The Potty Weed - HELP!!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum' started by perch98, Jan 23, 2010.

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  1. Jan 23, 2010 #1

    perch98

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    Back in November of 2005, we had issues with our toilet not flushing. We thought it was because the toilet was just old (we had exhausted every other effort). We went out and bought a new toilet, and upon removing the old one, we found a plant whose roots ORIGINATED just under the wax ring. It was growing down into the toilet drain pipe - here is the picture from '05:

    [​IMG]

    Over the past few months, the toilet would drain slowly. We plunged, we snaked, we blew out the clean-out drain with a blow bag - everything. We called a plumber, who used an auger to go down the drain and pulled out some large clumps of gunk... and also told us to replace our wax ring - that it might be old. The toilet flushed for about 24 hours, but when it began to slow again, we went and got the wax ring replacement. Upon removing the toilet to replace the wax ring, there it was AGAIN! This time - more than twice as long! Here is the newly grown potty weed from today:

    [​IMG]

    The coloration in the picture is only different because this time, I used my cell phone to take the picture.

    Can anyone tell me WHAT plant grows away from light and how to kill it permanently? Has anyone ever heard of this before? Is there any kind of "professional weed person" who I can ask? I have searched the Internet and keep coming up blank. :confused:
     
  2. Jan 25, 2010 #2

    SJNServices

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    AAAAHHHHHH!!! Try using explosives!:eek:
     
  3. Jan 25, 2010 #3

    SJNServices

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    Actually, I just remembered somebody that was cleaning out their birdcage and dumping stuff in the sink. Well what do you know, some of the birdseed germinated and started growing. Since you've replaced the toilet I would just make sure that you get all of the wax ring off, give it a very thorough cleaning and soak everything with Round Up. And if that bugger grows back, then use explosives.
     
  4. Jan 28, 2010 #4

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    I would take both of those pictures down to the Department of Botany at your local University. If you explain the circumstances the plant was growing in, one of the profs of grad students would at least know what family of plants it belongs to. And, I don't think it's unreasonable that they'd be able to identify the species itself and how it most likely came to be growing in your toilet's drain pipe.

    I think you're dealing with some sort of sea weed there. But, that's just a guess. The first picture shows that the plant is green, and that's a clear indication that it relies on photosynthesis for energy. But, I'm not a botanist. Maybe some plants can survive without sunlight providing they get all the nutrients they need to grow from other sources.

    I notice in the second picture that you removed the toilet tank and bowl together.

    I know people do that, but I think you should be aware that it's much easier and safer to remove the tank from the bowl, and then remove the bowl from the floor flange. Then, reinstallation of the toilet goes in the reverse order; you put the bowl on first, and then the tank.

    That way, when you're re-installing the toilet, it's easier to thread the bowl over the bolts sticking up from the floor flange. That's cuz your view isn't blocked by the tank, and you have much better control over moving a lighter weight than a heavier one.

    If you're starting into DIY stuff, I'd learn to separate the tank from the bowl so that you can remove each piece separately. That will make this job easier in future.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  5. Jan 28, 2010 #5

    Redwood

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    No need for any of that....

    Cut the roots back to make room for the flange repair
    Copper Sulfate applied to the remaining roots between the pipe and the concrete,
    Then fix the leaking flange...
    problem solved....

    A better picture of the busted flange will get you more precise answers on how to fix the flange.

    Real plumbers take the toilet off and put it back on with the tank attached to the bowl...
    In fact when I install a new toilet I put the tank on the bowl before mounting the toilet...
     
  6. Jan 29, 2010 #6

    Bud Cline

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    ...and that is how real tileguys do it too. In thirty three years this is the first time I have ever heard anyone suggest taking the unit apart to remove it.:)

    I wouldn't recommend it.
     
  7. Jan 29, 2010 #7

    Wuzzat?

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    As long as we're on the subject: If you drop a toilet on a hard surface and it shatters then razor-sharp heavy pieces go flying everywhere at high speed.
    Any of you guys know someone who was cut this way?
     
  8. Jan 29, 2010 #8

    Redwood

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    No, I don't drop them unless they are flying out of my truck on a high arcing trajectory into the dumpster at the shop. I'm out of the way when that happens. :D
     
  9. Jan 31, 2010 #9

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    OK, I don't want to make a major issue out of this, but...

    I talked to a plumber who I've known for years, and he says you're right that plumbers always used to remove the tank and bowl together, but the reason is because of a difference in the tank-to-bowl hardware that was commonly used years ago.

    And, I'm convinced he's right.

    What he's telling me is that until about 20 years ago, the tank-to-bowl hardware that was provided with Crane and American Standard toilets didn't allow you to take the tank off the bowl without removing all the water from the tank first. Otherwise, whatever water was still in the tank would come spilling out the bolt holes.

    Those old tank-to-bowl kits looked like this:

    [​IMG]

    or this for some toilets:

    [​IMG]

    and were meant to be used like this:

    [​IMG]

    With those old tank-to-bowl kits, it was the tightening of the nut under the top of the toilet bowl that compressed the rubber washer inside the tank.

    So, if you loosened the nuts under the top of the toilet bowl to remove the tank, the water tight seal around the rubber washers would be lost and any water still in the tank would come spilling out the bolt holes. So, plumbers would shut off the water to the toilet, flush it and then remove the tank and the bowl together to avoid having to take the time to get all of the water out of the tank. With the water shut off, there would only be a little water left in both the tank and the bowl after the flush anyhow.

    Nowadays, most tank-to-bowl kits come with an extra washer and "jam nut" (which is a nut that's half the thickness of a normal hex nut) to be installed between the tank and the bowl like this:

    [​IMG]

    ...so that the tank can be removed even if there's still some water in it, and the rubber washers remain compressed so there's no concern they'll leak when the tank is put back on the bowl.

    I'll leave it up to the people in here to decide for themselves how to take their toilets off and put them back on. I guess there's no right or wrong way to do that, but if the above explanation is correct, then there's no reason any more to do it the harder way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
  10. Jan 31, 2010 #10

    Redwood

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    Nestor,
    It's just a totally unnecessary step that adds T&M cost to the job.
    If that's what you like to do then keep on doing it, but I wouldn't offer it to others as legitimate advice...
     
  11. Feb 1, 2010 #11

    powermatic

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    Agree with Redwood. In 30 years of contracting, I've never seen a plumber pull the tank off first to remove a toilet from it's flange-would double the time necessary for a simple job, and for the amateur would just be another potential 'new' leak. Just flush the tank dry, remove flange nuts, straddle the bowl while grabbing the bottom sides of the tank, and 'waddle' it out of there. Reverse for installation.
     
  12. Feb 1, 2010 #12

    Dream

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    That looks like a willow (Salix species) tree root.

    Willows are riparian, meaning they grow along streams and waterways, and have incredibly strong roots designed to seek out the merest hint of water.

    I would remove any willow within 10 feet your home as it will eventually find another microscopic leak in your sewer and crack into it.
     
  13. Feb 1, 2010 #13

    handyguys

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    Okay, some plumbers in this thread. Hey Redwood, longtime no chat.

    I'm curious why the plumber didn't pull the toilet. Its easy and fast and i'm would be very surprised if he didn't have a wax ring in his van.

    Also, i have never heard of a wax ring going bad on a toilet that's properly attached. Do they? And if the plumber identified a need why wouldn't he just do the work? a $2 part and 15 minutes of labor that he could have billed an hour for.

    My guess is the homeowner just told the plumber to snake and get out and when things improved after the snake off he went. Just seems to me an incomplete job given the history and complaint.

    Also, redwood - any comments on this video or will it qualify for your slop list? Ever see a toilet fill valve go bad like that?

    Video – Toilet Repair – Fill Valve Replacement
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Feb 2, 2010 #14

    Redwood

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    Ah the old water fountain in the toilet tank...:D

    Yea I've seen a few of those. I like they ones better where they shoot out about 6 jets downward though for obvious reasons.

    The only critique I'd give on that video is you didn't show how to adjust the height of the Fluidmaster 400A and the water level. Also I shy away from reusing the existing water supply lines and replace them instead.

    How did I do with this one?
    How To Replace Your Toilet Fill Valve With A Fluidmaster 400A
     
  15. Feb 2, 2010 #15

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    I'm more thinking about putting the toilet back in place. Sometimes I find it kinda hard to get the bowl back over the flange bolts properly... they can move and not want to thread through the holes in the bowl. Sometimes the wax ring sticks up almost even (or a bit higher) than the flange bolts, so you have to be able to see that those bolts are going to go through the bowl before you commit yourself to lowering the bowl down. It takes some precision to get the bowl back over those bolts in some cases.

    And, in my view, taking the tank off the bowl allows the DIY better chance at success simply because the porcelain pieces he's lifting and maneuvering are smaller and lighter. That fact alone allows the DIY'er better control over how precisely he can move those pieces.

    There is no right or wrong way here. I'm not saying that it's wrong to take the tank and bowl off together. But, no one can fault me for recommending DIY'ers take the tank and bowl off separately (cuz in my mind, the extra two minutes it takes is not wasted time).
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  16. Feb 2, 2010 #16

    nickdrewe

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  17. Feb 2, 2010 #17

    handyguys

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  18. Feb 2, 2010 #18

    Redwood

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    Damn that's a nice root...
    How long was it once you got it all out of the pipe?
    I think it may have been why the toilet wasn't flushing too well.:eek:

    Did you apply root killer and seal the area where they were entering?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  19. Feb 2, 2010 #19

    Bud Cline

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    Let me CAUTION any DIY that is thinking about dis-assembling a toilet for no other reason than to make it easier to move out of a cubby hole.

    In the category of: If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It!

    In most cases two-part toilets have seals inside the tank and between the tank and the bowl frame. Typically these seals are made of rubber and over time the rubber will harden. Once that seal is disturbed the rubber components may not compress a second time when reassembling the parts and leaks will develop. NOW, one would have to find the proper rubber seals for replacement. That in and of itself could be a real hassle and time consuming. "Don't mess with those seals."

    In the case of replacing a wax ring seal at floor level...
    When the toilet unit is placed over the hole and onto the wax ring seal it should come to rest slightly above the floor being stopped by the height of the new seal. It is then necessary to apply some weight to the toilet unit to press it down to the floor thereby compressing the new wax seal and assuring a proper fit.

    If one finds the toilet immediately sits on the floor with no resistance from the wax ring seal then YOU DON'T HAVE A TALL ENOUGH SEAL. In that case, one additional seal can be added on top of the first seal.

    Seals come in a standard size, in addition there is an "extra tall" seal size. In addition to that, wax ring seals also come with a plastic funnel built into the wax ring. The plastic funnel type seal is what I recommend to go into/over the hole first. Then, if additional seal height is required, a second wax ring seal WITHOUT the funnel can be placed on top of the first.

    Stabbing the bolts also isn't rocket science.

    Most bolts have a retainer that threads down on top of the flange thereby holding the bolts firm, straight, and erect. In the absence of the retainer device, plumber's putty or even modelling clay can be used to pack around the bolt in the flange and again hold the bolt firm, straight and erect. Toilets aren't THAT heavy and re-stabbing them over the bolts isn't a real challenge.

    If one is still having an issue viewing the location of the bolts and thereby stabbing them, one can slide a soda straw over each bolt thereby increasing the height and visibility of the bolt location. Once the toilet is in place, remove the soda straws and install the remaining hardware.

    DO NOT use the nuts to draw-down the toilet. The nuts are only used to snug everything into place. Too much tightening could crack/break the toilet and ruin it.:) The entire toilet unit should be in its final resting place BEFOR any attempt is made to tighten the nuts onto the bolts.

    AGAIN, separating the tank from the bowl for no good reason could be a foolish and stupid mistake, DON'T DO IT, without a good reason.:)
     
  20. Feb 3, 2010 #20

    Nestor_Kelebay

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    Now you're starting to make stuff up, Bud.

    I don't know if there's some strange African toilet that is different in that respect, but it's not right to scare newbies away from their toilets like you're doing. If it's an American Standard or Crane toilet, and it was made within the past half century, the only thing you'd need to replace between the tank and the bowl is the sponge gasket, and you can buy one of those at every hardware store in the country.

    Also, they can just use a flashlight and mirror to confirm that the sponge gasket is the only rubber item between the tank and the bowl in 99% of cases.

    Some American Standard toilets used a rubber bumper between the tank and the bowl, but that can be reused, and if push comes to shove, you can buy new ones. Ditto for Eljer.

    Besides, what advice would you give a 98 pound divorced soccer mom that wants to save money by replacing her wax seal herself. She'll break her back trying to lift the tank and the bowl together. If such a newbie were to read your post, she'd be scared to take the tank off the bowl for all the problems she'll create for herself.

    That paragraph in your post is completely misleading people without qualifying it by saying that 99.9% of the time, the only thing that will need to be replaced between the tank and the bowl is the sponge gasket on the bottom of the flush valve, and they're readily available everywhere. Which, in truth, is almost diametrically opposite of the way your paragraph reads.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2010

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