Thursday, November 6, 2014

Three New Johns (not my husband)

You know what are gross? Toilets. They just are. After living with the same toilets that were here when we bought our condo over two years ago, I finally gave in and decided they needed to be replaced. Let's back up a little, and I promise to keep the grossness to a minimum.

The day we got the keys to our house, the previous owner had a professional cleaning done. Unfortunately, neither that cleaning nor countless cleanings of my own ever made the toilets seem truly clean. They always had a funk to them. We tried replacing the wax ring to see if the issue was that there wasn't a proper seal, but that didn't do the trick either. So here we are, two years later, finally doing something about this problem. Don't judge me though--those babies were cleaned to the very best of my ability every single week.

I think the issue was that the little holes that allow water to come out and fill the bowl were in a tiny little crevice that I couldn't get to when I cleaned them. So, there was a portion of the toilet (and a pretty important portion at that) that never once got cleaned. Our condos were built in '99, so you can do the math. ick.

My number one criteria when choosing a new toilet was to make sure that every square inch of the exterior was actually reachable so I wouldn't have the same issue again. I ended up choosing a Penguin toilet from Lowe's based on its amazing reviews. Who thought toilets would have raving reviews?! What really sold me on this particular brand and model is that it has overflow protection which seemed like a nice bonus. The toilet has three holes near the top of the bowl that drain water should it rise to that level.

I actually bought one back in June for our master bathroom to make sure it was a good egg. When we were sure it was as amazing as the reviews made it sound, I bought two more in August. I never thought the day would come when I'd rave about a stupid toilet, but here I am. I love these dang toilets. So, shall we get started? No part of this process is hard, but you certainly need someone strong around to do the heavy lifting (read: my dad). That, and a lot of trash bags.

Toilets are gross. We've covered that already. To make sure the toilets didn't grossify my clean carpet, I taped trash bags to the floor all the way from the bathroom to the stairs. I would have done the stairs, too, if I hadn't been worried about slipping down them while carrying a 50lb piece of porcelain.

Step one was to turn off the water. In this particular bathroom (our guest bathroom), the shutoff valve behind the toilet was old and my dad said not to trust it, so I turned off the water to the whole house. When we did the half bathroom downstairs, we just turned it off at the wall because the valve was newer.

Please forgive the blurry pictures. It's not easy to simultaneously snap pictures of all of this nasty stuff while keeping your camera clean. After the water is off, we flushed the toilet which forced most of the water out of the tank and into the bowl. Some was left in the tank, so we took a sponge and some gloves (that I later threw away, of course) and sopped it all up. The tank is actually quite clean since all that's ever going in there is fresh water. There was some rust, but it's not as bad as the bowl. 

After all the water was out, we unscrewed the tank from the base and removed it. It went straight into a trash bag so it wouldn't drip as we walked it downstairs, so really the bags I taped to the floor were just backup.

Next we cut through the caulk that was sealing the base to the floor.  First we used an exacto knife and then hit it with a putty knife.

Before you look at the next picture, here's a happy disclaimer: it's not as gross as it looks. Yes, toilets are mega gross, but all the stuff you see is just wax from the wax ring, rust, and caulk, which are not gross. I'll show you a what a new wax ring looks like momentarily.

After scraping up the caulk and removing all the wax, this is what we were left with. Not so bad, right?

The next step was to get the new wax ring ready. I bought an extra-thick one because the reviewers on suggested it.

My dad carried the new toilet up and we flipped it over to place the ring.

We just centered it over the hole and give it a little squish. The wax is quite firm (almost as hard as a candle), so it didn't move much when we pressed on it.

I forgot to take pictures of the bolts, but they have a sort of ovular head that will sit inside the metal plate that's on the ground.

The orientation of the heads is important so they don't come out of the plate, so I marked on the bottom of the bolt (which really is the top once they're installed) with a sharpie to show me which way the head pointed. You can barley see my little marks on the bolt below. The little piece of plastic helped the bolt stay standing up while we lowered the base on top.

After we got the base lined up and the bolts through the holes, we screwed the nuts on and then pressed the toilet into place to seat it.

You want to make them pretty tight so it doesn't move, but not too tight or you'll crack the porcelain which would be, well, catastrophic.

I completely failed to get a picture of us re-installing the hose that connects the toilet to the wall, but you'll want to find one that's the proper size for your shut off valve and for your new toilet. We put some plumbing tape on the shut off valve before screwing the hose on to get the best seal possible.

Et voila! You'll notice that there's some toilet paper on the ground behind the toilet--that's so I'd be able to tell if there was a leak. Luckily, we were leak-free on all three and I've since removed the TP. After this, all that was left to do was to caulk the base to the floor which took about 2 minutes.

Wasn't that riveting?! Installing them ourselves took a little less than 2 hours per toilet and saved us $400-500 in labor, so I think it was well worth it. Plus, I don't think I'd trust anyone else to tackle it in such a sanitary way. Best of all, the new toilets are a breeze to clean. No tiny crevices.

So what do you think? Are you now inspired to replace one of the grosses parts of your home? I highly suggest it.

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