The Temp Toilet
Posted on July 29, 2021 Posted by John Scalzi 48 Comments
Earlier in the year, the toilet in our en suite bathroom stopped working as it should and we decided it was time to replace it. Also, and coincidentally, we decided that 2021 was the year we were going to do a complete overhaul of the bathroom, which included but was not limited to the toilet. We had contractors out to spec out the new bathroom, and I chose a really nifty “smart toilet” which was space age and had all the bells and whistles except for bluetooth speakers, which, no joke, you can get, but which I thought were, just barely, overkill. Since we were going to remodel the whole bathroom anyway, we simply shut off the balky unworking toilet until it could be replaced in the remodel.
Fast forward several months, and the bathroom remodel is on hold, continually pushed back because apparently 2021 is just about the (sorry) crappiest year to try to do a remodel. All the contractors are scrambling because of material shortages and the knock-on effects to their existing jobs and so on. At this point, it seems likely that a remodel is going to get shunted to 2022. Which is fine — except for the toilet, the bathroom is perfectly functional and there’s no real rush. But we were getting tired of not having the full functionality of the bathroom. We have a couple of other bathrooms, but honestly.
So: Meet the new toilet, which is a basic, inexpensive model designed to do one thing and one thing only — well two things, I guess, depending on why you’re using it. It’s temporary, in the sense that when we do the remodel, it won’t be staying; it’ll be replaced by that “smart toilet” we already have priced into the remodel. Be that as it may, I’m happy to have it for however long we do. It’s nice to have a totally functional en suite bathroom again.
Welcome, toilet. I apologize for what comes next for you.
I hope the basic toilet is satisfactory, because face it, if the bathroom is fancy enough to write its French ‘en suite’ in italics, you really do need a fancy toilet to do the job(s) right.
Let’s show some respect for the household member with the crappiest job.
Whenever the upgrade happens I have only one word: Bidet.
In my experience many plumbers (perhaps those trying to pay off a boat) will tell you to replace a toilet that isn’t flushing well. In fact the cleanout instructions are easy to find online (“toilet siphon jet”) and almost as easy to apply. Yeah, you do need elbox length rubber globes and courage.
A few minutes spent poking around with a six inch nail will dislodge a vast quantity of yellowish crystals that build up inside the toilet and reduce the siphon jet water flow.
Yeah, the plumber doesn’t want to do that either. That’s why he’s telling you to replace the toilet with a new one.
Seems to me that one problem with a “smart” toilet is that there are a lot more things that can go wrong with it.
Guess what I was sitting on when I read this!
Oh hey, it’s one of those disposable toilets from Saturday Night Live ages ago!
Got a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store in your area? They’d love your temp toilet.
Get an ADA-compliant toilet, 17 to 19 inches from floor to seat. Your knees will love you. A regular toilet is 15 inches.
Didn’t you learn anything from your “Customer Service” episode? Maybe you want to stick with a simpleton toilet (or a thunder jug).
I built a house for myself (well had it built) in 2019. And in the process of picking all the lighting and plumbing fixtures I had to pick a toilet. The kind lady salesperson who was assisting me showed me all kinds of toilets. Heated toilets, toilets with a bidet function, toilets that automatically open and close, and yes a toilet with speakers.
I looked at the nice lady and said, “you know at the end of the day this is for pooping in right?” At which point she showed me what I ended up buying several of. Plain, simple, functional. And despite what our former president thinks I have never had to flush it twice.
Hank Roberts: “elbox length rubber globes”
Is that like “emperox”?
Looks like you have dressed the new house guest up with a pretty candle, basket, and lotion. Or is it PooPourri?
Traveling to Europe with NATO taught me why there’s that slogan “good old American plumbing.”
But I’m not chauvinist.
Meanwhile, a California raised father brings his mostly Japanese son to visit America to see his relatives and keep up with American culture. The boy says, “Gee Dad, Americans sure have primitive toilets.”
Incidentally, raising the boy 50-50 might have left him with no roots, so the parents had him root mainly in Japan, where they lived.
My partner would be totally with you on the fancy toilet and annoyed that, once installed the ‘temp toilet’ would be seen by me is perfectly reasonable, functional and no need to replace it.
I just can’t easily justify replacing perfectly functional things, although I expect that this temp’s end will be a donation to the local re-store or some such – and why not?
How many bathrooms do you have?
Every play on words that comes to mind is inappropriate to commit to print. 😈
Is that a linoleum floor? Tsk tsk, man. Spend some of that $$ for ceramic tile!
This reminded me of the old newspaper columnist’s prayer. I think it comes from Mike Royko: Lord, please give me an idea today. And Lord, please forgive me for the idea I had yesterday.
Came here to echo Kathy’s comment. 2″ may not sound like much, but applied in the appropriate areas it’s a lifesaver.
The thing I hate most about all the toilets we’ve owned is cleaning their needlessly complicated surfaces. Why are they made with bits that collect dust, for pete’s sake? Definitely getting a “concealed trap” or “skirted” toilet next time, not a “visible trap,” which lives up to its name.
That toilet needs a fancy paint job, even if it is temporary. Something that really evokes what that toilet is and what it aspires to be.
I kept my current toilet when my bathroom was remodeled, so you probably could have gone straight to the bells and whistles toilet? The contractor bagged it up and shoved it into my storage closet, then toward the end of the work he hauled it back out and the plumber reconnected it. Easy-peasy. And you probably even have a garage yours could stay in!
Unless the fancy toilet is one of the things there’s a shortage of, of course.
Very nice, You might, after all, decide to keep her, being the non-pretentious sort that you are… Have you considered the possibility that, also being a handy type, you might want to forgo the contractor headaches, and maybe do the remodel yourself? Just a thought… Keep us posted on the continuing adventure… Also, sunsets. Really love those sunsets.
You: I’m sorry for what comes next..
Toilet: QUIT FARTING AROUND! SH*T IN MY MOUTH ALREADY!’
I’m not sure why you think I’m the handy type. Under no circumstances should I be considered competent to handle a bathroom remodel.
Just moved to Ohio, on the other side of the state from you, into a house that was significantly more of a fixer-upper than we expected, and it’s not just remodelers that are backed up. At this point we’ve had pretty much every trade called in for something, and I’m starting to feel fortunate if they tell me they can start work in less than a month, even for something as simple as replacing a fridge (or a toilet, which fortunately only had a 2-week wait). Electrical work? 1 month. Removing a dead tree, half of which fell over the other day? 1 month. Fix the hvac system/add an ac? 5 weeks, so get some window units.
They’re all pretty consistent in their stories- it’s not just material delays, but that the whole world seems to have put everything on hold for the last year and the dam burst out this summer- they’re slammed, but either can’t hire good people that quickly or don’t want to in case demand drops again in the fall.
:) I had a job as a medical courier a while back, picking up samples of various bodily by-products from hospitals and taking them to labs. I told somebody once: “You think you see sh*t on your job?”
If toilets are so smart, then why do they let people crap and piss all over them? They’re so undignified, you’d think they were members of congress.
Once you go bidet, you’ll never go back. After spending time in Japan I still wonder why rest of world hasn’t come around. It’s far more dignified and significantly reduces the amount of toilet paper required. Main problem with US the electrical is not wired appropriately.
We bought our house three years ago, and immediately had it renovated to update code changes and make it more ADA-friendly (I’m in a wheelchair outside the house, usually). We have vinyl planking in the bathrooms and kitchen as it handles water well, plus it’s less slippery (the travertine tile pattern helps a lot – not flat). It is likely the reason that the knee fracture I suffered in March when I fell on it was nondisplaced. Porcelain would have sent me to surgery.
Our toilets are low flow, but the flush-assist means we rarely need a second flush. We are adding an on-toilet bidet that uses no electricity, just water pressure. There was a vet in Oakland, CA that had an add-on bidet, and I never missed a vet appointment with the cats. Luxurious!
The only thing we may add to our en suite now might be a grab bar by the toilet to give me some more safety. They are in the shower and walk-in tub.
Anything you need to know about renos, please don’t hesitate to ask. It’s all fresh in my mind.
It was all part of the ‘Basic toilet’ plan to inflitrate your home, now he is there and plans to stay!!!!!!!
Glad there’s something functional providing the essential services. As for the “smart toilet”, a wise man once said: the more you overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.
I love a good Scotty quote!
Once you’re done with this–and you probably know this–you can donate it to ReStore, if there’s one in your area. (They re-donate appliances and kitchen cabinetry and all sorts of Stuff to low-income housing, and also sell Stuff. Good place.) If not, put it on Buy Nothing. No need to send a good, already user-tested, piece of china to the landfill.
Pictures of the Supertoilet when you get it?
Unless you have knee problems the lower style is better, because you have to get a little footstool with the higher ones. Ceramic tile looks great, but is hard and brittle, not kind to the feet. When I remodeled my bathroom a few years ago, I went with vinyl sheet flooring, soft and warm to my feet, and a low round toilet. I’m still very happy with my choices. I do look forward to the reveal when the great day comes. My niece and her husband are redoing a house, had to wait weeks for a kitchen sink, but it sounds like it was worth the wait.
I’m trying to think of a situation in which I’d like my toilet to me smarter and…nope, not coming to me.
Also, the potential results of a smart toilet getting hacked would be…messy.
You stopped just short of reaching the point of TMI.
Thanks for that.
Lovely work installing the toilet, I always hate dealing with the wax ring. One suggestion, section 405.5 of the Ohio Plumbing Code states “Joints formed where fixtures come in contact with walls or floors shall be sealed.” You are going to want to put a bead of caulk around the bottom so that water and items can’s get underneath.
For some reason, this reminds me of the time in Santa Barbara County, CA, where they’d been so aggressive at replacing toilets with low-flow models, they had a huge glut of old toilets. They wound up grinding them up and mixing them in with road asphalt. So some of the roads in Santa Barbara and Goleta are literally paved with old toilets.
(One person I mentioned this to at the time said, “Well, if they can stand up to OLD EL PASO BEEF AND BEAN BURRITO, they can stand up to anything!” :D )
Why not go the whole nine yards and just get a high tech squat toilet? This way you’d have something unique to your county as well as a swell conversation piece!
Just replaced our old toilet (the gaskets keeping the tank from leaking gave up, so I took the opportunity to upgrade.) ADA compliant, elongated rather than round. DH is very pleased. Old toilet, once the bolts and rubber gaskets were replaced, went to the second bathroom in the laundry room, replacing one of the one piece low flow toilets that never flushed adequately. Can confirm contractors are slammed. Asked the shop that replaced our kitchen cabinets a decade ago if they could replace our bathroom vanity (old one was custom built in particleboard and starting to rot.) They were relieved when I said no hurry; I’d be surprised if they could fit it in before Christmas.
Reminds me of the time, years ago, when all the toilets in the apartment building I lived in were replaced with low-flows, and the old models were set out by the road to await pickup. Turned out to be a fine photo-op; I’ve still got pictures somewhere of myself and neighbors posing on the old commodes. We’re all mad here…
Having just replaced a toilet myself–in fact, it appears identical to the “Brand K” on in your picture–I can echo Jesse H (above) on the nastiness of the ancient wax ring technology that seals (or attempts to seal) the bottom of the toilet to the flange on what’s euphemistically called the “waste pipe.” Installing a toilet yourself is hardly rocket surgery, but seating it properly on the wax ring is kind of like landing a glider–you have to do it right the first time, and don’t get a second chance. Not to mention that scraping the old wax., etc., off the old toilet and flange is just plain nasty–especially the etc. (TMI?) And, in the event it ever plugs up, overenthusiastic plunging can blow the seal out completely–“après moi, le déluge.”
I found a plethora of more modern replacements at my local big-box home supply store–all reusable and repositionable–and without making any brand recommendations, I can say that the resulting installation was easy, leakfree, and left me flushed with pride (sorry).
As long as you’re remodeling the bathroom, consider under-tile heating (mine is Nuheat brand). There’s nothing nicer on a cold winter day than going barefoot in the bathroom. And, the cats absolutely LOVE it. I always know where to find them on cold winter days.
Ah, thanks for the reminder to install the bidet on the guest toilet!
And seconding MHutton on the joys of underfloor heating. We only use it in winter, but oh does it make those cold mornings so much more bearable.
Always dig the slit trench downhill of the drinking water source! Dysentery = extra housework!!