My plumber is wigged out by my Aquia II toilet, and now so am I!

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by dcgardener, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. dcgardener

    dcgardener New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Here's the story: We're in the midst of a 5x7 bathroom renovation. The major plumbing fixtures are the Aquia II toilet, a Duravit wall mounted vanity with a countertop basin sink and a Runtal hydronic towel warmer, which replaces a small radiator.

    I told my plumber what fixtures I had and gave him specs I had downloaded on the toilet and towel warmer. He has pulled the radiator and plumbed for the towel warmer. No problems there. Yesterday, when I mentioned that he would have to drill into the floor to install the toilet, he had a melt-down. He said he didn't sign up to install something complicated like that, at least not for the price we had negotiated for the work. He said he didn't want to have to be sitting on the floor for 3 hours with the instructions trying to figure the thing out — that was money out of his pocket. Apparently, he did not read the info I had given him on the toilet.

    Okay. He called me this morning, and had calmed down. He'd even called Toto and gotten installation instructions. After yesterday, I was surprised he had done that. He's got two worries, and after hearing him out, I'm worried too.

    The floor is (soon to be) tiled with 1/2" thick travertine, which is installed over durock with a floor leveler over the durock. This is a 110-year-old rowhouse, so there are surprises behind every wall, and beneath every floor. Needless to say, nothing is ever plumb or level. Hence the floor leveler.

    My plumber is concerned that drilling through all that material is a) going to be difficult and b) might cause the tile to crack or the floor leveler to be compromised, either of which might cause the toilet to shift and leak.

    Also, he said to do the install, he would need at least 8" of space measuring from the middle of the toilet flange to the supply line. There isn't 8"; it's more like 5 or 6 inches. Is he right?

    Should I give up on the toilet? On the plumber? On both? On neither?

    I'm pretty frazzled right now. We've already had framing problems in the bathroom (as in lack of), which had to be dealt with, plus two plumbing leaks.

    I'd sure appreciate some advice.

    Thanks.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,422
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The water supply can even be almost rigth behind the bowl.
    See how much room is behind the bowl?

    [​IMG]

    It normally takes an extra 1/2 hour to install these.
    Drilling the tile floor isn't a big deal. We use a small rotohammer bit and go lightly.

    The seat is installed with black rubber toggles and stainless thread bolts.
    These drop in from the top of the bowl, and tighten with a screwdriver.
    Do not let the plumber use the plastic nuts and washers that come wth the seat.

    The black rubber washer between tank and bowl has no up or down.
    Just set it there, and tighten back and forth until the tank is snug.

    The water supply is atached to the tank before the tank is installed.
    The hose is routed through the bowl and the last part that gets tighened is at the shutoff.

    Installation instructions by Jamie

    We've sold a few hundred of these.
  3. dcgardener

    dcgardener New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    With the bowl not yet in place, I don't know how much room there will be behind it, Terry. I'll tell Mike (plumber) what you say about the water supply.

    Thanks!
  4. Mike50

    Mike50 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    699
    Location:
    Southern California
    Yea. My plumber had a minor meltdown as well. It was the original/older Aquia. I paid him an extra 100 bucks which was warranted imo. Even after I paid him the extra money he whined until I could get him out of the house. hehheh.
  5. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I honestly cannot figure out what the big deal is. Tell him to make it happen. Absolutely nothing is impossible. All you need is good will to do the job and money., but it can happen
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    There right kind of drill and drill bit will make this a fairly easy job. A bit more than a conventional 2 bolt flange, but not that big of a deal. I think your plumber is a bit afraid to try something new and is trying to make excuses for getting you to use another toilet. Don't let him get away with it.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,325
    Location:
    New England
    If the tile is installed properly, and you use the right drill and bit, you should not hurt the tile. Travertine is fairly sort in the scheme of things...a premium porcelain is almost as hard as diamond. A tile bit or a diamond core bit or a carbide bit should all drill into travertine. Depending on how sharp they are, you shouldn't need more than a couple of minutes a hole. The wrong bit, and it could take forever. Depending on how thick the underlayment is, if it is fairly thin, you'd drill through the hard stuff, then use a screw into the subfloor. If it is thicker, you'd use the supplied plastic anchors (requires a bigger hole than clearance for just the screw), then insert the anchor then screw.
  8. dcgardener

    dcgardener New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I'm thinking if he's that wigged out, I might let him get away with it, and find another plumber with experience in installing Toto toilets. Besides, I also have a Duravit wall mount vanity and counter top basin that needs installing, and I just don't want to deal with plumber melt-down round two!
  9. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    Sheesh, I'm a do-it-yourselfer and I installed the Aquia II all by myself in less than 3 hours with no help and a basic set of tools. If I was a pro, I'd consider it an interesting challenge. No offense to the professionals here but in all the improvements I've made to my house over the past 10 years, I've been continually amazed at what babies these big burly tradesmen can be about things -- they don't want to get under the house, they don't want to go into the attic, they don't want to do install something they're not familiar with, they're afraid of my little white dog, etc. I'd hire a new plumber and teach him a lesson.
  10. chrisexv6

    chrisexv6 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Its funny, when I had to install my Soiree, I said I would give myself plenty of time to do it (water needed to be turned off so I could replace the valve too, with 2 kids and a wife you dont want the water turned off longer than necessary!)

    After all was said and done, installing the Unifit flange took a whopping 15 minutes. Key is having the right tools....hammer drill (even a cordless, doesnt need to be a massive Hilti) and a good masonry bit (Blue Granite by Bosch is my favorite). Granted I didnt have ultra-hard porcelain, or soft travertine....somewhere in between. I think the bit is the most important part of the whole deal.

    Also helpful was having a center punch....I installed the unifit to the existing toilet flange without any wax ring. Tightened the nuts down just enough to hold it, made sure it was square to the wall, level, etc. Once in place I center punched the 4 holes where the rear screws needed to go. Removed the unifit, drilled the holes, installed the plastic anchor inserts and reinstalled Unifit with the wax ring. Everything lined up perfectly.
  11. dcgardener

    dcgardener New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Cass, I think my plumber is not necessarily a cry baby (whiner, yeah), but just focused on the bucks. This is not to relieve him of any responsibility — I was pretty darn peeved when he had his melt-down, especially complaining that he would have bid differently had he known the toilet's complexity. I say that's his own fault for not reading the installation instructions I gave him BEFORE he made his bid.

    He's not interested in learning how to install a new toilet, when he can install a toilet or sink he's familiar with in 15 minutes and charge a minimum of $180. I only wish I could pull in that kind of money.

    I understand what you say about rising to a new challenge, thebigsee. I'm always interested in figuring out how things work, and have learned a lot over the years during the course of a full gut/renovation, and subsequent smaller updates. My plumber is definitely not in that camp. He wants to plop the toilet down, tighten a few bolts and leave with a wad of my cash in his wallet. He does NOT want to sit around on the floor peering at a set of instructions for 3 hours. He told me as much. Basically, I have to pay him to read instructions, I guess. He'll probably also whine about having to get a special drill bit. I am considering hiring a new plumber, though I'm wondering if I'm not going to simply run into this same problem again. These guys invariably say, 'no problem,' to whatever you bring up when you're considering hiring them, but that 'no problem' changes down the line, and so does their price.
  12. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,397
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Here's another thought. Like many things, this is something that does have to be done right, but it does not require a degree from MIT. Have you considered DIY? Even if you don't own a hammer drill, a small one can be rented. Buy the correct size and type of bit, and with the Toto instruction sheet and suggestions from this forum, you just tell your plumber, "Thanks, but no thanks."
  13. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    This plumber is obviously inexperienced at doing installations as well as estimating jobs. Don't use this guy as whining to the customer like that is very unprofessional.
  14. FunNut

    FunNut New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Location:
    Rowe Mesa, NM
    What I would do is phone around and find a plumber who is experienced in installing Toto toilets. I'm going to be facing the same problem soon with my new construction, the plumber is a country good-old-boy and is already worried about the toilet install.

    Honestly, I believe these kinds of problems are often the result of the tradesman having a low level of reading ability. If his reading level is poor, understanding written instructions is very difficult and few people are brave enough to admit they can't read. My contractor knows I read this forum and I told him Terry charges $179 to install a Toto, so if the plumber won't do mine the contractor says he will do it.

    Good luck!
  15. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,422
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    We charge $179 for most of them, and $199 for the Aquia.
    That's if we supply the toilets.

    It's more if the customer supplies them.
    And the Aquia, should be about $50 more than a standard install.
  16. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    uhh Terry is actually a plumbing robot...so it's not really fair to compare apples to oranges....
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