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The Great Commode Seat Incident

Updated on January 6, 2017

Sometimes, It's Just Not Meant To Be

Sometimes things just go wrong! No matter what you do ... it’s just not meant to be!

So it was a couple of nights ago, when I finally decided to change out the broken commode seat in the hall bathroom. In looking back now, over the whole incident, I think my inner being must have known something that my brain did not. Otherwise, this seemingly simple task, would not have taken me months to get started.

Could it be, the stars were just not lined up right … or … perhaps I’m just a klutz !? Whatever the reason, next time I think I will call a plumber, or my handy, dandy, DIYer sister. And, I’m sure I'll have nightmares for the rest of my life ... because of this dramatic trauma.

Normally, I’m a pretty crafty kind of gal. The same is true for most of my family. I was divorced many years ago and had two small boys, who are now in their early 40’s. When things needed done around the house, if the three of us couldn't take care of it, I could usually call on some family member to come to my rescue. That’s just the way we are ... and it’s a good thing for sure!

So when this commode seat hinge broke a good while back, I didn't think much of it, because over the 40 plus years of house maintenance, I knew I could make this change out. After all, I’d done it before. It’s really not a difficult chore. Just a simple task really, of getting oneself, in a slightly awkward position and changing out a couple of bolts. Right?!? Well ... I’m living proof, that history and experience does not guarantee the same will happen again.

Easy DIY Project - Just Put The Seat In Place And Bolt It All Together -

Consider Yourself Warned!!!

Let my occurrence with this commode incident be a lesson to all who read this little story.


Not using that bathroom often, I’m not even sure when it broke, but, suffice it to say, it was a long time ago. I kept forgetting (as is becoming a more frequent thing as I mature) to purchase a new commode seat. Well, I finally got around to picking one up last September (it’s March now), when I was out somewhere and saw them on sale. I proudly brought home my good find and because of whatever reason, stashed it in a nearby closet and didn’t think much more about it, until someone would visit and had to use that particular room of necessity.

Then, much to my surprise, about two weeks ago, along comes a nice young handyman friend who offers to change it out for me. As anyone, who is an experienced procrastinator would do, I accepted his kind offer. Well, this burly young man, who happens to be a firefighter, is much stronger than he realizes. When he was tightening up the plastic bolts... you know the ones that hold the seat to the ceramic bowl part of the commode ... one of them snaps and breaks. Whether it was inferior plastic or his gorilla strength hands, it doesn’t matter, because this simple task had to be put on hold. His plan was to pick up new “real” bolts (not plastic ones) and make the repair. But, as so often can happen with busy people and lives, it was just not working out to get it done. And since the commode was almost unusable, I decide to get it done myself.

Power Tools Are Only Helpful When Charged!

Since I can be a resourceful kind of gal, I decided to try and save a trip to the hardware store for those bolts and started searching through some of my “stuff” I have accumulated over the many years of housekeeping and maintenance. I discover, I have on hand, a nice brass commode seat hardware set. Who knows why, when or what my thoughts were when I acquired this shiny find, but it would be a perfect fix. All I had to do was change out a few (eight to be exact) screws and all would be well. Plus, it would look nicer too. Yea ... right!!!

So, I head to the garage to get my cordless screwdriver. Actually, did you know that all screwdrivers are cordless? Think about that a minute. Of course the battery pack is dead. That should have been my first clue! But, not to put off this task any longer, I decide to forge on and get it done … the old fashion way … with brute strength. The screws are only about 3/4” long and my arthritis hasn’t been acting out lately. Easy, breezy. Or so I thought!

The hardware set consist of 4 hinges, 2 bolts and a bar for all the pieces to fit onto. And then, there are the 2 nuts and 4 washers. Simple and straightforward. The procedure gets under way. I remove the hardware from the seat. However, I failed to notice the length of the attached hinges. I start to install the new hardware by lining up the screw holes. Oops, they are not in the same position. The new hinges are curvy and the other ones are straight. Clue number two. You would think commode seat hinge holes would be one of those universal things that are all the same. Not so!

Well, I am a woman with power tools, so I head to get my drill to adjust the holes on this seat. Then I remember my battery pack is dead. Determined not to put off the task, I put on my thinking hat and remember the Dremel tool my son gave me a few years ago … and it’s electric! Since the holes are little bitty ones, that should work just fine. The holes get drilled out and the screws go in. That brass hardware looks pretty good and you can’t even tell there were other holes are because the hinges cover it all up. Great!

Pride Goes Before the Fall

Naturally, I’m a little proud of myself and show off my accomplishments to my roommate, who’s making dinner for us and she applauds my accomplishments. I’m now ready to install the new seat, with the nice hardware, onto the commode. Hooray!!!

Drum roll please … … …

With much anticipation … I get a little excited this long put off procedure is about to come to a close. I just know, when my guest use the facilities, they will have to notice the nice shiny hardware and be envious of this special possession. Then, I will have to relay how a woman with power tools is someone to be feared.

Catawampus and Confused!

The drum roll continues and the commode seat is placed on the bowl and the bolts slide through the holes. I get myself in that awkward position, so I can place the nuts with the washers onto the bolts to hold everything in place. And then it happened. I notice, for some weird, unknown reason, the seat part seems to be too small for the opening! Shocked and in disbelief, upon further examination I also notice the lid part fits, as my mom would say, “catawampus”. Clue number three. How can that be?? This is a regular size commode and a regular size seat??

Still perplexed, I switch into … research mode. I remove the whole thing and look it over. Everything seemed to be working OK Sitting the seat onto the bowl without placing the bolts in place it is the right size. Finally, I realize the length of the hinges are not long enough to make the seat reach to the front part of the bowl and because the lid hinges are too long it’s catawampus. Are you getting the picture?


Can't Quit Till The Jobs Done!

By now, the evening is wearing on and I haven’t had dinner yet. I’ve been at this “easy” task for an hour and my back is starting to ache from it all. Starting to wish my “personal battery pack” could be recharged, I grab up the "cordless" screwdriver and remove those eight little screws and of course a couple of them start to get stripped a little. Clue number four.

Getting everything taken apart and repositioned requires more hole drilling. Am I surprised? Don’t think so. This time the holes are going to show, but at this point I could care less about a few exposed holes and I decide if those stripped brass screws don’t work I’ll use the silver ones that came out of the original hinges. I just want to get it over and done with!!! Just a little frustrated at this point and I’m contemplating heading to the trash bin with all this stuff.

Because of the way the hinges and bolts all fit on that bar it is really tricky to keep everything together while working the screwdriver. The end hinges slid off a couple of times and before throwing everything across the room, I decide to tape them in place, just temporarily. Finally something seems to be working… at last! I diligently … get it all together again. Whew!!!

Checking it out, everything seems to in working order; however, I don’t get too excited and head to the dreaded bathroom, holding my breath. The bolts go through the holes. The seat and lid are OK! Yeah!! I get into that awkward position … again. One nut and washer set goes on. I breathe a little easier. And then … clue number five … is revealed.The spacing of everything on that bar is off just enough to cause a little tautness between the bolts, which will probably be a problem down the road. But, it is workable and now the facilities can be used. Also, I can pretty much guarantee, I’ve got the only custom commode seat with shiny brass fittings with a one of a kind design of holes in place. I think when my girlfriends come over tomorrow night, I will have to do an exhibit to display my skillful work.


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    • PaisleeGal profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Materna 

      8 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Sharkey11 - So glad the story was a happy experience for you. The whole reason for the article was to laugh at life's calamities we get ourselves into sometimes.

      When you the chance check out my "Machines Rule" story. Another one of those times we have to laugh at life.

      Thanks so much stopping by and for the votes.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma

      I'm ashamed to admit that I am laughing! But only because every project I ever try usually goes this way! Only I don't have access to the power husband keeps them locked up in the shop!

      I think you handled this with grace and humor. And learned an important DIY lesson. That is, getting it done is the best outcome. Not how it looks! Real life DIY never looks like the pictures from magazines or home improvement shows. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. Voting this up as awesome and more!

    • PaisleeGal profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Materna 

      8 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Jeannie ... it was such a farce I had to write about it. Hey, I figure if I laugh about this kinda stuff I'll never get bored with life, right?

      Thanks for stopping by today!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie Marie 

      8 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Wow, I love a good toilet story and this one is awesome. I appreciate your perseverance in this matter. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      8 years ago from New York

      I think you deserve a star for hanging in there and not giving up. I'm not so sure I would've made it all the way. Just like so many things, each commode seat is just a little different than the next. Pat yourself on the back and here's hoping the seat stays on ;)

      Voted up, funny, and interesting.

    • PaisleeGal profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Materna 

      8 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Thanks Alicia ... Sometimes it's better for our sanity to call a plumber. haha...

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing all the amusing and useful details, PaisleeGal. I'm not much of a "Do it yourself" person, but I admire those that are. Congratulations on completing your project!

    • PaisleeGal profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Materna 

      8 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

      Gigi... we can never give up on our Projects, can we!!! Thanks for reading my little story... Glad it brought a smile to your pretty face!!!

    • profile image

      Gigi Wright 

      8 years ago

      Hahahahahah!!!! I have an extra commode seat if you are in need of one! I think they also have about 25 different types at Home Depot!:) Don't give up on the DIY projects!


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