There may come a time in every home owner’s life when they’re faced with the job of taking out a toilet. This can either be because the old toilet needs updating (better design, better color), or new flooring is being installed in a bathroom. There’s a couple things to consider when installing the toilet back into the old spot, whether you put the old one back or a nice, new one.
About a year ago I decided to replace the toilet in our downstairs bathroom to one that flushed better (a “super flusher”). There was new vinyl flooring going in anyway, so I figured a new commode was a nice upgrade to accompany the new flooring.
For a couple years I never gave any thought to the fact that the old toilet would ever so slightly move when you sat down on it. When the old toilet came out we found out the reason: a cracked toilet flange! This is the piece of PVC plumbing that connects the underside of the toilet bowl to the sewer line. This is a bad thing.
Replacing the flange was a pain in the … posterior. Because the bathroom has a poured concrete floor below it the flange was permanently bolted to the floor. This required my Dad’s grinder to remove the heads of the bolts in order to get the flange out. Watching all the sparks fly was a bit entertaining, though.
After that the new toilet went in without another problem.
Just today I had another toilet installation job. Now the flooring in the upstairs bathroom has been replaced, so out came the old throne. After the flooring set for a few hours (per the installation guy the floor should not have anything heavy on it, like furniture or a toilet, for 3-4 hours) I set to putting the old toilet back into place. (Side note: The reason I do the toilets myself is because the flooring installer would charge almost $300 to take out and reinstall it. I really wanted to save that money; I figured it couldn’t be that tough to learn to do.)
Customarily, when you install a toilet, either old or new, you really should put in a new wax ring under it. Taking off the old wax and handling the new ring is a bit messy (I’d highly recommend disposable gloves as the stuff is very hard to get off with soap and water), but doable. But, it didn’t even cross my mind to replace the washers inside the tank. I should’ve known better.Once everything was together I slowly turned on the water supply and watched very carefully for leaks. After a good 5 minutes of watching I felt fairly confident it was going to be ok, and went to fix lunch. Coming back to check on things about 20 minutes later sent me into a slight panic — there was a good amount of water beaded up around the foot of the toilet. Dang! Where was that water coming from?
I carefully checked all the bolts (that hold the tank to the bowl) and the water inlet pipe. The source was a very slow drip from one of the bolts. I was trying to cut corners by reinstalling the tank with the existing washers (“they never leaked before, why would they leak now?…”). But, I’m sure dislodging the 15+ year old washers was enough to get them to crack just enough to let water through.
So, off to the hardware store for new washers. If this happens to you make sure to get the specialty rubber washers made just for the bolts that hold on a toilet tank. As an extra precaution I also put in a small application of plumber’s putty both on top of and underneath the washer.
So far, so good (knock on wood 😉 ).