I happened to catch the last bits of a home-improvement show last night that I thought might be useful to some people out there.  The show featured a homeowner with an older toilet (3.5 gallon per flush) and the fix-it people retrofitted a newer flush and fill valve to the older toilet.  The result was a toilet with two buttons — one for liquid (1 gallon per flush) and one for solid (3 gallons per flush, if I recall correctly). I thought it was a nifty idea to re-use an existing toilet, but to conserve water (at least for the liquid-only flushes).


There are a lot of abandoned houses out in the country, that have not been lived in in a long, long time.  Here are a few pictures of (what I thought were) interesting old kitchens and bathrooms.  Some of these houses must have been quite nice in their day, and some were quite large too. 

Here’s one of a pink kitchen (to the right). 

Reminds me of our cupboards.


I don’t think the cabinets were metal.  Also, I wonder what that faucet-looking thing is to the right of the faucet.  A soap dispenser?  

Lovely blue matching fixtures! I have mixed feelings about this bathroom. With the right tile and some cleaning, I think I'd love it!

 And you thought your bathroom needed cleaning?

Here's another bathroom, not as colorful. The tub had a shower riser coming from the tub spout, somewhat like in our house.Just an old, abandoned bathroom.


Great refrigerator!


There was a refrigerator like this that came with our house.  It’s in our basement awaiting use again.  I like the wood cabinets too.  And that wallpaper is interesting.  I forget what that backsplash area was made of. 

Finally, here are two pieces of wallpaper I liked. 

Duck, Duck, Goose!


Reminds me of a combination between Mission and Deco styles, or something.


I’m trying to identify our bathroom and kitchen faucets, in order to make it easier to find parts and/or eventual replacements. 

The kitchen faucet is marked “Standard” and  “Re-Nu” at its base.  We suspect that perhaps the curved part of the faucet, coming out of the base, may have been replaced at some point, but we really have no way to know for sure. I know the Standard company at some time turned into the “American Standard” company we know now. The sink was manufactured by the Standard Sanitary Mfg. Co. of Louisville, and appears dated 5-27-38.  The dimensions are 42 x 25 and the model is “Hostess.” (I think our radiators were also manufactured by the Standard Company).

The only “Re-Nu” references I’ve found online all point to bathroom faucets, with different appearances.  It might be the Re-Nu label refers to the method of washers or valve seats the faucets use — more like a feature, than a specific model.

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The bathroom faucet handles are marked Kohler, with H or C on each handle.  The handles are cross-shaped, and the escutcheons are octagonal (with rounded sides). I have Kohler looking into it, but I don’t know if that company will be much use for info on faucets that old.  The house is from the 1930s, and we found a paper stating that Kohler faucets were to be used.  If I remember right, that paper was dated in the late 40s or early 50s.  The bathtub has the same faucets, only coming out of the wall.  Originally, the tub spout had no provision for a shower, but we replaced the spout with an exterior shower riser.

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Any information would be appreciated!

P.S. Incidentally, if anoyone has any good tips on cleaning vintage chrome faucets (obviously ours need a good cleaning!), I’d love to hear about those too!

Towel under tank to catch leaks

Since we bought this charming house in 2007, we’ve been slowly fixing problems identified by the home inspector.  This time, it’s the rocking toilet.  Besides wobbling, the flush handle had to be jiggled or held down in a cerain way to stop the water from constantly running.  Having to explain this to guests, and checking the handle each time the bathroom was used, was annoying.  Another feature of our old toilet was a leak from the tank which slowly got worse. We were worried that the leak might have rotted our subfloor, causing the wobbling. Sometimes, too, there was a slight odor.

We did not set out yesterday to install a new toilet. (more…)

When we moved in, there was no shower. Highly inconvenient. So we hunted for a hand-held shower that goes over the tub spout. Found one. It actually worked well for the couple bucks it cost. We got bolder and mounted it to the wall. Now we had a shower for very short people.

I spotted a “Converto-Shower” in an old house parts catalog. Basically it’s a tub spout with a long pipe leading to the shower. I suppose it’s the same as an ordinary shower, but the vertical pipe is outside the wall, and no major plumbing has to be redone. I thought about ordering it, but I am cheap, and didn’t want to risk the cash on something that might not work as well as it sounds.

One lucky day at the architectural salvage store, I found a really old version of this item, from the Chicago Faucet Company. It had just arrived that morning. Ten bucks and I was out the door with my prize!

All that had to be done was: remove the old tub spout, install the new one, attach the vertical pipe to the new spout, and screw the top support into the wall. Easier said than done.

The old spout was incredibly difficult to remove. It did turn counter-clockwise like the pictures in my handy repair book, but it took two people to get it to move at all. This picture’s after the old spout was taken off. Nasty!

The new spout did twist right on, after applying teflon tape to the threads to prevent leaks.

However, the problems really started when I tried to get the vertical pipe to attach to the “new” spout. The vertical pipe rests on a thick washer-type thing that sits in the spout, to keep it level and prevent leaks. It looked like a press-in fitting or something. Anyway, I got everything hooked up, but when I turned on the water, it leaked badly. Turns out the washer-thing was chipped in half, so the pipe wouldn’t be flush with the opening. I improvised a fix by using a big washer and some crazy glue to rebuild the broken part. If that failed, I had some of that metal plumber putty stuff (the kind that claims to be able to bond even underwater).

But the crazy-glue fix did work. There’s a minor leak, coming from the diverter lever, but we can live with that. Attached the thing to the wall, put on a fancy-looking yet cheap showerhead on, and voila! A shower! (The whole project took about 8 hours or so, including two trips to the hardware store for parts).