We had a plumber come out last week to tackle a couple of issues that we’d probably let go on a little too long.  Both were things we’d thought we might be able to DIY, but both became a little more involved once we got into it, so we figured it would be best to just call a professional.


The first issue was the cold water supply for the sink in our main floor guest bathroom.  We first noticed maybe a year ago that the cold water pressure in that bathroom was terrible in comparison to hot.  And, over the course of the next few months, it continued to dwindle, until it was just a small trickle, then just a few drops, then nothing – even with the faucet completely open.  Initially, we thought it was plugged with sediment, so Chad took apart the faucet, then the shut off valve, but even with the valve completely removed, no water came out of the pipe.  And that was when we knew we were dealing with a bigger issue than just a little sediment.


The “Before” picture. The old galvanized pipes for the bathroom sink are those grayish ones going into the wall.

A quick peak at the plumbing for that sink in the basement told us the problem must be with the old galvanized pipe, which had likely corroded completely shut.  We had no way of knowing where the blockage was, but it didn’t really matter – right next to the galvanized pipes for the guest bathroom sink is the (newer) copper plumbing for the laundry room bathroom on the second floor, so we had a good spot to tie into for running new copper supply lines to the powder room sink.  But, since old galvanized pipe can be tricky to work with (every plumber that has worked on our house mentions how brittle it gets), we opted to hire a plumber to cap off the old galvanized lines and re-plumb the sink with copper.


The “after” picture. See the new copper lines going into the wall? Beautiful.

For the sake of consistency, the plumber did the same fix (re-plumbing with copper) for both the hot and cold supply lines and also installed new shutoff valves, flanges, etc. in the powder room.  For some reason, I just figured all of the work would be done behind the wall (I’m not sure why), but I was thrilled to have an excuse to replace the old painted pipes/valves sticking out of the wall for the sink.  The shiny new chrome looks so much nicer!  And – bonus – we actually have cold water in that sink again!


The new (unpainted) shut off valves & flanges. (And, no, I did not clean the floor before taking pictures.)

It still totally amazes me that galvanized pipes can corrode so much that the water can’t get through AT ALL, but I guess our bathroom is proof that it can, in fact, happen!


So, that was the first issue.  The second thing we asked the plumber to look at while he was here was the basement toilet, which has been leaking in one way or another for what seems like forever.  Probably about a 18 months ago, the fill mechanism failed and the toilet overflowed in the basement – water everywhere.  Luckily we were home and caught it before it turned into a real nightmare.  So, we replaced the “guts” of the tank then, but it still leaked whenever it was flushed.  The seal between the tank and the toilet was definitely leaking, so we replaced that first, but, even then, there was still water on the floor after every flush, so we decided it probably needed a new wax ring.  Definitely not our favorite home improvement job.

Anyway, a couple of weekends ago, Chad took up the toilet, prepared to re-set it with a new wax ring – and discovered that the cast iron flange under it had rotted away.  One of the bolts was broken off completely and there was no nut on the other.  No wonder the toilet leaked – it had been held down with nothing but caulk and paint.  Ug.  And, since the flange was in the concrete floor, it was a little more than we wanted to get into repairing ourselves – yet another job to leave to the professionals.

Let's pretend that I thought to remove those rags over the old flange so you could actually see how rotted out it was, ok?

Let’s pretend that I thought to remove those rags over the old flange so you could actually see how rotted out it was, ok?

It took the plumber just over an hour to break out the old flange, pour a new lead seal, and set a cast iron repair flange in place.  He then re-installed the toilet with a new wax ring and – for the first time in as long as I can remember – IT DOESN’T LEAK!  And it’s a job I’m sure we would have spent most of a weekend on if we’d attempted to do it ourselves – completed in a fraction of the time.  Awesome!


Our (like-new) non-leaking basement toilet. All that missing paint around the bottom? That (along with some pretty dried out caulk) was all that held the toilet to the floor before.

So, we’re 2 for 2 on plumbing repairs.  Yay!

But, before I wrap up this post – just wondering if anyone out there has ever seen anything like this:


When Chad pulled the basement toilet up to install the new wax ring, there was a ton of dirt under it.  Like, under the front part of the toilet (not the area where the wax ring goes).  At first he thought it was sand that had maybe been used for leveling, but it definitely turned to mud when it got wet.

There were a couple of screw holes through the concrete floor that were probably used to secure a different style of toilet sometime in the past – and they weren’t filled with anything, so best we can come up with is that all that dirt was pushed up through those tiny screw holes during a really wet spring or something.  It’s just so odd – we’ve never noticed muddy water leaking from the bottom of the toilet … and don’t recall the basement taking any water in that room at all since we’ve lived here.  So, that’s the latest old house mystery that’s got us scratching our heads.  Anyone ever seen anything like it?

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