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Thread: Crystals in the toilet?!?

  1. #1

    Default Crystals in the toilet?!?

    Hello everyone, I'm new to these forums and the plumbing game. I hope to become well informed here and possibly make a few friends. Before I ask my first question I'd like to thank everyone who has made this forum possible. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you!

    So here goes,

    I'm a first time house buyer, I've been through a million houses in the past few weeks and today I found the perfect house. Except for one "minor" problem.

    It's below freezing in my region and the water has been shut off to this house, however the heat was on when we looked though the house today. When we looked at the toilet, it appeared the water inside had frozen. Bad sign.

    But upon closer investigation, it wasn't water at all. The substance inside was solid clear crystals, and quite brittle. Has anyone ever come upon something like this before? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    If the home was winterized, it might be antifreeze that you see.

  3. #3
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Hard to say. Solid and clear is strange, are we talking a few on the bottom? Are you talking in the bowl or tank? Did you look in the tank? Did you see any printed signs that used the word "winterized"? Did you try flushing? Kind of sounds like formed minerals but I have never seen them clear.

  4. #4

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    Yes, I looked in the tank. Absolutely nothing in the tank. The crystals came up about 2-3 inches from the bottom of the bowl. The lighting wasn't the greatest, it appeared to be clear. No stickers or tags indicating winterization. If I can get back in the house I'd take some pictures and post them. Thanks for all your help guys.

  5. #5
    DIY Member TPA's Avatar
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    I'm a Floridian (born & raised), so I'm not familiar with this "freeze" and "snow" things you northerners speak of, but I propose a possible answer.

    How long has the home been vacant? Just a guess...but maybe you did indeed see ice crystals. If the home's not had water service in awhile, the toilet probably hasn't been used in some time... water in the bowl & trap evaporates slowly and the water level would continue to lower as it evaporates. My theory is that the water had evaporated to a point where the trap was no longer sealed, thus possibly letting in below-freezing air enter through the vent stack, through the toilet's now-unsealed trap and into the home. Gas appliances need fresh air to run and will put the house under negative pressure if there's no make-up air introduced. An open vent stack would be the path of least resistance.

    Just a thought from someone who knows NOTHING about cold weather. :P
    77F & partly cloudy as I type this from my patio.

    Cheers

  6. #6
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    If you make an offer for the house, one of the conditions should be that the water is turned on and the complete water system and all appliances tested. That should include any water heaters, all of the toilets, showers, dishwasher, faucets, etc, etc, etc. You need to test any outside faucets as well.

    Anything not working should be fixed as a condition of your acceptance.

    If it has a well, you need to test the water system and get the water tested.

  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Has the issue been resolved? Did you figure out what it was?

  8. #8

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    Hmmm.... wonder if it's the reconstituted remains of one of them stinky things that someone hung over the side of the toilet (deodorizer).???? Were the crystals 2" deep or just come up 2" high on the surface of the bowl wall?

  9. #9
    Rancher
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    Toilet tank de-odorizer = Paradichlorobenzene

    Para-dichlorobenzene (p-DCB) is an organic solid of white crystals with a mothball-like odor

    Perhaps?

  10. #10

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    If they are tiny crystals, they could be resin from a water softener. I know, as I had some end up in my tanks.

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Before you close on any property, always INSPECT, INSPECT, INSPECT, because once you close on it, it's yours (unless the seller or their agent has committed some type of fraud).
    Even if you have to pay to have the utilities turned on yourself, it is in your best interest to do so, and it is always in your best interest to have everything thoroughly inspected, although it is "optional". You can always negotiate with the seller up through closing about something found. If your inspections find something "significant", you should be able to renegotiate or backout with the return of your earnest money.
    Although I normally only represent sellers, I always try to get all buyers to do three things for their own protection:
    1. Get a licensed Pest Control Operator inspection for wood-destroying insects (termites, powder post beetles, etc.),
    2. Get a licensed General Home Inspection of all of the structural and mechanical features of the house, and
    3. Get a Title Search and Title Insurance (this is the only one usually required by the lenders now).
    Here, a pest inspection from a reputable operator costs $95 and a General Home Inspection costs about $350...more than well worth it if they find anything, and peace-of-mind if they don't.
    Good Luck!
    Mike
    (A 20-year NC Real Estate Broker)

  12. #12
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    1 Thing I would like to add to check on a house your considering to purchase.

    If the DWV is cast iron I would have a camera run and inspect the drain line from the house to the street.

    I can't tell you how many people purchase older homes only to find that sometime in the near future they will have to spend anywhere from $4-8,000.00 additional replacing the drain due to roots or deterioration of the drain.

    And as time passes this will become more frequent.
    Last edited by Cass; 12-22-2006 at 04:54 AM.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Excellent point, Cass.
    In some places, code still requires cast iron drain pipes, but any such segmented drain pipes are subject to roots. The best solution for roots is replacement with a "glued" PVC white plastic or ABS black plastic line, which will not allow root intrusion.
    Mike

  14. #14
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    The cost will run $2-300.00 additional for the inspection but will be money well spent.

    A dated video copy of the pipe inspection and a hard copy of the receipt with the inspection company's name on it for your records is a must have.

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