My landlord won't fix my noisy "Maserati" toilet
December 29, 2018 7:17 AM   Subscribe

The toilet in my master bedroom makes noise as it leaks and loudly refills itself constantly. This is very distracting to hear throughout the day, and I turn the water off at night so we can sleep. I started complaining in September and the maintenance company has sent a plumber out about 5-6 times. He says it is the "Maserati of toilets so It's going to require lots of maintenance" but he has been unable to fix it. How can I play hardball and get the landlord to replace this with whatever the Honda Civic of toilets is?

Looking into tenant rights info this doesn't seem to be at the level of emergency (like no heat, no running water, etc) where I could withhold rent until it is fixed, or fix it and deduct cost from my rent. How can I force the issue to get this resolved?

I pay for rent by auto withdraw from checking. I live in a multi unit building, and my landlord owns just our unit and has a maintenance company hired for repairs.
posted by ridogi to Law & Government (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your landlord actually sounds pretty responsive. This sounds like the maintenance company is either incompetent or the "Maserati of toilets" really is some very special beast.

Where I live, five trips from a plumber would be much more expensive than just replacing the toilet, so maybe suggest that to the landlord.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:36 AM on December 29, 2018 [9 favorites]

It would help to have a model and brand name, this can likely be found under the lid or on the side of the toliet. It would help evaluate if his claims are bunk or if you really have a finicky toliet.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:50 AM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Not sure I'm reading the question right, but if the problem is that it's leaking and refilling itself, then who's paying for the water usage?

If it's him, point out the ongoing expense to him. If it's you, tell him you're going to charge him for it.

(But before anything else, read your local tenant laws and see if there's a local tenant advice/legal aid resource you can consult with.)
posted by trig at 8:07 AM on December 29, 2018

Response by poster: I agree that replacing it entirely seems like it would be cheaper.

I don’t pay water, so my concern is having to listen to it.

The landlord wants no interaction with me. I’ve emailed him about it and I get just a canned talk to the maintence company reply. He wants me to deal exclusively with maintence company for everything . The maintence company are a huge pain to deal with.

Here is a photo.
posted by ridogi at 8:12 AM on December 29, 2018

Try to point out to the maintenance company that a leaky, running toilet problem is almost always a bad flapper, and a "Maserati" one costs under $30 from Amazon. Also ask them where they found the world's most incompetent plumber, as flapper replacement should take well over one minute.
posted by Marky at 8:22 AM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: The flapper has been replaced multiple times, including with an OEM flapper. When he first came the flapper was rotting away. Plumber claims sediment gets under it and it leaks. It will usually be broken again within a day of getting a new flapper. He has adjusted it to be lower flow and I don’t know what else, but the problem remains.
posted by ridogi at 8:33 AM on December 29, 2018

Can you ask the maintenance company to replace the toilet?
posted by lazuli at 8:35 AM on December 29, 2018

Seconding...suggest they replace it with the Honda of toilets.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:37 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have asked about replacing it. My question, since they are so unresponsive to doing repairs, is how do I force the issue?
posted by ridogi at 8:47 AM on December 29, 2018

Best answer: You probably can't force the replacement of the toilet. The maintenance office has its contract with the landlord to maintain the property. And they seem remarkably responsive to your requests.

The landlord has their responsibilities as defined by the laws in your jurisdiction. Generally, those responsibilities do not extend to replacing functioning (and maintained) plumbing with something you'd find less annoying.

You can ask the management agency to suggest replacing the toilet but you really have no way of making it happen.
posted by crush at 8:57 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your LL is likely paying a set-rate monthly maintenance fee. Your plumber mentioning the "Maserati" of toilets is code for " we only get paid so much per month and because of that we use the cheapest parts possible ". If the maintenance company hasn't suggested a better solution yet, they aren't going to, they get paid regardless of your sleeping issues.

You might do well to talk to a plumbing supply place and find the right part for your needs, and fix it yourself (this is a relatively easy fix and you can find videos in YouTube as to how to do it). Or you could call an independent plumber and pay to get it fixed yourself. I agree, it's the principle of the thing and you shouldn't have to do this, but at this point it's a question of how much do you want to fight vs how much do you want to stop thinking about this issue.

At some point when it's all said and done you could try to go back and get reimbursed by the owner. It might help if you have some sort of receipt from the maintenance company showing the work that was done and what kind of parts that were used in order to document that they used the wrong parts, but be aware that going that route may leave you open to the maintenance company becoming unresponsive for future issues that you may need them for.

Ime (commercial prop manager) something critical always breaks about a week after you piss off the (contracted - can't avoid) maintenance guy, and you have to eat crow and beg him to come out and save your ass, so it's better to just treat him like he's the best thing since sliced bread and work around him where you need to.
posted by vignettist at 9:03 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The plumber had the Maserati line. He seems happy to keep coming back to do nothing. The maintence company is pretty unresponsive. I have to pester him to get someone to finally come out to attempt the repair. The yelp page of the maintence company I almost all 1 star reviews.

I would pay to fix it myself but it is something more complicated than the flapper and I think the actual solution is a new toilet, a cost I don’t want to eat and would likely get me in further financial trouble for throwing out the existing toilet.
posted by ridogi at 9:11 AM on December 29, 2018

Best answer: A thread on noisy Toto issues, and simple DIY Korky replacement options.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:57 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: My fill valve looks different than that one.
posted by ridogi at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2018

You would identify your particular Toto model (11 are listed as possibilities on the label you linked, and the model number may be printed on the tank wall itself; instructions in FAQ section), and match to the appropriate Korky substitutes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:02 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had a similar issue. I thought it wasn't a big deal, but then the toilet clogged. And then the water didn't stop flooding until it caused 100,000 usd of damage and was turned off. Traumatic. Not making that mistake again. Share this possibility in writing, copying the landlord, and say that it happened to your friend (we can be friends for the purposes of this email). State that if they choose not to fix it, you cannot be held liable if this happens.

When I sent this email in the hotel I had to stay in for months because of this disaster, they replaced the whole toilet the same day. No one wants that kind of liability.

Good luck! This matters more than I want it to!
posted by cacao at 11:04 AM on December 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

"Oops it completely broke accidentally. It shattered into several large pieces. Guess we have to replace it with something that works now."
Also, you have the RIGHT to 'peaceful quiet enjoyment' of whatever property you rent. Any violation of this that is not properly addressed probably invalidates your lease, or is actionable (you can sue for back rent for the entirety of this issue). Be sure to use the 'peaceful quiet enjoyment' phrase when talking to the LL (it's in all the laws. He will know this. He will know that you know this. He will know that he is liable).
But honestly, I would just break it and be like "whoops". If they object or try to charge you, ask for your rent back for the months you've gone without sleep.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:48 AM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your plumber sounds dumb as a rock. Toto toilets are really good. If replacing the flapper doesn't fix the leak, as you described, then it's the seal that sits under the flapper. Those are like 6 bucks.

Anything to do with the inside of a toilet tank is something you can fix yourself with an adjustable wrench and spare parts from a hardware store. From the diagram in the picture you post, there is nothing out of the ordinary about the internals of this one.

Having fixed the leak, if the refill after flush is in-itself annoyingly noisy or slow, replace the fill valve with a quiet one from the hardware store. This is a separate issue from the leak.
posted by w0mbat at 1:57 PM on December 29, 2018 [6 favorites]

Toto toilets are really good. If replacing the flapper doesn't fix the leak, as you described, then it's the seal that sits under the flapper. Those are like 6 bucks.

Yeah your best bet here may be to have AskMe help you fix your toilet instead of pressuring the landlord/maintenance people to force a repair. I have a bunch of Totos and I agree they are usually amazing and there's nothing particularly tricky about them so I am baffled by why your maintenance co can't really do anything here. As w0mbat says, if it's refilling when it hasn't just been flushed, there's basically only a leaky seal. If the flapper has been replaced you have two options

1. Bad seal under where the flapper seats
2. Chain holding the arm is too short or caught on something meaning that it's not closing/sealing all the way

If you go into it and manually take the flapper off of the arm (the chain should unhitch though I'm not 100% sure what model you have) does the noise stop?
posted by jessamyn at 4:28 PM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have a Toto. I love the bidet seat. The toilet is... charitably.... not my favorite. But once I replaced the stock flapper valve and fill valve with whatever the local Ace hardware store sold me, it was a hell of a lot better, and that's like $25 in parts and a little of your time.

(The thing still flushes slow and has some other quirks which'd make me look for another brand next time, but once I got the tank innards replaced at least that part doesn't suck so bad.)
posted by straw at 4:41 PM on December 29, 2018

I’m backing w0mbat, having fixed several toilets it’s really not difficult. Even if you do it wrong, parts are cheap and you can just shut off the supply line and try again.

Also: who fucking wants the Maserati of toilets? I’m not going to roll the windows down in the bathroom and brap off the rev limiter to hear it wail. I’m going into the bathroom to do the needful, quietly and without ceremony.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:45 PM on December 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah the Toto toilet is not the problem, it's the maintenance. I had a flapper valve rot on me too and even after replacing it we had issues. Turns out it shed lots of little bits of rubber and some of them got in the rest of the toilet works. In particular the fill valve got stuck and would run sometimes. I forget if we just replaced the fill valve or cleaned it carefully.
posted by Nelson at 2:13 AM on December 30, 2018

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