The Thing About Installing a Toilet….

You might not know this, but I am handy……okay well actually….I guess not handy per se. I am just ambitious. Yes that is more accurate. I don’t believe there is much around the house that I can’t do with proper time spent in a hardware store. That being said, sometimes this involves 3 trips to the hardware store and a stack of items to return once the project is complete. But, in the end, it all boils down to me being handy! So YAY!

We actually got a shit ton of stuff done this weekend. First up was a much-needed and wonderful date day with the doodalood. We pretty much have a date day every Friday between noon and Jack-retrieval time, but this last one was especially fun. This is what happens when we have a “man-themed” date:

Andy's voyageterrifying


I am sure you all have experiences consisting of “an afternoon doing activities my husband picks out”. Well that was it. Good times. And I am not saying that sarcastically. It actually was fun and hilarious.

So our home improvement-related projects last weekend consisted of:

  • finally installing the rest of the DVD racks we bought 2 months ago
  • finally installing the clothes-drying rack I bought 3 months ago
  • re-hanging a door on our utility room cabinet that Andy ripped off with his huge man muscles
  • putting up one of those broom/mop rack thingies to hang your brooms and mops from the wall
  • making some toilet adjustments

When you look at it all together, basically we sound like super-homeowners. Of course when you consider we could have done this stuff right when we bought the parts….we look like lazy-ass homeowners.

So the toilet – I have decided that it would be almost comical if I wrote an article for like Better Homes and Gardens on how to fix toilet problems yourself. But I am feeling like it would be wildly inappropriate to populate the pages of the magazine with pictures of what your toilet really looks like in the areas you can’t clean next to the images of “Fun Fall Cookies!” or “Savory Winter Casseroles”.

Working on your toilet is probably up there on the list of most disgusting things you could do with your hands. And I am a pretty cleanly person. I clean that bitch often and with plenty of bleach. But there is still grossness. Especially when you have to reset your toilet, which is one of the things we did.

When you are standing in the plumbing aisle, looking at a box labeled “wax ring” you are looking at a brand new clean item. It doesn’t really give you an idea of what your eyes will see when they discover the “old wax ring”. But let me just say…you will need gloves. And it is probably best if you have spent the last 22 months of your life changing a child’s diaper, because then, and only then, will you be able to do what you need to do to complete the job.

Basically the toilet issues we had included a slow drip of water constantly running into the bowl from the tank (culprit – worn out pump componentry) and when the plumber came out last time to check our sewer line (which we have done about every two years – YAY for 50+ year old houses!) he didn’t change the wax ring, so the toilet wobbled when you sat down. Both of these things, in my mind, were super-easy-squeezy do-it-yourselfer type things. Which technically they were….but they were also gross.

We removed the toilet….wait! am I writing a do-it-yourself post? in that case:

1) turn off water and flush

2) scoop water in bowl that doesn’t flush using a red dixie cup into a bucket..remember when those red dixie cups were for beer pong? Yeah well now they are for scooping toilet water into a bucket. Welcome to adult-hood

3) go get every old towel you own…hopefully you have like 4 of those…don’t use the nice ones

4)unscrew toilet base and get your husband to help you lift it up and off the screw posts.

Awesome! Now you get to see the grossness! That wax ring is there for a purpose. It basically acts as a moldable washer between the floor flange and the hole in the bottom of your toilet. So basically poop and pee touch that sucker….eeewww!!!!! Basically it doesn’t look like the brand new one you just pulled out of the box. Oh and it is wax and squished down, so you have to not only touch it, but tediously scrape it off the floor flange.

Here’s where those gloves come in handy! Put them suckers on.

5)find a wax scraping tool. In our case, Andy came back down with a NY motorcycle license plate (add that to your list of tools that you need). Also get some of those plastic grocery bags that you shoved in a box under your kitchen sink. You wonder why you save those things? This is why.

The funny part is, that you would think that the thing making this process extra gross is the potential smell. Turns out – it doesn’t smell. Thank the heavens…..well at least our open sewer line didn’t smell….it is probably because our shit doesn’t actually stink. So you can never yell at me “don’t act like your shit don’t stink!” because mine actually doesn’t.

Alright so after you have scraped all that wax crap out using your trusty license plate, seal off the plastic bag of atrocities, and now it is time to install the new one! YAY!

So you kind of have to tip your toilet to the side and stick the new one to the bottom of the bowl and then set it onto the flange…we decided this would be better to do if we removed the tank.

6) remove your tank (you will need your towels for this part too!). Realize the bolts and washers that connect the tank to the bowl are super rusty and it might be worth $4 to replace that hardware and not have to do this type of toilet reconstruction again anytime soon.

7) go back to the hardware store….WASH YOUR HANDS FIRST!!! Even though you were wearing gloves. Still wash the thoughts off your hands.

8) Stop for a small malt. This project burns major calories and you need to replenish and maintain your strength.

9) After and ONLY AFTER you finish your malt, go back to the project.

10) Reset your toilet with the new wax seal. This is easiest to do if your partner holds the bowl up, with you in a “duck and cover” position on the floor between his legs, and you guide it down onto the screw posts…I am just trying to save you guys time by telling you exactly what works.

11) Now the fun part, squish that sucker onto the wax ring! This is accomplished by both you and your “master plumbing” partner leaning, sitting, and wiggling the bowl downward to get that wax sucker to mold into the perfect seal position. Again it is best if you are still kneeling on the floor between his legs…don’t ask me why this is best, just take my word for it.

12) Screw the base back in. I don’t know why the screw posts are 4 inches long when all you need is 1/2″ probably so your toddler can stab themselves in the eye with them later, but putting the nuts (hahah nuts) back on will take you a good 20 minutes. Once they are hand tightened, carefully tighten them down using a wrench (look real tools!). Not too tight, as the directions warrant….also WTF does “not too tight” mean? Who knows? You just need to use those years of plumbing know-how to tell you when you’ve reached that point.

Woohooo!!! You’re half-way done! Not to mention all the way done with the gross part.

The tank pump.

13) Have a short argument/discussion with your master plumbing partner as to whether it is better to install the new pump while the tank is still detached or after it has been reattached to the bowl. Then go with his suggestion of reattaching it and let him realize how wrong he was when he is crouched down trying to screw the plastic nut (hahah nut) in on the bottom of the tank later. Note to self – you are always right.

14) Uninstall the old pump parts and reconnect the tank to the bowl with your new bolts and rubber washers. Ahhh shiny and new!

15) Let your master plumbing partner install the new pump parts and crouch under and behind the tank to screw on the plastic nut (hahah nut). Go upstairs and get a drink of water and smile at yourself knowing that he made it harder.

16) Come back downstairs to oversee the reattachment of the water line and turn on the water.

VOILA!!! you have now fixed your toilet! Hope you’ve enjoyed this how-to-pretend-you-are-actually-a-plumber guide to fixing a few toilet problems! Happy plumbing everyone!

(Pictures not taken because that would be fucking disgusting!)


4 thoughts on “The Thing About Installing a Toilet….

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