Sunday, January 23, 2005

Uprooted Toilet

Uprooted Toilet
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
About a week ago, I revealed that B and I aren't too handy and that we really don't know an adz from a hole in the ground. And now look! Our toilet is in the bathtub, a few pages of the Oregonian are stuffed into the toilet socket, three layers of vinyl flooring dating back to the 1940s have been peeled off, and the baseboards have been pried from the wall.

We had nothing to do with creating this unholy mess. We paid someone to do it. You see, about a month ago, we started noticing that the flooring around the toilet was beginning to feel a bit, well, corrugated. In true B and Rozanne fashion, we ignored it for about a week. "Hasn't it always been sort of ripply like that?" B wanted to know. I knew better, but clung to the ridiculous hope that maybe the problem would self-correct. It got worse. Even a couple of home-repair simpletons like ourselves realized that something was leaking and that we needed to get something done about it ASAP.

However, because of the holidays, the general uncertainty of the contractor's schedule, and several flake-out moments on his part, he wasn't able to rip apart the bathroom until Friday. There is some good news:
  • We have another bathroom (with a shower), so we haven't had to resort to sponge baths, buckets, the backyard, or the sad bar around the corner where people drink Bloody Marys and play video poker at 10:00 AM.
  • The asbestos test of the sparkly pink (gack!) circa 1951 flooring a few layers down came back negative for asbestos, which means we don't have to pay an additional $400 to an asbestos-abatement company.
  • The contractor claims that the bathroom will be finished by the end of the day Monday or, at the latest, Tuesday.
  • This is the first thing that's gone wrong with the house since we bought it at the end of 2001. Not too bad a record.
There's a bit of bad(ish) news as well:
  • We will have paid hundreds of dollars to get this problem fixed and the bathroom will look essentially the same--not vastly improved.*
  • The contractor hasn't yet determined the nature of the leak. It may have been the toilet in which case we'll have to go toilet shopping. I don't know anything about toilets (except how to use them), and much as I like the idea of conserving water, I don't want to get one of those feeble-flush toilets that can't choke down more than two squares of toilet paper. What good is a water-conserving toilet if you have to flush it three times? I also don't want one of those weird ovular toilets with a seat the size and shape of a turkey-roasting pan.
  • I'm going to have to paint the new baseboards and, in all likelihood, the whole bathroom. True, it's the smallest room in the house, but I spent almost all of last February painting our spare bedroom--several times--because of a Mr. Bean-like misadventure with faux finishes** and I'm still recovering. Also, I'll have to forego work on the afghan, which does not please me.
By the way, my apologies to all nonhomeowners about these recent posts about upholstery and yanked-out toilets. I was a renter for many years, and I found nothing more tedious than listening to the minutiae of someone's DIY project or decor plans. I now fully understand how people can get obsessed with that stuff. There's a lot to be said for not acquiring a big material possession like a house. It reshuffles your priorities, and perhaps not for the better.

*Actually, I quite like the bathroom. It's just that for all that money, I'd like to see a tangible difference, you know? Also, the bathroom is not nearly as squalid as it looks in the photo. The tile in the shower is not the depressing, orphanage-green color it appears to be, but a more upbeat, period-appropriate seafoamish color.

**Perhaps I'll write an entry about that at some point. At the very least, I should post some photos of how terribly wrong it went. They're quite amusing.


Blogger Jamie said...

Don't worry. The cool thing is, the cheaper the toilet, the more old-fashioned and appropriate it will look. You buy the tanks and bowls separately at Home Depot or wherever (although there are matching codes on the boxes to help you put two appropriate pieces together) and they will flush anything you need them to flush. Promise.

I installed one myself!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Serial commenting...

Sometimes I think these last two years haven't changed me, and then I realize that's not the case at all. For example, I now recognize that mysterious tool in the photo as a reciprocating saw, or a Sawzall. They are super handy for cutting holes in existing structures, or for trimming back stuff that's sticking out. Also, if you put the right kind of blade on them, you can use them to prune fruit trees.

Anyhow, when we move to Portland, if you have a situation like this you should just call the s.o. and me. We work for beer and pizza.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


First, thanks for the advice on toilets. I dread going to Home Depots (and similar), but if it has to be done, it has to be done. Good to know that the cheapest toilets are the best flushers. I suppose that makes sense--the feeble flushers probably have a more complicated flushing system. Second, I am in awe! I'm so impressed that you installed a toilet yourself, especially since I now know what can go wrong if it's improperly installed. I'm also impressed that you could ID the reciprocating saw (*love* that name!).

Funny that you should mention hedge trimmers. There's one in our living room at this very moment that I just borrowed yesterday from a friend. Had I known that the reciprocating saw could be used for if I'm that efficient or motivated! I wasn't even motivated enough to put the trimmer in the garage. Very sad. And thanks for your offer to help out. We might take you up on that! For one thing, it would be great if we could actually learn how to do some stuff like this ourselves.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Thanks! The comment "I don't know anything about toilets (except how to use them)..." made my dreary Monday a cheery one. :-)

Personally, I love going into home improvement stores (I prefer Lowe's). We do hire out much of what we have done, but I often buy the materials ahead of time for the handyman. My husband has no clue what half the things in our garage are for and doesn't quite believe me when I insist we need them.

My favorite Lowe's memory? I needed an axe to hack up some old landscaping (one project I did do by myself). When I picked the axe out and hoisted it over my shoulder to carry around the store - I FELT SO COOL. You just NEVER know when you will need an axe, right?

3:07 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


Glad my talk of toilets cheered you up! There is no way you couldn't have looked cool strutting around Lowe's with an axe over your shoulder like you meant business! If you really wanted to be the center of attention, you could have warbled a few verses of Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song."

3:43 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

So, is it fixed? I'm waiting with bated breath...

8:39 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


Not yet, but progress is being made, that is, if you call having the toilet sitting in the front yard progress. Nice! The new floor is down and, last I looked, they were putting the baseboards on. They should be done late this afternoon, provided the toilet doesn't turn out to be cracked and have to be replaced.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Kai Jones said...

If you have to buy a toilet, there is one brand that is both water saving and terrific at flushing: Toto. They're Japanese, and I recommend George Moreland Plumbing as a supplier.

I redid my bathroom in the summer of 2003 (pictures at and I'm very happy with the Toto toilet. And my water bill definitely went down.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


I love the anthropomorphic George Morland water heater mascot. Doesn't it even wear some kind of a crown? Might be a good Halloween costume. Hmmm.

So thanks for the info about Toto. As it turned out, we did not have to replace the toilet, but it's always good to have a recommendation. I'm sure someone I know will be replacing a toilet in the near future.

I checked the photos of your bathroom. You and Sara did a fantastic job! I really like that blue tile stripe. I am so impressed that you were able to carry out a full gut rehab of the bathroom. It is interesting to peel back the layers isn't it? And when you find something lovely, you have to wonder what possessed someone to cover it up especially when they covered it up with something ghastly. It's a cliche, but there's no accounting for taste.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Rusty said...

I do believe the G. Moreland mascot wears a crown. Not unrelated is the fact that G. Moreland used to own Crown Plumbing, which they still refer about 85% of their plumbing business out to. I have a relative-in-law who works for Crown Plumbing who consistently talks about how great they and G. Moreland are to their employees, so I guess if you have to go the new-bowl route, that's a great place to shop...

1:11 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...


Good to get another rec. on George M. I'm sure we'll need his (its?) services one of these days.

8:13 PM  

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