I read in an online blog the other day that my newest product the “Watertight Toilet Flange” was a “bomb”.
It is amazing that every time some new technology presents itself that there are always the ‘nay’ sayers and those who hold onto old habits with both hands either by fear or by ignorance. Is my new “Black Mold on Hold “technology a bomb?
Consider this scenario:
It’s 2015, and there is a second floor bathroom remodel job taking place. It includes new tile floors, toilet, sink and fixtures. There is a 6 inch hole in the wooden sub floor where the toilet flange will be and the 4 inch drain line is visible. The plumber uses a stainless steel toilet flange and secures it to the drain pipe. He always uses stainless steel flanges because the plumbingengineers always spec the strongest flanges. He screws the flange to sub floor and the rough plumbing is complete. Now it’s time for the tile contractor to show up.
This tile contractor has 20 years experience and is well respected. He tiles the bath the way he always does. There are huge spaces between the edges of the tile and the toilet flange with lots of bare wooden sub floor exposed. The tradition has always been that as long as the toilet covers the edges of the tile it doesn’t matter about anything else. It’s 2015, and there is still no ANSI spec requiring the tiles to go up to the round toilet flange and seal the floor. The contractor knows there is a product called the “Toilet Flange Tile Guide” that will easily seal the area around the flange and make tiling easier but chooses not to use it. Hey, he’s got 20 years experience and that should be all that matters.
The bath is completed, and it goes into use. The floor is mopped regularly, and of course there is over spray from the showercurtain that doesn’t catch all the water allowing it to pool on the floor near the tub and toilet. From the morning face washes and shaving water splatters everywhere onto the floor. Over time there will be mini floods from the bath tub over flowing and lots of water on the floor from trying to wash the family dog. All the while, from all of these events, water is seeping under the toilet into those exposed tile gaps and under the stainless steel flange. It doesn’t take long, and the homeowners have no idea, but under the toilet there is a true ‘bomb’ going off. The moisture under the toilet, the exposed sub floor, the floor beams and the ceiling from below are all being attacked with black mold and rot. The home owners see a small round stain appearing on the ceiling below the bath and at first they try to ignore it but the stain gets bigger and darker with each passing day.
One day the home owners see that the toilet isn’t flushing and water is overflowing the toilet. There must be a clog in the sewer line and the plumber is called. The plumber shows up and tries to clear the line. The big mess gets messier when he has to pull the toilet. He had tried to snake through the toilet but could not get the water to go down. When the toilet flange is exposed there is black stuff around the edges of the flange and on the exposed floor. There is of course, dirty water everywhere. The wood sub floor has started to split and warp from water exposure. The stainless steel flange that was supposed to be the strongest flange is corroded and the screws that were holding it to sub floor can be pulled out by hand because of the rot. The gaps between where the tiles ended and the flange are covered with black mold. The home owner assumes the black stuff is human waste but is wrong. This sounds bad enough, but the news for the homeowners gets worse. The 6-inch hole in the sub floor for the 4′ sewer line turned into a pathway for water to get into the walls, floor joist bays, insulation and sheetrock below. They could only see the water damage where the toilet was but they could not see the damage to the floor joists, walls, and sheetrock from dangerous black mold. Clearing the sewer line is the least of their problems.
There are 5 million bathroom remodels performed annually, and this narrative is all too common. It’s also preventable.
Consider this comparison:
The plumbing contractor chooses to install the Watertight Toilet Flange. The 6-inch hole is still there in the sub floor, but this flat bottomed flange is cemented to and seals the floor to the drain line. All the bolt wells are sealed so no water can pass through to the sub floor. The plumber then cements the Toilet Flange Tile Guide to the perimeter of the flange. The square guide, the edges of the flange and the sub floor are cemented and a mechanical bond sealing the sub floor is now in place. The plumber knows that regardless of what the ANSI spec is, the tile guy will butt the cut tiles up to the tile guide sealing the entire area under the toilet. The sub floor, walls, ceiling below, insulation, and floor joists are now protected. Now consider that the bath goes into service just like before. The water spray pooling on the floor, dog baths, the floor mopping and all events of everyday life expose the bath floor to continual moisture. The floor under the toilet will get wet but the moisture stays on the tile surface. The tile guide surface will get wet but doesn’t let the moisture pass through. The sewer backs up just like before. It can and does happen to virtually every home owner. The plumber pulls the toilet. There is dirty water everywhere, but not really. The flange is not corroded because it is made of PVC or ABS and there is no damage in the walls, ceilings, or floor joists. The sub floor is not warped and not delaminating. The plumber clears the line. The bathroom floor is cleaned, the flange is cleaned and wiped off as well as the tile guide, and the toilet is re-installed.
Which scenario would you prefer to be in?
TIM WOOD INVENTOR AND CEO