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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Go with the flow

Nothing will get your spring break rolling like... a stopped-up toilet!

We tried all the usual tricks to coax our downstairs potty to do its job. First, the handy toilet brush semi-plunge, then the full-blown rubber plunger thrusts. But nothing worked. It was blocked.

Of course it decides to do this on a Friday afternoon at 3 o'clock. We called our usual plumber, and he said his guys could get right on it -- on Tuesday. When we asked for a referral of someone who could come out sooner, he suggested these guys, and so we called them.

Good call. Within a few hours, a nice young fellow in their uniform was on the scene. Eventually, he had our porcelain throne off its pinnings and on its side for a thorough reverse snaking (and I think we all know how difficult that can be).

Throughout the process, we were all looking with suspicion at our toddler, who was taking the Fifth when asked whether she had thrown anything down there. But it turns out, she hadn't. Apparently, the appliance is just old.

The nice young man got everything running adequately again, and we're free to... well, let's say, roam about the cabin. But a new john is likely in our future.

We'll be forced to buy one of those modern low-flow jobs, no doubt. I hate those. One of our major failures as a free society is to deprive people of their God-given right to have a good old, high-flow, manly toilet if they want one. It's right in the Bible! Where are the darn libertarians when you need them?

Comments (31)

Alas, plumbing and/or furnace maladies always occur late Friday or over the weekend.

Regarding toilets, they're a modern mystery. The Luxor Hotel (Las Vegas) had the pressurized fixtures with an enclosed air chamber in the tank. Go figure!

As an avid BBC America fan, I've noted that many U.K. toilets have the flush-handle in the center of the tank's top. Additionally, many have plumbing routed into the wall (instead of the floor).

What a gloriously human topic for a cloudy Saturday morning in TramTown.

Jack: we feel you pain (tsk tsk).

We had to replace another one a few years back. The tank was unusually tall, and it was fed by a water line that came out of the wall. I was hoping to replace it with something similar, but pilgrimages to places like Hippo Hardware were unsuccessful. My plumber was so intrigued that he even came with me to try to find a similar replacement.

In switching over to one of the more anemic modern models, we had to replumb the whole setup to get the water to come up from under the tank. All kinds of plumbing and tile work, and it cost our cat one of his nine lives (a story that's worth telling in a separate post).

And then the new unit (a Kohler, of course) was defective and had to be replaced. It was, well, a cr*ppy experience.

The location of 'those guys' near Portland State make me think of something I heard the old man say more than one: BS (you know what it means) MS (more the same). PHD (piling it high and deeper).

Jack, when you're ready for the low-flow, I recommend a visit to your nearby A-Boy Plumbing & Electrical in the Hollywood District. There may crappier, cheaper crappers at Home Despot or Lowes(but not that much less expensive). There's just someting to be said for spending money locally.

Maybe you can smuggle a real toilet in from Canada - like prescription drugs


I'll do you one better. As an experienced remodeler I will make sure you not only get one that works fine and tell you where to look, but I'll make sure you get the very discounted
"plumbers price" at one of the local wholesalers.

Flush that!

But no guarantee where it ends up after you flush.

The river or the sewage plant, if it's raining or your local pipe is collapsed from decades of official neglect it's a coin toss.

Disclosure: I never underestimate the value of sucking up. Given the high profile and prominence
of bojacj.org it's a very prudent move at this juncture.

When you give people as much cr*p as I do on this blog, you have to have good plumbing.

There is now a two flush level toilet, it has a top button split in half and if you just do #1 it only swishes a little water through, but still retains the capacity to let loose with more of a gusher if #2 is the order of the day.

You might try one of those.

I was working down in California, and they are moving toward using recycled water or grey water for Toilets, if this technolgy progresses I suspect the manly toilets will return. As the increased flow not only improves your flush success rate by that of flushing the system and preventing sedimentation. This was the original idea behind the combined sewer systems so that everytime there was a good rain, it flushed things through. The system worked rather well until our last population/high density boom.

This recycling is by the city municipality, and is plumbed in a lovely purple pipe. It is chemically treated for bacteria so it won't kill the dog if he drinks it but isn't exactly Bull Run quality. It is in a supply pipe to tap into street utilities just like regular domestic water.

There’s a lesson for all of us here: Taking the Fifth should not be seen as an admission of guilt, especially now that your kid has been totally exonerated.

Or stop using water to flush altogether. We used the Humanure Handbook to build our bucket toilet system for our yurt in the gorge. It works so well (and it doesn't stink!) that I'm tempted to set one up at home.

Taking the Fifth should not be seen as an admission of guilt

Maybe not as a legal matter, Bill, but as a logical matter?

Parent: Who took the cookies?

Kid No. 1: Not me.

Kid No. 2: Not me.

Kid No. 3: I refuse to answer.

What a great analogy for America in 2006.

W's toilet overflows and the world holds it nose.

couple of options - rebuilding center on N. mississippi definately had many "manly" toilets.

also, the airpressure ones are advertised in the back of this old house mag. may be an option.

I wish the people who are so vocal about keeping government out of their bedrooms, would be equally vocal about keeping government out of their bathrooms.

Jack, we put an air-pressure toilet in a former home when we remodeled the master bath. It used way less water (the football-size air container is located in the water tank) and worked great. We were very pleased, and retired the plunger forever. Only drawback was the rather loud "whooshing" noise, which tended to disturb the significant other sleeping nearby in the middle of the night. Nonetheless, when it comes time to replace the crappy toilets in our current abode, I'll probably go with pressurized and be able, once again, to retire the plunger forever.

A few years back, my landlord replaced all of the old "manly" toilets in my apartment building with those crappy low-flush jobs. Have had more stoppages than ever before. Plus, I sometimes end up flushing twice so where's the benefit??

My Dad was a plumber and each of us got a lecture on what not to flush down the toilet as soon as we were big enough to use a toilet!

The least sophisticated 1.6 gallon flushers are designed for the flapper to close when the tank is still 2/3 full. If you replace the flapper with an aftermarket variety (like the "Korky" red-rubber flapper), you can double the volume of water per flush. Korky also makes one that's adjustable (in the tank), so that you can achieve a good balance between economy and performance (or, just leave it set on the "Cousin Eddie" maximum).

There is now a two flush level toilet, it has a top button split in half and if you just do #1 it only swishes a little water through, but still retains the capacity to let loose with more of a gusher if #2 is the order of the day.

Jack, I heartily recommend the "Sterling Rockton" toilet in this design (called "Dual Force"). My wife and I built a new bathroom this year, and we had one of these put in. It is awesome. You can flush either .8 gallons for "low volume" flushes, or the full, manly 1.6 for "large volume" flushes. And of course half the fun is all the euphemisms you come up with when describing the whole thing to friends. But, seriously, check it out--works really well.

Sterling Rockton

Try Craigslist for one of the old type. They go fast...

Check with your mother, but I seem to recall your having tossed something into the toilet (on Wall Street) requiring an expensive plumbing fix and damned near giving your father a stroke.

I think I'm remembering it right, but, as the Beatles said, "Your mother should know".

This is why I was so suspicious of the little one. She is a Bogdanski all the way.

One of the most interesting hi-lights of a wastewater treatment plant tour, is the primary screen sometimes workers with a sense of humor will stack up the armies of Fisher Price little people todlers have sent on vacation trip to the beach down the whirlpool. They are the right size and smooth enough to make it to the central plants but don't break down naturally like other similarly sized round cylinders

Sounds like something that Ed Norton would have done on "The Honeymooners."

The 1.6 gal. toilets are fine now days and the selection is enormous.

I highly recommend the "comfort height" as many people are finding what was intended for ADA use is much better for all.
A couple inches taller is all.

Of course elongated.

Get more expensive and better seat. There's usually a couple choices.

Two piece or single piece doesn't matter much.

My recommendation is this one piece comfort height. Comes left or right flush handle.


Gabrielle™ Comfort Height™ toilet

With straightforward design and exceptional Ingenium flushing performance, the Gabrielle Comfort Height toilet makes a versatile, functional addition to your bath or powder room. The height of the bowl equals that of a standard chair to provide maximum comfort for users of all ages and statures.

Ingenium® flushing system delivers 3.5-gallon flushing performance in a 1.6-gallon package
One-piece toilet
Elongated bowl
Includes French Curve™ toilet seat

Steve: you are DA MAN! With all your TIF, LID, and Urban Renewal expertise, we should have known you knew how to keep the S**t moving in the southernly direction.

CHALLENGE QUESTION: Do you have any idea how to remove "one-way" screws (like you see used as fasterners in the stalls at public restrooms). No, I'm not a toilet terrorist: these damned one way screws are holding up a piece of rusty wrought iron on my front porch, and the hardware expert at Home Depot told me to grind them off, which doesn't really solve the problem (I'll need to reinstall into the same location).

They aren't the kind that look like a snake bite (two parallel holes); rather, they look like two triangles, one in the upper right-hand, the other in the lower right-hand corner. A regular flat-head screw driver will install them, when you twist counter-clockwise, there is nothing for the screwdriver to grab onto. Photos available upon request.

I think you're screwed.

I've been flushed down the toilete blog?

Mr T.:

The "right" way takes a special tool. It has two hardened or carbide prongs that can get just enough bite on the security screw to back it out. Usually. The Oracle at Google reveals an amusing description of alternatives which can be found here, and that the tools can be orderd from (among other places) here.

Alan: YOU ARE THE TOOL MASTER...I will order up a tool tomorrow, once I know which size I need.

Thanks very much: I previously tried Google, but didn't see anything that looked like a match.

Nothing (that meets with my wife's approval) makes me feel more manly than the successful completion of a home improvement task that had once seemed impossible for a do-it-yourselfer.

Many happy flushes to you all!

I bet Winks sells a tool.

W.C. Winks Hardware
200 SE Stark St.
(503) 227-5536
Fax: (503) 227-8457
Store Hours Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30 am - 5:30 pm PST
email aaron@winkshardware.com

On TIF&UR, stay tuned!


I don't think so, T.

I installed a low use air flush a year ago, it does the job, just make sure kitty isn't in there or you haven't made a good seal with butt cheeks to seat...

The water tank is a sealed unit that air pressurizes as it fills, giving the water quite a boost on flush. Ours is an American Standard, low profile enlongated, a nice piece, only about 2x the price of a regular.

I'm not sure this is politicking...
see the site for politics

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