The person that owned the house before us had redone the entire bathroom shortly before we bought the place. He was not a very good plumber. He didn't seat the toilet properly and it leaked. We didn't realize it until months later as the moisture was being trapped under the flooring. It wasn't until the staining showed through the vinyl flooring that we realized we had a problem. I reseated the toilet, and at least the leak was solved. I figured that we would get to the flooring in a year or two.

Ten years later...

We started replacement of our bathroom floor about a week and a half ago, and I think we are finally done with the demolition. Although ripping out layers of flooring can be fun, it can also be quite frustrating -- especially when you are doing it in your house's ONLY BATHROOM!

We started by trying to get the vinyl off the underlayment. That was a slow go and we discovered that there were some problem areas with the underlayment. We decided to take up the problem underlayment and replace it.

The guy used ringshank nails and LOTS OF THEM!! In one 3"x24" piece alone he must have used at least 12 of them! So it was a bitch getting it up -- and it got worse. As we pulled up the underlayment, we found even MORE problem areas that would need to be addressed. So we pulled up the whole underlayment to fix them.

After we got all the underlayment off (almost a week after starting thanks to that hammer happy a-hole), we were down to two layers of 1" thick pine planking between us and the joists. And there were a couple of areas in the floor that could not be repaired correctly no matter how we tried to engineer a solution.

SO, we forged ahead to rip out the top layer of 1" planks to replace it with 3/4" exterior grade plywood. That would allow us a sturdy, FLAT subfloor for our tile job.

Most of that was a breeze as the nails had been in the wood for over 100 years. There were a few areas that couldn't be pried out, because they went under the wall. For these areas we used a very sharp chisel and a variety of saws to cut the wood flush with the wall. The saw that we found most useful was a this jamb saw.

Once we got all that wood out the way, we could finally start building it back up. FYI -- the treated plywood at Home Depot sucked!! We got ours at Menards instead.

We had a problem with the cast iron toilet flange. (The flange is the waste pipe fitting that connects to your toilet)The flange is supposed to have support under the lip via the flooring. There was really no way for us to do this properly without taking the flange off the cast iron waste pipe. I checked a few DIY forums and they all said the same thing -- piece of cake. Just wack the flange with a hammer to remove it. Then get a new one, pack with oakum and lead solder it back on. Right, sounds absolutely simple (sarcastic tone implied). Not knowing how hard I could wack the cast iron without breaking the very-expensive-to-replace-cast-iron-waste-pipe, I decided to try and engineer another solution -- but I didn't have to. Flange supports to the rescue! We could just cut the plywood to fit over the flange and use the support kit. Not the most ideal situation, but it would do in a pinch.

The first piece of plywood we cut was going perfectly until the second to last cut out of 7 cuts. I don't know what happened. I measured four times!! It was so depressing I nearly cried. It was a $32 piece of lumber, and it was our best sheet! SSB offered me a hug and then laughed, "Do you think that this happens on construction sites? One of the crew gets upset because they made a bad, costly cut and one of the other guys asks if they need a hug?" It is a funny thought. I bet they really could use them too!

As we were cutting the replacement piece today, Elle and her husband stopped over. Her husband said that he would take a look at our flange for us (he does commercial building maintenance for a living). About ten minutes later, he had the flange removed! YAY!! And they couldn't have come at a better time. SSB was just about to cut the hole in the sheet for the flange. Now we can do it right and no more wood wasted!

I asked Elle's husband about replacement flanges. We went to the computer to find an image of the one that he was trying to describe to me. I showed him a couple of cool plumbing websites that I had found. As we ogled the nifty plumbing gadetry and talked shop, Elle looked over at SSB and laughed, "Boy, we just love to talk about toilets too, right SSB?"

He said that we should be able to find the part in just about any hardware store -- which almost always means "good luck finding that!" Our local hardware store had no idea what I was talking about. And two more hardware stores later without the goods, I was getting the idea that it might be a special order. However, Home Depot redeemed itself by not only having the part, but in cast iron, just like I wanted!
Oh, joy!!

We are still without a toilet, as of yet. Our neighbor has been good enough to allow us to come over to use hers in the meantime. It's great to have such wonderful neighbors and friends. And you know, you really don't know how much you depend on that porcelain device until you don't have one!!


Leon J. de la Garza said...

Well.. just so you know, I'm leon..
I'm actually at work but haven't got much to do right now.. so i came to your blog via Laurie's blog..

I read your whole.. toilet journey..
seems like a total headache... or.. maybe just pain in the ass (literally) :P

I see you bougt some stuff over at home depot...
I'm actually working for them right now, updating their HR system, but i'm in mexico, so i don't know how relevant that is..

i got a blog too.. but it's in spanish.. so i don't know if you'll understand it.. it's a kind of podcast thing... kinda thing..

And last but not least,
i have to say im impressed, i dont know the least bit about how to change a toilet, although i guess in need of doing i'd have to learn how..

have a good one!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

I can appreciate the value of a good toilet. I pee like every hour (small bladder). I'm glad you have a strong bladder and kind neighbours! :)

Sylvana said...

Leon J. de la Garza, welcome to my blog! I do read Spanish a little, but verbal and aural are kind of beyond me.

Are there Home Depots in Mexico?

Mrs. L, believe me, it has been tough on all of us! And with all the crap (no pun intended) that has been going on in my life lately -- who knows when I will see my lovely porcelain friend again!