Chronicles of the Design & Construction of Two Waterfront Hurricane Proof Dry Stack Modular Green Custom Homes
1. Villa Lagoon, Wilder Italian Style Home
2. Nasello Italian Style Home

Trying to Use Salvaged toilets

December 2008 through March 2009

First off, let me say that plumbers hate it when you save older potties and want them to install them. Obviously they do not have the same passion for ecology and proper flushing that I do. New potties have these mini tanks that often require two flushes, defeating the whole purpose of water-saving tanks. And new potties in any color except white are damn expensive. I happen to love the older colored bathroom fixtures. I will tell you some of what you might run into if you try to re-use lovely older toilets. Or maybe you won't... my potty experience was so extreme that maybe it is the exception rather than the rule.

Turquoise toilet in half bath

Here we flash back to December 2008 when we were working like crazy to get the things ready for final inspection. We knew what mattered to the inspector and working toilets is one of those things.

I had this beautiful aqua toilet complete with tank that I had picked up on the side of Ft. Morgan Rd when everyone was fixin' up after Hurricane Ivan. It looked wonderful in the half bath upstairs. It matched the aqua in the cement tile floor. I had been storing and babyin' this toilet for 4 years.

Earlier this year, I spotted two nice looking bone colored potties on the side of the road out in front of Whitehaven Insurance. I didn't think I needed them but loaded them into my Trooper anyway, just in case, figuring that I could always put them back out on the road for others later on if I didn't need them.

Salvage toilets on side of the road

Now in addition to these three toilets I had 2 white potties that I got when the house next door was torn down a few years ago. It was Mrs. Meyer's home , built in the 60's (I think) and Harry and I went over the day before the bulldozers came and unbolted and saved 2 nice white elongated bowl toilets. I had been storing those in my mini storage all this time. So all together I had 5... FIVE older toilets. All of them were old enough to have the larger tanks.

One fine weather afternoon, Dave spent hours and hours outside scrubbing my precious toilets. We bought special rust remover, hard water residue remover and all sorts of special cleaners.

We are all pushing like crazy because the inspector is suppose to come the very next day !! And we are totally running out of time to get the "Certificate of Occupancy" before the end of the year, Christmas was upon us and gov't offices take a lot of time off around then and we totally needed our CO before end of 2008 because of the Hurricane GoZone Tax thing expired then.

Aqua toilet bowl

So next I know, my plumber came over to the office/guesthouse to say "We got problems", this here turquoise toilet is a three-hole mount toilet and the tank is a two-hole mount tank. They won't go together." ...how could this be, that a perfectly color matched toilet and tank are sitting on the side of the road together ?

Later on I would lie awake at night wondering if someone else bought this at a salvage place expecting the tank to fit the bowl, but it didn't so they put it on the side of the road.  I had been storing it for about four years in great expectation of using it.

The plumber then says that he can't use one of the other toilets cause it has a crack. I go look and it is a tiny hairline way up above the water level in the tank, no one sells gaskets anymore for one of the elongated bowl white toilets, and then this and that ... I can't even remember...

I end up driving to the local builder supply with the plumber in my car to see if there is any way that "Mary" the most knowledgeable plumbing supply dealer around can find to fit it. She looks and looks, no gasket.

So I end up BUYING a new toilet, the cheapest they have and it gets loaded in the back of my Trooper. I am driving home when the plumber gets a phone call that his son has been injured in a football practice and he needs to come get him at school asap. So we turn around and drive to Gulf Shores Elementary. The plumber calls his dad to see if his son can go stay with his dad. Dad says no, that he has to go repair a roof. Meanwhile, while plumber is in the school signing out his son, I get a phone call that the toilet in my car is not the right one, ...not the one I paid for and I need to return to building supply. So I drive back over there, when I get back to elementary school, the plumber and his son pile in and we drive back to my house.

The plumber's father is waiting in the driveway with a tiny ceramic demitasse set with advertising for Beau Rivage Casino on it as a gift for me. Gee thanks...The injured son comes in and lies down on my guesthouse sofa while I go out for food for him as he has had no lunch and it is mid afternoon by now. It was all just too crazy.

Somehow a toilet gets installed in every bathroom (three) and the inspector passes us. But... I later discover that the toilet in the guestroom has a chunk of it missing, a ragged edge where it somehow got a major chip up underneath. Should not make any difference really.

Toilet leak from upstairs-hole in ceiling

By late February I had been told by Aaron that the upstairs master bath toilet would not work because the innards were old and bad and the hole in the tank for the flush handle was a different size that is used today. Aaron went out and bought a push button flusher but found that it would not work. We went round'n'round about moving this toilet to there and buying a new one for here, and so on...but I went to Lowe's determined if at all possible to get some flusher mechanism that would work. I got a "Universal" flusher handle and a sheet of rubber we could cut strips out of if needed. Aaron got it to work.

I told Aaron that I had really thought about it, taken measurements, etc..and was just sure that we could make the turquoise tank work with the turquoise bowl and put it in the half bath... I had measured the holes over the weekend and thought about it. He took a good look at it, it was down in the basement by then, and at first he said he thought he could make it work with gaskets we could cook up from various parts.

Later on he said no, he couldn't'.

Then we find that we have a leak thru the foyer ceiling from a toilet upstairs. The already finished MgO ceiling gets cut into to dry out and Aaron the carpenter (the actual plumber had dropped off the planet by then) tried to determine where the leak was occurring.

I think I have forgotten about half of the toilet saga, but the bottom line is to make sure that you obtain all the gaskets and flush mechanisms for your old toilets before you call out the plumber or ask him to install them. Seems all the fittings change every few years and it is not all interchangeable.

So now I have this cheap, new ugly toilet in the hall half bath and it is the kind that has this intestinal looking digestive system like so many of them have today. One of these days, if I ever get out of debt, I will buy pretty, colorful toilets and replace what I have. But after recently seeing "Slum Dog Millionaire" I am just thankful to have toilets at all, whatever color they are.

I went to Wal*Mart and bought the cheapest toilet seats since I was not sure what toilet would get removed, swapped around or replaced. This one in the master bathroom is bone colored but right now it has a white seat. Five-dollar plus change seats from W*M.

At least we got to use one of my older ones, even if it is a small round seat, not elongated like everyone (except plumbers) prefers.