What I'm Seeing Now

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Tilting At Toilets

Sometimes I run into things I have never seen before, or thought about, yet they leave me wondering. 

And I am wondering now, am I tilting at toilets?

As I go about my mission, like Don Quijote, riding throughout the land, lending warnings, seeing and battling monsters and such behind every corner, often I have to pause and think.

This post is about a toilet flange in a basement bathroom.  It is secure, having been glopped in by concrete molded faithfully all around.  Artful, don't you think?

But looking at it, my problem is one of common sense. 

This is is a photo of a basic toilet flange.  It is screwed to the floor (or held in place by mortar) so it does not wobble.  Connected to a large drain below, the center is punched out to allow the effluent from the toilet to pass.

The toilet is connected to this flange with bolts, which slide into the large end of those long slots, and are positioned at the end.  Holes in the base of the toilet bowl fit over those bolts, and the toilet is secured down with metal washers and nuts.  It is all covered with a cute little plastic cap.

SINCE THESE FLANGES REST RIGHT ONTO THE FLOOR, AND ARE SCREWED DOWN, THEY ARE NECESSARILY LEVEL.

Seeing this toilet flange made me wonder.

Somewhat hard to see perhaps, it is secure in the floor but not level.

In fact, it is tilted about 10 degrees.

Why does that bother me?  It seems to me that if the toilet is to be bolted to this flange, laying with an angle of 10 degrees, the bolts will also protrude upward at a 10 degree angle.  This places the metal washers at 10 degrees, which are tightened down to secure to the toilet to the floor.

Toilet bases are made of porcelain.  When installing a toilet it is important not to tighten the bolts too much because the pressure can literally cause the base to shatter.

Doesn't the edge of a metal washer tilted at 10 degrees, being tightened downward by a bolt, put more pressure on one side than the other?  If, and that might be a big IF, the toilet can be tightened down sufficiently, does not the pressure created by that angle increase the probability of the toilet base shattering?

Am I nuts to wonder this?  Maybe, like the good defender Don Quijote, am I tilting at toilets and a bit out of my mind?  It could be the supervisor is telling my client even as you read this that I am in fact nuts, that "we do this all the time and no toilet has ever cracked!" 

BUT I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE, SO I WONDER.  AND, I AM THINKING AHEAD.

My recommendation:  there are some things that can only be seen pre-drywall.  A pre-drywall inspection is essential to a buyer's construction process.  There are some things that will never be seen again.  Pre-drywall may be the only time for that opportunity!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 27 commentsJay Markanich • September 07 2012 02:09AM

Comments

Jay, what an eye catching title for a most informative post. Nothing gets past you!
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

LOL No you are not crazy... (I dont think anyway) as I think of odd things outside of the norm too. Inquisitive and beaing ready to challenge status quo and not accept pat answers likely make you highly intelligent.

 

Peace

Posted by David Shamansky, Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg (US Mortgages - David Shamansky) over 8 years ago

Well, Pat, am I nuts?

David - I am seldom inside the box, and this impressed me as a problem waiting to happen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Jay, that will likely lead to multiple seal failures over the years.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 8 years ago

Well, Bob, something has to give.  The wax donuts, or the strength of the connection.  What happens when fat Uncle Fred comes and rocks and rolls on that toilet?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

It seems that if this is new construction, there should be no reason why it shouldn't be level.  It does seem like this could cause many issues down the road.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 8 years ago

Well. there you go, sometimes new is not better, where has the craftmanship gone. Good eye on your part.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

Jay, I'm wondering if there's enough tolerance in the installation window that 10 degrees may be such that you can JUST barely have the wax ring do it's job, have the tilted bolts angle enough to still be vertical and ultimately still have the toilet sit flush to the floor.  It would obviously take more care to not overcrank the nuts on the bolts, especially since the load is primarily on one side of the bolt head instead of both.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 8 years ago

Seems to me Debbie.  But I am logical and think ahead.

David - I tend to see minute details, which can be good or bad I think!

Bliz - you have just built a lot of MAYBE into the future of this toilet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Jay.  Why are toilets made of porcelain?  Why not plastic or some other stronger and lighter material?

Posted by Conrad Allen, Webster, Ma, Realtor (Re/Max Professional Associates) over 8 years ago

I guess because it is reliably strong Conrad, except for direct pressure or hard blows.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Morning Jay remember you said it I didn't to quote you "I am seldom inside the box" end quote.  YEA!!! I glad you agreed to join the club. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 8 years ago

I suppose that buyers are "dreaming the impossible dream" to hope that a pre-drywall inspection is unnecessary. (Had to keep with the Don Quixote theme!)

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 8 years ago

"there are some things that can only be seen pre-drywall."

THAT is a truism.

One of these days soon, I'm going to write about the many, many defects detected by independent home inspectors on new construction.

Some folks will be surprised, that is if anyone reads it.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 8 years ago

James - I hope my not being in the box is true!

Kathryn - they don't think so and I keep proving how important they are!

Lenn - I'll read!  That could probably be a long chapter in any book!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

I am disappointed Jay...expected to see the Tidy Bowl Man in full armour with sword drawn....how about some sort of cushioned seal that adapts a little toward angles...we see the "not tightened" all the time on inspection reports...not shattered...yet !

 

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 8 years ago

Jay, actually the head of the bolt will sit at an angle with the flange, not the toilet---so all will likely be OK---not ideal---but OK :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 8 years ago

Jay, I definitely agree with the importance of inspections during the construction of a new home.

What you can't see, can hurt you ;-)

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

Jay --at least they didn't fill the concrete up to the top of the flange, thereby preventing the bolts from being installed at all.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 8 years ago

And The Thinker could think in a forward and somewhat sideways position S&D!

Shadow - still, one is level and the pressure is at an angle?  What does a shadow know about toilets any way?  Do shadows need toilets?

Thanks Chris.  They really are helpful.

Steven - that positioning and slathering of smoosh was really decorative!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Gee, I've heard of a wine list but not a toilet list. Would need a seat belt

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) over 8 years ago
Hi Jay, Good Catch. Sadly so many city inspectors that pass on the new construction work, never look that close. The builder knows these need to be level but probably never checked the workman that hurriedly messed up.
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) over 8 years ago

Might fall off of that one Doug.  Seat belts are a good idea!

William - got a note from my client who said that the supervisor had not noticed and said this had happened on a previous house and the toilet kept cracking and nobody could figure out why!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

While it may not be pretty, I would think all will be okay. I believe there is a little wiggle room built into those flanges. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

Pretty it isn't Jim!  Maybe if they used a metal base for the toilet?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hey, Jay!  I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a great week!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

Thanks Pat!  That's always a pleasure.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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