Bathroom - Bob Vila

Category: Bathroom


How To: Replace A Toilet Flange

Water at the base of the commode is a real red flag. Fix the plumbing problem with the guidance and techniques here.

How to Replace a Toilet Flange

Photo: istockphoto.com

The bathroom may well be the wet spot in any home, but water pooling around the base of the commode doesn’t fall in the norm. This dampness means it might be time to replace the flange, the circular pipe fitting that connects the toilet to the sewage pipe. Without a secure, solid footing on your commode, persistent leaking can damage flooring, cause mold to develop, or even emit wastewater, potentially causing hygiene and health issues for anyone in the household. Luckily, swapping in a new toilet flange is a fairly common plumbing repair that many handy homeowners can manage, saving anywhere from $100 to $200 on hiring a pro.

The keys to success are precise measurements (so that you purchase the right-sized replacement flange) and extra attention to ensure that the toilet sits flush on the floor at the end of the project. And remember to plan your DIY day accordingly: You’ll need to remove the toilet, measure the flange, and then make a run to the plumbing supply or hardware store in a short span so that you aren’t living with a nonworking toilet for long. Follow the instructions laid out in this guide on how to replace a toilet flange, and you’ll soon return to dry floors.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Newspaper
– Adjustable wrench
– Putty knife
– Multi-head screwdriver
– Disinfecting wipes (optional)
– Disposable old rag
– Plastic bags
– Measuring tape
– New flange, including correct size bolts and screws

STEP 1
Turn off the water main for the toilet by locating the knob on the wall behind it and turning clockwise. This will prevent water from refilling the tank after each flush, but won’t stop water from leaving the system. Once the water is turned off, flush the toilet, then wait for the bowl to refill, and flush again, repeating until all the water from both the bowl and reservoir has drained from the toilet.

STEP 2
While the toilet’s draining, spread newspaper over the bathroom floor. Make sure there are several sheets of paper in layers, because this is where you’ll place the toilet once you’ve removed it from the mount.

STEP 3
Disconnect the water supply from the toilet. This is a braided pipe or metal hose that runs out from the wall to the toilet, next to the valve. You should be able to twist it off by hand, but if it’s too tight, use an adjustable wrench. There’s no need to remove it from the wall unless you’re planning to replace it, too, or it’s so long that it might get in the way when your hands are full, trying to replace the toilet at the end of this project.

STEP 4
Unfasten the two nuts on bolts that hold the toilet to the flange and floor. Use the adjustable wrench if the nuts don’t loosen easily by hand. Set the nuts aside to reattach the toilet when the flange replacement is complete.

How to Replace a Toilet Flange

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 5
Prepare to remove the toilet, keeping in mind that the average commode weighs between 70 and 120 pounds. If you’re not confident in your ability to lift it on your own, enlist a helper. To avoid injury doing it yourself, straddle the unit, crouch down, and grab from under the bowl. Then engage your core and lift the unit straight up—using your leg muscles, not your back—so it that it lifts cleanly off the bolts. Set it carefully atop of the newspapers.

STEP 6
Now you’ll see the outflow or sewage pipe with the flange. Remove the old wax that sealed the toilet to the flange and pipe with a putty knife. Simply scrape it off and smear it on the newspaper until you can access the top of the flange.

STEP 7
Find the screws (up to four) on the outside of the flange, which will need to come out. Use your multi-head screwdriver fitted with the corresponding screw bit to remove the screws.

STEP 8
Lift the flange off and clean it under a faucet or with disinfecting wipes. Set it aside on the newspaper. Tuck the disposable rag into the mouth of the sewage outflow pipe to block unpleasant odors and gasses from emitting.

STEP 9
Measure the width the outflow pipe’s mouth. Double-check your measurements and make note of them. Put the old flange into a plastic bag and head to your local hardware store, plumbing supply, or home center and buy a flange of corresponding size, type, and shape. Having the old flange with you allows for a head-to-head comparison. Purchase a correct-size wax seal for the new flange too. The new flange should come with new bolts and screws; if not, buy those as well, checking for fit.

STEP 10
Once back in the bathroom, remove the rag from the outflow pipe and place it in a plastic bag for disposal. Fit the new flange into place over the outflow pipe. Double-check that the new flange is flush against the floor and fitting correctly with no gaps below. Now screw the flange into place on the mount, using the new bolts and screws. When done, you’ll have two bolts protruding up from the flange and floor, where the toilet will be remounted.

STEP 11
Turn the toilet sideways on the floor and locate the round mouth where the toilet sits atop the flange. Affix the new wax seal around the mouth by pressing firmly into place without over-handling or misshaping it.

STEP 12
Carefully lift the toilet (use your legs, not your back!). Watch for the bolts to meet up with the bolt holes on the toilet base. Lower the toilet slowly, as levelly as possible, so it slides over the bolts and returns to its rightful spot. Eyeball the base to see if it looks level on all sides. If not, wiggle it until it’s situated equally all around. Now put your weight into it and press the toilet down as firmly to engage the wax seal with the flange.

STEP 13
Replace the nuts back onto the bolts. Use your hand at first, and then tighten with the adjustable wrench to ensure the toilet won’t rock or wiggle in months to come.

STEP 14
Reattach the water supply hose to the inflow valve on the toilet. Make sure you’ve got it affixed tightly so there’ll be no dribbles or leaks later.

STEP 15
Turn the water valve back on and wait for the toilet reservoir tank to fill. Once full, flush it. Wait for the bowl to fill, then flush again. Do this two to three times to ensure proper function. If the toilet is flushing correctly, run your hand along the floor around the toilet base. Is the floor dry? Great! Clean up and congratulate yourself on doing the job like a pro!

 

How to Replace a Toilet Flange

Photo: istockphoto.com

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

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Solved! What to Do When Your Toilet Starts Overflowing

Quickly gain control when there’s water gushing from your commode.

Toilet Overflowing? The 3-Step Fix

Photo: istockphoto.com


Q: Help! Just as I was leaving the bathroom, I heard the unmistakable, undesirable sound of water hitting the floor. Looking back, I saw the toilet overflowing! I turned off the water—but what do I do now?
A: An overflowing toilet is a problem everyone will likely deal with at some point. When water issues from the bowl, chances are the culprit is a clogged toilet drain—usually an easy fix with some basic tools.

You’ve already done the right thing by turning off the toilet’s water supply, on the wall behind the toilet. If you can’t find the water supply to stop the toilet overflowing, take the top off the tank and lift the float ball or cup high enough to stop the water from running. Then shut off the water supply to the house with the valve or knob generally located near the water heater.

Should overflow continue once the main water supply is off, you’re dealing with sewage backup, a serious situation requiring an immediate call to a plumber. If you are on a municipal septic system, the plumber can diagnose whether the issue is on your property or something you need to call the city about. If you have a septic tank, you’ll need a plumbing company that can flush out your system.

Hopefully, though, the gushing will have stopped and you may proceed. When you’ve fixed the toilet, make sure to clean the bathroom and tools thoroughly with bleach and hot water.

How to Stop a Toilet Overflowing

Photo: istockphoto.com

Plunge a Clog. The first line of defense for a toilet clog is the standard plunger. If you don’t already own one, invest in one with a flange on the bottom that will extend into the toilet’s drain hole, creating the tight seal that will clear the clog most efficiently. But before you grab the plunger, put on some rubber gloves and remove a few inches of water from the toilet bowl into a bucket with a small container to minimize the risk of sloshing more onto the floor as you plunge. It’s also a good idea to throw a few old towels around the base of the commode to soak up any water that may come out.

Put the plunger into the toilet, inserting the flange directly into the drain hole. Tip: To ensure a tight seal, coat the rim of the flange with petroleum jelly. Keeping the handle upright, vigorously push the plunger up and down for 15 to 20 seconds, an action that forces air and water into the drain to clear the clog. Flush to ensure that the problem is, ahem, behind you!

Snake a Drain. If a plunger fails to do the trick, the next step is to use a toilet snake, also known as a toilet auger—a flexible cable designed to maneuver the twisty turns of the toilet drain. The cable, housed in a rubber hose, has a crank on one end and a coiled hook tip on the other that can snag stubborn materials deep within the drain. A toilet snake costs around $50, but you can rent one from a home improvement or hardware store for about $12 to $15 a day—even less for half a day.

Don your rubber gloves and remove excess water from the toilet into a bucket with a small container. Then place the hook end of the toilet snake into the bowl and begin turning the crank clockwise so the cable extends into the drain. Keep cranking until it won’t go any further—you’ve come to the clog. Gently pull back on the snake and, if you feel resistance, you’ve hooked the clog. Begin cranking counter-clockwise to pull the clog out of the drain back up into the toilet bowl. Dump the clogged material into the bucket and repeat the process several times to ensure that the clog is completely removed. Flush, then dump the waste back into the toilet in small amounts, flushing each time to make sure you don’t create another clog or start the toilet overflowing once more.


Solved! How to Choose The Best Paint for Bathrooms

Feeling wishy-washy about painting around the shower? Take this advice about the best paint for bathrooms and send your worries down the drain.

SHARES
Best Paint for Bathroom

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Denver, CO

Q: My master bath is in need of a quick refresh, but I’m worried about paint peeling. What’s the best paint for bathrooms? I’m looking for some guidance on both color and finish.

A: While there are no hard rules about the best paint for bathrooms, a few key choices can steer homeowners in the right direction and give a satisfactory result. Read on for some guidelines on color choices, finishes, and the painting process.

Wall color can affect mirror reflections. Whites, creams, grays, and pastels are popular bathroom color choices for good reason: they’re calming, easy on the eyes, and flattering to your reflection. These neutral shades don’t recast light in a way that alters complexion in the mirror. A vibrant blue or green, on the other hand, may cast an unnatural sheen onto your skin after interacting with the bathroom’s natural or artificial light, exaggerating dark circles and blemishes.  If anyone in the household uses the bathroom for primping and priming, a subtle neutral wall color might be the wisest (and most flattering) choice.

Best Paint for Bathroom

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

Bathroom paint should offer mold and mildew resistance. Since bathrooms are splash-prone areas that retain moisture for long periods of time, they are prone to mold and mildew–especially if the bathroom doesn’t have proper ventilation. To prevent these health hazards, homeowners should opt for paint with anti-microbial additives that resist mold. Many options for this type of paint exist on the market today, such as Benjamin Moore’s Aura® Bath And Spa Matte Finish and Zinsser’s Perma-White. Once on the wall, these paints will kill existing mold and prevent new mold from growing.

Use a moisture-resistant primer to prevent peeling. Peeling paint occurs as a result of moisture seeping between the paint and its surface–a common occurrence in unventilated areas like showers, where steam rises and gets trapped. To prevent peeling, apply a coat of moisture-resistant primer to the ceiling or walls before you add your mildew-resistant paint color. An ounce (or rather, a pint or gallon) of prevention can save you quite a bit of hassle in the long run since you won’t have to touch up the paint job nearly as often.

Or, select a semigloss or high-gloss paint. As an alternative to mold-resistant paint, homeowners can coat their bathroom walls in a paint with a semigloss or high-gloss finish. Glossy paints don’t prevent mold, but they’re easier to clean and maintain than paint with flat and eggshell finishes. If mold ever pops up in the bathroom, removal won’t be overly difficult. Homeowners who don’t like the sheen of glossy paints can opt for satin instead; it’s slightly less reflective, yet still not difficult to clean.

Be sure to prep before painting. Before applying mold-resistant paint, clean the bathroom walls and remove any existing mildew with a DIY solution of three parts water to one part bleach. Use painter’s tape to block off your corners, doorways, floorboards, and any other spots you don’t want to paint, and make liberal use of drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect the floor, countertops, and toilet. Start painting in the corners and work your way across the walls. If possible, let the paint dry for a couple of days before taking a hot shower. Ventilation is your friend when it comes to long-lasting paint, so keep the air flowing through open vents, doors, and windows. Then watch that fresh coat of paint thrive for many years to come!

 

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Buyer’s Guide: Bathroom Fans

Save your bathroom from excess moisture and the problems that come with it—from cracked paint to mildew growth—with this shopping guide and our top picks.

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing beats a hot shower at the end of a long day. But while the steamy water works wonders on your nerves, it has the opposite effect on your bathroom—especially if the enclosed space isn’t properly ventilated. Excess humidity settles on every available surface in a bathroom, causing damage in the form of cracked paint, peeling wallpaper, and warped cabinetry. What’s more, the buildup of moisture also encourages mold growth in drywall and caulking, which threatens indoor air quality. Some homeowners can ventilate their bathroom by opening a window after every bath or shower. Those without windows, however, should consider installing a bathroom exhaust fan. The best bathroom fan removes excess moisture to save your bathroom from damage, eliminate mirror fog, remove odors, and—most importantly—protect your family from mold-related health problems.

When shopping for a bathroom fan, you’ll find options available in a wide range of prices, from around $50 for a bare-bones model to a couple hundred dollars for high-end models that include lighting, heaters, and motion sensors. Add to the cost of the unit a professional installation for another $200 to $400, and it turns into quite an investment. Given the sum of expenses, homeowners must understand the ins and outs of bathroom fans before pulling out their credit cards. Here’s our guide to the best bathroom fan on the market today.

DETERMINING FAN SIZE AND POWER

Bathroom exhaust fans are measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), which gives the amount of air moved by the fan each minute. The product’s box will list the CFM number, and it will typically give a suggested room size as well. As a general rule of thumb, homeowners should buy a fan with a minimum CFM rating that equates to your bathroom’s square footage. For example, you’ll want a 50 CFM rated fan for a 50-square-foot bathroom and a 100 CFM rated fan for a 100-square-foot bathroom.

For even more accuracy, measure your bathroom and use the following mathematical formula from Home Depot:

Length X Width X Height X 0.13 = Suggested CFM

Suppose your bathroom is 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 8 feet high. Then you’d multiply 8 by 10 by 8 by 0.13 for a total of 83.2. In this case, a fan with a CFM rating of 80 would probably be sufficient for your bathroom.

 

Buyer's Guide - Best Bathroom Fan

Photo: istockphoto.com

THE NOISE FACTOR

In addition to CFM measurement, consumers should consider a fan’s noise level. The noise emitted by an exhaust fan is rated in “sones,” and most fans have a sones rating between the range of 0.5 to 6.0. The lower the sones number (which is typically printed on the fan box), the quieter the fan will be when operating. Since a sones ratings of 1.0 compares to the sound of a quiet refrigerator, any fan with a sones rating of 1.0 or less is considered very quiet. On the other end of the scale, a sones rating greater than 4.0 might be loud enough to drown out your shower singing. Nowadays, many manufacturers produce bathroom fans that operate quietly. If you’re very worried about sound, consider installing a 6-inch ducting attachment for your fan rather than the standard 4-inch attachment. Air can move easier in a wider duct, so 6-inch duct puts less strain on the fan and allows for quieter operation.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Many homeowners opt for a bathroom fan with an integrated light. These fan/light combinations allow the buyer to remove their current light and install the new fixture with the existing wires, making installation easy. Some of these models also have motion sensors that automatically turn on the light when someone walks into the bathroom. Other optional features in bathroom fans include humidity sensors that activate the exhaust fan when the moisture levels reach a specific level, nightlights that offer a comforting glow for midnight bathroom visitors, and built-in heaters that warm the bathroom quickly on chilly winter mornings.  Keep in mind that some features can add anywhere from $50 to $200 to the fan’s price.

INSTALLMENT AND DUCTING

When you draw moisture-filled air out of the bathroom, it needs somewhere to go. Some bathroom vents release exhaust into a home’s attic; however, this setup isn’t ideal, since excess moisture in the attic can lead to mold-related issues. Therefore homeowners should opt to vent their bathroom fans to the outdoors.

If the bathroom is located on the first level of a multi-story home, you’ll want to vent the air through the side of your house. A standard ceiling-mounted fan is suitable for this type of venting, as long as you can run the ducting through the ceiling joists to an exterior wall. If you can’t run ducting between the joists, and if your bathroom has at least one exterior wall, you can install a wall-mounted fan that vents the exhaust directly out the side of the house. For any bathroom located on the floor directly below the attic, your best bet is to direct the vented air to the attic and then, via ducting, either to a soffit under the roof’s eave or out through a vent pipe in the roof.

Homeowners should install a new bathroom fan between the shower and toilet, in an area of the ceiling without any obstructing joists or pipes. Replacement fans should be installed in the same location as the existing fan. Keep in mind that larger bathrooms may require multiple fans to effectively ventilate the space. Fans with added features—such as lights, heaters, and nightlights—may require additional wires or a designated circuit to operate. Follow manufacturer guidelines for specific directions, and consult an electrician if you’d like.

TOP THREE PICKS

Using the criteria outlined above, expert opinions, and consumer reviews, we’ve rounded up three choices for the best bathroom fan on the market today. Having a properly ventilated bathroom has never been so easy!

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com

 

Broan QTXE080 Ceiling Exhaust Bath Fan ($98.20)
For its affordability and nearly silent operation, The Spruce speaks highly of the Broan QTXE080 Ultra Silent Bath Fan, calling it “a great deal from a solid manufacturer.” The fan receives an admirable 4.5 stars from Amazon buyers, who rave about its quiet 0.3 sones rating. With 80 CFM ability, this Broan model is designed for small- to medium-sized bathrooms up to 75 square feet in size. The Energy Star qualified unit has top-notch moisture-reducing performance and a large 6-inch ducting attachment. Homeowners needing a basic fan without added features or lighting can consider the Broan QTXE080 a safe bet. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: amazon.com

Panasonic WhisperGreen ($149.99)
Panasonic, a leading bathroom ventilation fan manufacturer, produces some of the most popular exhaust fans on the market. Consumer Reports recommends the Panasonic WhisperGreen fan for a “fog-free bathroom without the racket” of a traditional noisy fan. Amazon buyers agree, awarding the WhisperGreen a resounding 4.3 out of 5 stars. With three operating speeds that correlate with 50, 80, and 110 CFM ratings, the WhisperGreen is suitable for small, medium, and large bathrooms. A sones level of less than 0.3 ensures an extremely quiet operation. The model comes with two additional ports for adding customized features, such as a condensation sensor, an LED nightlight, or a motion sensor (each sold separately). The dual duct adapter allows the fan to work with either 4” or 6” ducting. Available on Amazon.

 

Best Bathroom Fan - Buyer's Guide

Photo: istockphoto.com

NuTone QTXN110HL Ultra Silent Bath Fan ($303.28)
Best Consumer Reviews gives the NuTone QTXN110HL Ultra Silent Bath Fan its highest approval rating. Although the fan has a steep $300 price tag, it includes several impressive features, such as an overhead light, a 1,500-watt heater, and a soft-glow nightlight. Some Home Depot customers rave about the fan’s fast-working heater and ventilator. Since the fan has ratings of 110 CFM and 0.9 sones, homeowners will hear a low gentle hum when the fan is operating. The NuTone QTXN110HL comes with a 6” ducting attachment for optimal performance, and it works best for bathrooms smaller than 100 square feet. Keep in mind that the fan needs a dedicated 20 Amp circuit in order to provide sufficient electricity to power the heater. Available from Home Depot.


So, You Want to… Install a Shower Pan

Whether you're planning on adding a shower, replacing a bathtub with a shower, or just fixing up an existing shower, you'll need a new shower pan. Here, learn the basics of selecting and installing a new pan, whether prefab or custom.

How to Install a Shower Pan - Kaldewei From Wayfair

Photo: wayfair.com

The shower pan is an unsung hero in cramped bathing quarters that rely on a walk-in shower instead of a full-size bathtub. Its role? Protecting your subfloor from water damage by aiding drainage. This waterproof floor covering—often made of fiberglass, acrylic, or tile—slopes just enough to direct water toward the drain in the floor, thus eliminating most problems caused by lingering water, from mold and mildew growth to structural issues like wood rot. Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom to include a shower pan where none existed before or replacing one that’s seen its day, basic plumbing skills and a free weekend are all you need when learning how to install a shower pan.

Why Switch to a Shower?

Many homeowners choose a shower (and thus a shower pan, because you can’t have one without the other) over a bathtub when renovating in order to increase the available floor space and make the bathroom feel larger. Walk-in showers tend to be sleeker in style than boxy or bulky bathtubs, and the glass walls that often enclose them contribute to an airier, less crowded aesthetic. And when it comes to actual dimensions, a shower pan can be as narrow as 27 inches, making it much easier to squeeze into a floor plan than a 60″ x 30″ tub. Even those few inches regained by switching out a standard tub for a shower can go a long way toward making a claustrophobic bathroom feel roomier.

In addition, the range of shower pan sizes and shapes allows great flexibility in placement. Awkward corners and walls that are too short to fit the average length tub can often accommodate a shower pan, be it prefabricated or custom-made. Because of this variety, homeowners are more likely to achieve an optimal layout that makes the most of limited space in a bathroom.

Last but certainly not least, the accessibility a shower affords makes it an attractive remodeling choice. The low, three- to four-inch threshold of a shower pan as well as helpful features like shower rails make bathing simpler for homeowners who are aging in place or who have to contend with limited mobility. Plus, if down the line a shower seat or bench becomes necessary, the relatively flat surface of a shower pan is more conducive to sitting than the curved bottom of a tub.

 

How to Install a Shower Pan - Aquatic from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

Size, Space, and Style

Are you wondering how to install a shower pan where there was none before? Prefab options certainly simplify the process. These models, available online as well as at your local big-box hardware store, range from 27 to 66 inches in width, so you’re almost sure to find one that fits the configuration of your bathroom. Should that turn out not to be the case, you can get just what you need with a custom shower pan made from concrete, stone, or tile. When selecting an appropriate pan, whether prefab or custom, it’s critical to consider the following:

Decide on a door first. A shower pan can’t necessarily take up all the available space in a bathroom corner. When determining the right pan size, you also need to account for the space required by whatever door you select for the shower enclosure. Consider the variety of doors and stalls available: sliding versus swinging, corner door versus side door, or perhaps no door at all! In Europe and Mexico, it’s popular to skip the door altogether, either hanging a curtain to contain splashes or leaving the shower area open and placing a drainage hole in the bathroom floor to draw away overspray. Each style has its pros and cons. A swinging door requires enough clearance outside the shower for it to open without hitting a toilet or other fixture—and this may mean that there will be a little less square footage available for the shower stall and pan. A sliding door, on the other hand, requires enough space to retract, so one side of the pan needs to be double the width of the door. The third option, eliminating the door completely, offers the most flexibility in cramped spaces, but at the price of having to deal with overspray every time you take a shower. Either way, you have to nail down the door style before you can be certain how much floor space is available for the shower pan.

Allow enough room for you. It may seem obvious, but beyond the constraints of the room, a big factor in determining shower pan size is you. How wide are you? How much room do you need to comfortably lather up and rinse off? If you’re a former linebacker, you’ll need a much larger shower space than, say, a 5-foot-3 gymnast. To get an idea of how much room you need, try out your best “YCMA” moves in the potential space.

Choose between a ready-made shower pan and a custom creation. As mentioned, your space may dictate whether you can buy something prefabricated or whether you’ll need a custom shower base. For example, sometimes the perimeter of the bathroom juts in so that a standard shower pan won’t fit, or you just can’t find a suitable shower pan in the length you need. But this choice isn’t only about necessity; aesthetics also factor in. Most store-bought shower pans feature acrylic, fiberglass, or porcelain finishes in a neutral hue, while custom creations in such materials as concrete and tile encourage a little more creativity in execution and appearance. A custom shower—a renovation that can boost a home’s resale value—can certainly be left to the pros, but it could also be a DIY job for a homeowner who is comfortable working with concrete or mortar and tile.

How to Install a Shower Pan - Delta from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

What to Expect During Installation

Even though custom shower pans vary widely from one bathroom to the next, they share many of the same installation considerations that apply to store-bought models. In general, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a prefab pan to a T, keeping in mind these key steps.

Take extra precaution to waterproof. Lay out a plastic shower curtain liner over the subfloor before you place your shower pan. Should you make any mistakes during the installation process, this extra (and cheap!) layer of waterproofing between your subfloor and your shower pan will act as a saving grace. Apply a ring of caulk around the drain and then, once the shower pan is in place, seal along the perimeter where the pan meets the wall with a bead of caulk.

Ensure that the floor (and the shower pan) are both level. A slight slope built in to an acrylic or fiberglass shower pan allows water to drain properly, and the pan has to be completely level for it to do the job correctly. Before installation, use a four-foot level to check the bathroom floor; if it’s not level, you’ll have to compensate by shimming the shower pan until it’s level and then affixing it to the nearest wall studs using the fasteners included with the shower pan kit.

Pay attention to the location of the drain pipe. DIY-minded remodelers should select a shower pan that has a drain hole that will align with the drainpipe. This will save you a lot of effort (and headaches) when connecting the plumbing. Forcing or jerking the pipe into place is a big no-no, since it can lead to slow leaks over time and joint failure down the line. Fortunately, most kits specify left, right, or center drain. When you get started with the installation, the drainpipe should extend roughly 1/4 inch above your subfloor in order for it to attach properly.

Take it for a test run. Once you’ve successfully fit your pan, attached the drainpipe, secured the flange, and made all connections according to the manufacturer’s instructions, run the shower once to inspect for leaks. It’s also wise to plug the drain for a minute while the water is running, then stop the water and see if the water level holds to make sure the pan’s not leaking anywhere. If everything looks good, your shower should be set.

 

How to Install a Shower Pan - Maax from Home Depot

Photo: homedepot.com

Signs You Should Replace an Existing Shower Pan

Assuming proper installation, the average commercial shower pan should last a decade or more and often comes with a manufacturer’s warranty to guarantee the product itself. As it nears the end of its lifespan, though, a shower pan can break down. To prevent a compromised pan from letting water permeate and damage the subfloor of your bathroom, keep your eyes open to signs of old age:

Visible cracks in the shower pan itself.

• Water spilling out onto the bathroom floor, which may be a sign that the shower pan is on its way out. In some cases, if you can see the source of the leak, you may be able to repair it. For less than $10 and a hour spent caulking, you could get another few years from the pan.

Moisture stains in the walls or ceiling beneath the shower indicate a leak through the bottom of the pan or along the seams, completely out of sight. If the bathroom is on the first floor, you’ll see similar damage in the crawl space or basement.

• Movement in the pan—if you step from spot to spot and you notice it’s buckling or warping underfoot, it’s time to prioritize a replacement shower pan. Buckling or deflection can indicate that the subfloor under the shower pan has already suffered serious water damage due to a leak or crack that has so far gone unnoticed. Don’t delay on this repair!


Solved! What to Do About a Leaking Shower Head

Armed with these easy instructions, save yourself from the annoyance of a dripping shower head—and the shock of unexpectedly high utility bills—by dealing with a leak sooner rather than later.

Leaking Shower Head

Photo: istockphoto.com

Q. Lately, when I take a shower, more water drips and runs out from behind the shower head faceplate than comes out the spray holes. I’ve also noticed water leaking from the shower head when it’s not in use. What gives? Should I call a plumber?

A. If a constant drip, drip, drip keeps you awake at night, or if you get startled by a spray of water from a leaking shower head every time you hop into the shower, it’s time for a little servicing. If left unattended, those droplets can really run up your water and energy bills and even stain the interior of the shower—especially if your water supply is high in iron. Fortunately, fixing a leak from behind a shower head faceplate will likely be a quick project that won’t require special tools or skills. Repairing a leaking shower head that drips when turned off is more complicated but, depending on the cause, may also be solved without a plumber.

Try soaking the shower head in vinegar. Over time, hard water deposits can build up in the holes of the shower head, restricting the spray of water and forcing the backed-up water out around the faceplate or out from the junction of the shower head and arm. To break up the hard water deposits, first remove the shower head by loosening the nut that secures it to the shower arm. Soak the shower head overnight in white vinegar to soften the mineral deposits, and scrub away any remaining residue with an old toothbrush before reinstalling.

How to Fix a Leaky Showerhead

Photo: istockphoto.com

Check for a worn seal. Washers and O-rings form watertight seals between connections on a shower head, but they can harden or split over time, which allows water to leak out. This type of leak is especially common in shower heads with swivel connections, which have a seal behind the swivel assembly. If you suspect a worn seal, remove and disassemble the shower head to replace the washer or O-ring. Tip: When purchasing a new plumbing seal, take the old one with you to the hardware store to ensure that you bring home an exact match.

Replace the washer in a compression faucet if the leaking persists. Compression faucets have two different handles: one hot and one cold. If you have a compression-style shower that leaks when turned off, the problem could be a worn washer in the assembly. First, determine which handle, hot or cold, is causing the leak by feeling the temperature of the dripping water. Then, turn off the water supply and give this fix a try: Remove the faulty faucet handle, which is held in place with a screw located below the handle or hidden under a pry-off cap. Slip off the cover trim to gain access to the faucet stem, which is secured with a hex nut. Use a deep socket wrench to remove the nut, and you should find a rubber washer. Replace it with a new rubber washer, and reassemble the faucet.

In rare cases, the small curved area behind the washer (called the “seat”) can become so corroded or damaged that even a new washer won’t seal tightly enough to prevent water from leaking out of the shower head. If this happens, you’ll probably need to call in a plumber to replace the entire assembly.

Replace a defective cartridge in the valve body. Many newer showers feature a single handle that controls both hot and cold water flow. In the wall behind the handle lies a valve body containing a cylindrical cartridge made of hard plastic. If the cartridge becomes worn or cracked, water can seep through—even when the handle is in the “off” position. This can cause water to drip or trickle from the shower head.

Here, too, replacing the worn cartridge requires turning off the water supply to the shower. Access the cartridge by removing the shower handle (which is held in place with a small screw) and taking off the decorative faceplate and the cap that covers the valve body stem (by twisting or by removing a screw, depending on the model). Slip off the stem cover, which should give way easily, to reveal the end of the plastic cartridge. Most cartridges are secured with either a twist-on nut or a clip. Remove the nut or clip, then use a pair of pliers to grasp the stem of the cartridge and pull the cartridge out. Take the worn cartridge to the hardware store to get an exact match, install the new cartridge, and reassemble the faucet. If replacing the cartridge doesn’t solve your leaking shower head, the valve body itself is likely damaged. Unfortunately, replacing a valve body is a job for a plumber.

All shower plumbing works in a similar manner, but faucets, shower heads, and valve body assemblies vary in the ways they connect. When in doubt, refer to the manufacturers’ manuals (often found on their websites) or leave it to the pros.


DIY Lite: An Easy Hiding Spot for Bathroom Cleaning Supplies

What bathroom couldn't benefit from a little extra storage, especially for the unsightly stash of cleaning supplies? Build this sleek cabinet, and you'll never have to stare at a toilet brush again.

DIY Bathroom Storage

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

When you’ve already filled your bathroom’s medicine cabinet and limited under-sink space with extra toiletries, a surplus of shampoo bottles, medicines, and makeup, you probably don’t want to squeeze a cleaner or toilet brush in the crowded space, too. Rather than leaving them out and uncovered next to the toilet, create a designated storage station that hides the ugly essentials and brings your bathroom one step closer to serene. We’ve got you—and your bathroom cleaning supplies—covered, both figuratively and literally, with this easy-to-build, cabinet-like DIY bathroom storage unit.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– 1×8 lumber (10 feet)
– Ruler
– Pencil
– Jigsaw
– Palm sander
– Sandpaper
– Wood glue
– 1-½-inch nails (24)
– Hammer
– 12mm plywood
– 1-¼-inch wooden dowel
– 1-½-inch screws (4)
– Drill
– 1-½-inch × ¼-inch wood lath (8 feet)
– Wood stain
– Paint
– Varnish
– Brush
– Rope
– Wooden curtain ring
– Small hinges with screws (2)

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 1
Let’s first make the necessary cuts for building the structure of the cabinet. Cut the lumber into five pieces: two 16-inch pieces to make the top and the bottom, and four 19-inch pieces to make the sides and the inner division. Then, slice the four 4-inch pieces from the wooden dowel to make the cabinet’s legs.

Using these dimensions, your finished DIY bathroom storage cabinet will stand 25 inches tall, 16 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. Measure out where you want to place the cabinet now so that you can adapt those dimensions as necessary to fit your own space.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 2
Lay the 16-inch bottom piece in front of you, squeeze a line of wood glue at each short end, then stand and press two 19-inch side boards in the glue. Be careful to align the sides with the outermost edges of the bottom and the top boards in order to build a perfect box.

Hammer four 1-½-inch nails through each end of the bottom piece to secure the sides. Then, glue and nail the top board in place.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 3
Measure 5 inches inside the left side of the box, and mark this both on the bottom and top boards. Apply a little wood glue to the short edges of the third 19-inch piece you’ve cut—a soon-to-be cabinet divider—and slide this board into place where you’ve marked it to go. Hammer in four more 1-½-inch nails both through the top and the bottom to hold the divider in place. The 5-inch space to the left of the divider will provide the perfect storage space for stacking toilet paper rolls.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 4
Since this DIY bathroom storage will stand next to the toilet, adding legs (those 4-inch dowel cuts) will make it easy to clean underneath it in the future. Flip the cabinet so that the bottom faces you, and measure 1-½ inches in from each corner; mark where you’ll place the leg.

Drill four small pilot holes, one at each mark, as well as holes into the center of each dowel piece.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 5
Drill a 1-½-inch screw through the floor of the cabinet and into a dowel at each corner to affix the legs.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 6
Add a little glue to the drilled end of a dowel piece, then twist it onto the bathroom storage unit. Repeat for each leg.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 7
Make the back of the cabinet using strips of wood lath to create good ventilation on a cabinet that will likely store store lightly damp toilet brushes and cleaning products. Cut three pieces of 1-½-inch × ¼-inch wood lath to be 19 inches each. Line the top and bottom ends of each with wood glue, and place them through the open cabinet at the back; the top and bottom should fit snugly with the wood structure you’ve made so far. Wait for the glue to dry before moving the unit.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 8
Now, it’s time to build the door from 12mm plywood: Draw and cut out with a jigsaw a rectangle of 19 by 21 inches.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 9
Sand the storage unit and the door with a 100-grit paper, with extra attention given to the cut edges.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 10
Stain or paint the cabinet’s frame and door with colors that complement your bathroom’s design. We used a combination of the two on the new DIY bathroom storage: an Early American stain on the structure itself and a contrasting white paint (a satin or semi-gloss paint is best for use on walls and fixtures in the bathroom, since it is often easier to clean) for the door. Since this finished piece will move to a high-moisture zone, it’s important to wait for the piece to dry completely and then finish with a coat of varnish over any wood stain as an extra layer of protection.

 

DIY Bathroom Storage - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 11
Think about where you are going to place your cabinet and, as a result, which way the door will need to swing. For easy opening, add a handle to the door. You can choose a more traditional drawer knob, but we repurposed a wooden curtain ring for the job.

Drill a hole into the corner of the door opposite of where you’ll attach hinges. Take about 10 inches of rope, fold it in half, pass the folded end through the center of the ring, and pull the loose ends through the small loop that you’ve created until tightened; the ring should now have two ends of rope hanging loosely from it. Pass these through your door’s drilled hole and knot on the other side to securely attach it. You can cut any extra length just after the knot.

Door pull in place, you’re ready to attach it to the storage unit. Lay two hinges on the side of the open-face storage cabinet that is opposite where you’ll have the door pull (we mounted the the door pull in the upper left of the cabinet, so our hinges are located on the right side). Each hinge should be placed 1 to 2 inches from the top or bottom, with one plate screwed into the edge of the 19-inch side and the other screwed into the back of the door.

Thanks to your brand new bathroom cabinet, organizing your cleaning supplies and toilet paper rolls will soon be an open and shut case!

 

DIY Bathroom Storage Cabinet for Cleaning Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

DIY Bathroom Storage Cabinet for Hiding Cleaning Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

 

DIY Projects Anyone Can Do

All of the Best Hands-on Tutorials from BobVila.com
Get the nitty-gritty details you need—and the jaw-dropping inspiration you want—from our collection of the favorite projects ever featured on BobVila.com. Whether your goal is to fix, tinker, build or make something better, your next adventure in DIY starts here.


How To: Unclog a Bathtub

Don’t let dirty water submerge your ankles for one more shower! Take these simple steps to a smooth drain

How to Unclog a Bathtub

Photo: istockphoto.com

Nothing interferes with a refreshing shower like a slow-draining bathtub. And that inch or two of water that sneaks up on you is also likely to leave a ring of soap scum and dirt that’s tough to clean. The cause of this scuzzy situation is commonly a clump of hair gathered in the drain pipe a few inches below the stopper. Fortunately, it’s quick and easy enough remove the stopper and banish that nasty bundle. So act on the guidance that follows to unclog the bathtub and enjoy a delightful shower experience again.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– 12-gauge wire or metal coat hanger
– Wire cutters
– Needle-nose pliers
– 4-in-1 screwdriver
– Rubber gloves
– Trash bag
– Utility knife
– Liquid dish soap

STEP 1
Snip a straight, 6-inch section of 12-gauge wire or coat hanger with your wire cutters. Grab one end of the wire with your needle-nose pliers, about ½” in, and bend it up to make a small hook. You want about a ½”-wide U-shaped hook so hair won’t fall off as you extract it. Set the hook aside.

How to Unclog a Bathtub

Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2
If you stop your bathtub with a plug, move directly to Step 3. If your tub has a stopper, there are different methods to remove it, depending on type.

  • Removing a drop stopper that you twist half a turn to pop down and close, a screwdriver is required. Usually but not always, a Phillips head will do the job. To take out the stopper, raise it as high as you can. Inside, just under the stopper, you’ll find a small screw on the shaft. Loosen this screw a bit and the top slides off. Set it aside.
  • A push/lock stopper that you push down to lock shut, then push up to release, is easily removed by unscrewing the stopper. The shaft is removable by loosening the screw on the shaft so that the shaft slides up and out. Note: You may need to futz a bit with this screw to get a proper seal when you reinstall the shaft, so be prepared to test the seal and make adjustments.

STEP 3
Look inside the drain to see the hair clump. Don your rubber gloves and get a trash bag ready. Insert the hook you made to remove and discard the hair. Carefully cut any remaining hair wrapped around the crosshairs or bars with your utility knife and remove these last bits with your gloved fingers.

STEP 4
Remove all your tools and stopper parts from the bathtub and then run the water to see how free-flowing the drain is. Is it draining quickly? Move ahead to Step 6.

STEP 5
Still draining slow? Pour some liquid dish soap, up to ¼ cup, into the drain and follow that with a bucket of hot water, poured slowly to lubricate pipes and push through any residue. If you’ve got plastic pipes, use hot water from the tap only; anything hotter could loosen the pipes. For metal pipes, boiling water can be used. If your drain is still running slow, you might have to use a snake or call a plumber.

STEP 6
Replace the stopper and clean the bathtub. Clean and dry your hook, too, saving it for future clog-busting duties. To keep clogs at bay, use a drain cover and avoid emptying mop buckets and other liquids likely to contain dust, dirt, lint, and pet hair into your tub.


How To: Make Your Own Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Avoid the harmful chemicals in store-bought toilet cleaners by making your own DIY version.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Photo: istockphoto.com

Everyone loves a clean home, but our obsession with sanitation may come at a cost to our health. Some people, especially those with allergies, develop sensitivities to the harsh chemicals in store-bought cleaning products. To escape from the toxic ingredients and irritating scents, a number of homeowners have started turning to homemade cleaning products—right down to their toilet bowl cleaners! Although DIY-ing your toilet bowl cleaner won’t put a surprising amount of money back in your pocket with every batch, it will provide a safe and natural solution for stains. Don’t be intimidated by the extra work it takes to make your own cleaning products: We’ve researched a recipe that’s simple and affordable, so you can whip up your own natural toilet cleaner quickly and without a lot of fuss.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
– Glass bowl
– Baking soda
– Disinfecting essential oils
– Wooden spoon
– Glass jar (for storage)
– 20% white vinegar
– Toilet brush

 

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner - from Baking Soda and Essential Oils

Photo: istockphoto.com

Making the Cleaner 

STEP 1
In a glass bowl, add two cups baking soda and 100 drops (roughly one teaspoon) of a disinfecting essential oil, such as tea tree oil, lavender, orange, pine, or a blend of oils, any of which are available for purchase in health food stores or online. Make sure your mixing bowl is glass, not any old stainless steel or Tupperware container; essential oil reacts with metal and can even deteriorate plastic.

STEP 2
Use a wooden spoon to mix the oil and baking soda together, breaking up clumps as you go. Hold off on the vinegar—as it reacts chemically with baking soda, the two should be mixed only in the toilet bowl during cleaning.

STEP 3
You should have enough powder for about 30 uses. To keep the homemade toilet bowl cleaner fresh as you work your way through the supply, transfer it to an airtight glass jar for long-term storage outside of the bathroom—otherwise, excess moisture from steamy showers and long baths may cause clumping and uneven distribution of ingredients.

 

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner - All Natural Cleanser

Photo: istockphoto.com

Using the Cleaner 

STEP 1
When you’re ready to clean your toilet, drop one tablespoon of the baking soda/essential oil mix into the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle additional mixture onto the walls of the bowl as well, and use your toilet brush to spread the powder around.

STEP 2
Next, pour ½ cup of 20% vinegar into the bowl. (Note: This product isn’t your standard white vinegar found at the supermarket; it’s generally used only to kill weeds or clean, and it can be bought online. If you can’t find it, normal 5% distilled vinegar from the grocery store will work, but you’ll need to increase the quantity to 2 cups for each cleaning.)

The contents of the bowl should start to fizz when the vinegar reacts with the baking soda. If no fizzing occurs, the toilet water may be diluting the mix, or your baking soda may be too old. Try adding another tablespoon of powder and spreading it around.

STEP 3
Once the homemade toilet bowl cleaner fizzes, use the brush to scrub away any stains or spots in the bowl.

STEP 4
Let the remaining mixture sit for about 15 minutes, then flush the toilet. Easy! Now you can ready to enjoy a spotless bathroom, free of gunk and harsh chemicals!

 

Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Home

All of the Essential Cleaning Advice from BobVila.com
There’s no way around it: Keeping the house clean demands your time, your energy, and even some of your money. Fortunately, this arsenal of cleaning tips can help you finish the housekeeping more quickly—and with fewer commercially sold products.


Genius! Scrub the Tub with… Your Drill?

Cleaning the bathroom will always be a chore, but it doesn't have to slow you down. Here's how to power up your routine—and blast through stains and build-up faster—with your cordless drill!

how-to-clean-a-bathtub-2

Photo: themanlyhousekeeper.com

When his wife started her new job as an attorney, Mark Evitt took on a different role, too: househusband. Since he was still studying journalism in graduate school, Mark had flexible hours—and more time to tackle the household to-do list. As a homemaker, he learned that he loved organizing and baking bread from scratch. He didn’t even mind most of the housework, but cleaning the bathroom was especially tiring. Whether he used a sponge or a brush, wiping out old stains and grime on the tub was a tough job. To make it feel less like work, he got some how-to help from a friend and devised a homemade bathtub cleaner that hooks up to any cordless drill or driver.

For under $6, Mark collected everything he needed to convert the power tool into a power cleaner: a threaded lag bolt, small drill bit, and a cheap round scrub brush. After prying the bristled bottom apart from the handle, he drilled two centered pilot holes: one through the top piece, and another that stopped halfway through the scrubber’s base. With the halves snapped back together, he finished by screwing the bolt into the pilot hole and fastening the other end to the nut driver—now, when the driver rotates, the scrubber spins on its own! (If you have a newer cordless model, you might even try attaching the bolt directly to your chuck to save time so that you’re not switching between drill and driver for each use.)

Since magnets bond the driver with your bolt, you’ll want to keep your brush perpendicular to the tub in order to blast away built-up soap scum and stains. The spinning scrubber will do the rest in record time, saving you the fatigue and soreness caused by scouring. And because you can swap out the versatile brush like a drill bit, you’ll always be ready for your next repair.

FOR MORE: The Manly Housekeeper

how-to-clean-a-bathtub-3

Photo: themanlyhousekeeper.com