We were hanging out in Karl and Nini's kitchen. I excused myself to use the restroom. This is the water closet that I did all that extensive work to run a 4" waste line that didn't go up and through the footing like the one that came with the house, and I love how great the new plumbing and fixture works.
My eyes wandered about the little room, and I noticed the ceiling in the back looked sort of water damaged. "Hmmm," went the little curious part of my brain. I picked a likely looking spot and poked the ceiling. My finger pierced it easily and water ran out. Now the rest of my brain had something to do, so the curious part took a break.
Karl poked his head in. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Making a problem."
"Oh, Bob. What did you do?"
"I found a leak." Karl started to laugh. "It's not funny, except in the most tragic way. Do you realize this means I'm yet another project behind?"
"Or," he says, "maybe you've caught it in time and it's still a small project."
Yeah, that's likely. I went upstairs and pulled the toilet up. A little sleuthing, and here's what I found:
The previous owner installed the retention ring without actually attaching to the drain. In fact, there is a 1" gap and here you can see a bit of downstairs through the gap. It had been filled with material from several wax toilet seals, but this eventually failed. In order to attach the ring in this manner, they had to take the mounting adapter off the ring and drill through the tile in 6 places with a masonry bit to attach it to the floor (when it should attach to the pipe).
Of course, the floor is rotting. Water does that to wood. I should probably mention the squirrel nest I found between the joists, too.
On the plus side, I caught this before anyone doing their business fell through the floor onto someone else doing their business below. While that would be a funny story, the liability just makes my flesh crawl.
On the other plus side, finding a problem like this in the first couple of months of living here would have been very demoralizing. Now, two years after replacing nearly every door, fixing plumbing left and right, laying carpet, finding compatible housemates and all the other challenges, a job of tearing up the floor and subfloor, replacing the rotted wood, plumbing in the correct kind of fitting, and installing some sort of pleasant marmoluem floor and finally putting the toilet back seems like a task I can get done in a day.
Being supremely unwrecked, I went to work today and had a great day.
The previous owner stopped over next door for a visit. We chatted about the election's big winner. No, not Obama, but all the rest of us who don't sit on a board of directors or happen to be CEOs of a large money-lending institution.
"Say, Hussein, tell me about the downstairs toilet."
He said, "Are you ready to sell the house back to me?"
"No, of course not. We're having too much fun. But I am curious why you ran the waste line up and through the foundation."
"Oh, I did that for earthquakes. You won't have any trouble with that toilet."
"Except that it didn't flush. The water just swirled around and slowly drained down, never actually flushing."
"Y'know," he non-sequitered, "I didn't put up an Obama sign in my yard. I didn't want to provoke the neighbors."