30 January, 2008

Our Standard Low Tank Toilet

"Behind the nuts were even bigger nuts," Ted explained as he described trying to remove the tank from the bowl of our 1920s Standard low tank toilet in the basement. I was wedged into the corner of the tiny bathroom, which thankfully was now clear of spider eggs, twisted awkwardly and trying to keep the 7-gallon tank from crashing to the floor as Ted attempted to remove the final nut holding it in. Or what we thought was the final one.

Twenty minutes later, my interest in the toilet had waned and I was rearranging unpacked boxes in new, more-interesting configurations while Ted continued to putter with the tank. He had it propped up with a stack of paint cans he found in the electric room, the 3 x 10 foot room in the basement with two outdated service boxes and shelves filled with various types of paint cans left by the previous owners.

Finally, after a bit more banging around the bathroom, success!

We were taking the toilet apart in order to thoroughly clean it, sanitize it, and to more or less see how it worked and what kind of seals we would need, as it was leaking slightly. Sure, it wastes a lot of water with each flush, but it's vintage, and would only be used as the spare toilet if the ones in the units were occupied (or if one of us was having trouble digesting our dinner and didn't want to...er...offend).

Only, with the tank off and more light illuminating the base of the bowl, we could see that it was cracked in several places. Is it worth salvaging? Or, since we have to pay to get a new toilet seat and replacement parts anyway, is it better to simply get a whole new, more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible toilet? Touch and Flow sells vintage parts, including bowls, and has instructions for making repairs. And I like the idea of salvaging this if possible. Thoughts?

And before you ask, yes, I have used this toilet, grotty though it is at present. In a moment of desperation because we were locked out of the upstairs units and while hovering precariously--Lord knows I wasn't going to sit on that--I made this house truly mine.

Men have it so much easier, don't they?


Jennifer said...

I don't know if it's work saving or not... I don't know a lot about that sort of thing.

But... you can increase the water conservation of THIS toliet by simply stacking a couple bricks in the tank, or placing a milk jug full of something like cement and sealed in there!

Anonymous said...

If it was in my house I would repair it. Since it's in the basement it would be cheaper to replace it.

Joanne said...

We've decided to save the tank and replace the bowl; the bowl had more structural cracks than were first apparent, and it keeps leaking. So we've been keeping an eye out for a good salvage one.

SarahPerdue said...

Hi Green Fairy,

I think you've made a good decision to replace the bowl, although you can repair it with structural epoxy designed for ceramic/porcelain repair. It's a motivational drain though. We've had a Standard low tank one piece (circa 1951) on our work bench for two years. I thought I'd found a replacement on Craigslist but the seller welched on me at the last minute. Anyway, if you repair, use a diamond bit on a dremel tool with the extender and a drizzle of water or similar device--a Fein Multimaster might be even better because it oscillates and doesn't get as hot as a Dremel (a slow rpm tool--although I can't name one--would work too) to cut a trench where the cracks are then fill with the epoxy.

Our potty saga has been ongoing. We have the original potty still installed with many, many cracks. We have the potty salvaged from down the street with fewer cracks that we've begun the repair on, but mostly...we long for an intact replacement.

We sympathize. Your house is very, very cool. Good luck.


Ps. The Fein Multimaster rocks. The carbide grout tool is magnificent, and the saw blade is great for unsticking painted shut windows. I have yet to discover all of its other talents. I hear getting parts is the downside.

Unknown said...

deabath.com is a great resource for vintage plumbing fixtures and parts. They have originals and reproductions. They are very helpful and can answer any questions you might have. I have been debating whether to replace or repair my vintage toilet for 2 years and finally decided it was worth the cost to replace the cracked tank with an original from deabath. My tank arrived and it is perfect! They are definitely worth checking out.