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Toilet - Cleaning Internal Mineral Deposits Before Installing used Toilet

topic posted Mon, July 25, 2011 - 8:49 AM by  A
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I bought a second hand toilet which is clean on the outside, but - flipping it over - clearly shows mineral (etc) buildup after perhaps 6 years of use in hard water.

I thought it would be a good idea - for best performance - to try and clean the internal passages.

My idea:
Place in a garbage bag and then inside a plastic bin - then pour about 3-4 gallons of white vinegar into the toilet bowl (less expensive than Limeaway). Tank removed. Purpose of bag is to hopefully reduce and concentrate volume of vinegar used.
Cover and let sit outside in the sun for a couple days.

Any thoughts? Suggestions?
thanks
posted by:
A
offline A
Denver
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  • Seems a lot of trouble, and expense for a used toilet, compared to the cost of a new one. Hope it's a nice one ! But then, how nice does a toilet need to be ?
    • toilets never wear out, just the parts do
      ive bought one new toilet in my life
      and ive fixed or replaced its insides 3 times in 11 years
      the used toilet in the other bath ive only fixed once in the same time
      the new one cost me $125 then $20 for each repair
      the used one i have maybe $20 in
      so you tell me which is a better bargain?
      • When restoring an old house the specs were for period appliances. We located some stylin old 1950s gas ranges,... and clawfoot tub, enameled steel sinks, early 20th century commode made all of porcelain. What can go bad about porcelain? Taken care of it will last centuries. Yes the moving parts & seals need periodic replacement.

        Now as to removing mineral buildup from hard water, you can dissolve that over time with a suitable chemical solution, as you've proposed with the vinegar.
        My contribution to the discussion is a trick they showed me as a fraternity pledge at the University of Arizona back in 1962.. You get a single-edge razor ( or even a double edge Gillete razor if you're hardcore) and manually scrape the mineral buildup off the porcelain surface. This takes 20 minutes and gives you a big head start. The residue easily dissolves then in the vinegar.
        • A
          A
          offline 0
          "... you can dissolve that over time with a suitable chemical solution, as you've proposed with the vinegar. "

          Thanks Brig, maybe dump two cups of vinegar in the water tank couple times a month?
          • I do not know what kind of build up you have, my minds eye cannot see it. But to get the calcium build up 'in' the bowl that causes those nasty rings, we use a pumice stone. Would a pumice stone work for the area you speak of?
            • A
              A
              offline 0

              Problem has been resolved

              Tue, July 26, 2011 - 6:47 AM
              "But to get the calcium build up 'in' the bowl that causes those nasty rings, we use a pumice stone. Would a pumice stone work for the area you speak of? " - sky

              Problem has been solved. The deposits were so light and flaky that I was able to loosen them with a screw driver - using very light pressure - without marring the finish.

              My biggest concern was that there might be a build-up in the trapway - that internal passage between the bowl and the bottom of toilet.
              Before installing this "new to me" used toilet - I thought I would do my best to recondition it while it was easy to do so.

              I'll keep pumice stone in mind for future reference, but doesn't it damage/wear away the surface?
              • Re: Problem has been resolved

                Tue, July 26, 2011 - 7:50 AM
                Not if you're using it on a toilet, and if you've chosen the proper grade of pumice stone. You can get pumice stone that's too hard for cleaning ceramic; but most pumice stones for cleaning are graded properly, and won't damage the enamel.

                It's always good to test first, but I've never met a toilet that was damaged by the pumice stone I use. I once had a cleaning business for over 25 years. Pumice stone was sent by the gods for toilet cleaning...lol Just make sure it is always wet.
  • Unsu...
     
    a spray bottle and some muriatic acid or just a towel and a rubber glove with muriatic will cleanse that off lickedy split - - mere seconds.
    • Cheaper and easier to buy is washing soda, just fill the U bend with a 10% (by weight) solution of soda crystals and water, hot or cold it doesn't matter and leave it 24 hours. Next day pour it away and hose off anything that's left behind, by this time it should be loose and easy to rinse off.
      Clean and sterile with next to no effort.
      • A
        A
        offline 0

        Mission Accomplished

        Mon, July 25, 2011 - 3:33 PM
        "Washing soda, just fill the U bend with a 10% (by weight) solution of soda crystals and water, hot or cold it doesn't matter and leave it 24 hours. Next day pour it away and hose off anything that's left behind, by this time it should be loose and easy to rinse off. " - Mike

        Mike, that sounds like the best solution.

        Bad news - just came back with 3 gallons of apple cider vinegar.

        Good news - I tried scraping - toilet upside down - (very lightly) with a small long neck screw driver and, to my surprise, it just started flaking off in big cylindrical pieces (maybe it was the cold/hot contraction from being left outside last couple days - drying and separating from the glazed finish).

        Now I have a life-time supply of apple cider vinegar (I've been using "red-wine" vinegar in a chili bean dish I cook - maybe I can substitute the apple instead).

        I took a small gauge soft wire and snaked it thru all the jets. Then took an old garden hose that no longer has the metal connection on the end and fished it thru from both top and bottom and and managed to blow out a few more small chunks.

        I will try a few vinegar treatments once I get it installed, but things are looking good at this point; never know it was 6+ years old.

        Thanks everybody!
        • Re: Mission Accomplished

          Mon, July 25, 2011 - 10:37 PM
          brown rust stains release their grip with application of ajax rubbed in with scotchbrite.

          I won't reccomend usage of the blunt tip of a hardened tool steel screwdriver for removing mineral scale for the very real liklihood of irreperably scoring the porcelain glaze. The razor edge of a thin blade, however, applied at a sharp angle,,, should lift the mineral buildup with minimal impact on the vitreous surface. That porcelain is hard but still needs an easy hand.
        • Re: Mission Accomplished

          Wed, July 27, 2011 - 3:31 PM
          I use exactly the same solution for cleaning my bee hives and honey extraction equipment, it removes propolis and dried on honey like nothing else while killing paracites, bacterial spores and cleaning to a high shine on stainless steel surfaces with no effort at all.
          The same solution can also be used for cleaning drains that are partialy blocked with old detergent scum (don't use this method if you're using a septic tank drainage system though, as it can affect the necessary/beneficial bacteria).
          • Unsu...
             

            Re: Mission Accomplished

            Wed, July 27, 2011 - 5:47 PM
            washing soda? Is there a commercial name for it? A brand that you recommend?
            • Re: Mission Accomplished

              Wed, July 27, 2011 - 5:54 PM
              Any soda crystals exept caustic soda which is similar but much stronger. Ask the wife she'll know, at least her mother might because it's a bit old fashioned. Like me.
            • A
              A
              offline 0

              Soda Crystals

              Wed, July 27, 2011 - 9:58 PM
              "washing soda? Is there a commercial name for it? A brand that you recommend? " - Optimus

              Soda crystals are "old school"; doubt that most house wives under the age of 30 have even heard of it - I had to google it myself (and I'm 62):

              www.dwellsmart.com/Products...-Crystals

              As far a a brand - it will vary by your area and store. I'd just go to the cleaning supplies department of your local grocery or general merchandise store and look for a soda crystal product. I wouldn't be surprised if some stores don't even carry it.
              • Unsu...
                 

                Re: Soda Crystals

                Wed, July 27, 2011 - 10:34 PM
                Thanks for the link, A. I think I can find this stuff at Home Depot
                • Re: Soda Crystals

                  Thu, July 28, 2011 - 1:29 AM
                  "Old school" just about sums me up, the old ways aren't always the best but I prefer to keep things uncomplicated if I can.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    A
                    A
                    offline 0

                    Unadulterated

                    Thu, July 28, 2011 - 8:02 AM
                    Nothing wrong with Old School - especially if you keep an open mind to "new school".

                    Unadulterated & uncomplicated in an ever increasingly complicated world - as Martha (convicted felon and Teflon coated American icon) Stewart would say - "That's a good thing."
                    • Re: Unadulterated

                      Thu, July 28, 2011 - 8:17 AM
                      There are some things that are fundamentally unchanged regardless of new improved formulations with latest labrat-tested magic ingredients.[ K.I.S.S.]

                      I mean for instance that Ajax is mostly pumice. Muriatic if if that buildup gets subversive.

                      As to accessing the mineral scale within the S-bend trap of the commode, I'm picturing some sort of fist-sized wire brush ball on the end of a flexible handle, although where to buy such an implement or wether a guy would have to make something like that himself, I don't know. I'm tempted to say sandblasting but that would erode the glaze in there in a hurry.
                      • Re: Unadulterated

                        Thu, July 28, 2011 - 8:21 AM
                        ---- maybe run a large-diameter polyurethane rope soaked in muriatic back and forth through there ?
                        • A
                          A
                          offline 0

                          The Briggi Rope Technique

                          Thu, July 28, 2011 - 12:11 PM
                          Now, that's what I call brain-storming.

                          You'd need something to fish it thru with - maybe a plastic coated wire (no exposed metal).

                          Also, maybe the rope could have at least a couple knots with scrubbers (scotch-brite, etc) sandwiched in between.
                          Prop toilet so that it is "trapway elbow down" and, as you suggest pull back and forth as you pour preferred cleaning solution inside.

                          Messy, time-consuming and - as someone else hinted - not worth the trouble in most situations (maybe for those who live way out in the boonies with little access or resources, but lots of elbow grease - and "get it done" attitude), but nice to have options and fun to "formulate techniques".

                          Fortunately, as I've mentioned, my situation (I'm the OP), has been resolved very satisfactorily with very little effort - as it turned out.
                          • Unsu...
                             

                            Re: The Briggi Rope Technique

                            Thu, July 28, 2011 - 2:52 PM
                            <<<<You'd need something to fish it thru with - maybe a plastic coated wire (no exposed metal). >>>>>

                            Tie a monkey fist knot at the end of the rope with a shooter marble in it.
                            • Re: The Briggi Rope Technique

                              Thu, July 28, 2011 - 4:29 PM
                              --- so A, I didn't get the part about how you satisfactorily resolved removing the mineral buildup hidden inside the S-bend. (?)

                              Or on the other hand does it really matter to the flush function if that hidden scale is gone or not. One might say that shit you don't see can't hurt you.
                              • A
                                A
                                offline 0

                                Toilets - More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

                                Thu, July 28, 2011 - 5:41 PM
                                "I didn't get the part about how you satisfactorily resolved removing the mineral buildup hidden inside the S-bend. "

                                do-it-yourself.tribe.net/threa...1fdcf8

                                "on the other hand does it really matter to the flush function if that hidden scale is gone or not. "

                                As I read thru some plumbing forums - some people said that - especially if your toilet is not a very good model - anything that "slows the flow" can contribute to multiple flushing.

                                This might be one of the few conversations where describing myself as "anal retentive" might fit right in.
                                I was going to buy a used toilet on Craig's, but then . . .
                                As I began reading I began to learn a few things:
                                - Around 1995 they stopped making "big tank" toilets; Big Brother mandated "low flow". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_flush_toilet
                                - Of course the manufacturers made some real "stinkers" in the first few years. For a while customers were yanking out the low-flow units and putting the big tank toilets (when they could find them) back in.
                                - And of course, with any sort of product, you are going to have some lemons.
                                - Manufacturers are not really always helpful labeling toilet models (sometimes you can look at the stamping inside the tank or under the bowl, but even that can be pretty cryptic. So, how do you know if the used toilet you are buying was one of the "stinkers" and someone is just trying to pawn it off on you (for free or $10 - $20) so they don't have to deal with disposal hassles.
                                - I didn't want to get the wrong "rough-out" size (10", 12", 14")
                                - I wanted a toilet with a glazed trapway and a large diameter (2 1/8" - at the very least)
                                - And did you know toilets have ratings?: www.toolbase.org/PDF/CaseS...dition.pdf
                                When it comes to toilets - a low performing toilet is a very annoying thing to experience.


                                I didn't want to end up with someone else's reject.

                                I bought an old Eljer 1.6 gal for $20, but I could not find any model corresponding to the numbers stamped in it. So, without that reassurance, I noticed a build up of mineral deposit beneath (just inside the trapway). It became important to me to restore that passage to a smooth glazed surface - just in case I was stuck with a poor performing toilet - every little detail can make a difference.

                                So far, my extra efforts have payed off; saved myself over a $100 and she's work'n real good.

                                I little research and planning can save you a lot of grief - even when buying new.
                                ABC's of toilets:
                                www.toiletabcs.com/toilet-basics.html

                                Aren't you glad you asked?

                                (And yes, I'm unemployed - so I have more time than money.)
                                • Re: Toilets - More .....

                                  Thu, July 28, 2011 - 6:00 PM
                                  blowing out a few chunks out does not constitute spic n span squeaky clean.

                                  So back to the idea of reaming out the passage with some sort of abraisive flexible material --- applying the old push-pull

                                  The early 20th century models had an elevated reservoir with chain pull release. The added 2 meters height of the tank lent the flush greater force & velocity for the same quantity of water. Those old hydraulic engineers were not at all out to lunch.

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