Picking up Nickels

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Homeowner Savings: DIY toilet replacement

My wife and I had been cursing the builder-grade low flow toilets that came with our house for eight years. These duds needed plunging on a weekly basis and dripped puddles of condensation all over the floor on humid summer days (due to cold well water).

After the "contents" of a diaper clogged our toilet for the umpteenth time, I was finally fed up enough to take action. I did some research online, and was fortunate enough to stumble upon terrylove.com (previously mentioned here), the web site of Seattle, WA plumber Terry Love. Love's site had lots of good plumbing information, including consumer reports on toilets and a Plumbing & Remodel advice forum.

After reading the glowing reports of the Toto Drake toilet and the corresponding installation overview, I decided to buy a Toto Drake toilet and attempt to install it myself.

The required materials cost me a total of $269.69: a Toto Drake toilet with an insulated tank ($263.55), a flexible supply tube ($3.48), a wax ring (89¢), and a set of closet bolts ($1.77). This Toto toilet does not come with a toilet seat, so I saved a little money here by reusing our existing one. I also had to pay a $5 disposal fee to get rid of our old toilet at the local transfer station, but I was just happy to be rid of it.

Following the installation instructions at HammerZone.com I spent about 1½ hours installing the new toilet. Fortunately, I encountered no problems and had no leaks.

The Toto Drake has worked out very well for us, and we haven't had to plunge or wipe up condensation from the floor (due to the insulated tank) since it has been installed. We were so pleased with its performance that I also replaced our other lousy toilet with another Toto.

I got a lot of satisfaction out of my small DIY plumbing project, but that has come with a downside: my wife now wants me to upgrade our bathroom sink, faucet, and vanity top!

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