The bathroom is a small space, but it can cause big problems. Leaky faucets and clogged drains are minor nuisances that affect everyday life. As a homeowner, bathroom issues must be fixed immediately to keep things nicely flowing, and to prevent the problems from getting bigger, which may need a more complicated fix. While paying for plumbers and repairmen can easily get expensive, know that there are many minor bathroom problems that you can fix on your own.
Leaky shower head
You may not be bothered with your leaky shower head for a while, but the more you put up repairing it, it will cost you on your water bills. The excess moisture may also cause mold issues. You can often diagnose the cause of a leaky shower head on your own. Usually, it’s caused by a worn-out rubber gasket that needs replacement or due to excessive mineral buildup.
To diagnose the problem, remove the showerhead using pliers or a wrench while being careful to avoid bending the pipe it’s attached to. You may need to wrap metal pieces with a bit of rag to protect its finish and avoid scrapes. If the gasket is worn, bring it to local hardware to find the right replacement. Clean the showerhead by soaking it in vinegar overnight. In the morning, scrub it and poke a toothpick into the showerhead’s holes and reinstall. If your showerhead is already old, you can always skip replacing and cleaning and just install a new showerhead.
Like a leaky showerhead, a leaky faucet will waste water, adding cost to your water bill. Plus, the sound of the leak may annoy you. If you need a temporary fix for the loud leak before making real repairs, tie a piece of string as close to the source of the drip, and let the rest of the string fall to the sink, without the end touching the bowl. The drip will wick slowly and trickle silently down the string.
But to fix the drip once and for all, turn off the faucet’s water supply. Then, remove your faucet handle and the faucet. Make sure to take photos of the faucet before and during reassembly to make sure you remember where some parts should go. After removing the faucet, you must see a large nut that is part of the valve body. Loosen it by turning it with a wrench, then lift it out carefully. Take the valve to your local hardware store and get the right replacement. Reassemble.
When you ignore a slow drain, your plumbing gets stopped up, and the water will not drain at all. It’s better to remedy the drain when it’s slow rather than when it’s already clogged. To get the water moving faster, remove the offender. It’s typically due to large debris and hair lodged into the plumbing. Slow drains can be unclogged by flushing with hot water. Close the drain, fill the sink with hot or even boiling water, and then open the drain carefully. The heat can sometimes dislodge the offending debris. You may need to repeat this step a few times to see the difference.
Most clogs in the shower and tub are caused by hair buildup. A simple fix is to remove the drain cover and get a wire that can be bent onto a small hook. To make it easier, you may want to buy a drain snake. Push it down the drain and into the U-shape trap. Then, twist it around and pull it back carefully. Chances are, you have hooked a lot of hair that’s causing your drain to slow down.
If these solutions don’t fix the problem, you may need to take your pipes apart to remove the debris.
To get water moving again with a clogged drain, you’ll need a sink & drain plunger. Before using it, make sure there’s enough water in the sink, shower or tub, to surround the plunger base and plug up the overflow with a rag to ensure a good seal. Plunge away.
If this doesn’t work, you may need a zip-it drain cleaner tool to clear the clog manually. If the drain is still clogged, try this home remedy: pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup vinegar. Cover the drain with an upside-down plate or a pot lid, and let it stay for 5 minutes. Then, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain.
Use lye drain cleaner as a last resort, as it can harm some pipes and burn the skin, so make sure you’re wearing gloves while using this product. Lye-based products can dissolve grease, soap scum, hair, and other things that clog the drains.
Weak water pressure
If your faucet runs water okay but your shower has weak water pressure, the culprit is most probably hard water buildup. To fix this, remove the shower head with a pair of pliers or wrench. Wrap the metal pieces so it won’t come in direct contact with your tools. Once it is removed, clean the old one by soaking it in vinegar overnight. Then, poke a toothpick into the shower head’s holes and scrub it in the morning. Reinstall. You may simply replace the shower head if you need to.
If your toilet runs constantly, it wastes water and increases your water bill. If you look at the tank, the solution can be as simple as moving a stuck flapper chain. Inspect the tank to see if your chain is stuck or your water is too high for the float. You either need to make some simple adjustments or replace the chain altogether.
As you take the tank cover off, check the water level if it’s too high. It must remain approximately one inch below the top of the overflow pipe. To change, adjust the float (the ball at the end of the metal rod) by turning the screw where the rod meets the toilet valve. If it doesn’t fix the problem, flush the toilet and see what happens. If the flapper chain gets stuck, tighten the chain by connecting it to a different hole and the lever of the flush handle. If not, the flapper might be too worn to cover the valve just right. Remove the flapper chain from the flush handle lever, then remove the flapper from the tank. Take it to the hardware store and look for a replacement. Assemble the new flapper.
Unclogging a clogged toilet is one of the nastiest household work that you will have to do when you need to. This problem can be fixed by plunging. But before you break out the plunger, scoop out excess water. This may not sound fun at all, but it’s essential to avoid needing to clean water off the floor, the toilet, and the rug, due to unexpected sloshing.
Next, gently use the plunger to maneuver into the drain and open until a suction seal is formed. Plunge continuously for up to two minutes. The wastewater should drain after you break the suction seal as you remove the plunger. Keep plunging until it flushes.
Does your bathroom keep that sauna-feel long after you’ve left the shower? While you might enjoy the heat, excess humidity isn’t a good thing for your bathroom. Letting moisture linger in the bathroom can damage your paint and other surfaces and cause mold and mildew that can affect your upper respiratory tract and agitate allergies.
If you do not have a fan in the bathroom, you need one to fix this. Take a look at your vents and make sure they are still properly installed and cleaned. If you have fans but are damaged, replace them. Duct cleaning, vent repair, or installation will only cost you $300-$350, but if you ignore this issue for too long, you will have to spend several thousand dollars on professional mold removal.
Dropped shower doors
Shower doors drop when it slides out of its position. Check the screws – if they turn loose, the door will start to function improperly. So, make sure that the screws are always tight, and there is no scum and grease on the screws. Using a screwdriver, remove either the plastic guide that sits in the middle of the lower track or the guide rail that runs along the edge of the door. Lift the door out of its tracks, and lean it against a wall. Test the rollers for smooth operation, and spray it with a silicone lubricant if needed. If it’s damaged, then you must change it. If you need more information on how to fix a shower door that has dropped, read here.
Dirty grout is not much of a problem, but it’s very unsightly, especially for visitors. Make your grout white again by using a solution of two parts baking soda and one part borax. Combine it with enough warm water to form a thick paste. Rub this mixture on the grout and work with a soft brush or old toothbrush. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing.