How It Is That A Newly-Installed Toilet Can Wobble

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723
https://activerain.com/droplet/TLP

Home inspection after home inspection I wonder how it is that a newly-installed toilet can wobble.

Reading the verbose and full-of-flair features list, it mentions new toilets throughout. 

And going into the powder room I noticed that the toilet wobbles pretty dramatically.

Toilets wobble because their support has worked loose or because the flange is not properly seated.

Toilet installation is simple, but it HAS to be done right.

It's a bit of hip bone to the thigh bone to the knee bone kind of thing.

The toilet base has a hole which is fitted with a wax ring - "donut" - which seals any gap between the porcelain toilet base and plastic toilet flange.

The toilet is bolted to the plastic toilet flange.

The plastic toilet flange is screwed to the sub floor.

The sub floor is secured to the floor joists.

And the drainage system is all glued together!

When all is done properly, the toilet seats firmly.

Some installers caulk around the base of the toilet to finish it off.  I think it looks better without caulk, but that is just me.

This new toilet installation was visible from underneath.  That isn't often the case.

I can see the new flange, purple primer (which cleans the joint so the glue will stick) and the new glue.  Plumbers are liking the yellow glue recently, which is fine.  We all have our personal preferences for things.

And I can see that they used stainless steel screws to anchor the flange!  That is a good sign!  At least they didn't use drywall screws, which I see often in new construction.

However, the screws are anchoring the toilet to, um, to ... NOTHING!  

No wonder the toilet wobbles! 

And, when the toilet wobbles, it can loosen or release the wax donut, which can cause leaking. 

I see stains here!  Is this toilet leaking already?  Maybe.  But even if it is not, it will sooner or later.

Now I have installed toilets.  And I have screwed things together.  I happen to know what it feels like when a screw grabs something and when it does not. 

IT IS MORE THAN EVIDENT THAT THESE SCREWS DID NOT GRAB ANYTHING!

And yet the installer left the toilet like this.  Do the sellers know it wobbles?  Maybe not!  But still, it's a problem!

My recommendation:  before a contractor leaves, or is paid, check his work or have his work checked out by another professional!  I would recommend a home inspector.  He has nothing to gain or lose by affirming the right or wrong of an installation.  He just calls it like he sees it!  And you will get an honest assessment.

 

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Rainmaker
1,522,917
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance
Jay, it looks like a do-it-yourself installation. The old rule:if you have the time to do it wrong, you have the same amount of time to do it right. Now it needs to be fixed right. Once you saw that faulty installation, I'm sure you looked even harder for more surprises.
Apr 11, 2013 08:10 PM #1
Rainmaker
2,830,996
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Jay as you say a wobbly porcelain throne is not a good thing.  Looks like a simple fix however (my definition of simple that is)

Apr 11, 2013 08:12 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Norman - EVERY time I see a "features" list of new installations, my antenna extend to max.

James - they have to install some subfloor for that toilet flange to grab onto!

Apr 11, 2013 08:15 PM #3
Rainmaker
2,830,996
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

I know Jay just a little fun thinking about duct tape and Uncle Bob :~)

Apr 11, 2013 08:21 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Duct tape works best with drywall screws James.  They used stainless steel screws here, which may preclude any duct tape use.  Maybe they can file for an exception.

Apr 11, 2013 08:25 PM #5
Rainmaker
2,655,894
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

It seems that all they needed to do was add in some plywood before doing everything.  I'm guessing it's a bit harder now to do from below.

Apr 11, 2013 08:30 PM #6
Rainmaker
730,490
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Not the best looking toilet install I've seen. Maybe the owner hired their sons friend? Most plumbers would know better than to do a job like this.

Apr 11, 2013 08:36 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And the installer knew that when he put in the new flange Debbie!

Exactly Jeff.  Which led me to wonder about the rest of the installations, which, I determined, were not professional.

Apr 11, 2013 08:40 PM #8
Ambassador
1,438,366
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

Jay,

I've had to use the reverse on my drill many times when I miss a stud. It's pretty easy to know when you hit wood, and when you don't.

Rich

Apr 11, 2013 08:43 PM #9
Rainmaker
3,525,914
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Jay. This is too scary. I am not sure I'd hire a home inspector to check a contractors work, but this case makes me wonder what the contractor was doing. Enjoy the day.

Apr 11, 2013 09:00 PM #10
Rainmaker
561,750
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

It looks like a remodel job, so whoever cut that original hole must have had a hangover!

Apr 11, 2013 09:52 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Richard - and this guy knew it too!

Sheila - we're all cute, so hiring a home inspector is essential...

Fred - that hole may have been like that for some time!

Apr 11, 2013 10:38 PM #12
Ambassador
1,333,180
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, I advice the installer to leave the chain saw home next time.

Apr 12, 2013 12:27 AM #13
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Jay -- but he was using such a powerful screw gun he didn't notice the difference - since he was using such good screws.  LOL

Apr 12, 2013 05:22 AM #14
Rainmaker
1,762,186
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Just a matter of time before this is a problem Jay. We better get the bubble gum and duct tape ready.  :)

Apr 12, 2013 06:31 AM #15
Rainmaker
488,436
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay, Weebles wobble but toilets should not. You have to wonder sometimes what they were thinking.

Apr 12, 2013 08:20 AM #16
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I'll pass that one along Charlie.  Sound advice, to be sure!

Steven - it's important to use the right tools and fasteners!

I agree Tom.  Today I found a circumstance with aluminum tape instead of duct tape.  Wow!

Hey, Don!  I loved Weebles!  I confess to never playing with them while on the toilet though.

Apr 12, 2013 11:27 AM #17
Rainmaker
86,952
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Jay -  I 've seen where people over tighten the screws and crack the base of the toilet. In this case I don't know what the contractors were thinking of.

Apr 13, 2013 12:16 PM #18
Rainmaker
683,797
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hey, I see one screw hit wood.

Me, I want the reclining feature in a toilet. And I like to caulk. 

Apr 13, 2013 08:56 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,835,004
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Tightened too much those toilets will explode Eric!  Hard to crank down a screw anchored to nothing though!

Jim - at Scout camp once we dug a latrine, with a log across the top to sit on.  In front of that log was a smaller one, chest level, which we wrapped with rope like a padded dashboard.  Then fashioned a steering wheel and stick shift and had some fun!  You could hear guys back there going to the races.  That was as good as reclining.

But I will always take a recliner!

Apr 13, 2013 08:59 PM #20
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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