10 Simple Repairs Everyone Should Be Able To Do In The Bathroom

By performing some simple bathroom repairs yourself, you'll be able to save time and money by avoiding costly plumber's visits.

You can save a lot of time and money by learning to do some simple home repairs. The bathroom is one of the most common areas of the home that requires work, and these instructions will help you perform these common chores yourself.

1. Leaking faucet

A common cause of a leaking faucet is a washer that needs replacing. Before beginning the project, turn off the water and close the drain to prevent small parts from getting lost. These instructions assume you have a compression faucet (one with two handles).

Use padding or tape between your pliers and fixtures to prevent scratches. Use a screwdriver to gently remove the faucet handles' decorative tops. Loosen the screws that hold the handles in place and remove the handles.

A retaining nut holds a stem assembly in place. Loosen the nut and lift out the assembly. Inspect the O-ring and stem washer, both of which are found beneath the stem assembly. If either appears worn, replace them.

Replace the stem washer by first removing the stem screw and then removing the worn washer. Clean the stem assembly and the valve seat (where assembly mounts to faucet) with steal wool and replace washer with a new one.

Use a screwdriver to gently roll the damaged O-ring from the stem assembly. Roll a new O-ring onto the assembly, being sure to place it in the same groove.

Reassemble the faucet and test. If replacing the washers and O-rings doesn't stop the leak, you'll most likely need a new faucet.

2.Repair damaged caulk around tub

Always use caulk, not grout, to fill in the space between your bathtub and tiles.

First, you'll need to remove the old caulk (or grout, if someone has made that mistake!) Use a caulk removal tool to remove all the old caulk. Vacuum out any dust and then clean the area with rubbing alcohol.

Make sure the area is dry before continuing, even if you have to let it set for a day or so. You can also use a hair dryer if the joint isn't too wet.

Apply a caulk designed for tubs and showers, and use a damp finger or caulking tool to smooth the caulk. Clean up any excess immediately. Let the caulk dry for at least 24 hours, or according to manufacturer directions.

3.Toilet won't flush completely (or at all)

With the tank open, depress the handle to flush. Is the lift arm connected to the handle? Is it moving when you press the handle?

A lift chain connects the handle to the flapper (which opens to allow water to flow and the toilet to flush). Check the chain to be sure it's connected and there's not too much slack.

Make sure all parts are connected properly and make any needed adjustments.

4.Clogged toilet

Facing a clogged toilet can be one of the most daunting bathroom repairs, but it doesn't have to be as bad as you think.

First, try a plunger. Make sure you have a good seal and plunge several times until you've loosened the clog. Test by pouring water into the toilet (don't try flushing yet!) to verify the clog has been removed.

If a plunger doesn't work after several tries, you'll most likely need to use a snake or auger, which can be purchased at hardware or home improvement stores. Work the auger into the toilet drain until you reach the blockage. When you do, continue to work the auger (by twisting it) to remove the clog.

Using an auger requires patience, so don't give up. If you haven't been able to remove the clog after several tries, you may need to remove the toilet.

5.Toilet won't stop running

First, check the lift chain. If there's too much slack, then it may be getting caught under the flapper.

Next, check the ball and float arm. These control the water cut-off. If the ball is leaking or caught on something inside the tank, it may not cut the water off properly. Test by lifting the ball slightly. If the water stops, then bend the float arm gently so the ball strikes the water a little lower in the tank. If your float arm is plastic, you won't want to try to bend it. You should have an adjustment screw near the overflow tube, at the end of the float arm. Use it to adjust the ball's level.

Also check the ball to make sure it isn't leaking. Unscrew it from the float arm and check for water inside. If it's leaking, it will need to be replaced.

Finally, check the flapper. If it's worn, it may be allowing water to seep into the toilet. Drain the tank and unhook old flapper from overflow tube. Replace with a new flapper and allow the tank to refill.

6.Toilet tank condensation

A sweaty toilet tank can sometimes be so severe you'll think it's a leak. You have several options for dealing with this problem.

The most permanent fix is to install a tank liner. Follow the specific manufacturer's directions, but in general, you'll follow these steps.

Drain the tank and dry it. Then, cut the foam to fit the inside of the tank and ahere it to the tank with the recommended adhesive. Follow manufacturer's directions for allowing the tank to dry before filling.

Alternatively, you can also purchase a toilet tank drip catcher. You'll need to find one to fit your tank. It will catch the condensation and drain it into a container, which you'll need to remember to empty.

A final option is to have a plumber install a mixing valve, which will mix hot water into your toilet tank. The resulting increase in water temperature will prevent condensation.

7.Replace a toilet seat

Replacing a toilet seat is an easy way to give you bathroom a newer look.

There are two bolts that hold the seat to the toilet. There may be a plastic cover over the bolts. If so, pop it open with a screwdriver.

You'll need to hold the nut, which holds the bolt in place and is under the lip of the toilet. You may be able to use your hand if it's very loose, but you'll probably need to use a wrench. Hold the nut with one hand and use a screwdriver to loosen the bolt with the other.

The new toilet seat will come with a new set of bolts and nuts. Use these to attach the new seat.

8.Clogged shower head

You can easily clean a clogged shower head without removing it from the fixture.

Fill a plastic baggie with enough vinegar to cover the shower head. Secure it to the shower head with tape or a rubber band. Leave it on overnight.

Note that you shouldn't use this method on brass or gold bathroom fixtures.

9.Replace a shower head

Use tape on your fixtures to prevent scratching.

Use vise grips or a pipe wrench to loosen the old shower head. Remove it. There may be old pipe compound or teflon tape on the fittings. If so, you'll need to scrape it off as well.

To ensure a good fit, wrap the end of the pipe with new teflon tape. Wind the tape in the same direction that you'll be screwing on the new shower head.

Attach the new shower head over the teflon tape and tighten. Test it for leaks.

10.Cleaning a clogged trap

Put a bucket under the trap to collect any water that drains out while you work. For pipes with a chrome finish, pad your tools so that you won't scratch them.

If there is a cleanout plug (a plug with a square or hexagon top), you'll be able to loosen it and clean the trap through it. Otherwise, remove the trap by loosening it on both sides.

When you have the trap open, use a coathanger to work your way up into the pipe and remove any clogs that have formed. Use the coathanger to clean out the trap as well.

After you've removed the clog, clean any pipe fittings and wrap them with teflon tape. Wind the tape in the same direction that you'll be attaching the trap.

Reattach the trap and run water to test for leaks.

© High Speed Ventures 2011