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Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:34 PM

Adventures in Toilet Repair

This will be the story of me repairing a toilet in real time. It will involve removing the tank and replacing all the innards.

I just watched a lady named Darlene on YouTube doing the job with the "help" of 3 pre-school kids and she managed okay. So, I feel better about my chance of success.

I will need to take a break every so often so I will come back here to post my progress, frustrations, and probably to scream. Any words of encouragement or advice will be greatly appreciated even if I am a violently shuddering bundle of stress and mindless screeching.

Wish me luck...

61 replies, 2528 views

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Arrow 61 replies Author Time Post
Reply Adventures in Toilet Repair (Original post)
Leith Sep 2018 OP
Floyd R. Turbo Sep 2018 #1
GeorgeGist Sep 2018 #2
unblock Sep 2018 #3
mysteryowl Sep 2018 #28
MarvinGardens Sep 2018 #4
byronius Sep 2018 #5
Leith Sep 2018 #15
byronius Sep 2018 #16
Leith Sep 2018 #19
Leith Sep 2018 #21
byronius Sep 2018 #22
byronius Sep 2018 #23
byronius Sep 2018 #24
Leith Sep 2018 #26
byronius Sep 2018 #27
Leith Sep 2018 #29
PJMcK Sep 2018 #6
Wellstone ruled Sep 2018 #7
Floyd R. Turbo Sep 2018 #8
Wellstone ruled Sep 2018 #9
csziggy Sep 2018 #31
Wellstone ruled Sep 2018 #32
OriginalGeek Sep 2018 #10
procon Sep 2018 #11
CloudWatcher Sep 2018 #12
Wounded Bear Sep 2018 #13
sdfernando Sep 2018 #14
AncientGeezer Sep 2018 #17
Leith Sep 2018 #20
AncientGeezer Sep 2018 #33
FSogol Sep 2018 #34
jberryhill Sep 2018 #55
Mosby Sep 2018 #61
pansypoo53219 Sep 2018 #30
MuseRider Sep 2018 #18
surrealAmerican Sep 2018 #25
LakeSuperiorView Sep 2018 #35
onethatcares Sep 2018 #36
Leith Sep 2018 #38
irisblue Sep 2018 #37
Leith Sep 2018 #39
onethatcares Sep 2018 #40
Leith Sep 2018 #41
JustABozoOnThisBus Sep 2018 #42
Leith Sep 2018 #44
jberryhill Sep 2018 #56
ProfessorGAC Sep 2018 #43
Laffy Kat Sep 2018 #45
Leith Sep 2018 #46
Floyd R. Turbo Sep 2018 #47
Leith Sep 2018 #48
Floyd R. Turbo Sep 2018 #49
onethatcares Sep 2018 #50
dameatball Sep 2018 #51
Harker Sep 2018 #52
Leith Sep 2018 #53
LineLineNew Reply .
jberryhill Sep 2018 #57
Harker Sep 2018 #58
jberryhill Sep 2018 #59
Harker Sep 2018 #60
mountain grammy Sep 2018 #54

Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:37 PM

1. Good luck! I did one a few years ago! 🤬

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:38 PM

2. My extremely handy neighbor claims ...

it's the wettest home improvement project he ever tackled.

Good luck.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:40 PM

3. it's a crappy job but someone's gotta do it....

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Response to unblock (Reply #3)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 08:56 PM

28. Ha

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:41 PM

4. If the large screws holding the tank in place are rusted solid,

you can drill them out. I had to do that once. You might break a drill bit in the process though, and safety glasses are a must if doing this. Hopefully it doesn't come to that and all goes smoothly. Good luck!

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:41 PM

5. Not so hard. Just go slow.

I've done a few dozen now. Replacing everything is the smart way to go -- should make it easy.

Are you removing it from the floor? If so, don't forget the new wax seal.

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Response to byronius (Reply #5)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:31 PM

15. No, the Bowl Is Staying Where It Is

Just the tank. Right now, the fill valve is out, but the shank washer is stuck in place...

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Response to Leith (Reply #15)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:39 PM

16. WD-40 + 5 minutes.

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Response to byronius (Reply #16)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:56 PM

19. Okay, Doing That

The straw on the can doesn't work right so I had to spray in the general area. It took a bunch of soap to get all the WD-40 off my hands. It's break time while that is working.

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Response to byronius (Reply #16)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 07:23 PM

21. Nope, Didn't Do It

It looks like I'm one of those pathetic people who try to do something beyond their abilities and needs a handyman's rescue.

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Response to Leith (Reply #21)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 07:51 PM

22. Got a little scraper or putty knife? I wish that straw was working.

Spray then lift a little, spray underneath the lip again and lift a little more...

When you say shank washer, you mean the rubber seal at the bottom of the tank, right?

For God's Sake do not break that porcelain. Breathe. Zen it out.

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Response to Leith (Reply #21)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 07:52 PM

23. How about a picture?

Man, I been doing this stuff all my life. I've only learned through effing up.

That's why I say do NOT break that porcelain.

'Cause I done that.

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Response to Leith (Reply #21)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 07:55 PM

24. Is it the spud nut that's stuck?

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Response to byronius (Reply #24)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 08:14 PM

26. All the Above

The 3 bolts that hold the tank onto the bowl AND the part that takes in water.

The fill valve is out completely. When I tried to put it back on, it didn't work like before. Now it sprays and leaks water rather than just filling the tank in a civilized manner.

For the time being, I have reattached the water line to the tank because I did not empty the bucket quick enough and there was water all over the floor. It looks for the moment like the tank is draining as slowly as the water is flowing into it.

Fuck! I've had better days.


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Response to Leith (Reply #26)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 08:49 PM

27. Man, sorry about that.

Old plumbing takes longer to do. WD-40 is the White Trash (that's me) Guy's replacement for the more expensive silicone frozen bolt spray, but all of them take time to settle in and loosen up stuff.

Wish I could Enterprise-transport in and help.

Drilling out the bolts and using a reciprocating saw to get the spudnut off is the end option, but it may be the only one, bleagh.

Decisions like this have to be based on cost versus time -- new cheap toilet in the box is probably 75 bucks. New tank is 75 bucks. Six hours of wrangling and worrying and drilling the bolts out -- free, except to your peace of mind.

However -- doing it the hard way can often bring the greatest reward, plus expertise in the impossible.

Breathe. Think. Go slow. And don't break that porcelain.

At least you don't have to go under the house. That's always the worst. I always leave blood behind.

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Response to byronius (Reply #27)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 10:25 PM

29. Thanks for the Support, Wise Words, and All the Help

Hubby and I have decided to let it go until tomorrow. Then we will see if we can get whatever is screwed in can be unscrewed. If it can, we will tackle the next challenge. If it can't, we call in a pro. I have looked on Yelp and there are a couple likely looking plumbers to call.

It is just my turn for some home maintenance. Every home owner has to do it some time or another. I just got cocky after I successfully replaced a faucet, replaced dishwasher hoses, and Darlene on YouTube made it look doable.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:41 PM

6. Great good luck!

I can do carpentry, electrical, auto maintenance, yard work and painting.

Plumbing eludes me. I always have to hire a pro.

I'm sure you'll do well.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:44 PM

7. Unless it is just the replacement of a flapper,

 

honest truth is,go to your local DIY and buy a new water saver Toilet and pay the 100 bucks to have it installed.

Old Toilets are just that,old and they just need to go. Not worth the grief. Always remember the old plumbers axiom,repair today and call me tomorrow for me to fix your repairs.

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Response to Wellstone ruled (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:46 PM

8. 👍🏻

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Response to Floyd R. Turbo (Reply #8)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:49 PM

9. Seen to many $4.74 repairs suddenly turn into

 

$400.00 or higher repair bill.

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Response to Wellstone ruled (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 10:40 PM

31. I agree with this!

My parents house had some really spiffy one piece toilets that were state of the art when the house was built in 1968. When parts started going bad, my Dad found out that nothing in the toilets was standard and replacement parts were no longer available.

For twenty years he paid a plumber to come in and jury rig parts - for example, the toilet handle was attached to the part that lifts the flapper with twist ties off a bread bag. After Dad died my sister (who was helping Mom maintain the house) gradually replaced all the old toilets with new, standard parts, low water, high flush capacity ones.

Four new toilets plus installation cost less than five years of jury rigging not to mention the excess water use from the old style toilets that often leaked continuously.

When I picked toilets for my new house, my criteria was standard style parts, low water usage, and high capacity flushing. I've been very happy with those Kohler toilets for ten years now.

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Response to csziggy (Reply #31)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 11:45 PM

32. You choosed the best of the lot.

 

Sad to say,there are only a few toilets made in the USA and Kohler does the best job the money.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:49 PM

10. I was all excited about the job as I heard there was a donut

I was sorely disappointed.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 05:51 PM

11. My attempt at replacing the flushing mechanism left me with one less working

toilet for several weeks until my brother could drive down for a visit with his toolbox to fix the damn thing.

Never again! If my brother isn't available, I'll pay for a handyman to come fix it.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:02 PM

12. my secret to working on plumbing ...

Step 1) Have a beer first to adjust my attitude.
Step 2) Re-evaluate the need for the repair.

Seriously, never call an insurance company or work on plumbing when completely sober.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:11 PM

13. Are you paying the pre-schoolers minimum wage?

Assuming you're following directions from the vdeo precisely, that is.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:18 PM

14. Its not big deal really

but if you crap it up you will be pissed!

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:44 PM

17. You don't have to remove the tank for almost any "innards" repairs.

 

It is necessary for the tank to bowl gasket/or flush valve.

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Response to AncientGeezer (Reply #17)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 07:01 PM

20. That's One of the Things I'm Replacing

I'm waiting for WD-40 to lube up the things that won't let me unscrew them. Break time.


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Response to Leith (Reply #20)

Tue Sep 25, 2018, 06:59 AM

33. Stuck tank bolts SUCK...WD may not cut it. I hope it does for you

 

Having done this for 30 plus yrs...If WD doesn't..a hacksaw blade by hand(so it can bend) under the bowl side of the bolts.. is time consuming and can rip your hand to hell...but with persistence and a ton of bandaids...you can do the fix.

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Response to AncientGeezer (Reply #33)

Tue Sep 25, 2018, 07:52 AM

34. The hacksaw blade works, but it you have a dremel, you can cut the bolt. n/t

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Response to FSogol (Reply #34)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 05:02 PM

55. There's two kinds of people in this world

 


People who have a Dremel tool and people who don't.

Not having had one for decades, there was never anything more irritating that someone saying, "If you have a Dremel..."

The thing is, I never ran into a problem which I did not manage to eventually solve without a Dremel tool.

But, yeah, I found one cheap on Craigslist and bought one (and a zillion attachments).

So, I get it now. Yes, if you have a Dremel, then every job turns into an exercise of figuring out how one might use a Dremel for part of it.

It's like, "Hey, can you replace my windshield wiper blades?"

"Not if I can't use the Dremel, no."

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #55)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 10:18 PM

61. wait until you discover the angle grinder

It's like a really big dremel.

I just remodeled my bathroom, having the proper tools really is the most important thing.

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Response to AncientGeezer (Reply #17)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 10:26 PM

30. yeah. redid the innards on a deco toilet + NO, we do not wanna NEW one.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 06:49 PM

18. I LOVE youtube to help with repairs.

So helpful. Good luck!

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Response to MuseRider (Reply #18)

Mon Sep 24, 2018, 08:06 PM

25. totally agree.

YouTube videos have helped me through any number of repairs ...

... and also baking projects.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Tue Sep 25, 2018, 11:10 PM

35. Probably much too late, but capillary siphon to drain the tank.

 

Last edited Wed Sep 26, 2018, 09:52 AM - Edit history (1)

After shutting off the water and flushing, lift the flap valve and tuck the end of a rag down the pipe (DON"T lose the rag!!!) and drape the other end of the rage in the water left in the tank. The water will soak into the rag and gravity will pull it down the pipe.

Capillary siphons are great whenever you have water you need to get over a slight rise and have a place you can drain it to lower than where it is. They are not fast, but work very well.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 08:21 AM

36. geez. it's not rockets

turn water off to tank at the shut off valve. use a cup to remove water from tank and pour into bowl, use sponge to blot up remaining water in tank. Remove fill valve if you plan on replacing same, water will drain from tank (about 1/4 cup) use vise grips on top of inside tank bolts and 9/16 inch deep well socket on the nut under the bowl. When tank is free remove spud nut and foam washer.

Re install in reverse order being very careful not to overtighten the tank to bowl bolt/nut combo.

Ahhhh, forget it, call a plumber it will be cheaper in the long run

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #36)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 01:38 PM

38. I Have a Quicker Way to Empty the Tank

I shut off the water intake valve and flushed the toilet. Then I use a sponge to get the last 1/2 inch of water; it soaks it up and I squeeze the sponge out in the sink.

The devil is in the details. I have used up most of the new can of Liquid Wrench trying to get things to unscrew. They still aren't moving.
Next: see my reply to irisblue.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 12:36 PM

37. Update please. It's Wednesday

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Response to irisblue (Reply #37)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 01:43 PM

39. The Plumber Is Due Here in an Hour and a Half

There were more problems like the water shut-off valve shuts off only about 90% of the flow. We had to shut off water to the whole house. I could not get the valve to unscrew from the water line so I finally gave up. Hubby swears that it is soldered.

It took two days to remove the old innards from the tank. We spent last light at the in-laws.

I guess I got too self-assured after replacing the fill valve from the one toilet that isn't being fixed and replacing the sink faucets. The plumber is due in about an hour and a half.

Ugh. I had better things to do this week.

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Response to Leith (Reply #39)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 02:48 PM

40. next time buy a cheap dremel

or equiv. from harbor freight and some cut off wheels. slowly cut thru the nuts on the bowl and you won't need wd 40. I love my dremel. especially for under sink work, under toilet work, under vanity work the hardest part is using the right speed for the cut off wheels and having enough light to see by. it's hard reaching around and under with your face smashed up against the seat but that is why the plumbers make the big bucks, it's not all glamour.

good move on the plumber.

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Response to onethatcares (Reply #40)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 03:00 PM

41. He's Here Right Now

Ready to get to work.

He's an older guy, seems to know his stuff. He really got my respect when he could do math in his head faster than I can.

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Response to Leith (Reply #41)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 03:17 PM

42. Pfft! Math is easy. Plumbing is hard.

I had to do the same job on my toilet. Fortunately, I could get a hacksaw blade between bowl and tank to cut the bolts that held them together.

Hint: I used a sponge to empty the tank first, that saved some minor tsunami action.

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Response to JustABozoOnThisBus (Reply #42)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 03:26 PM

44. I Agree with the Math and Plumbing Part

But so many people are so scared of math that they won't even try.

I tried going to the next step on plumbing (I previously replaced a fill valve when the old one developed a whistle), but this was just more than I could do. It took 2 days to get the old innards removed because of rusted screws (and nuts) and gaskets that glued themselves onto the porcelain over the years.

I never did get the water shut-off valves off the pipes in the walls, even after applying half a can of Liquid Wrench in several applications & tries and an 18 hour soak. The plumber said that he had the right tools for the job and experience doing it.

He's working on it right now so I'm in the next room hangin' with my peeps on DU.



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Response to onethatcares (Reply #40)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 05:04 PM

56. AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

 



https://www.democraticunderground.com/10181126916#post55

I swore when I got a Dremel that I wouldn't be "that guy".

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 03:26 PM

43. I Had A Double Flush Toilet In The Basement Half Bath

Spent nearly an hour trying to figure out how to get the flush mechanism out to change the flapper.

Turns out this cheap double flush toilet had the flush assembly, flapper and seal all integral. There is no replacing it.

I wasted an hour trying out how to fix something that can't be fixed.

Just bought a new low flow tank (single flush) and replaced the whole thing.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 03:58 PM

45. This is a great OP.

I will be watching. I admire your effort.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 04:23 PM

46. Okay! The Plumber Just Left

He was very nice, knowledgeable, professional. He changed out the 3 water shut-off valves and put the innards into the upstairs toilet all in an hour and a half. The total cost of parts and labor was $350. A little steep for me, but we have running water and all toilets working again.

It is done and my mind is at ease.

Thanks to everyone for your interest, encouragement, and advice.

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Response to Leith (Reply #46)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 04:35 PM

47. Yay!



Please include us in your next DYI project!

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Response to Floyd R. Turbo (Reply #47)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 04:46 PM

48. Until Now, They Have Been Successful

In the past couple of years, I have replaced a bathroom sink faucet, a toilet fill valve, and rehosed the dishwasher. I thought I was ready to step up and do the toilet tank innards, but it was too much.

I built most of the furniture in my house from kits (some Ikea, some other brands). The only things I didn't put together myself are the sofa, loveseat, and dining room chairs. Oh - and the Ethan Allen sofa table I found at a consignment store. I'm done for a while.

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Response to Leith (Reply #48)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 04:47 PM

49. I'm impressed!

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Response to Leith (Reply #48)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 05:51 PM

50. You've done well

Pat yourself on the back and gleam with satisfaction.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 05:53 PM

51. Tighten everything in equal portions and never tighten anything metal too tight on porcelain.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 06:19 PM

52. You should be flushed with pride...

as you set a new American Standard.

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Response to Harker (Reply #52)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 06:29 PM

53. snicker...

Lesson learned: call in a pro for the tough jobs.

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Response to Harker (Reply #52)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 05:06 PM

57. .

 

<Möen>

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #57)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 08:34 PM

58. Are you suggesting I deserve

a lump of Kohler what?

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Response to Harker (Reply #58)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 08:52 PM

59. No. Maybe a Pfister something like that.

 

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #59)

Thu Sep 27, 2018, 09:06 PM

60. I'd come back for more

but I'm drained from laughing so hard.

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Response to Leith (Original post)

Wed Sep 26, 2018, 07:02 PM

54. Been there, done that

Took me an entire day and what a mess, but toilet still working 10 years and counting.. watched a plumber do it in less than an hour.

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