Bad plumber or what??

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Disillusioned Homeowner, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. Disillusioned Homeowner

    Disillusioned Homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    California
    Ok, so I had our plumber install a new toilet earlier this month for $539 and it has been nothing but problems! He installed an elongated Toto Drake and on the day of installation the toilet went back to far that he had to remove the baseboard behind the toilet and the base sits against the wall with no space in between. I asked him if this new toilet was the right size since our last toilet fit fine and he was defensive and said it was the right size and he didn't know why it took up so much room. Then, when he was finished installing it the toilet was seriously crooked! He said our flange bolts are crooked and there was nothing he could do except jackhammer our floor, remove the flange and install a new one for an additional $350. I asked how this could be when our last toilet was not crooked at all and he said maybe that other toilet had a little more give but again there was nothing he could do. A couple days later we used the toilet and it made a hideous gurgling noise while the bowl was refilling so I called Toto to find out about that and to ask about the crooked toilet thing to see if this was an issue with the model or something. Toto said the plumber did not flush the lines properly which causes a sediment issue and they sent out a universal valve. Toto also said that there is no way this toilet should be crooked if our last one was not. I called our plumber about the universal valve and he said the problem had nothing to do with flushing the lines or the universal valve, but he installed it and the gurgling has not happened since. I brought up the crooked toilet problem again and he again said there was nothing he could do except install a new flange, but he said that instead of jackhammering the floor he could offer a remedy of removing the flange and gluing on a new one, no jackhammering involved, for $200. We didn't do it that day because the whole thing did not seem right to me. Then, the toilet started leaking from a bolt under and behind the tank yesterday. Through researching I learned about that whole "rough in" thing and called Toto about it...they had me measure and sure enough, we have a 10 in rough in and the toilet is a 12 inch. Toto confirmed the plumber should not have installed the toilet and said they sell a 10 inch toilet that should be used. Toto also said the crookedness could be because of the wrong toilet size and that the plumber should be able to adjust the bolts either way. I called the plumber, fuming mad, and he said 12 inch toilets are standard, there is no way to know what the rough in is until you install a toilet, blah blah, excuses, and is getting the toto 10 inch toilet tomorrow to install. My question is, should I trust him to install the new one? To me, he clearly does not care about doing things the right way at all...I do not see this as a mistake because I KNOW he knew as soon as he put it in that it was a 10 inch rough in yet willfully chose to install it anyway and dodge my questions. I don't feel like I should trust him to install a new roll of toilet paper let alone another new toilet! Thoughts??
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,948
    Location:
    New England
    Did he supply the toilet, or did you? If he did, he should make it right at no charge to you. My guess on the tank leak is that he could not get it properly tightened, otherwise, it would have put too much pressure on it. It's also possible that in trying to tighten it with no room, he did crack the tank. BTW, the proper way to attach the bowl is to first tighten the bolts with a rubber washer underneath the head in the tank with a metal washer and nut on the bottom of the tank. This is tightened, then set onto the bowl, and a second washer and nut are used to tighten it to the bowl. Debris in the supply line can happen anytime you shut the water off and then back on again...it's a good idea to flush it, but it may or may not have been an issue long-term. Depending on which Drake you have, it often will fit on a less than ideal flange placement, but it would likely be tough to get a 12" on a real 10" rough-in without issues. Most toilets have some room behind them, some more than others. IMHO, trying to shoehorn a 12" toilet on a true 10" rough-in is like a tire dealer trying to put a 15" tire on a 16" wheel...it just doesn't work 99% of the time, and anyone that has any professionalism would realize that and not give you any grief!
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  3. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    All he had to do was measure the distance from the wall to the closet bolts on the old toilet to see if the rough was a 10" or 12".

    John
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,943
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Your plumber can reuse the tank, and switch the bowl to a C744EF.10 which can be installed at 9-1/4" or more, and has a 16-1/8" bowl height. It's an elongated bowl.

    If a flange has offcenter notches on the flange, it's a easy matter or picking up a repair flange to hold the bolts to the floor.
    We carry those on the vans, and it's a $50.00 upcharge.

    The standard 12" Drake will install at 10-7/8" or more.
  5. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,830
    Location:
    New York, NY
    I am generally loathe to criticize when I don't have the whole story, but...

    Because you can get your hands on that toilet for about $250 or less, it means that he is charging you at least $300 for the installation. Terry, our moderator, would install that toilet for $179 if you bought it from him, although that is a very good deal. In other words, your plumber was compensated like a real pro. But he doesn't appear to have acted like one, assuming you have told us all the facts.

    First of all, as John says, to measure a rough-in you just pull out the tape measure and measure from the finished wall to the center of the bolts holding down the toilet. It is total crap, I mean embarssingly-total-crap, that you have to pull the toilet to have an idea what the rough-in is. Even on a 12" rough-in, it's often actually less than 12", so a real pro would want to know the actual distance before ordering just to make sure that a particular toilet will fit, because some need the whole 12", some don't. What caught my eye was your comment that the base was squeezing the baseboard. The back of the base (on the floor) of that toilet extends back about 10.5 inches from the center of the bolts. For the base to be against the baseboard means that either you have a 1.5" baseboard on a true 12" rough-in (which would be pretty darn thick), or something is up. Moreover, that particular toilet is very forgiving of a variance in the rough-in; it usually can be installed on as little as 10-7/8 from the center of the flange to the finished wall (not the baseboard, the finished wall).

    I'm thinking that you probably don't have a 10" rough-in if the only thing he had to remove was the baseboard, but it does sound like you have less than 12". Remember, to measure the rough-in you calculate not from the baseboard but from the finished wall. I'm guessing you are somewhere in between, most likely a little less than 11". Regardless, that's a tight squeeze and he should have measured before ordering the toilet.

    The toilet he chose is an excellent one. The Toto Drake you have is just a fabulous toilet and an excellent buy. I have two in our home. High-quality. Great flush. Well-made, and, as you found out, it comes from a company that really wants you to be happy and thus has excellent customer service. It's an easy toilet to install, especially if one actually READS THE DIRECTIONS.

    The TSU99A.X Universal Fill Valve that Toto sent you is an excellent one. It's the one you want anyway.

    As long as your guy is willing to make what is now the third call to get it right, he should be able to do it, especially if he reads the directions first. You can look at the lead sticky thread above to see how Jamie Love installs your exact toilet. It's actually a pretty-good project for a DIY.

    The wobble doesn't come from the flange. It comes most likely from an uneven floor, as the toilet rests on the floor, not the flange. The flange bolts secure the toilet tight against THE FLOOR. No part of the toilet should be touching the flange. Wax is used to fill the gap between the flange and the toilet. If the flange is not level, a little more wax gets squished from one side than the other. If the floor is uneven, as Jamie Love demonstrates, you just use little shims to make it level and not wobbly. Problem solved. Terry and Jamie use little plastic ones from the window department at Home Depot. They put the toilet in the position they want it, slide the shims in so it doesn't wobble, score the shims with an Xacto knife, break them at the score, and caulk around it. Perfect installation that they won't be called back to fix.

    (EDIT: I may have misunderstood what you meant by crooked. I thought you meant not level and wobbly. Reading Terry's post, I realize you may mean "not square to the wall". Which Terry gave you and your guy the solution for: just install a repair ring, assuming that your guy is saying that the flange has notches instead of slots and the notches aren't square with the wall.)

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  6. Disillusioned Homeowner

    Disillusioned Homeowner New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    California
    Honest engines, I didn't leave anything out at all, that is the plain and simple truth. It is such a bummer because we have had him do other plumbing for us and thought he was trustworthy. He has replaced a bathtub, 2 shower valves, 3 sink valves, and 2 other toilets. The other 2 he installed were Totos also, his recommendation, and they are great. Both of those toilets were 12 inch, so I can understand why he assumed this one would be as well. What I can't understand is his decision to cram it in anyway once he knew it was too big. My specific question at the time was "Is that toilet the right size? The last one didn't come all the way to the wall", to which he replied, "No, they're all the same size so I don't know what the problem is." He knew very well what the problem was and he is an established, licensed plumber. He did supply the toilet and is not trying to charge for the new one he will install tomorrow. The toilet measures exactly 10.5 inches from the unfinished wall to the bolt. Oh, and when I say the toilet is crooked, I don't mean uneven. It is completely flat on the ground but it points to the left! It is so crooked that only a few inches of the back left-side of the tank touches the wall because the rest is angled away from the wall! It would be funny if it weren't so sad, lol! It provides a lovely view of the tub when in use, ha ha. Thank-you guys for all the replies, you guys rock :)
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,830
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Well, he sounds like an experienced plumber who has done good work for you before, but decided to just cram it in when he realized that the rough-in was shorter than he expected. If so, then putting on a repair flange should be well within his skill set, even if he "didn't think of it" when he first encountered the problem.
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