Today, the plumber came to install the new toilet. He was all business. When I launched into the melodrama of how we had to have the bathroom floor replaced last year because the toilet was leaking, blahbiddy, blah, blah, and now the toilet was leaking again and did he know why, he simply said, “I’m not going to spend the time to find out.” OK. At $88 an hour for his time, I guess I should appreciate that kind of attitude, but I blabbed on a bit more about how I didn’t think it was the toilet but the way it had been installed. Then I decided I'd better just leave him to get on with it, as the clock was ticking.
I went back downstairs to work. About 10 minutes later, he was calling down the stairs to alert me to, as I had feared: A PROBLEM. Actually PROBLEMS.
The floor under the toilet was not at all level. And the flange was sticking up way higher than it should have been, which rendered the wax ring ineffective. There was actually a screw that should have screwed into the floor that was just screwed into, well, nothing but thin air.
And while I don’t understand all the ramifications and exactly what the flange does. One thing is very, very clear. The guy who replaced the floor last year was an incompetent. I recall asking him several times, why the toilet had leaked and he just had absolutely no theories on that at all. It was a total mystery, according to him. But even I can understand that if the floor isn’t level, the toilet is going to rock loose from it's moorings. And that flange! It should be obvious to a person who styles himself a bathroom remodeler that it was too high and that both these things were likely to cause a leak.
Even a layperson like myself can easily find information on these COMMON problems on the Internet and instructions for how to remedy them. What really pisses me off, is that he had the floor up and had he known what he was doing, he could have easily placed some plywood in to level out the floor. And he should have known to replace the flange and the rusty bolts (for crissake). If he'd done these basic things, the toilet would never have leaked again. Sure I’d be stuck with the American Substandard toilet, but I now suspect that the major problem I was having with it was related to the fact that the seal wasn’t working properly.
I am so ding-dong mad at that guy. He was recommended to me by a friend and is licensed, bonded, and insured, but his work is “guaranteed” for only a year, and it’s been a bit more than a year. I doubt I have any recourse, except to not ever recommend him to anyone, which is not satisfactory consolation or compensation. I’d like to bill him for the work the plumber had to do today.
Anyway, after showing me what the issues were, the no-nonsense plumber managed to remove the flange (probably installed incorrectly by the previous owner of our house—an inveterate DIYer), and install another one at the right level and actually anchor it to a solid rather than a gas. He added some shims so the toilet will be level and he is fairly confident that that will do the trick, but, he cautioned me, there is a slight possibility that it might not work. Then I'll have to get a contractor in to take up a portion of the floor and place plywood around the base of the flange, which I feel I must reiterate is what the guy from last year was too much of an asshat to do.
Anyway, we have a beaut of a new toilet. Behold: the Sir Francis Drake shortly before its maiden voyage.
I do think it's rather stylish and after conducting such exhaustive toilet research, I am certain it will perform better than the American Substandard. One small serendipity related to the fact that we are so unhandy and had to hire someone to do it, is that we would have had to pay $343 for Sir Francis if we hadn’t bought it through the plumber for the price of $226. Even with labor added in, the cost came out pretty much to what we’d have ended up paying if we’d bought it and (attempted to) install it ourselves, which, believe me, would have been a tear-drenched fiasco/shouting match that would likely not have resulted in a correcty installed toilet. Plus, he fixed a sink faucet that hadn’t been working for months. I’m sure there’s some way to get that wholesale contractor $226 price if you’re a DIYer, but I need to feel that I somehow came out a little bit ahead, so please don’t shatter my delusion. (And, yes, I know you can get a toilet for less than $226, but it is a good price for a Toto.)
Sorry I have no photos of the toilet showroom. It turned out not to be nearly as entertaining as I’d hoped. It was basically a sort of labyrinth of bathroom suites, not the thicket of toilets I had hoped for. I was surprised, however, that they actually had some of the toilets hooked up to plumbing, so you could do test flushes. The Sir Francis was one of the flushable ones. I was a bit put off, however, by the level of cleanliness of the tester terlet. I mean, it was in the middle of a toilet showroom—no privacy whatsoever—but it looked like people used it. It was dirty! It had a Spam-colored water ring, and it looked like at some point someone had tortured it with a cigarette—there were these cigarette-burn looking things in the bowl that did not go away when I flushed. Eww. Also, the toilet was not white (I mean “Cotton”) but off-white (I mean “Sedona Beige”). I’m here to tell you an off-white toilet is a bad idea.
I hope this is the last I will need to write about toilets for a very long time to come.