The old flange had been put in at a slight angle meaning that despite a level floor, I could get the nuts on the flange bolt on one side with the decorative bolt caps that hide them but couldn't get the decorative cap on the other side. Since that side was up next to the shower and really not visible, I wasn't overly concerned by this and moved on and tightened the bolts only to immediately break the plastic toilet flange on one side. Crap, figuratively. I pulled things up again (something you aren't supposed to do with wax rings) and rotated the bolt slightly to an unbroken place and tightened things up again very carefully. I quit while I was ahead and things were sealed up but it still wasn't as tight to the floor as I like to get it. The only solution to this is to put a new flange in or put a reinforcing plate on top of the old flange. I decided to just punt for now and let it go as is to see if it would be a problem. As long as it didn't rock when sat upon, I figured it would be fine and it didn't rock when I sat on it and I'm the heaviest in our household so it probably would work fine.
I put the tank in place but again, I felt like it didn't have much of a positive seal where it meets the lower part of the unit. I put the tank bolts in that hold it to the lower part and tightened things up anyway thinking that the weight of the tank had sealed it and it would work fine. It always has before. I filled the tank and checked for leaks. There were none. I flushed to make sure the new internal mechanisms worked fine and disaster struck. Water from poured out from between the tank and the bowl all over the floor. I quickly shut off the water, mopped up the mess, emptied the tank out and removed the bolts to inspect things. Everything seemed fine so I thought perhaps I just didn't get it on quick lined up. I carefully lined it up and checked through the flapper hole inside to verify it and reconnected everything. Again there were no leaks until I flushed and again the bathroom flooded with water coming from between the tank and the lower until. I shut off the water, mopped up everything, emptied out the tank again and pulled it all apart again.
That is when I remembered something from when I had taken it apart initially so long ago. There had been massive amounts of silicone applied to the joint along with the regular seal which isn't normal operating procedures. Then I started measuring things and saw that the distance from the bottom of the seal to the porcelain on the bowl where it seals against was about a quarter of an inch. There is not supposed to be a gap here and in fact, it should be a compression fitting. Though the base is like all the other ones in our house, the tank in that bathroom is different. I'm guessing someone broke a tank at some point and found a donor which wasn't made to fit and used silicone caulking to get things to work. Crap, figuratively.
It was getting late so I pulled out all the new internal components and took off the new seat to replace the one I had indelibly marked with pvc cleaner that I had spilled on it and put the tank and bowl out back. The following morning, I made yet another trip to the home improvement store for a new complete unit, a flange reinforcement ring, which should also fix the too short bolts on the one side, and a new wax ring. With the new thick reinforcement ring screwed in place which meant I no longer needed two wax rings anymore, I assembled everything again. Although things were new this time, I still didn't enjoy the job anymore than I did on my previous attempts. Filled the tank, checked for leaks, there were none, flushed, phew! Now I have a functioning crapper again, literally!