Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Malodorous Tale of the Terrible Toilet and the Putrid Plumbing

Z: I won't claim to be an expert, but I must say that the way in which the average toilet attaches to the floor is like some crappy quick fix that just caught on. It's a pretty lame set up: a hole in the floor with a flange, two bolts to keep the whole thing from wobbling, and a big ring of wax to keep it sealed up tight. Not that getting your feces out to the street needs to be a complicated or elegant matter, but the design seems to have some major weaknesses. I mean come on, wax? Really all that keeps your yellow water from flowing out from under the toilet is wax.

So when water started flowing out from under the toilet in this half bath, I thought the wax ring had broken. But once I got the toilet off the floor, I realized we had a completely different problem. The sewer line had backed up from the street and sparkling gray water was sitting in the drain pipe, level with the floor, just ready to spill throughout the whole house like it had done 10 minutes prior. So we hired a plumber to clear the main drain line from the house.
With water freely flowing from our house again the bathroom was ready for the porcelain throne.

But the lament of the plumbing continued as I realized the lead drain stub for the toilet was cracked all the way through and about 8 inches down, meaning sewer water could leak into the concrete foundation from under the wax ring.....crap.....on the floor.

A trip to home depot got me no where, so I ended up at the (highly recommended) Crump Plumbing Supply here in Austin, where the experts scratched their heads as I described my problem. They basically told me I was screwed and not to hire plumber because they wouldn't really know what to do either. Now I have great respect for plumb
er's because they do a technically difficult job and, rightly so, they are paid pretty well for it. But this situation scared me because I was outside the knowledge of the experts, it was all ad -lib from here.

I left Crump's with a PVC replacement piece that eventually solved my problem

I solved the problem but it took several days of cutting lead with a dremel (Lead dust + dust mask = Zach + intact brain), hand chiseling concrete, and applying new concrete. After chiseling all the concrete to fix the problem, the new toilet sits about 3 inches to the right of where the old one sat. After 10 days of intermittent work on the half bath, the room was still empty save for a perfect hole in the ground which no one will ever see.

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