Trustworthy* DIY @Home Advice

*upon subject to peer review

As a lover of machines, I decided to make a thread dedicated the the younger and middle aged men and woman and others who hate making repair calls for shit anyone with the right tools and working limbs can accomplish on a low budget.

Any home job that you might consider calling an “expert” for but probably don’t need to qualifies. And any advice offered is open to ridicule and correction by people that know.

We have a lot of handy types on BS (Sub is a pro wood cutter, Joe fabs his own cones, e.g.), so I think this might be a good use of thread.


I’ll start with toilet maintenance, a favorite. Everyone loves a working toilet; no one wants a broken one.

But how about a poorly or subnominally flushing John?

AFAIK two things generally determine flush success: water pressure vs air pressure.

And two devices determine these pressures: the flush valve and the flanged wax seal.

The flush valve determines how much water rushes into the bowl, and the seal prevents air pressure from the base from working against it.

A toilet that requires a longer push on the handle typically means 1) less water flow rate through the flush valve ($10-$20) and/or 2) a compromised seal ($5-$10). These longer flushes represent a waste of water and thus $, on top of just being annoying.

So if your flushes suck, take the time to turn off the water return, empty the bowl and tank, remove the toilet from the flanges (cutting if necessary: urine residue tends to corrode these), and replace the old broke wax ring with new seal (replacing flanges if necessary, often included with seal).

The flush valve is equally user-serviceable. Adjust the length of chain to make sure the handle is fully opening the valve. Otherwise it will trickle in slower requiring a pressure buildup before it goes woosh. And if the seal is also compromised you’ll waste even more water as the water pressure competes with air in the piping as well as seeping in at the base

Use this time to disinfect the underside floor: one of the most common causes of smelly bathroom is the floor under the toilet, especially with a wax seal compromised. New seal and disinfected floor and you will notice the difference overnight.

Potential cost saving: $200-$400.

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Eh, I would say the flush is more a function of gravity. Good water flow can encourage the behavior, but gravity sucks at sort of a constant rate, given no obstructions.

Yes, gravity is considered a constant in flush math.

The dynamics of the flush are here: 2.972 How A Toilet Works

Basically it’s the flush tank water pressure added to the weight of the water already in the bowl that eventually causes it to drop.

It’s the Bernoulli effect like with a straw, as soon as you take your finger off all that air pressure makes the whoosh happen. Only the toilet uses water instead of air, and air pressure from a leaky seal is therefore the enemy, because it’s lower point of gravity than the bowl.


You can see here where gravitation and pressure weigh in. There’s a list of these variables in the MIT link.

The water pressure coming out of the tank is also mostly a function of gravity, unless you have one of those power flushers. Now, when it gets to the rim of the bowl, factors like calcification (due to hard water, e.g.) can impact how fast that water gets into the bowl to cause the suck.

Also, I don’t want to seem like I’m being a negative nellie, here. Properly maintained toilets are preferred. But, if you are having a problem with your wax seal, you might look to other causes - foundation settling, for example. That should be pretty much a one-time piece of work, if installed correctly.

Yes, that’s why the function of the valve is so important. If it doesn’t open far enough the flow is rate limited. The valve needs to open as much as possible in the shortest time, for the “one tap” flush to work.

Additional seconds you have to hold down the handle is a sign something is off: the seal, the valve. or even the handle. Some handles are keyed square and can only be in one position, older toilets have rounded and more adjustable handles.

Simple test is this: are you holding the handle and watching the water in the bowl to make sure it flushes, or are you confident you can tap and walk away?

I think the number of asses and frequency of impact is a big factor there.

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You should never have to hold the handle down on a legacy flush. Some of the newer low-consumption or variable consumption units may require a hold, though. If your toilet has a button marked 1 and 2, for example, you can hold the 1 button, or press the 2 button, in case of a #2.

Eh, not really. The toilet should be “permanently,” affixed to the floor. If it’s not, something has failed - either your plumber, or your floor.


Oof. That’s a no shit toilet, for sure.

Remember when I said urine destroys flanges?

There are three phalli here, and two still stand when using the toilet.

Joe will be here any minute with a hot piss take.

Gravity and volume. Low flush toilets suck.

If you’re breaking the wax seal, something has happened to the base. Or your ass and everything else is too big.

Glad to help.


Urine for a surprise, then. The smell is because you have somebody pissing on the floor, which means that your cleaning lady sucks, or nobody caulked the base of your toilet (but somebody cocked it), or you have floor damage, or the installer sucked, perhaps a combination of the four. Wax seals are pretty well permanent, and there’s relatively little sewage that touches them. If installed correctly, you should never smell sewage. If you do, something is wrong.

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Fixed OP gif. Much better.

I have replaced exactly two wax seals in my life on two different toilets.

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Yeah, it’s the Ron Popeil of plumbing parts. Set it and forget it. I’m still cleaning wax off my hands from the last one I did, and that’s been almost 5 years!

Really? Sub is a pro wood guy? Joe does stuff too? I did not know that.

Man, if only there was a person here who has been building homes for 35+ years.

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Do you need some attention?

I wanted to build a simple gazebo on a deck for my dad; to replace the shit Canadian Tire special he has that is being kept together with duct tape.

Have any suggestions?

I was thinking maybe a simple design of 4 posts with 4 beems and roof joices every couple feet, then covered with plywood and shingled…