My husband was frugal to say the least. He heartily enjoyed playing music and running around with his friend Joe when he wasn’t honing his musical skills. When it came to home repairs and replacing appliances, he insisted on the very least expensive. Since he was too preoccupied with chasing rainbows, I was the one with the nine to five which was often more like seven to nine counting the college classes in between work. The time and attention he spent with home maintenance took a definite second place to his other important tasks, so the work was generally sub-standard. When you throw the use of sub par materials in the mix, you have a recipe for disaster.

Going through the floor and going through the roof

I noticed that the bathroom floor felt a bit spongy, but was too busy to do anything about it. The week of spring break came and all four kids were home from school. I heard a commotion coming from the tiny bathroom and ran to see what was the matter. The boys had been scuffling and one of them slipped and fell against the toilet. The porcelain was cracked and the bowl was emptying its contents onto the already damaged floor. They were promptly sent to their rooms so I could inspect the damage. I threw about a dozen towels at the flood and turned off the water valve. When I stood up, the floor gave way and my tennis shoe became wedged tightly between the floor joists. I hollered for help, but the guitar playing was so loud that he either couldn’t hear me or chose not to. This was the last straw!

I cursed and wriggled out of the shoe, leaving it behind. The sharp edges of flooring and tile left a fairly deep scratch which tore my sock and resulted in a small stream of blood. I hobbled into the living room and the guitar playing ceased. Screaming and yelling would not have been as effective as the look on my face and the calm but firm statement, “this is it!” It would be nice to say that the cheap toilet was to blame for his leaving our family and going on the road to pursue his life’s dreams, but that wouldn’t be true. It took him less than 3 hours to gather his belongings and head out for parts unknown. The relief was immense.

Do it yourself home repairs, single mom style

I was thankful for a mother who was willing to watch the younger kids as Savannah, the oldest and I headed for the closest metropolis in search of a toilet. With four kids in the house, there was no time to spare. We had both figured that the task would be tricky but with the attitudes of independent and strong women, we were ready to tackle anything. We looked at the different brands and styles on the display floor of the local retailer. There were so many to choose from that it took us a while. Sure, I could have gone with the $65 model, but it was small and featureless. It is my firm belief that when it comes to making home repairs and replacing necessary items, you get what you pay for.

The best advice on choosing a toilet

The store assistant in charge of plumbing supplies asked how he could help. I explained the situation and he gave us some tips on making the best selection. He explained that not all toilets are created equally. It’s important to find one with the best throne height for user comfort. We’re smaller people so that took a few of them off of the list of maybes. He compared the flush ratings for us, discussed measurements for the rough in, and showed us a comparison of how some models are more water efficient, such as the dual flush. We went with a pressure assist toilet because one of the features included a cleaner bowl using less water. Having detailed information helps to decide which toilet to choose.

A little extra advice

The young salesman could tell that I was hell bent on doing the replacement myself, so he went further in explaining the replacement process and helped me with the purchase of a beeswax gasket and other items that would be needed. He also went through the process of replacing a toilet so we would have a basic understanding of how to get the job done. The assistance I received helped to decide the best option for our family.

The end result

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a fair level of carpentry skills prior to this event. We replaced the subflooring and the tile and installed our beautiful new water efficient dual flush toilet without any issues. We spent a little over $250 for our new toilet and felt good about the expenditure. It was larger than the older cheap version and far more comfortable without any issues with leaking or parts wear. The moral of this story is that you get what you pay for so don’t settle for a toilet because of its price. Find one that best suits your needs and preferences for a reasonable price.

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My husband was frugal to say the least. He heartily enjoyed playing music and running around with his friend Joe when he wasn't honing his musical skills. When it came to home repairs and replacing appliances, he insisted on the very least expensive. Since he was too preoccupied with...