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Thread: Questions to answer before buying

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Default Questions to answer before buying

    I'm close to making a purchase decision on a replacement toilet and want to be sure I'm not missing something obvious. For instance I came across a mention about the new toilet's footprint covering the old footprint -- I have a real oak wood floor in the bathroom. (house is 126 yrs old this yr)

    Clearly my choice is Toto or Toto.

    The old (c.1970/80s?) gasping near-death toilet is an American Standard one piece ... I cannot say enough bad things about it so will say nothing.

    The rough-in is 14" so I am resigned to conjuring some sort of artsy storage in the gap. (The quoted cost for the Toto Vespin w/14" unifit is over $800 and I'd rather save my pennies for a washlet someday.)

    I am pretty well ready to buy the Drake (cst743s) but the footprint question has me wondering. What else should I ask about or watch for? And how do I know if the Drake will cover the whole area where the AS sits today (I doubt it actually, the AS is a squatty fat beast)?

    What's supposed to be the advantage of "with bolt down lid"? Is that the tank lid?

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Well, I've had my Vespin for awhile, but it cost nowhere near $800! Shop around a bit. You can get an idea by checking what Terry sells it for, but he won't ship - you have to pick it up! Obviously, not likely possible for you.

    If you don't want to deal with the extra gap behind the toilet, a 14" rough-in toilet really is your best choice, and the Totos with the Unifit will project into the room less than most (if not all).

    The bolt down lid (the top of the tank) is designed for places where they don't want people messing with the internal parts of the toilet, like a public restroom so someone can't take it off and break it, for example.

    You probably won't know if a new toilet will cover the old spot without some very careful measurements and luck.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If you post a picture of the old bowl, that will help.
    The Drakes do cover a multitude of sins. There are exceptions to be sure. The older Kohler one-piece curves out just a bit more at the bolts. There are a few bowls with square fronts that show just a bit of that. But for the most part, they have been very good at coverage.

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    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    If you post a picture of the old bowl, that will help.
    First pic shows the location of the water supply if you squint at the base near the floor on the left side. Water comes up thru the floor, not the wall. I tried to measure I think it is 6" from the center of the unit? I could be wrong...

    Second pic shows the toilet cubby, radiator to the right.

    Toilet at base of tank is 19" wide; lid is about 22" wide, whole thing is about 22" tall.
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    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    If you are talking about white, figure about half of that for the Vespin II. Do some research and call around to the plumbing supply places. That may be a good solution for you.

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    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjcandee View Post
    If you are talking about white, figure about half of that for the Vespin II. Do some research and call around to the plumbing supply places. That may be a good solution for you.
    This is a good suggestion, obviously. I haven't had great luck thus far. Sample: "we only do full bathroom remodels." "we only install Gerber." "No one installs 14" anymore." Discouraging. I'm not giving up yet.

    Also you know how hard it is to find a licensed, qualified plumber, yes? There's an org around here that a lot of shops subscribe to, they send out mass mailers a few times a year with bullet points to explain why they charge so much. It's just basic business 101 ("to maintain overhead, to market our services") and no one should be trying to justify their prices that way, but that's plumbing in this part of the country. Or, I could get lucky and find the good plumber who doesn't charge $800 to walk in the house.

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    Retired Machine Repairman wptski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowlion View Post
    This is a good suggestion, obviously. I haven't had great luck thus far. Sample: "we only do full bathroom remodels." "we only install Gerber." "No one installs 14" anymore." Discouraging. I'm not giving up yet.
    Who says that you have to install a 14" only? If you have a 14" rough in now, anything else "should" fit. I'm no expert but I believe only the tank size changes with different rough in sizes.

    You mentioned that 6" center line distance to your floor inlet. I know that all rough in PDFs of American Standard show a 6" distance from the center line to a wall inlet. I just installed a AS Cadet 3 and you can't even see the wall inlet if viewed directly from the front as it's way less than 6".

    I assume that Toto has rough in dimensions for their products also that you can look at also. Maybe some CAD file also but then you'd need a free "good" CAD viewer which is hard to find.

    My rough measurement prior to purchase show less than 12" so I was worried how close the tank would be to the wall so I went with a 10" model.

    Hope this link works to the Vespin II: http://www.totousa.com/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID=631. It did, select Downloads>Specs.

    Wow, they show a larger distance to the wall inlet!!
    Last edited by wptski; 11-07-2012 at 11:51 AM.
    Bill
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  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Just to clarify some things. What I want is to make sure I'm doing my due diligence in asking the right questions before making a purchase and hiring. (I have a curse it seems w/regards to plumbing so no diy for me.)

    I've done quite a bit of research, and while ideally I'd like to replace the current toilet with a 14" rough in because it would fit the space properly, I haven't found the right combination of price, style and function. (who thought toilet styles would matter?)

    The water inlet comes up from the floor but I think the main issue to consider is distance? Sales people can be vague; I got the impression that certain models can be problematic with my floor/distance situation. Yet after measuring it seems the location is "fine for most models" for my toilet.

    I stumbled across the footprint reference on this forum and that does concern me because of the wood floor.

    About cost; I'm a little resigned about that. "My" plumber (i.e. the known quantity, trustworthy) quoted me $800 in labor alone to install a Toto. They're on my gray list right now after a fiasco replacing a worn faucet valve on my tub last winter (the handle exploded off the wall AFTER they installed it, yes I was showering, lovely). The shop where I saw the Drake said $500 total for install and unit of that, but $850 for the Vespin with the 14" converter. This seems to be the market here, unless I go with a nonlicensed plumber which I'd rather not do.

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    To install a Toto with the Unifit adapter (it comes with the 12" one, you have to buy the 14" one as an extra - no credit for the 12" one that comes in the box), it takes someone that can read, someone that WILL read the instructions, the water inlet further off-center than with many (but you may be able to get by with installing an offset on what you have), and if the floor is tiled, the proper tools to drill 4 mounting holes in the floor to mount the adapter. Other than that, it's basically not much more time to install than a 'normal' toilet. With the proper drill bit, it would likely take maybe 15-30 minutes longer. Some tile is VERY hard, and the best choice is a diamond core bit, which will cut anything (but slowly).

    The Toto with the Unifit system is the only one that keeps the toilet at EXACTLY the same place whether it is installed for a 10, 12, or 14" rough-in. All of the others (that I'm aware of), when they make a 14" rough-in, use a thicker tank, and the whole thing sticks out that extra 2" more than it needs to.

    If that extra projection into the room and a bigger gap behind isn't an issue for you, you could install a 10, 12, or a 14" toilet on a 14" rough-in, and, if you used the Vespin II with the stock 12" unifit adapter that comes with it, you may have enough room to deal with the water supply without having to move it.

    If you have access from below, it isn't a big deal to move the supply in most cases, though. And, if you can read and aren't a klutz, it isn't that hard to install a toilet. In fact, I think doing one with the Unifit adapter is easier since you seal the adapter to floor without having to try to align the toilet. Once that's installed, it's easier to slip the toilet over the adapter than onto a wax ring.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member wjcandee's Avatar
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    Here are a few thoughts:

    I went through this before deciding to self-install. If you can't find a good honest plumber that will sell you a toilet at an honest price and install it at a fair price, separate the two functions. Don't call the "dealers" on the Toto web site, because a lot are bathroom remodel folks. Get out the yellow pages and look under "plumbing supply". These are stores that sell plumbing supplies without actually doing any work on premises. They will sell retail, but they are also the place that your plumber gets the product, albeit likely at a different price, unless he has taken to setting up a commercial account at the one-or-two good online suppliers. Figure out the exact item or two that you want, i.e. "Toto CST474CEFG in color #1" (a white Vespin II) and TSU01.W14 (the proper 14" Unifit) and ask them what their price is. Then, set about finding someone to install it if you won't do it yourself. There are lots of possibilities there, and figure $200-ish is a fair price in many places. Turns out my handyman would have done it for $75. Would that have been a great job? Likely not as good as the job I did myself or as good as a good (note I said a good) plumber. But it's an option when some idiot wants $600 just for the freakin' install (which was one quote I got after my own plumber wanted like $800 for the toilet plus install). In the end, I bought the first one online, figured out how to install it myself with the help of the folks here, the instructions here, the Toto instructions, and a couple of not-so-helpful videos on Youtube. Once I did the first one, and followed the tips here on how to do it RIGHT, I never looked back. It's not that hard, and I would encourage you to think about doing it yourself if you are even a little handy, and assuming (as it appears) that you don't have any major issues like we often address on here. (There are plenty of issues that people raise here about which the best thing to do is to call a real plumber and have it fixed right, but a straightforward toilet install is really something you can do yourself.)

    Also, the plain old Drake (the original Drake: CST744S) is a very-affordable toilet of which I have two. If you get the regular 12" rough-in one, and put it on your 14", you are correct that you'll have room behind for storage or whatever you decide to put there. And it will be a very-straightforward install of a very-nice-looking toilet that you will never be unhappy with and which, as Terry noted above, will likely cover the footprint of your old monstrosity.

    And -- very important -- get SEVERAL quotes from several plumbing supply places. You will be shocked at how widely the price will vary.

    PS Do me a favor and shoot a picture of that water supply location, and measure it from the centerline of the toilet to the toilet side of the supply pipe, so we can get a sense whether it will fit next to the Vespin. If the pipe will fit, they make shutoffs with just a little quarter-turn knob rather than the big handle, so if the pipe fits next to the toilet, you are golden.
    Last edited by wjcandee; 11-07-2012 at 01:46 PM.

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    Retired Machine Repairman wptski's Avatar
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    Looking at the Vespin II specs I linked to above the edge of the toilet is 5.906" from the center line of the toilet. The OP stated that the inlet line on the floor is around 6" from the center line, so it seems that it needs to be very close to the wall to not be a problem. The Vespin II is pretty much a straight side all the way back.
    Bill
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  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjcandee View Post
    Here are a few thoughts: <snip> And -- very important -- get SEVERAL quotes from several plumbing supply places. You will be shocked at how widely the price will vary.
    Really appreciate the validation, thank you. I definitely will be doing that.

    PS Do me a favor and shoot a picture of that water supply location, and measure it from the centerline of the toilet to the toilet side of the supply pipe, so we can get a sense whether it will fit next to the Vespin. If the pipe will fit, they make shutoffs with just a little quarter-turn knob rather than the big handle, so if the pipe fits next to the toilet, you are golden.
    Here are the pics. I think, though I could be wrong, the pipe comes out of the floor at 7 inches from the center of the toilet. I'm not sure you can see it well in the pictures but the pipe turns 90 degrees before the flexible hose, and it is ANGLED away from the wall. Pic 3 is taken from above the tank looking straight down but it may be too dark to see, dang camera phone.

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  13. #13
    Retired Machine Repairman wptski's Avatar
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    I think at 7" you'll be good. Might need to remove the 90 or at least shorten the nipple and maybe turn the valve to make the handle easier to get at.

    BTW: All my plumbing jobs turn to a heap also.
    Bill
    Retired Machine Repairman
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    DIY Junior Member snowlion's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your help. Very much appreciated. I'm feeling a lot more confident about moving forward with this.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    A lot of plumber have never installed a Toto with the Unifit and don't want the job because they are not willing to take a little extra time to read the instructions. So, they quote an outlandish price knowing that they probably won't get the job, but if they do get it, they'll be very well compensated. BTW, it's not just plumber that do this, it can be almost any tradesman. If you can read and follow directions and are not afraid to ask here for advise if something is not too clear, you can do this. Yes, it's a different install that other toilets, the Unifit is exclusive to specific Toto models, so it's understandable to a degree why some homeowners and plumbers are reluctant to take them on. You might want to consider modifying your water supply. I had a similar situation with one of my Toto installs. I put a new 1/4 turn valve on the pipe right at floor level with a chrome echuschion (spelled wrong) between. A flex supply line from there to the toilet and it's nice looking job even if a bit unorthodox. I would sure get rid of the galvanized pipes.

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