Frugal Step: Do-It-Yourself

Our toilet in the downstairs half bath has caused us problem for the 11 years we have lived in this house. I will never forget it overflowing before both my bridal shower and baby shower, and my friend Laura having to plunge it.

In the past few months, it has been constantly getting clogged, even though our kids have never thrown anything down there and we avoided the toilet paper issue by installing a bidet. Once it was so bad we had to call out a plumber, who told us the toilet was cheap and possibly could have been installed poorly, something he sees often in suburban neighborhoods like ours that grew quickly during the housing boom in the late 90s/early 00s. We already have found so many issues related to the builder cutting corners, it would not be a surprise.

Two nights ago, Mr Thrifty was up until 3 am dealing with an overflowing toilet  that would not correct with plunging or the snake (the same night Miss C was up all night sick- that was one hell of a night). We knew we would have to bite the bullet and replace the toilet.

He ended up taking time off work yesterday and today to deal with the situation. He did research and watched some videos and decided to try and replace it himself. He is pretty handy, so I knew there was a good chance he could do it without calling the plumber out for an emergency.

The first thing he found when he took off the lid- this mysterious message. Did the builder install a defective toilet? This makes it look like they did. We used a $50 Lowe’s gift card to buy a Toto toilet for $300. Not the cheapest but not the most expensive. We have a bidet insert that we kept to place on the new toilet.

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He found multiple problems when he removed the toilet and slab. Installing a toilet on a wood floor causes problems keeping it level. He had to back up the cheap particle board sub floor with scrap wood from when we installed a new floor of the deck to make sure everything held. That added a lot more work.

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We probably spent $100 on those extra parts needed to fix pipes and ensure a level toilet on a safe surface.

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Mr Thrifty estimates we saved about $300 doing it himself, though it was quite a time investment. We already tested it, and it works! Now let’s cross our fingers that I don’t have to plunge that sucker for at least another year.

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