Sunday, November 27, 2011

the adventure begins

People who buy old houses because of their "charm" while failing to understand the many other qualities inherent in oldness often refer to them as "money pits." I guess the implication is, "I thought this place would be a bargain - it was $50,000 cheaper than the newer places we looked at - but then it cost $100,000 in upkeep." In my personal opinion, this is not an indication that the old house cost more than it was worth, but that the homeowners failed to budget for what the house should have been expected to cost (and what it was easily worth).

I am pleased to say that this philosophy is intact, though I have now crossed the Rubicon into the "unexpected repair issues" aspect of old-house ownership.

This afternoon when I went to the coat closet to put away a wrap, I was unpleasantly surprised to note that there was water on the floor. After casting about briefly for an innocent explanation (did I leave a bucket out? Did I empty an ice cube tray onto the hallway floor? Has it snowed in the coat closet recently?), I followed the water along the floor to its apparent source. I expected it to be the black-water plumbing stack, which our inspector told us would need to be replaced in the next several years, but that was dry as a bone. I did, however, find a suspicious dark spot on the ceiling a foot away from the apparently-innocent plumbing pipe. A quick trip upstairs indicated that the dark spot is approximately under the toilet - and I realized that the wood under the toilet bowl (yes, the ninnies put a hardwood floor in the bathroom) has darkened a few inches out from the toilet.

I believe this means that the ring that seals the toilet waste-disposal port to the pipe below is not watertight. (The wood around the pipe that feeds water into the toilet showed no water damage, and those are the only two water-bearing connections to a toilet of which I am aware.) Obviously, this is not the best kind of water leak to have, but the damage appears to be limited thus far; I would guess from the condition of the wood that the leak has been a (growing) trickle, lasting a few days to maybe a week. So I shut off the water going into the toilet, mopped up the water and pitched the rags in the washer, and went downstairs to sit on the couch and meditate.

I think I'm going to have to rip up at least part of the floor to see whether the water damage inside the floor is more extensive than the visible damage to the floorboards and ceiling plaster. I think I will also have to re-seal the wax ring on the toilet before replacing the floor. (This is extremely irksome, because that toilet is only a few years old. They paid a professional to redo that whole bathroom. I've lived in houses with toilets installed fifty or more years ago and never had this problem, and the sealing products are supposed to be getting better and better with technological advancement. There's really no excuse for this.) I don't know how to do that, but I'm hoping I can learn - I feel it would be a waste to hire a professional to do this, since so much of it is low-skilled labor (like ripping up floorboards).

I was planned to replace that floor with some hex nice tile anyway, but I had been thinking of that as a project for 2013. I guess I will have my ideal bathroom sooner than I thought?

So to aid in my meditations, of course, I sat down to google "leaking toilet ring." Google auto-complete (which I have never liked) auto-filled after "leaking," to "leaking amniotic fluid."

Really, google? Really?


  1. The adventure begins, indeed! Best of luck with the repairs! Perhaps you are on your way to your dream bathroom! :)

  2. I really liked the tile options you listed before... (un)fortunately, it seems you'll get it installed sooner than later! We should have had you walk through our house and give us a reality check before we signed on the line; "has great bones" sounded so good at the time. :) Good luck and I hope it isn't too much of a mess.

  3. Ahh, the repairs we didn't realize the house needed took up most of our first few years in the house. Every time we got started on a project we already knew we needed, something new would pop up that needed immediate attention. And our house is only semi-old, built in '79! The joys of home-ownership :).

  4. Stupid Google! What kind of auto fill is manned by the uber-fertile?
    So sorry about the plumbing issues. I hope its super simple to fix!