Old toilet reinstalled after bathroom remodel leaking...

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by Snarlla, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. Snarlla

    Snarlla New Member

    Apr 22, 2010
    I'm so glad to find this forum. I hope someone here can help me understand what happened and make a decision.

    We just had our bathroom remodeled. We had decided to keep the old toilet because we were running up the $$ and wanted to save a little there. We were planning on replacing it a bit later after we'd built our savings cushion back up a little from the rest of the remodel.

    We have lived in this house for about 5 years and this toilet has always flushed slow. It required a lot of plunging, but plunging always worked and never caused any leaking or overflows.

    When they started the remodel they took the toilet out and it sat empty for about 3-4 weeks.

    It was just reinstalled over the new tile floor uh... about 3 days ago. I had used it maybe twice and the same for my husband. Then day before yesterday my husband used it in the morning getting ready for work and it got stopped up. He had to plunge it, and when he plunged it it started leaking around the base.

    We called the contractors and they came out to take a look. They took the toilet off and determined that the wax seal had blown probably as a result of the plunging. When they looked inside the bottom of the toilet they found something in there (possibly a baby wipe) that appeared to have been in there for a while. This may be the reason the toilet had always flushed slow.

    At any rate we decided to get a new toilet and have them install it. However, the contractors wanted to charge us for installing the new toilet and they don't seem to be willing to fix the water damage that occurred to our ceiling downstairs when the toilet leaked.

    I'm not sure whether they should be responsible or not, which is why I'm asking here. What they told us was that we probably shouldn't have plunged the toilet so soon after installation, because the seal needed time to 'set up' (although they didn't tell us that until after it leaked). But this confuses me, because it's a wax seal, and wax doesn't really 'set up' does it? Then also they claim that the baby wipe (or whatever the object was) being stuck in the toilet was probably the cause of the stoppage, therefore the plunging and leaking. This also confuses me, because obviously the object was there for a long time, possibly contributing to the leaking problems and necessitating lots of plunging, yet the toilet never leaked before. I mean, we should be able to plunge a toilet right? We don't aggressively plunge; it's never really needed that, just a little help to get the stuff out of the bowl.

    So, after complaining a little they've agreed to install the new toilet without extra charge, and we are going to fix the ceiling problems (just priming and painting, I hope).

    I feel kind of conflicted, because I don't want to be chintzy and not pay them for work that they do, but at the same time I'm not convinced that the toilet was properly installed after the remodel.

    What I'm asking here is, is it reasonable of us to take the free installation or should we pay them because it's our fault in asking them to re-install a toilet that was partially clogged to begin with.

    Thanks for any help!
  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Aug 9, 2009
    To blow out the wax seal the stoppage had to be in the line and not the toilet. In that case plunging could have blown out the seal.

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  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    The only way a contractor can guarantee a job is with new parts.
    When you supply the old toilet, there is no guarantee.

    That being said, I doubt they installed it with enough wax seals since is was set on a tile floor.
    But once you start plunging the little devil, that kind of throws the book out on that.
    Plunging breaks seals.
    Once you start working the plunger, you will have problems.

    It's your job to do the ceiling.
    It was nice of them to come back and put in a new toilet.
    Next time, they should insist on using new parts.

    They will learn.

    Or it could have been this
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  5. Snarlla

    Snarlla New Member

    Apr 22, 2010
    Okay cool. That's what my husband said about the blockage having to be below the wax seal rather than above to blow the seal, but I have to admit I didn't really understand what he was talking about till I sat down and drew it out and pondered it. We poured some water down the line now that the toilet is off and it seemed to go down okay. Should we have it augured out or something before we put the new toilet on just to be sure?

    We had asked if it was okay to use the old toilet and told them that it was a 'slow flusher', and they did agree to re-install it without any argument or discussion. I do wish we had just gone ahead and spent the money on a new one now in hindsight.

    So, also you mentioned that they can't guarantee any work on an old fixture which seems fair, but they should guarantee the work now that the toilet is new, correct? We are now concerned that it will happen again.

    Thanks so much!

    ETA: Oh and you say "plunging breaks seals" and I have to admit that we've been plunging that toilet and all the toilets in this house for the entire 5 years we've been living here and never had a problem. Should we quit plunging and auger instead? What is one supposed to do when the toilet gets clogged?
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2010
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    The best thing to do when toilets always seem to get clogged is replace them with toilets that actually work! Many of the builder grade toilets are really lousy. If the blockage is in the pipes rather than the toilet, you have other problems that a toilet won't fix. In that case, a professional check of the lines may be in order - maybe even running a camera down them to see if there is some obstruction or crushing, or breakage.
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