Need opinion - Need help - I believe my toilet was not installed properly
I hope this isn't all too much for you to address, but thanks in advance!
I am in a dispute with my builder regarding my toilet installation and would like your 'professional' advise, if you agree with my position or the builder as a 3rd party observer.
Issue: My home was build new approx 9 years ago and we have maintianed it well. I perform most maintenace and repairs.
Our Mst/Bath toilet is in a separate enclosure in the bathroom. The entire bathroom floor is tiled including the camode room. I started noticing discoloration of the grout and belived I had a leak. This past weekend I removed the toilet. The first thing I noticed was there were two (2) wax rings used to install the toilet. I'm not a plumber, but I have installed a few toilets and have always been told never to use two wax rings, that they do not adhere to each other! Is this a correct?
So I continue with removal. Many of the tiles were not adhered to the floor and quickly cam up so a leak was an obvious problem. After all the tile was up I could see several things:
1) the underlayment was rotted all around the flange.
2) The flange was approx. 1" below the tile floor, which seems like a larger gap. The flange was flush with the OSB, but then add in underlayment and ceramic floor tile plus adhesive.
3) the wetness had spread out about 1' in all directions
I continued to pull up the underlayment (layer under the tile) and found the OSM flooring was also rotted. My 'wonder bar' I used went all the way through the floor into the crawl space.....frustration / aingst!
So I have a mess! The OSB will need to be replaced and I'm probably guessing i will need to cut off and redo the waste pipe stack and replace the flange.
My position with the builder is that the toilet was improperly installed (primarily based on the double wax ring) at contruction and they should make repairs. Their letter to me stated just the opposite and that the leak was my responsbility.
Anyone have any thoughts?
However, assuming this may be a futile battle with the builder I need to start repairs. Can anyone provide some guidance on tackling this repair?
Being a home DIY'fer, and realtively compitent...I plant to do this myself.
Help me on correct terminology:
1. Is the OSB flooring called the subfloor?
2. Is 'undermayment' the correct term for the plywood layer on top of the OSB?
I know the OSB must be replaced, or rather "patched in" replaced. I have a crawl space underneath with "I" beam floor truss. My guess is that I need to cut out the rotted stuff back to the center of a truss so the new patch has structural strength....correct?
* Do I need to cut the waste pipe off to replace the OSM? Am I correct the the repaired area will need to have a cut out for the waste pipe, but the flanger is larger than this cut out and is installed afterwards? So I should not make the cut out to over the flange, but cut it off first.
* What is the relationship, does the flange fit into or around the waist pipe?
* Is this a simple matter of cutting and then using a female/female connector for new PVC?
* How do I address the toung & grooving of the OSB?
* Is the OSM flooring nailed to the I beams?
* I'm also thinking of some sort of bottom support from the underside up...for the 'patch'....do you agree?
* I will have three levels...OSB flooring, underlayment, tile floor. Should the toilet mounting flange be flush with the tile level or underlayment?
Well, I know this is a lot, but tanks
You need professional opinions on this, I'm just a long-time (50+year DIYer), but here's some preliminary info.
Nine years is a long time, but you are absolutely correct in that this toilet was improperly installed, probably by a plumbing subcontractor of the builder, and that that is the reason for the leak and damage.
To seal with a single wax ring properly, a toilet flange should be installed on top of and be bolted to the finished floor level...in your case, on top of the tile level with only the thickness of the flange above the finshed floor level.
You will need to break up the tile, remove the rotted wood, and rebuild and re-tile the floor. Then you need to replumb the closet bend with a flange bolted to the top of the new tile floor. I highly doubt that you're going to be able to find replacement tile to match, so you may have to retile the entire toilet closet floor.
The oriented strand board is the subfloor and the plywood above it is the flooring level. If this is over an unheated crawlspace, you wil lneed to isntall a vapor barrier of roofing felt between the subfloor OSB layer and the plywood. There should be a layer of cement board screwed to the floor for tile. Tile should never be laid directly onto wood.
To repair it correctly, you need to remove the tile and rotted wood. Use a circular saw with an old blade on the wood (you WILL hit nails or screws), safety glasses, pry bar, crow bar, etc. Cut the rotted wood out back to the center of the nearest floor joists with good wood over them. Add a 2X crosspiece half-way under sawed off flooring between floor joists.
Us econstruction adhesive and galvainzed screws to rebuild it.
Additionally, I always use pressure-treated lumber and p-t plywood only when repairing bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, etc.
It would be one wail of a construction warranty to get them to do it after 9 years. Lots of cover up mistakes in new houses!! I dont understand what floor joists you have,,,could you sister up to the side of them??Added support?? IF your very careful can you fix required area without breaking ANY tiles??(and reuse them) Original post said JUST grout lines affected. Otherwise can you find a complemneting tile for just this area that looks good WITH old tile?? I would stay away from the osb and try using treated plywood to get to proper height or plywood and cement board. Block and brace this area VERY well. Hopefully you can cut and raise that flange to proper height by adding proper pipe with couplings.
Guys....thanks for the feedback. No surprise that they have denied any culpability. Rather than fight them in court I'm just going to repair it and be done with it. another lessoned learned on how terrible the trades are!
This weekend I entered the crawl space below the problem and just studied it for a while. I came up with a plan pretty much what you have outlined....so good for me at least:)
I went to pick up the materials and found that the Lowe's and Mendards fo teh world don't carry the OSB and underlayment thicknessees that were used.....7/8" and 15/32.
I contacted the builder and they were at least willing to steer me to a yard they use and hopefully I will find what I need.
You are correct that the tile is no longer available. But one lesson I learned from previous homes is to keep any spare materials left over, like tile, carpet cut offs, etc....as much as they had left over. So I have enough to cover this area. I just need to get the floor flush.
Mike S sounds right on - I can't offer more than that and have seen a few bad ones.
Anyone have any thoughts?
I don't think you're going to get anything out of the builder on that, but I guess it's worth a try. It was clearly poor workmanship that lead to this situation, but then again...it HAS been 9 years.
I'm a master plumber, and I will double-up the wax ring if the flange is flush with the top of the finish flooring (it's supposed to sit on top of the finished floor). I will also place a standard wax ring on the flange, and top it with a wax ring that has a plastic "horn" that funnels the effluent down into the waste pipe. But a 1" difference between the flange and the floor like you're describing is completely unacceptable.
Help me on correct terminology:
1. Is the OSB flooring called the subfloor? YES
2. Is 'undermayment' the correct term for the plywood layer on top of the OSB? YES
I know the OSB must be replaced, or rather "patched in" replaced. I have a crawl space underneath with "I" beam floor truss. My guess is that I need to cut out the rotted stuff back to the center of a truss so the new patch has structural strength....correct? YES
* Do I need to cut the waste pipe off to replace the OSM? YES. Am I correct the the repaired area will need to have a cut out for the waste pipe, but the flange is larger than this cut out and is installed afterwards? YES. Cut a 4 3/4" hole (standard hole saw size - or just use a saber saw). Tile right up to the edge of that hole. But remember you'll have to get 4 screws through that tile to hold the flange down. It may be easier to mark the locations where the screws will "land" cut the tiles before they're laid. - (while also leaving enough tile to properly support the flange). Otherwise, you'll have to drill through the tile with a tile or masonry bit. Also - before you cut out the old flooring, make sure you note the distances from walls to the center of the hole so you can easily locate the new hole on the new subfloor. So I should not make the cut out to go over the flange, but cut it off first? Correct.
* What is the relationship, does the flange fit into or around the waste pipe? Around.
* Is this a simple matter of cutting and then using a female/female connector for new PVC? Use a 3" PVC coupling that is glued (with PVC cement and cleaner) to the pipe, then a short piece of 3" PVC pipe to extend from the coupling to the flange (after the flooring has been repaired). Hopefully you have enough room on the vertical portion of the pipe dropping from the flange. If not, you'll have to cut the horizontal pipe just beyond the "closet bend" (which means you'll also need to replace that bend).
P.S. - the best way to get that final measurement between the coupling and the flange is to set the flange on top of the repaired finished floor and take a measurement from the top edge of the coupling to the bottom edge of the flange, then add 2 3/4" for the make-up into the fittings.
* How do I address the toung & grooving of the OSB? Cut the bottom lip off the groove on the new piece and lay it down over the tongue of the old flooring. Or if your new piece has no tongue and/or groove, just cut the tongue off the old flooring and simply butt the new piece in next to it. Use subfloor adhesive as well as screws (preferably stainless or exterior deck screws) to secure the new piece of subfloor.
* Is the OSM flooring nailed to the I beams? Most likely. Probably also glued.
* I'm also thinking of some sort of bottom support from the underside up...for the 'patch'....do you agree? Yes. Use a piece of 2x4 laid flat against the underside of the seams between the "rails" of the I-joist, then another longer piece of 2x4 laid flat against the first piece that extends from "web" to "web" of the I-joists (the OSB part). Finally, cut two more pieces of 2x4 that will stand on the lower rails of the I-joists and support the first two pieces. Install this blocking BEFORE you put in the new patch so you can glue/screw to it as well as to the joists. Also, I'd use pressure-treated wood in the crawlspace.
* I will have three levels...OSB flooring, underlayment, tile floor. Should the toilet mounting flange be flush with the tile level or underlayment? The flange should sit ON TOP of the tile (not flush with it).
Finally, take Mike's advice for the proper construction of the subfloor, underlayment and vapor barrier.
Well, I know this is a lot, but thanks. Good luck!
I appreciate the guidance everyone has offered. Everything has been repaired. It was an interesting project
I ended up cutting out the rotted area and replacing it and the sub floor. I had enough left over tile to redo the entire area. And then installed the toilet....all is well now.
Marlin took offense to my comment about the trades today. I understand his reaction. Those of you responding to this site are probably the exception to the standard today. I apologize for offending anyone, but if you are honest about the quality of work of subbers today, I think you wil have to agree..., it is bad. Many just do a lousy job, and don't care.
I do not work in the trades, but I can do better work than most of those that worked on my house. This issue makes my point. Why would the plumber have done this job in the first place when he knew full well it was wrong. Becuase he did not care!
I also inspected our second bathroom and found the same issue as this one...the flange was mounted almost 1" inch below the toilet, also with two wax rings. It had not started leaking yet but probably would at any time. It too has now been repaired.
I had so many quality issues it delayed closing for several days. I could make you a list, it really was pathetic.
watch mike holmes "holmes on homes" show and that will teach you to never trust the trades again!
but if you get a good reference from someone you know, then you are usually ok.
either way, i do most of the work myself because i always care to do the best possible job i can.
A big problem isn't the trades, it's the customer.
They want everything done for nothing so when one company bids $4000 and another bids $2500 which do they usually go for? Then the customer wonders why there are crack heads and drunks working there. It's because the company cuts costs everywhere they can to get you that low price. They'll use the cheapest junk they can find at Home Depot, hire the cheapest labor, then rush guys who don't know what they're doing to begin with. They pay their employees ten dollars an hour to improve there bottom line. Everyone at the company who knows what they're doing ends up leaving for a better paying job. So all you have left are the guys no decent company will take.
Builders are no exception, they usually take the lowest bid.
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