Tuesday, September 23, 2008

diary of a toilet

We have been having toilet troubles. The downstairs toilet has been leaking for a few years and refuses to be fixed. The kid's toilet upstairs began to run so badly that we started to cut the water off between flushes. That was so annoying, the kids began coming into our room each time they needed to use it. Noisy children, numerous trips in and out all night and all morning was not going to work. We decided it was time to replace both. The guts had been replaced numerous times but the 1970's toilets had not. It was time to go with low flow tanks and help the drought plagued state.

Simple? Never.

Day 1: I phoned our former contractor- a great guy- and he said "as soon as his dad died" he'd come out to take a look. (Yes, he really said that.) It sounded like this was expected to happen at any time, so we thought we'd muddle through.

Day 7: I was reluctant to phone. (Really, if you want to stall for time, this is the best way I can imagine. The only disadvantage would be that you can only do it one time.)

Day 14: I decided to go for it. Dad had died, business was busy, but he'd come out Tuesday.

Day 18: Our house is built on a slab. This is annoying for several reasons, but in this case it is annoying because the toilet is too close to the wall and the pipes can't be moved. He came over to remove one to measure just in case. Yep, 10". Not sure why since standards had changed well before 1970 but that's what we have. The cheaper $100 toilets are not an option. Special orders it will be. We research. For $247 there is a toilet that will fit. "Top of the line." It would be in on Thursday. We'd been living without the kid's bathroom for two weeks now, so another two days was nothing.

Day 20: Our contractor picked it up, brought it over and I thought I was ready to surprise CD that evening. Not so quick. The tank wouldn't fit downstairs. He decided we'd been given the wrong tank. They could get it on Friday but he couldn't come back until Monday. Meanwhile we decided that the lid to the tank upstairs didn't sit well and for that price, "top of the line," it was worth replacing.

Day 22: We drove out to the plumbing place with the kids. ("Oooh, a Queen's bathtub! Oooh, look what happened when I pressed this button! Oh oh. It won't go off. Oh oh. I didn't mean to....") The store replaced the tank and the additional lid for us but didn't refund anything. I even asked. I get the feeling from our contractor that this is typical. He doesn't seem surprised that the best plumbing store he could suggest and the "top of the line" toilet are causing such problems.

Day 23: He comes over, installs the new tank with the new lid upstairs. The toilet works, the lid fits. Whoo Hoo! One toilet finished. Then he tries to install the downstairs toilet. Apparently the tank hadn't been the problem. We'd been given the wrong bowl. Unfortunately my contractor did not discover this before he cut a square out of the drywall to try to fit the tank in ?! the wall somehow. Now there is a hole in the wall and a toilet in the hall.

I did more research. Seems we have toilet bowl 703 when we need bowl 703.10. The additional numbers are the difference between a 10" and a 12" rough in. Well, no wonder it doesn't fit. The plumbing store is closed on Mondays. Of course. I left them a message.

Day 24: Turns out the store had given us the correct box but the factory warehouse was at fault. Seems there were seven toilets marked incorrectly as 10" when they weren't. So good of me to bring their attention to this problem. This time I requested that they deliver the correct bowl so we wouldn't have to go collect it. They can use their gas money, I'm saving my $4/gallon. Unfortunately this meant it wouldn't come until Thursday. Maybe this was good since it gave the drywall time to get repaired.

Day 27: Our contractor phoned to check to see if the 9:30 delivery had made it. Nope, postponed until 1pm. Then the plumbing store phoned me again and explained that the new toilet had a crack in the bowl and they'd have to get another one.

Day 28: They will bring it over between 9:30 and 10:30. And, true to their word, it showed up! At 2:30. But our contractor wasn't free and had to wait until Saturday morning instead.

Day 29: Toilet installed!

But... after he fixed the wall he'd cut open he must have bumped the wet drywall as he put the tank in so now we have a big dent in our wall. I didn't notice it until he'd left. I phoned. He'll come by sometime this week to repair the wall. Then I have to repaint the wall and part of the mural I have on it. So, Day 29 but still counting.

I'm building an outhouse.


  1. Oh, I hear you! Our "one day job. One and a half tops" is now a few days shy of the two month mark. Will it ever be finished? Who knows? *(&^(*^ contractors.

  2. The "wait till dad is dead" comment totally cracked me up. In that, I've been there way.

    We have been having problems with our water softener. We had a guy come out to take a look. He told us it would be $2500 for a new one. I asked him to fix the old one. $250. Sold.

    Flash forward several weeks. Repaired water softener is cycling on and off every 15 minutes all. night. long. Waking Lucy (and me) up every time.

    Call water softener dude and ask him to come take a look.

    No response.

    Wait a few days and call him back.

    No response.

    Wait a few MORE days and call him back again, leaving terse messages with his answering service AND on his cell phone.

    Water softener dude calls back, very apologetic with the following excuse, and I quote, "I've been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation and have been too sick to work."

    Well played, water softener dude. Well played.

    Here's hoping that your toilet woes are soon behind you.

  3. Holy "cr@p" yes pun intended! Glad it's slowly getting resolved. What a mess!. The comment about dad dying was interesting to say the least. Hope your wall is fixed again soon.

  4. I'm sitting here laughing my head off, but only because I know exactly what you're going through. I could join in with all the contractor complaints, but it'd only make me grumpy. However, I should tell you that my best friend has been in the process of remodeling her kitchen. It's taken over ONE year!!

    You can build your outhouse. I'm tempted to go back to apartment life. Or maybe a cool downtown condo with a landlord of some sort. Sometimes I think home ownership is overrated.