May 08, 2008

By Popular Demand

As warned in the previous post, if enough people asked for it, I agreed to post the tale of my recent struggle with the downstairs toilet room. In this case, "popular demand" consists of Miss Jordana asking to read it. I am nothing if not a sucker for pretty brunettes.

SO THEN, here it is.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The following posts details events that occurred 13-14 APR 2008. This account contains graphic depictions of plumbing, excessive use of fossil fuels, deliberate concentration and inhalation of petroleum distillate vapors, and conspicuous consumption, yet is entirely devoid of entertainment value, as well as that patented Possumblog combination of mirth and despair. It is simply despair.

PLOT SETUP: I started in November of 2004 to repair the rotted floor of my downstairs powder room, the result of a small leak in the toilet flange. At the time, I could not find an appropriate selection of hardwood flooring to patch the pieces I'd torn out, and ever since then, the toilet room has been in a state of disrepair. Other stories here, and here, and here, and here.

I fixed my bathroom over the weekend, and I'm sore.

Pulled out the rest of the hardwood flooring with a crowbar, and thus began the first of several tasks that made me sore. Finally got it all hacked up, and went to the store to get something to go back on it. Decided to get some self-stick vinyl planks that look like wood. Also had to get something to take up the old glue, so I got something made to take up old vinyl flooring and glue. And some floor primer. And a scraper. And I decided to get a new toilet because the old one was a round bowl, and it's just not big enough for my butt, and it's also nasty-looking. The toilet, not my butt.

Went back, set to work with the chemical, and the scraper, and found out that the chemical was pretty worthless, and the scraper broke. Went to Marvin's and got a new big wood and metal scraper and a can of methylene chloride. Went home, doused the floor, waited, scraped some more and shriveled my lungs up to the size of raisins from the fumes. Bending and scraping and breathing toxic fumes hurts.

Finished, more or less, although there were still sticky spots in the floor. Didn't care. Dumped the contaminated chemical mess and glue in the garbage, washed the floor down with a mop and bucket, toweled it dry, and then started with the vinyl. Actually managed to do okay with it. Although it was in a tiny little powder room that's only 3 x 6, and all the stooping and contorting and crawling hurt more. And the sink is a pedestal mount, and so when I moved the hunk of leftover wood floor from under it, it dropped down and came loose from the wall. So I had to support it with my head while I tried to shore it up. And then move it around again while I put the vinyl down. After several hours wrestling with that and having to cut strips with a dull box knife so they'd fit up against the wall, I was done with that.

Went and got the new toilet and set it in place, and it was way too high. Rocked all over the place.

I looked, and came to the conclusion that the flange was sitting up too high, and I needed to replace it so it would be right down on the floor. Started beating and banging on the flange until I had beaten the thing to pieces and gotten it broken out of the floor piping. And made myself even more sore.

Sunday, went to church, came back and got a new flange and pipe dope. Filed down some of the bad places so the flange would fit, and it almost did. But it was very tight. Went ahead and primed it and glued it and set it in place, and started tapping it down with a big hammer. Wham wham wham, until it was nearly at the floor. Almost. WHAM WHAM WHAM CRACK CRACK S[letters deleted to keep from scaring the horses and the children]TFIRE!

I broke it.

And the bad thing is, even if I'd gotten it all the way down, it was still going to sit up too high. Seems that's sometimes a problem, and there are companies that do make spacers that sit under the base of the toilet to raise it up enough to get a wax ring under it and still be nice and tight to the floor. Which would have been helpful seeing as how not only was the flange a bit too high, the whole floor was raised up a bit where the pipe came through the floor, meaning I was going to have to shim the toilet no matter what. And if I'd only realized that earlier, I could have saved myself from hammering the new flange to pieces and just shimmed it up when I had THAT one in place.

So, I finished hammering the new flange out of the hole.


Seems that unlike the old one, the new one was much more resilient, and wouldn't crack loose from the inside of the pipe. I'd glued it in there really good, you know.

Got it down as far as I could, ran to Lowe's and got a new flange of a smaller diameter that was intended to go down into the inside of the old new flange's opening.

Got it home, and it was much smaller than the other one—not a press-fit like I thought it would be. Back to the store for a big tube of something. Decided on JB Weld epoxy putty. Rolled it up, put it around the neck, and prayed it would hold. It seemed pretty tight, sorta, but to make sure, went back to the store and got ANOTHER tube of putty and squished it up the inside part of the flange underneath. Finally felt like I had it together.

Got redressed to go back to church for evening worship, and tried to figure out what I was going to do for a seal, since the wax ring that came with the toilet was for a bigger opening and wouldn't go into the new opening of the flange. Got out of church, went to ANOTHER Lowe's, asked some old fart who worked there if there was a wax ring made to fit "this type of flange" [holding up an example for him to look at] "Here. Use this," he said.

"No, that one is too big—see, the plastic part won't go down in the hole."

"Yes it will."

"Uhhhh, no—it won't. I've TRIED it, and it's the same diameter as the hole on the flange."

So then he took off to the other aisle to look at the flanges.

"You need one of these."

"No—look, I've already GOT this one in the floor—I was just using it to show you what I need. I need to know if there's anything made specifically for this type of flange."



In frustration, I got a big tube of silicone caulk.

Went home, put back on my work clothes, then put a paper cup down in the hole of the flange, and pookied the snot out of the depression in the flange around the cup and built up a big wad of it all around. Got the bowl, positioned a couple of pieces of hardwood flooring samples (that I'd gotten in one of my earlier trips for stuff) and set it carefully down, hoping I'd lined up the outlet of the bowl with the inlet of the flange, and that the big bead of caulk was going to be enough to hold it.

Bolted it down, bolted the tank on, hooked up the water, let it fill up, and then gave 'er a flush.

Thank the Good Lord, it worked.

No leaks that I could find. Adjusted the float, cleaned up the tools and the floor and the junk and the leftover parts and bolts and screws and took a tiny little tired dump to make sure that it would flush solids just like it did liquids.

And it did.

And so, that's why my neck, and back, and knees, and wrists, and arms, and inner thighs, and calves, and hamstrings are all very sore, even today.

Oh, and by the way, I fixed Lightning some boards on top of the fence so he could promenade along the fence or lie about in the sun.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 8, 2008 03:01 PM

Life Imitates Art?

Terry's Home Improvement Projects=If you Give A Mouse a Cookie

I'm tired just reading it

Posted by: skinnydan at May 8, 2008 08:14 PM

What, Miss Reba did not offer a special deep-muscle massage to her champion Fixer-Upper? You're another fine example of "If you can't be handsome you might as well be handy" school of duct tape (and silicone caulk) repairmen. Are you regretting not just building up on top of the old floor now?

Lady Spud has a bunch of home-improvement projects, and for some crazy reason her perspective on gettin'-er-done is not quite as fast as mine. She recently bought 4 12' 4x4's to help raise up a swingset that had previously stood at 6'. The fun part was lifting the whole assembly up, fitting the posts into the 2' holes. By the grace of God we were able to walk it up and in, and now we're waiting for the cement to set before hooking up the swings. For now it looks like a gallows pole, and somewhat tempting to use on the kids. Somewhat.

Posted by: Marc V at May 9, 2008 06:00 AM

Skinnydan, I was sore for the rest of the week after that.

And no, Marc, there was no connubial physical therapy of any sort. THAT'S just how beat I was. As for building up on the old floor, I was sorta leery of doing that. I could have put some leveling compound in the areas of wood I'd removed, then skim coated the rest of the wood, then laid the tile over that, but any trapped moisture would have had the potential to continue rotting the wood. Better to get it out. I do wish I'd gone ahead and gotten some kind of hardwood, though, just for the added thickness. Would have made everything go easier. Except I had no good way of cutting the wood. A dull carpet knife is doable on vinyl, but not wood.

And as for your swingset, be sure and reinforce it so you can use it as an engine hoist!

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2008 08:26 AM

This makes me very happy that a plumber is currently sitting in my upstairs installing the last toilet we have planned for the house. If he breaks anything it is his fault. If Justin had had a go at it and broken anything, I might have had to bash him. And bashing one's husband is not the recommended method for connubial bliss.

And I'm also glad I went for all elongated toilets. Not that I had much choice, because I also went for toilets that were free or on clearance, but one never knows when hiney size might become an important factor in toilet comfort.

Posted by: Jordana at May 9, 2008 09:07 AM

Indeed so. I have yet to figure out why they put a tiny little round bowl in downstairs, other than maybe they thought the door would swing in rather than out and they thought they might need the clearance. I wonder if I should have gone with one of these?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2008 09:24 AM

I didn't run across that toilet in my wanderings through Home Depot and Lowes, but I did notice there were several toilets for sale that said they were a little wider than normal. I guess there are many people out there who consider this an issue. Also there are higher "comfort height" toilets to consider, though I rejected the idea, because my three year old has a hard enough time climbing on a regular height toilet.

The number of toilets out there is actually somewhat overwhelming. Limiting my choices to sale items helped a lot though.

Posted by: Jordana at May 9, 2008 12:40 PM

I don't know, but this whole "indoor plumbing" thing is probably just a fad anyway.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2008 01:21 PM

In your shopping, did either of you run across any 1962 pinkish beige conventional toilet seats?

I could use two.

Posted by: Janis Gore at May 9, 2008 01:38 PM

Nope, although you should be able to find a regular old round seat with a wood core, then paint it the color you want it, then seal it with clear.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 9, 2008 01:58 PM

Janis, apparently Bemis makes toilet seats in 94 different colors, but won't let me post the link!

I am not now and never have been a spammer.

[Maybe not, but your humble Ed. can work his magic and let the magic of Bemis be seen by all!]

Posted by: Jordana at May 9, 2008 03:17 PM

Thank you, kids!

Posted by: Janis Gore at May 9, 2008 04:26 PM

Possumblog, your source for your home plumbing needs.

Posted by: Sarah G. at May 9, 2008 10:40 PM

Don't be tacky , Sarah. That's next year's mother's day gift.

Posted by: Janis Gore at May 9, 2008 10:46 PM

So much excitement at the Possum ranch- I don't envy you that job one little bit. Sure glad it all turned out well and the aches and pains will eventually get better- you know, while you are stretching to rearrange boxes while cleaning out the garage or leaning into the lawnmower to shorten the weed height in the yard.

As for me- its 8 years now that we haven't fixed the flooring in the dining room and keep it covered up with rugs. But the BSU says this year, the kitchen gets remodeled... Yes dear.

Posted by: Nate at May 9, 2008 10:52 PM

Yes, thankfully the aches subsided after a week. Which is good, because as you correctly guessed, today is lawncutting day. Yay.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 10, 2008 08:16 AM

Yay for Bemis, but I think I might finally draw the manhood line at the idea of a "Peach Bisque" colored toilet seat.

Posted by: skinnydan at May 10, 2008 11:02 PM

I wonder if Homer would have liked "Aegean Mist."

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 12, 2008 09:10 AM

I get to be the layout man on the chop saw this weekend. I'm not going to be doing much bending or lifting of flooring... I hope :) Anyway helping put in bamboo everywhere on the 1st level of a townhouse will be interesting, in the Chinese sense if nothing else. I looked at the sheet goods in there now as flooring and the GC who passed this as quality work needs to be spanked.

Posted by: Chef Tony at May 15, 2008 12:00 PM

Given the stereotype, I think you'd be hard pressed to find him, much less spank him.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 15, 2008 01:12 PM

OK, went to the MD for the 2 week check up. Everything is going well considering I had a rotator cuff ripped, the biceps ligament torn & part of the clavicle had to be removed along w/some bone spurs. This has led to no 2 handed shooting, no weak hand work plus care on lifting. The good news a full recovery is likely but will take 6 months.

Posted by: Chef Tony at May 20, 2008 04:40 PM

Dang--that chop saw must have gone WILD on you!!

(Best wishes for a quick--and relatively pain-free--recovery, Tony.)

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 21, 2008 07:57 AM

Didn't know you could do rotator cuff surgery using a chop saw. I thought you used a jigsaw.

What do us Yankees know, anyway?

Posted by: skinnydan at May 22, 2008 12:04 PM

How to fire baseball managers?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 22, 2008 01:17 PM