As I’ve previously written, I recently had my basement demolished and the foundation walls braced with steel beams. This was a costly project, but a necessary one. We’ve tried to sell our house twice, with the market deciding to take advantage of us without the benefit of buying us dinner first. We took the house off the market when we realized that almost every potential buyer was commenting on the state of the foundation and the house was more likely to sell with a braced, unfinished basement. I wrote about the excellent work done by Grasshopper Construction here.
One of the big issues we faced because of the basement renovations is the failure of our under sink drinking tap. This is a filtered tap used solely for drinking water. We’ve switched the filter with replacements the previous owner had left for us, but it turns out that the type and model of water filter under our kitchen sink no longer exists. As a result, my wife and I went to Home Depot and found an alternative to replace the outdated filter we currently had. The filter failure occurred when the construction company shut off the water to move piping in the downstairs area and the filter emptied out. Since then, the water’s been clouded and undrinkable. And here we are.
Further to that, I had requested that my downstairs toilet be put back in place when the project was completed. I was assured that it would. It wasn’t. I found myself in a position where I had to replace my upstairs drinking filter and get my toilet re-installed. I phoned in some local plumbing companies, but the estimated costs turned out to be between $550 to $850. This was on top of the fact that I had the toilet, had the water filter system, had all of the hardware they would need to install everything. I couldn’t understand why it had to cost so fuckin’ much.
After a few estimates that ranged in the high hundreds, my wife and I faced the possibility that we would be leaving things as they were, since we simply couldn’t justify the cost with everything being as it was. But considering my level of stubbornness, I couldn’t let things sit as they were. Sure, there were no walls downstairs for the toilet I was trying to get back in place. That was a small detail I could circumvent by throwing a small area rug and buying a couple of Chinese screens to allow for some privacy. But our drinking water was a different story.
I solicited the help of a local neighbourhood FaceBook group, despite my aversion to social media, to help me find a local plumber. They came through quite nicely and I had a number to call. But I was afraid of how much even a local, independent plumber would charge to install something that I already had in the house. I turned to a rather unlikely source to try and learn how to do the work myself: YouTube.
I watched a number of videos on how to repair and install a toilet bowl from home. I watched about how to properly install bolts on the phalange, properly place the wax ring and properly piping and sourcing water to my toilet. I made a list of all the items I needed and made my way to Home Depot, where the helpful staff were able to help me get all the items together and I left the location, pretty confident I would be able to circumvent hundreds if not thousands of dollars by doing the work myself. After all, there’s nothing I can’t learn, right?
I started by scraping away the remnants of the old wax gasket around the phalange where the toilet sits. Let me tell you, it’s unpleasant work and I can see why plumbers charge so much. It’s rather disgusting. But I got it all scraped away without removing the bag the construction company stuffed into the drain hole, so I didn’t have to deal with any unpleasant smells. Nathan was there to help and bring me tools. I followed up by dragging my toilet near the location so that it would be ready.
The fastening bolts on the phalange were still in excellent shape, so I didn’t have to remove them and install the new ones that came with the new wax ring. I placed the new wax ring and squeezed it in place before lowering the toilet onto the base and twisting it slightly to make a tight seal with the new wax ring. Once this was done, Nathan and I tightened the bolts at the sides of the toilet, ensuring the toilet would be securely fastened to the floor. I ensured the proper placement of the wax seal and the level of the toilet by sitting on it with a level keeping correct measure while I worked.
Everything went according to plan, I fastened a water valve to the toilet, attached per tubing from the valve all the way top to the ceiling and reached the water line dedicated to the toilet, only to discover that the cap that had been placed on the pipe wasn’t threaded and I couldn’t remove it. I contacted that local, retired plumber I mentioned an had him come check it out. He agreed to make the proper connection (which was the only piece I was missing) and install my upstairs water filter.
At the end of the day, I reinstalled my toilet and my water filter with only minimal intervention from a retired plumber, paid $40 in parts and $100 of off-the-books money to my retired plumber and now have a fully functional toilet downstairs, as well as a source of clean drinking water for my family and I. Considering this was barely an 8th of the total cost of a “professional” plumber, I consider myself blessed to have taken the steps I did. It’s one step closer to getting my basement back to its former glory.
By end-of-day on last Thursday, I had my toilet back to it’s former, running glory and a brand-new filtered source of drinking water for my family and I on our upstairs sink. I have a deep well of respect for people who work in the trades. I understand that they have to study and train, and mostly even apprentice for many years in order to work independently in their respective industries. But considering most sources were trying to charge me nearly a grand to install items I already had in my possession baffles my mind. The $100 I paid to the gentleman who came and helped me seemed like a Godsend by comparison.
I’m not a plumber. I could never do what they do, especially when it comes to things like toilets and anything sewer-related, but give me a break! Why gouge people so badly? I was able to save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars by doing the majority of this installation myself. Just goes to show that you can do anything if youngenuinely set your mind to it. ☯