Friday, April 22, 2016

The Chamber Pot is OK But...

I rather have the toilet back.
Our toilet broke a few weeks ago.

I've thought a lot about what to name this and Pam decided maybe you could come up with a better title than I could....  so if you have an appropriate name/title that would fit this blog post --- please give it to us in the comments below!

We have a Dometic 4310 electric toilet.  I pushed the handle down like normal and it would not flush.  Thankfully I was just taking a leak so to speak and it all eventually drained down to the black tank.

This little episode has been full of twists and turns.  It really all started before July 2014.  That was the date of the purchase order when I got two seals to replace the ones that were shot in the toilet.  The seals are large rubber gaskets that keep water in the toilet after it flushes and fills up.  The toilet bowl was not retaining water after I flushed it so I knew I needed to replace to the seals.

But I lacked the courage.  I didn't want to make things worse.  Every felt like that?  Others I have known have jumped right in and fixed their toilets.  I wasn't too sure about it all.  I was really afraid, I'd unscrew the thing from the bathroom floor, pull it up and take it outside to look at it and break something.  Yikes!  Then what would I do.

The toilet was still functional and seemed to work fine.  Except that it no longer held water in the toilet bowl.  But that was OK.  Everything else worked fine.   Frankly, I was intimidated by it all.  So we let it set and let well enough alone.

Until last week.  When I pushed the handle down it wound up and whined and that released a big 'Crack!'.  I did that a couple of times before I decided something was terribly wrong and I might really break something.  It was then that I pulled out my paperwork, looked the model number up online and finally called Dometic.

Dometic diagnosed it and said yes, -- it is probably this part and that part.  I found the parts manual and schematic online and identified the part numbers he was talked about and ordered them.  In fact, I paid for overnight delivery so we wouldn't have to deal with a broken toilet any longer that we had to.

I expected them the next day, but didn't get both parts until 4 and 5 days later.  Each part was mailed separately.  I addressed them correctly but they went to the warehouse, floated around a few days until one ended up in the office (where it should have been delivered originally).  The second piece got picked up and landed in the construction manager's office.  Good thing I caught the right guy at 6:30 AM in the warehouse who helped me tracked down the second part.

Next thing we did was turn off the water, drain the tank, unscrew the bolts, clip the wires lift the porcelain toilet and carry it outside.  
I turned it over and it was fairly clean with no poop but a lot of water calcification and crusty toilet water with toilet paper.  Kind of like cemented paper mache.  This model had no wax seal and I was able to clean the downspout into the black tank pretty well with a long handle screwdriver and wire brush
 It took me only a few minutes to determine that I had no broken parts.
The two pieces I got were really not necessary.  It was over an hour to chip away and use the wire brush, a long screwdriver and plenty of elbow grease to get it all clean.  The gears and shafts and linkages that were bound up and 'frozen' were free again and working smoothly.
I took the toilet back inside the bathroom, Pam rewired the electric switch/handle, we hooked up the water and ......success!!

It  worked again and didn't make the frightening !Crack! sound and everything went smoothly.  The water in the bowl however, leaked out.  Even with the two new seals it still would not hold water in the bowl.  Hmm.

I called back the salesman (who obviously was also a very good technician).  He suggested I may have not put the seal gaskets on correctly.  Which way is 'Right Side Up' when you have the toilet upside down and are working on it that way....?  I turned one of them over, we got more wire, Pam did the rewiring again and we put it back, hooked up the water, etc etc.  This time the water held!

After a couple of years of thinking about it, and more recently a long week of using the Home Depot 5 gallon bucket sitting inside of a broken toilet during nighttime trips to the bathroom -- we got it fixed.

Over the course of the week, we found we could survive and do fine using our 'Chamber Pot'.
We didn't like the sharp edges of the top of the bucket and had to modify ours with some comfort pads.
 Worked much better.

So that is the saga of the broken toilet that got fixed.  There were many lessons learned on this one but a few were:
- Don't wait to fix something, it doesn't get better over time.
- Don't trouble shoot something over the phone without first trying to look at it yourself.
- If you pay for overnight shipping, it is no guarantee it will get there.
- Be thankful -- (If we hadn't been through this we'd never understand the notion of 'Chamber Pot'.  Now we can imagine how our forefathers lived.
- Remember -- It ALL an adventure and provides more fodder for those 'around the campfire stories in the live of an RVer.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


  1. I'm glad to hear you have "your" plumbing working again. It should be a great relief to you.

    I made the mistake of trying to clean the stopper on our Dometic electric toilet just like yours and broke some parts. Many $$$ later it was repaired and working again. Lesson learned on my part, don't put anything into the stopper mechanism when it is open.

    Have fun out there.

  2. No electric toilet here but Jim has changed seals as well as toilets a few times. Don't you just love it when it all works right.

  3. Necessity is the mother of all inventions! Your chamber pot was inspired, but I'm glad it's no longer necessary. We're looking forward to seeing you in Sheridan. Cindy

  4. congrats on finally fixing your 'chamber pot'!! you were pretty smart with the 'improvisation toilet'!!

  5. Used many a bucket in Bush Alaska. Bet you are happy to be living in modern times again.

  6. I have to give you credit for having the patience to sort out the problems and get them fixed. We're on our third toilet in our MH in eight years, after two tries at rebuilding toilets and waiting and waiting for parts, we found it easier to replace the whole thing with a new unit. A toilet is not one thing that you can wait around several weeks for parts to arrive.

    Loved the temp toilet idea, though. Necessity is the mother of invention! :cD

  7. You must have a very loving and patient spouse. Me too. Welcome to the DIY RV world. Ah, the campfire tales.

  8. Necessity is the mother of invention, and yours was pretty good.

  9. Looks like your number 1 in the number 2 business. I'll have to call you if my toilet stops working

  10. Wow! Dennis had had our toilet on newspaper in the kitchen floor of the Hiker...It wasn't holding water, but he ordered a new seal and did some other magic..I try to stay clear of this stuff, but Dennis likes plumbing..he's nuts..glad everything will now come out OK!!