Houses of higher learning

I have decided to adopt a more positive attitude toward my house. It isn’t the bane of my existence, continually plotting how to break yet again in some random, difficult and intensely aggravating way. No! This house is trying to help me master more advanced home maintenance skills!

I’ve replaced toilets before. At least twice, actually, and they both went more or less without difficulty. It was a fairly easy, straightforward job, if a little icky at times (the wax seal is…well, best left undiscussed). I even got a small pump to make it easier getting all the water out before removing the old toilet.

This toilet was anything but simple. There wasn’t even anything wrong with it–it was just really, really short, and most of our guests don’t particularly care to scratch their nose with their knees while sitting on the loo. So we decided to replace it with a taller model.

Getting the old toilet out was a piece of cake. The pump worked wonders. And at first it appeared the new toilet would go in easily. Except it still rocked a bit on the uneven tiles. I tried to tighten the bolts some more, and all of a sudden it was rocking even worse. I pulled the toilet back out and surveyed the damage. I’d evidently tightened too much and pulled the bolts through the sides of the slot in the flange they go into.

I had no idea what to do at that point. Not to fear, in Home Depot we trust! I needed to go back anyway; it didn’t occur to me that if you increase the toilet height by several inches you need to have a inflow hose with a couple of inches length to spare. Ours didn’t. We needed a longer one. So while I was there I may as well find out if the Knights of the Orange Apron could solve my problems yet again.

As a matter of fact they could…kinda. I could install a metal plate over the top that would lock the flange bolts down nicely. Except it would need to be fastened down to the floor–in this case, solid concrete. Not to worry! They sold me a masonry drill bit and some special screws as well. And some toilet shims to keep it from rocking on my uneven tile floor. And another wax seal. I was set.

Except my drill is wimpy. It drilled one hole, but barely dented anywhere else. I read the packaging for the screws, and saw it recommended a hammer drill. I don’t have a hammer drill. But perhaps my neighbor might. He has an industrial-strength chainsaw, after all.

Well, it turns out he has a hammer drill, also. Wonderful piece of machinery. It handled the screw holes in no time (rather loud, though). I soon had my plate screwed down, and though it raised the toilet just enough it no longer sits flush on the floor, I had toilet shims! The rest of the toilet installation went without a hitch. My neighbor and the Home Depot crew are heroes once again!

I swear, if anything else breaks for at least a month…! Oh wait. Positive Attitude. While I would appreciate the opportunity to further enhance my home repair know-how, I do not wish to excel too quickly.

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