Battling the Rust Giant

9 07 2008

Rusty Toilet, Happy Toilet

Rusty Toilet, Happy Toilet

It is impossible for me to fully describe in words what a significant, personal victory the toilet at the Straw Bale House now represents for me.

First, I should clarify that the toilet on the left in this photo is not actually the toilet at the Straw Bale House. I didn’t think to take a “before” picture until I was in the midst of scrubbing and realized that the task at hand was also blog material. I searched Google Images until I found a photo to accurately represent what the bowl looked like when I first laid eyes on it. The photo on the right, however, is an actual photo of the toilet here now. To those of you who have lived here before me, you are hereby granted permission to be amazed now.

I should also clarify that I called Granny Turpen to ask permission to post this blog, lest it be misconstrued as a commentary on her housekeeping. Quite the contrary, Granny is an excellent housekeeper. The water at the ranch is well water, which (as is often the case) is high in iron. Grandad Turpen and I both suspect that the the flapper inside the tank leaks a bit, and when iron-rich water drips constantly, it causes significant rust buildup, especially when the toilet happens to be in a house that only gets visited maybe a dozen times a year.

Furthermore, household cleaners like Comet that would normally tackle tough toilet bowls with ease aren’t effective on rust. It accumulates until it forms a solid layer, and it makes the whole bowl solid brown. Before we ever arrived, Granny profusely apologized for the toilet, declaring that nothing could be done to fix it.

I, being a male, took this as a challenge and decided that one of my first orders of business would be to restore the toilet to its natural beauty. My first attempt with Comet and toilet brush failed miserably. A second attempt with diluted CLR and the toilet brush worked quite a bit better. The bowl was brighter, but still didn’t look clean in spite of the fact that it was likely germ-free after so much cleaning. On my third and final attempt, I emptied the bowl using the plunger and applied the CLR full strength, then scrubbed it by yellow-gloved hand. It took about two hours, and there was considerable sweating and swearing involved. In the end, I emerged victorious, and the result is the photo on the right.

The CLR proved to be such a success that I decided to tackle the shower. While not nearly as bad as the toilet, it wasn’t the sort of receptacle that you could feel clean stepping out of. It didn’t require nearly as much scrubbing, but the photo results were perhaps even more dramatic than the toilet. When I tried to photograph the completed shower, the flash reflected off the now-shiny surface so much that I had a hard time getting a non-blurry photo. The last picture below is the best I could manage.

Shower before and during cleaning

Shower before and during cleaning

The shower, so shiny it made the photo blurry

The shower, so shiny it made the photo blurry

I would never have thought I would be so excited about cleaning the bathroom, but we men seem to be wired in such a way as to love seeing the dramatic result of our physical, sweaty, expletive-laden labor. We also seem to know that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. This bathroom was a worthy foe, but the Rust Giant has been subdued for now into sparkly submission. I imagine it will take significant ongoing maintenance to stay that way, as the iron enemy launches another assault each time the water is turned on.

But I have more hours in the day here than I ever had in Colorado, and I can be relentless if properly motivated. This bathroom just might end up remaining the cleanest room in the whole house.

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8 responses

9 07 2008
Aunty Penn

Maybe you could tackle the impossible ‘rust-in-water’ problem, next. I don’t think you’ll ever come up with a solution for that, though….. ;>]

10 07 2008
Janna

Will you come clean my bathrooms next? That is my least favorite job in the whole house! And obviously, you’ve got skills….

10 07 2008
Granny

Rob, I think CLR would pay you big bucks to use these photos in an ad!! Thanks so much for cleaning these two impossible baathroom fixtures for us.

10 07 2008
tigerlilysandybanks

Only you can make cleaning a toilet seem an interesting and thrilling adventure. “Harry Potter and the Rusty Toilet.” Yeah, that fits. 😛 Oh, and by the way, good on ya for getting that rust off. Not an easy thing to do, for sure.

10 07 2008
Mom2

A job well done! You are too funny, but I will admit I’d rather use the white versions of each. You two are doing well with the property and what you have to work with.

10 07 2008
Emily

Good for you! Now when are you going to come clean my bathroom?? 🙂

14 07 2008
Ken

Welcome to manhood!!! lol

17 07 2008
Corrie

Ok, this one might be my favorite so far! That is INSANE! I can’t even believe that’s the same shower! And the toilet looks brand new! Wow. What profanities to you yell into a toilet bowl, I wonder? 🙂 Your blogs are very entertaining. Thanks for writing.

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