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In depth information on do it yourself home property maintenance, covering all aspects of residential home, commercial, business, and apartment building repair, remodeling, and renovation projects Featuring tips, advice, how-to and step-by-step information to help you maintain and improve the value of your business building and home.

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Bathroom Repairs and Remodeling

How old is your bathroom? How long should it last? Could I change it to make it nicer?

Common Sense and Safety

Before undertaking any plumbing project, please review these safety notes:
1. Safety glasses or goggles should be worn whenever power tools are in use and when chiseling, sanding, scraping or hammering overhead, especially if you wear contact lenses.
2. Wear ear protectors when using power tools as some operate at noise levels that damage hearing.
3. Be careful of loose hair and clothing so that it does not get caught in tools.
4. The proper respirator or face mask should be worn when sanding or sawing or using substances with toxic fumes.
5. Keep blades sharp. A dull blade requires excessive force, can slip and cause accidents.
6. Always use the right tool for the job.
7. Repair or discard tools with cracks in the wooden handles or chips in the metal parts that could fail and cause injuries.
8. Don't drill, shape or saw anything that isn't firmly secured.
9. Oily rags are spontaneously combustible. Take care when you store and discard them.
10. Don't abuse your tools.
11. Keep a First Aid Kit on hand.
12. Do not work with tools when you are tired. That's when most accidents occur.
13. Read the owner's manual for all tools and know the proper use of each.
14. Keep tools out of reach of small children.
15. Unplug all power tools when changing settings or parts.

Plumbing Codes and Standards

Standards have been established in the plumbing industry to protect the health and safety of the community because faulty plumbing can result in serious health and safety hazards such as mold growth infestations, noxious gas backups, back siphoning, bursting pipes, floods or electrical shorts. To see that these standards are adhered to, we have plumbing codes and permits.

Although there are several model plumbing codes in print, regulations regarding design, methods, and materials may differ from one state, county or municipality to the next and will be spelled out clearly in local code manuals (most use the Uniform Plumbing Code Book).

The main areas of code enforcement include:

• The size of drain and vent pipes,
• Size of supply lines,
• Type of materials allowed,
• Distance from trap to vent arm,
• Slope of drain,
• Height of drains above the floor,
• Number and type of fixtures sharing a vent or drain pipe,
• Height of horizontal section of vent pipe above gutter,
• Distance between pipe supports,
• Placement of cleanouts, and
• Use of certain fittings, sanitary wyes, 45 degree bends, etc.

Contact your local town or county building department or inspector for a copy of the codes and permits you will be required to follow as local codes always supercede the model codes. Materials are of great controversy and are constantly being updated. In some areas, plastic pipe is prohibited entirely while in others it is permitted for the drain/waste and vent system only. Some areas may require insulating your water pipes or puffing vacuum breakers on your outside hose bibs. The list can go on and on.

All areas are different and change quite often. Before beginning any work, be sure your plans conform to all local codes and ordinances. Discuss your plan's with the local building inspector and obtain the necessary permits at the same time. Find out what work you may do yourself and what must be done by a licensed plumber. Be certain to follow these codes to the letter or you will run the risk of having to rip out all of your hard work.

Color Sets the Mood

Color is an important part of our environment, especially in the ways it’s used to remodel our kitchens and bathroom .
“Color is a free energy lift!” says Rebecca Ewing of In Living Color, Decatur, Ga.“ It tickles, delights and motivates us. Our attraction to color is an energy boost that feeds and fuels us.”

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recommends selecting colors for your new kitchen or bath under lighting conditions in which they’ll be seen in your home. Also, when designing your space, remember that color can be used to adjust the visual perception of an overall space, and perceived size of a room. Cool, light and dull colors that keep contrast to a minimum can expand a room’s dimensions to appear larger than it actually is. While warm, dark, bright colors with several contrasts can actually shrink a space in the mind’s eye.

Although white continues to be the number one color used for kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures, other colors are frequently used in designing these two rooms. Take for instance
Yellow: the color that the eye sees that fastest. Soft yellows can be cheering and make individuals feel sunny. Bright yellow used as an accent that attracts attention and helps to brighten a room, but in large amounts yellow can be over-stimulating.

Green: the ultimate pacifier. Often associated with nature. It is both relaxing and reassuring. Pale yellow-greens conjure images of growth while deep greens are associated with status and wealth.

Blue: arouses feelings of freshness, coolness and relaxation. In lighter hues, blue is airy and open while dark blues represent wealth, strength and respect evoking the feelings of reassurance in individuals.

Purple: a noble color in its deepest values, yet it can be flowery and refreshing in pale violet colorings. Deep purple is rarely used in large amounts, but is a great effect as an accent color.

Red: attracts attention, causes excitement, and even raise blood pressure. Intense red is stimulating, however it can also be distracting in large amounts. Red is associated with wealth and sophistication, while high value reds (pinks) can make people feel good about the way they look.

Orange: stimulating in its pumpkin orange hue or warm in its terracotta and peach version. As with other intense colors, orange can be distracting, but it is ideal for attracting attention to details.

Black: evokes feelings of fright but also transcend the feelings of elegance, excitement and wealth. Like white, black is a color of contradictions that relies largely on the effect of the other colors used with it. Black can make large spaces seem smaller and more intimate.

White: sterile, airy and refreshing, depending on what other colors it is combined with, while making smaller spaces feel larger and more spacious.

The Color Marketing Group, consisting of over 600 professional color designers, is predicting that the following 12 colors will be the color trends for the new millennium.

• Innocent Blush – a sheer pink that envelops the viewer in softness and comfort. Feminine and nurturing,     this color has slight peach undertones.
• Biscotti – a new neutral that is softer than the traditional carmel.
• Wasabi – inspired by Asia, where foliage is more yellow than in North America and Europe. This sophisticated hue is a sheer wash of Celadon, faintly yellowed, with a whisper of gray.
• White Veil – spoken of as nature’s white because of its coolness and lack of purity are natural.
• Aluminum Foil - the coldest and most urban interpretation of silver yet.
• Colorado Mist – whether metallic or pearlized, bridges beige and gray. It is described as a warm silver that is both Zen and urban.
• Spaqua – the green side of water imagery, this hue is similar to the edge color of a thick sheet of plate glass.
• Aero Blue – a timeless and spiritual color. Represented as a sky approaching dusk.
• Atlantis Blue – a universal blue for all cultures. Atlantis is intense and iridescent, the slight influence of green adds a unique spark that slightly stirs the psyche.
• Royal Plum – expands the purple palette with coloring that is acceptable for all markets. In its deep hue, royal plum can serve as a neutral, a bridge to other colors, or it can stand alone.
• Wild Berry – a pure, nearly true, bright red.
• Red Rock – an Australian-influenced metallic color that will generate a re-introduction of iron ore hues.

NKBA recommends that color selections be made under lighting conditions that are representative of the conditions under which they will be used. This is an important fact to keep in mind when choosing the color for your kitchen and/or bath.With so many things to consider about planning and styling your new room, you may require a little assistance.


You have probably realized by now that you can't go it alone. You'll need the help of a kitchen and/or bathroom professional. The NKBA can provide you with a list of member firms, including Certified Kitchen Designers (CKDs) and Certified Bathroom Designers (CBDs). These are the professionals to consult when planning your new space. Not only can they design the layout of the space and supervise the installation, they can also help you to achieve a room that fits your style.

Reprinted with permission by the National Kitchen and Bath Association

Plumbing Inspections

Your plumbing work may require inspections at several different stages from the rough to the finished work. Inspection officers can be tough on plumbing as faulty work can cause health problems if raw sewage leaks out. Also, a licensed plumber may be required to attach your pipes to the public sewer line and water supply.

Usually the plumbing is inspected in the rough and finished plumbing stages. The code office may require that you fill both supply and waste system with water or air under a specified pounds per square inch of pressure to check leaks. They will check the entire waste system for:

• Size of pipes and pressure rating,
• Number of fixtures on a drain or vent pipe,
• Slope of pipe,
• Leaks,
• Fittings used in an improper way
• Height of drains,
• Height of the horizontal runs of the vent pipes, and
• Air gap fitting on dishwasher waste line.
They will also check the supply system for:
• Leaks
• Vacuum breaks on outside hose bibb valves,
• Size of pipes,
• Galvanized pipe touching copper pipe, and
• Air cushions (chambers) installed on supply lines to prevent banging.
CAUTION: Never cover your rough plumbing pipes until they have been inspected.

Plumbing Projects - Drain Waste Vent System

Most Common Mistakes

1. Violating or ignoring code restrictions,
2. Not installing D/W/V with at least a 1/4" slope per one foot pipe,
3. Not properly venting or trapping all fixtures,
4. Attaching too many fixtures to a drain or vent pipe,
5. Using pipes that are too small,
6. Not providing enough cleanouts or not providing cleanouts at the prescribed places,
7. Venting the fixture too far from the fixture's trap,
8. Not properly aligning tubing into fittings or stop valves. (Forcing the nut onto the compression ring at an   angle when the tubing is at an angle will cause a leak.)
9. Using a fitting in a wrong position,
10. Installing rough plumbing in the wrong location,
11. Reducing pipe size as the pipes run downstream,
12. Cutting pipe too long and not allowing for the ridge in the fittings, and
13. Forcing the trap and waste arm fittings out of alignment and putting too much stress on the nuts and washers in the tubing. Make certain the compression tubing is put in the fittings so that it is evenly tightened.

Installing Drain Waste Vent Pipe

Running the pipe can be tricky. All different kinds of fittings are available to turn in different and receive different sizes of pipe at various angles. One fitting may need 3 opening ports, all accommodating a size pipe. You will have to plan your runs and buy the necessary fittings (always get a few extra). Keep in mind that codes may regulate how fittings can be used (i.e. sanitary tees may not be used in a vertical to horizontal connections long sweep connection must be used here). You will need to know the diameter of your pipes, their angles, the code and their direction to determine each fitting. While planning may take some time and study, the cutting and assembly of plastic pipe is very simple.

1. Using a back saw or a fine toothed saw, cut the pipe the required length, remembering that the pipe fits into the fitting a prescribed distance for each diameter of pipe.

2. Use a small knife or rough sandpaper to remove the "burr" off the freshly cut pipe.

3. With a rag and some cleaning solvent, clean the ends of the pipe and the inside of fitting where the pipe will join. (ABS does not need this solvent or primer. It can be wiped clean with a damp rag.)

4. The glue will dry almost immediately and you can never get it unglued. To change the connection you must cut out the fitting and start over. Because of this, you want to be sure you have it right the first time.


This is very easy in some cases, but often you will have a number of pipes coming into a fitting from several different angles. All of these must meet correctly once they are permanently glued. To assure this, "dry fit" the fittings and pipe by cutting and assembling everything without glue to assure it all fits at the correct angles and dimensions.

5. Make marks across fittings and pipe so that once the pipes are removed and the glue is spread, you will know exactly how to realign everything when the pipes are inserted permanently into the fitting. (Be sure the marks or lines are long enough on the pipe so that they will not be covered by the glue you will spread on the pipe.)

6. Spread a generous amount of the required pipe glue around the end of the pipe and on the inside of the fitting with a dobber.

7. Insert the pipe into the fitting until it "bottoms out" and give it a little twist to be sure that the glue is spread evenly. One of the most difficult parts about running drain waste vent pipes is drilling the large (2-3") holes necessary to run the pipe.


You will need to purchase, borrow or rent special heavy duty plumbers' bits that are notched to fit 1 1/2", 2" and 2 1/2" pipe. The cheaper hole saw is just too difficult when you are doing a large project. You will also need a heavy duty 1/2" or 3/4" drill (preferably a right angle drill or one with a right angle attachment). Be careful, as drilling with these large bits often causes the bit to bind and the drill to spin.

Plumbing Projects - Water System Supply

Most Common Mistakes

1. Violating or ignoring code restrictions,
2. Using supply pipes that are too small,
3. Moving or knocking copper pipes while the newly sweated fittings are still hot,
4. Creating fire hazards by leaving materials smoldering after sweating fittings,
5. Attaching copper to galvanized without using a brass or dielectric fitting between the two,
6. Not using Teflon tape or pipe compound at threaded pipe joints,
7. Not running pipes to correct locations, and
8. Trying to solder a pipe joint when the water has not been completely drained. (Be certain the main valve is  turned off and that the supply lines are drained at the lowest point of the house, at the tub/shower and   at the sinks. Flush all toilets.)
9. If you drain the lines at the outside hose valve, this is best. Just be sure this valve is fed from the house main rather than from the well or city water main.)
10. When turning the water back on in your home, always run the outside hose valve or flush your toilets to bleed dirt and air from the lines. This debris can cause problems in your sink faucets and other plumbing trim.

Joining Copper Pipe

You will need to purchase your copper fittings in accordance with the joining method you will be using. Soldering is the method used to join hard copper pipes together. For this you will require a small butane or propane torch, 00 steel wool or emery cloth, a wire pipe brush, a can of soldering flux and some solid core wire solder. Check you local code * for the wire solder required in your area. Some require 50/50 which is 50% tin and 50% lead which is stronger than 60/40 for a better joint connection. Others use lead free

Measuring and Cutting Copper Pipe

To determine the length of copper pipe, you will need to measure the distance between the fittings and add the distance the pipe will extend into each fitting. Keep in mind that pipe insert distances will vary for various types of joints. Although usually 1/2" pipe will insert 1/2" and a 3/4" pipe inserts 3/4". Copper pipe can be cut with a pipe cutter that has a blade designed for cutting copper.

Use the cutter by placing the pipe into the opening and twist the knob until the cutting wheel just pierces the copper pipe. Then rotate the cutter around the pipe, tightening the knob after each revolution, until the pipe snaps in two. After you have cut the pipe, use the special blade on the tubing cutter to ream out the "burr" on the inside of the newly cut pipe.

Tip: Whether using hard or soft copper tubing, take care not to damage it as you work. Cover the jaws of wrenches or vices with electrician's tape.


1. Drain the pipes completely for any water in the pipes will interfere with a successful soldering job. Turn off the main water supply valve and open a faucet at the low end of the pipes. Usually an outside hose bibb works best.

Hint. Once the water has drained out, stuff some plain white bread into the pipe near the fitting you are about to solder to absorb any remaining moisture. Once you turn the water on again, the bread will disintegrate.

2. Use the steel wool, emery cloth or very fire sandpaper to polish the last inch of the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting down to the shoulder. Wire pipe brushes that clean both the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fittings, are also available in both 1/2 and 3/4 inch sizes. It is important that you clean both fitting and pipe thoroughly. Time spent on this step will save time later fixing leaking joints. It is much easier to do it right the first time.

3. Apply flux around the polished inside of the fitting and around the polished outside of the pip end. (Some solders are available that contain the flux within the solder.)

4. Place the fitting on the pipe, twisting back and forth a couple of times to assure even distribution of the flux.

5. Heat the bottom of the pipe first with the propane torch. Slowly pass the torch back and forth across the fitting to distribute the heat evenly. Take care not to get the fitting too hot because the flux will burn away to nothing. You can tell the joint is hot enough when the soldering wire will melt easily on contact with it and not stick. By touching the soldering wire to the joint occasionally as you heat it, you can avoid overheating. The moment the wire melts, the joint is ready.

6. Remove the torch and touch the soldering wire to the edge of the fitting. The solder should pull in between the fitting and the pipe by capillary action. Continue to solder until a line of molten solder shows all the way around the fitting. Be certain there are no air gaps between the solder and the pipe fitting.

7. Wipe off the excess surface solder with a damp rag before it solidifies, leaving a trace of solder showing in the crevice between fitting and pipe.

Caution! Keep your hands well away from the hot joint and take care not to bump or move the newly soldered joint until it has cooled.

Air Chambers or Cushions

Installing a supply stop valve

Often pipes will bang when a faucet or valve is suddenly cut off. This can damage the pipe and is irritating to live with. The banging is caused because water does not compress when its flow is suddenly stopped. To prevent this, we recommend installing manufactured air chambers, or shock absorbers, into the hot and cold supply lines at each fixture. These contain inert gas and bellows that absorb the shock. These manufactured products work better than using a one foot length of copper pipe as these must be drained every few years. These fittings may need to be replaced or have parts within them replaced on a regular schedule.

Plumbing Projects - Toilet

Plumbing for Your Toilet

Here we offer general instructions and precautions for roughing in, as well as installation procedures for tying into your present drain waste vent and supply systems. When all the roughing in has been completed and you are ready to assemble your toilet, your rough plumbing should resemble that shown here.

Most Common Mistakes

1. Violating or ignoring local code restrictions.
2. Using pipes that are too small.
3. Attaching copper to galvanized without using a brass or dielectric fitting between the two.
4. Not using Teflon tape or pipe compound at threaded joints.
5. Not leveling your fixtures when installing them.
6. Not installing an air gap filling for fixtures.
7. Cutting supply stub outs too short to install the shutoff valves onto after the finished wall is in place, or
8. Not properly aligning tubing into fittings or stop valves. (Forcing the nut onto the compression ring at an angle when the tubing is at an angle will cause a leak.)
9. When turning the water back on in your home, always run the outside hose valve or flush your toilets to bleed dirt and air from the lines. This debris can cause problems in your sink faucets and other plumbing trim.

Installing your Toilet

Pipes required include a cold water supply stub out with a shutoff valve, flexible tubing for above the valve, and possibly one air chamber. This is possibly the single, most troublesome fixture to install as it requires its own 2" minimum vent and a drain of at least 3" in diameter. If the toilet is situated on a branch drain, it cannot be upstream from the sink or shower. The minimum side distance allowed from the center of the toilet bowl to a wall is 15 inches 12 inches to a bathtub, and clearance from the front of a bowl to a wall or fixture should be 21 inches.

1. The closet bend and toilet floor flange must be roughed in first. When replacing a toilet, you will need to scrape up the old wax gasket. A putty knife works well for this. Remove the old bolts from the floor flange and scrape the flange clean to prevent leaks at the base of the new bowl. If the old flange is cracked or broken, replace it with a new floor flange.

2. Position the floor flange so that the underside of the flange is at the level of the finished floor. (it is always best to install the finished floor so that it runs underneath the toilet.) You may need to use a piece of finished flooring material if the floor has not yet been installed. Now you can finish tightening the screws that hold the floor flange to the floor. Put a small level on the flange while tightening to be sure it is level.

3. Set the new floor bolts in plumber's putty and insert them through the flange, adjusting the bolts so they line up with the center of the drainpipe.

4. With the new toilet bowl turned upside down, position the new wax gasket over the toilet horn on the bottom of the bowl.

5. Apply plumber's putty around the entire bottom edge of the bowl.

6. Using the bolts as guides, lower the bowl into place over the flange. Press down firmly while giving a slight twist. It is important that you feel the toilet being pushed into the wax ring. If you do not feel this, the flange is set too low and you will not get a good wax seal between the flange and the horn (waste outlet). Also, if the wax ring is cold, it will not properly seat. You may need to warm it in the sun for awhile until it is pliable.

7. Use a level to level the bowl, adding shims where necessary. Also be sure the toilet is square and aligned with the wall. Then tighten the nuts and washers onto the bolts by hand.

8. Place the rubber tank cushion (if one is needed) into position on the rear of the bowl and fit the rubber gasket onto the flush valve opening on the bottom of the tank.

9. Position the tank over the bowl; then tighten the nuts and washers onto the mounting bolts.

10. Tighten the hold-down bolts at the base of the bowl with an adjustable wrench. Use your level to assure the bowl is still level.

11. Fill the decorative caps with plumber's putty and place them over the bolt ends. Seal the base of the toilet bowl with plumber's putty or silicone caulk.

12. Cut the end of your supply line stub out and attach a shut off valve. Then, connect the shutoff valve to the flexible tubing and connect the tubing to the bottom of the tank, where you will find a supply stub out.

Plumbing Projects - Bathroom Sink

Here we offer general instructions and precautions for roughing in, as well as installation procedures for tying into your present drain waste vent and supply systems. When all the roughing in has been completed and you are ready to assemble your bathroom sink, your rough plumbing should resemble that shown here.

Most Common Mistakes

Violating or ignoring local code restrictions,

1. Using pipes that are too small,
2. Attaching copper to galvanized without using a brass or dielectric fitting between the two,
3. Not using Teflon tape or pipe compound at threaded joints,
4. Not leveling your fixtures when installing them,
5. Not installing an air gap filling for fixtures,
6. Cutting supply stub outs too short to install the shutoff valves onto after the finished wall is in place, or
7. Not properly aligning tubing into fittings or stop valves. (Forcing the nut onto the compression ring at an angle when the tubing is at an angle will cause a leak.)
8. When turning the water back on in your home, always run the outside hose valve or flush your toilets to bleed dirt and air from the lines. This debris can cause problems in your sink faucets and other plumbing trim.

Installing your Bathroom Sink

Pipes required for roughing in the bathroom sink include hot and cold supply stubouts, shutoff valves, transition fittings, and possibly flexible tubing for above the shutoff valves. Air chambers may also be required. If you are installing the bathroom sink in a back to back arrangement, little pipe is required. Since a sink rates low in fixture units, it should have little effect on the present drain's efficiency. Refer to the fixture unit chart in the Uniform Plumbing Code Book. This fixture can often be wet vented if it is within the critical distance. If not, it must be back vented in some areas.

Clearance from the side of a bathroom sink to a toilet tank or finished wall should be at least 4 inches while distance to a tub may be as little as two inches. There must also be a minimum of 21 inches from the front edge to a wall or fixture. When cutting the capped supply lines to install your shut off valves, cut the 1/2" copper supply line at least 1 1/2 inches from the finished wall to allow for an escutcheon and shut off valve compression nut and ring.

1. Cut carefully and slowly so as not to compress the pipe with the cutter wheel or flatten the pipe. The compression ring and nut will only tighten on a round pipe.

2. Assemble the faucet according to the directions on the package.

3. Slip on the escutcheon, the coupling nut, the compression ring and the valve. Hold the valve outlet up and slide it over the compression ring.

4. Tighten down the coupling nut onto the valve using two crescent wrenches. It will usually squeak when it is properly seated.

5. Connect the trap to the drain body and the drain pipe.

6. When water pressure is restored, run water into the basin and check for any leaks

Plumbing Projects - Shower and Bathtub

Here we offer general instructions and precautions for roughing in, as well as installation procedures for tying into your present drain waste vent and supply systems. When all the roughing in has been completed and you are ready to assemble your shower and bathtub, your rough plumbing should resemble that shown here.

Most Common Plumbing Mistakes

• Violating or ignoring local code restrictions,
• Using pipes that are too small,
• Attaching copper to galvanized without using a brass or dielectric fitting between the two,
• Not using Teflon tape or pipe compound at threaded joints,
• Not leveling your fixtures when installing them,
• Not installing an air gap filling for fixtures,
• Cutting supply stub outs too short to install the shutoff valves onto after the finished wall is in place, or
• Not properly aligning tubing into fittings or stop valves. (Forcing the nut onto the compression ring at an angle when the tubing is at an angle will cause a leak.)
• When turning the water back on in your home, always run the outside hose valve or flush your toilets to bleed dirt and air from the lines. This debris can cause problems in your sink faucets and other plumbing trim.

Installing your Shower and Bathtub

Pipes required include the hot and cold supply lines and a pipe leading to a shower head. A mixing valve and shower head are also needed. Air chambers may be required. Bath/shower fixtures also rate low in fixture units and are often positioned on branch drains and wet or back vented as are the sinks. Both shower stalls and tubs enter the stack at floor level or below because of the position of the floor drain trap.

The faucet and shower head assembly require an open wall for installation. Remember bathtubs and shower stalls may require support framing. A bathtub filled with water is extremely heavy so check building codes and framing support before installing the tub. The minimum floor area required for a shower stall is 1,024 square inches, and you should allow 24 inches from the stall itself to any other fixture or wall.

1. Install all piping before installing the tub itself.

2. Lower the tub into place so that the continuous flange fits against the wall studs and rests on 1 x 4 or 2 x supports. Anchor the tub to the enclosure with nails or screws inserted through the flanges into the studs.

3. Assemble the drain connections by connecting the tub overflow with the tub drain ABOVE the trap, not beyond it. The trap will have a compression fitting that screws over the arm of the overflow assembly.

4. Hot and cold water lines are run to the tub/shower mixing valve where they are attached, usually by, sweating these directly into the hot and cold ports of the mixing valve.

5. Run a pipe up the wall for the shower head. On the top of this pipe, sweat on a brass female threaded winged fitting that is nailed or screwed into a framing support.

6. Extend a piece of 1/2" pipe, according to the manufacturer's instructions, for the tub spout. Sweat on a male threaded fitting at the end of the pipe or use a brass nipple of the proper length and a 1/2" cap.

7. At this time you will need to have your rough plumbing inspected.

8. Restore water pressure and check the drain connection and the supply pipes for any leaks.

9. Replace the wall with moisture resistant drywall as a base for your wall covering. Seal joints between the wall and your new tub with silicone caulk as protection against water seepage.

10. Install the Spout, handles and shower head. The shower head screws onto the shower arm stub out. Whether installing a new shower head or replacing an old one, always clean the pipe threads and apply new pipe joint compound, Teflon tape or both to prevent leaks.

A Very Disposable Tip About Garbage Disposers

For the most part, garbage disposals are self-cleaning and virtually maintenance free. However, a malfunctioning garbage disposal can mean a messy headache, but one that can be avoided. Here are some ideas to keep your unit in good working order. Always run cold water when grinding in order to move the waste all the way through the drain lines. Fats and grease congeal and harden in cold water which can then be flushed through the system. Don't use hot water when grinding because it can dissolve fats and grease, which may then accumulate in the drainline. Almost all biodegradable food waste can be fed into disposals.


However, do not throw down the disposal clam or oyster shells, corn husks or other material with a high fiber content. Under no circumstances should you put glass, plastic or metal non-food materials through a disposal. This includes bottle caps, tin covers or aluminum foil--these are some of the items service technicians commonly find in clogged or broken disposals. Maintenance is easy. Grinding small bones and egg shells actually helps clean the disposal by scraping away stubborn deposits or citric acid and pulp. Grinding a little ice is another way to clean out deposits and get rid of odors.

How to Install a Kitchen Sink

When redecorating your kitchen, don't forget to replace the sink. A new sink can beautifully accent the kitchen and give it a whole new look. Instead of looking at that old, outdated sink, you can install a new sink with just the right colors to accent your redecorated kitchen. When installing a kitchen sink, there are many different decisions that need to be made.


Even the simplest of sinks are available in different types, styles and colors so choosing the perfect one for your kitchen is not quite as easy as you may think. Regardless of the type that you choose for your kitchen, the installation is nearly the same for each sink.

Styles & Materials: Consider the space available to you and the style of sink that would be preferable for it. Most sinks are made in either single-bowl or double-bowl styles, but triple-bowls are also available. Consider a triple-bowl if you need extra room for pots and pans. Triple-bowls are also beneficial if you wish to have an extra sink specifically for your garbage disposal. The third sink is usually smaller to take up less space, while still separating your garbage disposal from your dishes. When choosing a sink size and type, keep in mind exactly what are your kitchen sink needs.

A more expensive surface finish is enameled cast iron which is a very heavy, durable material. The enamel finish is available in an array of colors to accent any kitchen.
Most stainless steel or enameled cast iron sinks are available in 18 gauge, 20 gauge, or 22 gauge, depending on your needs. All are equipped with holes for the assembly of faucet and other accessories.

Types of Sinks: The most commonly used sinks are self-rimming sinks and surface-mounted sinks. The self-rimming sink has its own rim which is built into the sink itself, whereas the surface-mounted sink must be attached by a separate metal rim and tightening screws. Both types are similar in installation and fairly easy to install. One type of sink which is slightly more difficult to install is the undermount, also known as recessed, sink. This sink eliminates the upper ring, so food and debris can be wiped directly into the sink. When installing an undermount sink, it is important to pay close attention to the size of the hole you are sawing to avoid water leaks.

Tools and Materials You Need:

Sink of choice
Strainer assembly, faucet and accessories of choice
Saber saw (or hand saw and keyhole saw)
Plumber's putty
Supply tubing
Flat wrenches

Step 1: Trace an Opening on the Countertop: Begin by marking your countertop for cut out. Most kitchen sinks are installed directly into the countertop or the existing plywood if you plan to install tile around the sink. When tracing your opening on the plywood or countertop, leave at least 1 1/2 inches on the front edge of the sink.


Remember that if your countertop is wider than 24 inches, you should leave more than 1 1/2 inches depending on the size of the countertop, but do not leave more that 3 to 4 inches. Once the sink is positioned in a preferable spot, trace around the edge of the sink. After removing the sink, draw a line 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch inside the traced outline of the sink.

• Caution: The easiest method to ensure the correct size opening for the sink is to place the sink upside down on the countertop or plywood sheet and trace around the outer edge of the sink. If you are installing a surface-mounted sink, use the metal rim as the template to trace around.

Step 2: Cut the Sink Hole: Now you are ready to cut the opening for the sink. Drill 4 holes, one in each corner inside the inner line. These holes will be starting points for the sawing, so they must be large enough to fit the blade of a saber saw. Once your holes are drilled, saw along the inner line between each hole with a saber saw. Since the rim of the sink will cover the sawed edges, it is not necessary for the edges to be perfectly straight. Pay close attention to staying close to the inner line while sawing to ensure correct placement of the sink. Remember to attach the faucet and sink accessories to the sink before sink installation.

• Tip: If a saber saw is not available to you, a hand saw will work just as well for the straight edged sawing and a keyhole saw will work for the curved edges.

Step 3: Insert the Sink: Apply a layer of plumber's putty around the rim of the sink. Use sealant if included with the sink. Position the sink in the hole and press down firmly. After the sink is positioned and securely in place, you can attach the faucet to the plumbing source. Using a length of supply tubing, attach the faucet to each angle stop. Once the faucet is connected, tighten each nut with a flat wrench.

Step 4: Assemble and Attach the Drain: Finally, install the drain piece into the sink. Distribute plumber's putty along the edge of the drain opening and press the strainer body into place. Once the drain is correctly in position, tighten the locknut with a wrench. By following the manufacturer's directions, assemble the p-trap and connect it to the drain opening. You will want to use two slip nuts to connect the assembled piece to the drain stub out. Once the assembled drain is in place, tighten the nuts firmly by hand.

• Tip: While tightening with a wrench, hold the drain steady with a pliers the keep the strainer from turning out of place
Faucet Basics

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


Faucets are available in an ever-increasing variety of types and styles, no matter if they are for the kitchen or bathroom. Aside from the standard chrome faucet with compression type valves, there are also faucets that use ball valves, cartridges and even ceramic discs, all available in stainless steel, brass, or colored enamel finishes.

Choosing the right faucet may seem confusing, but it really boils down to just three considerations, size, finish, and function. Size refers to how the holes are configured on your sink as well as general considerations of whether or not the handles will have enough room to swing around. The finish, aside from what you think looks good, is best evaluated by the length of any guarantee the manufacturer offers. Finally, function refers to the method in which the faucet operates; one or two valves, or a levered operation.

Before you start...
• Caution: Make sure to wear safety glasses when working under the sink as bits of rust and metal can fall into your eyes as you are working.
• Helpful Tips: Before doing any work on your faucet make sure to close the drain so small parts do not fall in it.
• Helpful Tips: When choosing a faucet, especially a shower/bath faucet, choose handles that can be easily griped and turned with soapy hands. Round, sleek handles may look nice until your hand slips trying to turn off water that is too hot.
• Helpful Tips: If your faucet or shower pressure is low or uneven, try cleaning the aerator or showerhead. Just unscrew it, take it apart being careful to keep track of the parts and their order, and clean any grit out of the showerhead. Then reassemble and reinstall it.

Learning Tips


1. The basic parts of a faucet are as follows; the tail piece (a), The distance between tail pieces (b), the mounting nut (c) to hold the faucet to the sink, the supply tube (d) for supplying the water to the faucet, the shutoff valve (e) where the supply of water to the faucet can be turned off before commencing repairs, the aerator (f) mixes the water coming out of the spout with air to prevent splashing, the control valve (g) detailed in the next four steps, controls the flow of water out of the spout.

2. Faucets with compression valves are almost always made with separate hot and cold valves. What distinguishes a compression valve from other types is that it will have a rubber washer at its base that compresses against a valve seat to shut off the water. Often this action of the washer compressing against the valve seat can be felt as a slight increase in turning resistance as you shut off the water. To repair a compression type valve you most likely will have to replace the rubber parts or replace/resurface the valve seat.

3. Faucets with Ball-type valves are found on single handle faucets. Typically, a ball valves action is like a car stick shift only with left and right motions controlling the hot and cold and front and back to control the flow. Repair involves replacing the rubber parts, which are typically sold in kits. Sometimes you may need more than a repair kit as some moving parts that not included in repair kits, such as the ball, can also cause leaks from wear.

4. Faucets with cartridge type valves are available in both single and double handle styles. The double handle styles operate just like compression valves with the exception that the action is completely consistent with no need to apply any extra pressure when closing the valve as you do sometimes with compression valves.


The action for single handle faucets resembles that of ball valves except that the flow is controlled by raising or lowering the handle, instead of pushing it front or back. Repair of these valves involves replacing the entire cartridge. This is convenient as the cartridge often contains all the parts subject to wear. However, it should be noted that the cartridge could also be expensive.

5. Faucets with ceramic discs are a relatively recent development. Their operation is virtually indistinguishable from cartridge type valves, however because of the durable materials used, if there are problems you should only have to take them apart and clean the parts to repair leaks.

6. There are three basic hole configurations for mounting faucets on sinks. The most popular configuration is two holes that are four inches apart on center (measured from the center of the holes, see "a") with a center hole between them (three holes total). Another similar configuration is two holes eight inches apart on center with a center hole between them (often called a spread set configuration). Finally, there might be just a single hole, a common configuration for newer sinks and faucets.

7. Working on faucets requires some specialized tools. Aside from the usual wrenches and pliers that can be found in most toolboxes, you should also have a basin wrench (a) for turning faucet mounting nuts from under a sink, a set of deep sockets (b) for removing shower/bath valves, a seat wrench (c) for unscrewing valve seats, a seat-dressing tool (d) for resurfacing non removable seats, and a handle puller (e) to safely remove handles that are stuck.

How to Install a Faucet

When redecorating or modernizing your kitchen, don't forget the faucets. The beauty of a new faucet can bring a modern look to any kitchen. Modern faucets are very different from those made years ago. Since they have acquired many more parts, they have become slightly more difficult to install. Although the process can be confusing, the modern sinks are much more durable and last longer so it is worth your while. In addition, the many different parts on the modern faucet working together result in fewer leaking problems. This is a project that anyone can do.

Types: The 2 main faucet types most commonly used are compression faucets and mixing faucets. The compression faucet has a handle that gives water pressure by twisting on and off. It is usually seen in hose bibs, which are outdoor faucets, washing machine hookups, and dual-handled sink fixtures. The modern type is the mixing faucet or the washer less faucet. It has a lever or knob that controls water flow and temperature.


The mixing faucet is more durable than the compression faucet so it has become more frequently used. This type is used for sinks, bathtubs, showers and wash basins. Faucet Variations: If you are buying a new faucet without supply yubing, buy two supply tubes of either braided steel or vinyl mesh to be attached to the faucet. You can also use BP plastic or chromed copper for supply tubing, or just buy a faucet that comes with pre-attached copper supply tubes, which connect directly to the water supply.

Tools and Materials You Need:

• Penetrating oil

• Basin wrench or channel-type pliers
• Putty knife
• Caulk gun
• Adjustable wrenches
• Faucet of choice (including sink sprayer)
• Silicone caulk or plumber's putty
• Two flexible supply tubes

Removing the Old Faucet

Step 1: Remove Coupling Nuts: Turn off the water before you begin. Using penetrating oil, spray the tailpiece mounting nuts and coupling nuts to loosen them for detaching. Using a basin wrench or channel-type pliers, remove the coupling nuts. Turn off the water before you begin. Using penetrating oil, spray the tailpiece mounting nuts and coupling nuts to loosen them for detaching. Using a basin wrench or channel-type pliers, remove the coupling nuts.

Step 2: Unscrew Tailpiece: Use a basin wrench or channel-type pliers to unscrew the tailpiece mounting nuts and remove the faucet.

Step 3: Clean the Surface: After removing the faucet, scrape away the old putty from the surface of the sink with a putty knife.

Installing New Faucet with Separate Supply Tubing

Step 1: Insert the Faucet: Insert the new faucet into the sink's holes. Using either silicone caulk or plumber's putty, apply a bead 1/4-inch thick to the base of the faucet as seen in figure 3. Attach the faucet to the sink making sure the base is parallel to the back of the sink. Press the faucet down firmly so that it is sealed tightly to the sink. Wipe the excess caulk from the surface of the faucet after it has been pressed into place.

Step 2: Tighten the Nuts: Connect the metal friction washers and then the mounting nuts to the tailpiece using a basin wrench or channel-type pliers.

Step 3: Attach the Tubing: Attach the supply tubes to the tailpiece and use a basin wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the coupling nuts.

Step 4: Connect the Water Source: When the supply tubing is attached to the sink, connect it to the water source at the shutoff valves using compression fittings. Tighten the nuts by hand then, using an adjustable wrench, tighten the nuts 1/4 of a turn. This will ensure that the nuts are not on too tight.

• Tip: When tightening the supply tubing to the valve, hold the valve with another wrench to keep it from turning out of place.

Installing Faucet with Pre-attached Tubing

Step 1: Install the Faucet: Follow the same instructions as you would when installing a faucet with separate tubing. It is not necessary to connect tubing to the faucet since it is already pre-attached, so leave out.

Step 2: Connect Supply Tubing: Using a basin wrench or channel-type pliers, connect the pre-attached supply tubes to the shutoff valves. The tubing labeled red connects to the hot water source and the tubing labeled blue connects to the cold water source.

Attaching a Sink Sprayer

Step 1: Insert Sprayer: Using plumber's putty or silicone caulk, apply a bead 1/4 inch thick to the base of the sprayer. Insert the end of the sprayer hose into the sink opening and press the sprayer into place.

Step 2: Attach Mounting Nut: Screw the mounting nut onto the tailpiece of the sprayer after placing a washer over the tailpiece. Tighten the mounting nut with a basin wrench or channel-type pliers and remove the extra putty from the base of the sprayer.

Step 3: Attach the Hose to the Faucet: Connect the hose to the hose nipple found on the bottom of the faucet. Using a basin wrench or channel-type pliers, tighten the screw 1/4 of a turn.

How To Replace a Faucet

Faucets are replaced for a variety of reasons. There are several things to look out for when choosing a new faucet. The hole patterns of your old faucet should match the pattern of the new faucet. If there is any doubt about the pattern, take the old faucet with you or measure carefully for the hole placement.

Step 1 . Cut water supply off at the shut off valves. These are usually under the sink; if not cut the water off to the home from outside at the main water valve.

Step 2 . Remove the supply lines with a crescent wrench. Some water is left in the lines so a catch basin or bucket will be needed.

Step 3 . With the supply lines disconnected, you can now remove the faucet by releasing the nuts under the counter top. Use a basin wrench to do this because it is a tight area to work in. If the nuts are difficult to remove use penetrating oil to loosen the nuts. Disconnect the other end of the supply lines and lift the faucet out after removing the nuts.

Note: The pop-up stopper in the sink will need to be disconnected before removing the faucet. The three most common assemblies are:
1. Those that sit on top of the pivot rod and simply lift out.
2. Those that require a twist to free them because of a slot that hooks the body to the arm.
3. Stoppers that are attached with a pivot rod. The pivot rod is released by loosening a clevis screw on the lift rod assembly. Know which type of stopper you have. It is a good idea to draw a diagram when disconnecting the stopper to help with the reassembly.

Step 4 . Apply Teflon tape to prevent leaks at each new nipple. Check the new faucet for a gasket. If the new faucet does not have a gasket, use plumber's putty to create a seal.

Step 5 . Replace the basin nuts and attach the supply lines. Check the seat of the lines. Make sure the brass washer is in good shape and fits down properly before tightening the supply line nuts.

Salvaging that Unreplaceable Faucet Stem

I have an outside shower that the family uses all summer long. The faucet stems are old and the flat ends (that support the washer) have broken and present a partial flat end thereby making it impossible to place even pressure on the washer and seat. Therefore the darned thing leaks no matter how often the washers are replaced and replaced and replaced! Drilling a hole in the middle of a penny (pennies are NOT considered legal tender, so this is a lawful act) and screwing the penny into the stem firmly, makes it easy to grind it on a grinding wheel to the appropriate size.


I then use acid flux to sweat-solder the penny in position using a torch for heat. Use a steel screw to hold the penny in position for the soldering job. The solder won't hold to the screw so it will come out after the whole thing cools down. You can then use the typical brass screw to mount the washer. This helpful article was provided by community member Walter Kast.

If you are interested in sharing your do-it-yourself knowledge

Repair a Leaky Washer-Type Faucet

If you're not into water torture, then you probably can't stand the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. Fortunately, you don't need to call a plumber to save you. These steps detail how to fix the leak in a washer-type faucet in no time.

Washer-type faucets work with a rubber or composition washer that closes onto a metal washer seat When the washer becomes hardened, worn or the washer seat wears, it causes the faucet to leak. You can close the faucet tighter to stop the leaking temporarily, but this increases the internal damage to the faucet.


Here's how to fix it.

Step 1. Turn off the Water: If there's a shutoff valve beneath the fixture, turn off the water at that point. Otherwise, turn it off at the main house shutoff valve in the basement, utility room, or crawlspace. Turn off the hot water supply at the water heater.

Step 2. Take the Faucet Apart: Start by removing the handle (this may not be necessary on some older faucets). Loosen the Phillips-head screw, which usually is beneath a decorative cap in the center of the handle. The cap either unscrews or snaps off when you pry it with a knife blade.

Next, lift or pry the handle off its broached stem. Unscrew the packing nut beneath the handle, exposing the rest of the stem. Remove the stem by rotating it in the "on" direction. It will thread out. Reinstall the handle if you have difficulty turning it . Clean chips from the faucet cavity, but do not use harsh abrasives or a file.

• Tip: If you must use pliers on decorative faucet parts, pad them with electrical tape or cloth to protect the finish. And take special care with the plastic parts found on many modern faucets.

Step 3. Examine the Stem: If the threads are badly corroded or worn, take it to your retailer and get a new stem to match. Clean the stem if it's dirty.

Step 4. Check the Washer: The washer is located on the lower end of the stem and held in place by a brass screw. If the washer is squeezed flat or has a groove worn in it, replace it - this should stop any dripping. Take the washer to your True Value store or dealer to ensure an exact match in size and style. If the brass screw is damaged, replace it with a new brass screw.

• Tip: It's important to install the correct type of faucet washer. A swiveling washer is preferable to either A or B. To install washer style C, file the shoulder off the end of the stem, drill out the threads of the screw hole. Instead of rubbing against the seat as it closes, a swiveling washer closes with a straight-down, frictionless action - this allows it to outlast fixed washers.

Step5. Look at Washer Seat: Any faucet that needs frequent washer replacement usually has a damaged seat. The washer seat is located inside the faucet body. The seat should either be refaced with a seat-dressing tool or replaced:

Replace Washer Seat: Some washer seats can be unthreaded and replaced. Check the faucet body with a flashlight to see if it has a square or hexagonal hole through its center or is slotted for a screwdriver; if so, it is replaceable. (However, if the seat simply has a round hole through its center and no slots, it is not replaceable. In this case, reface it with a seat-dressing tool.)

To replace it, you'll need a faucet seat wrench, which comes with a combination of square and hex heads to fit most faucet seats. Turn the washer seat counterclockwise to loosen, clockwise to tighten. Add a little silicone rubber sealant (RTV) or pipe joint compound around the threads of the seat before you install it to make it easier to remove during future repairs.

Reface Washer Seat: A seat-dressing tool is not costly and every home with washer-type faucets needs one. Use the tool according to the manufacturer's directions, placing it in the faucet along with the packing nut. Then rotate until the seat is smooth, and blow out the chips.

Step 6. Put Back Together: Following this seat and washer service, your faucet should be like new. Put the parts back together in the reverse order of taking them apart. Spread a bit of petroleum jelly or silicone grease on the threads of the stem to lubricate the faucet's action.

Step 7. If Faucet Leaks Around the Stem: If your faucet is leaking around the stem rather than from the spigot, install new packing. You may want to install one of the newer nylon-covered or graphite-impregnated packings - their lubrication allows the faucet handle to turn more freely.

Wrap one turn of this packing around the stem just beneath the packing nut. Use three complete wraps if you're applying string-type packing. Some stems use O-rings, rather than packing. For these stems, replace the O-ring with a matching one to stop a leak. Hand tighten the packing nut, then tighten it another half-turn.

Tools and Materials:
• Smooth-jaw adjustable wrench
• Screwdrivers, standard and Phillips
• Pliers
• Faucet washers
• Brass screws
• Stem
• Silicone grease or petroleum jelly
• Seat dressing tool or Seat & Seat wrench
• Silicone rubber sealant or pipe compound
• Socket wrench
• Packing
• Cleaning cloths
• Hand cleaner

Filtering Faucets Offer Convenience and Clean Water
By: Paul Bianchina

Many people are concerned about what's in the water they drink, but until recently, there have only been two options: bottled water or bulky home filtration systems. Within the last couple of years, however, at least two of the major faucet manufacturers -- Moen and Price Pfister -- have combined in-home filtration with the convenience of a standard kitchen faucet. Know as "filtering faucets," both of these units are attractive, easy-to-use faucets that are designed to replace almost any standard sink-mounted kitchen faucet. The faucets from both manufacturers -- Moen's "Pure Touch" and Price Pfister's "Pfilter Pfaucet" -- are top-quality single-handle units with a pull-out faucet head and are available in chrome and white. The Moen faucet is also available in almond.


Both units operate in essentially the same manner. When you turn on the tap, unfiltered water flows through the faucet head at a full-pressure flow as with any conventional faucet. This allows for dishwashing, cleaning, and other normal faucet operations at full flow and does not use up any of the filtering capacity. There is also a button that switches the standard water stream to a spray, also unfiltered. At the touch of the button located on the faucet head, the unit switches into filtering mode. Water is diverted through the filter and comes out the faucet head fully filtered and ready to drink.


The faucet heads are designed with two separate water channels in them, so the flows of filtered and unfiltered water never mix. As you would expect since the water is being diverted through a filtering mechanism, the flow rate is considerably reduced from the unfiltered flow. Both faucets contain a replaceable filter cartridge that's conveniently located right in the faucet head and can be changed without any tools. Simply unlock the filter compartment, slide out the used filter cartridge, and replace it with a new one. Both faucet models have filter cartridges that will filter about 200 gallons of water -- about a three-month supply of filtered water for the average family.

Moen's Pure Touch units are more expensive than the Price Pfister models, in the $400 range as opposed to around $200. For the additional money, Moen gives you a few more features as well as some additional filtering options. With the Moen unit, you have a choice of three filters, all of which are manufactured by Culligan. The MicroTech 5000 filter reduces chlorine to improve taste and odor as well as lead and two potentially harmful water-borne microorganisms: Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The MicroTech 3000 filter reduces chlorine for taste and odor as well as lead. The 2000 model filter is for chlorine only.


All of the cartridges run around $25. Another nice feature of the Moen PureTouch is a battery-powered alarm in the faucet head which signals you when the filter has reached capacity and needs to be changed, and also tells you if you've reinstalled the new cartridge correctly. Price Pfister's,Pfilter,Pfaucet, is designed for taste and odor, filtering out about 95% of the chlorine. Their replacement filter cartridges, which use a ceramic-disk valve, cost around $10. Both of these filtering faucets are available at most plumbing supply retailers as well as some of the larger home centers and discount outlets -- either in stock or by special order. The cartridges for both are typically available wherever you buy the faucet.


Both will fit the 8"-on-center holes found in just about any kitchen sink. Either faucet can be installed with standard tools, although you may need a basin wrench to reach up to the nuts that hold the faucet to the underside of the sink. Basin wrenches can be purchased wherever you buy the faucet, or if you only need it once, they can be rented as well. If you are purchasing the faucet for the removal of specific microorganisms for health reasons, be sure and read all of the manufacturer's filtering specifications carefully and discuss them with your doctor. Below the tank that holds the assembly in place, then lift the entire ball cock assembly out of the tank and discard it.


If you have trouble removing the nut, soak it in oil for ten minutes or so -- don't force it, or you run the risk of cracking the porcelain of the tank. Installing the new ball cock or float cup assembly is the reverse of the removal process. Install the new rubber washer under the bottom of the assembly, and pass the lower threaded portion through the bottom of the tank. Install the lower washers, secure the assembly with a new nut, and reinstall the water line. All of the necessary washers, nuts and other parts are supplied with the new unit, so don't reuse any of the old stuff. Complete installation instructions are included. Turn the water back on, and let the tank fill.


Following the instructions supplied with the unit, adjust the assembly to achieve the proper water level inside the tank. For a ball assembly, this is done by moving the float ball in or out on the float arm, and also moving the adjusting screw located where the float arm meets the valve assembly. To adjust a float cup assembly, squeeze the retaining clip on the cup and move the cup up or down to the proper level. Finally, flush the tank a couple of times to check for smooth -- and now quiet -- operation.

Copyright 2001-2002 Inman News Features. Distributed by Inman News Features

Opening a Clogged Toilet
Step 1: A regular suction cup plunger will seldom do the job (B). A force ball-type plunger exerts a great deal more pressure for cleaning toilets than the regular type.
Be sure to have sufficient water in the toilet bowl when using the plunger.

Step 2: If the plunger does not clear the clogged drain, use a closet auger (Fig. 10). Start the auger or snake into the bowl and continue to crank it until it becomes tight. This cranking and pulling action will usually bring up the object that is causing the stoppage.
Step 3: If the closet auger is not effective, use a small snake in the same way as described for opening lavatory drains.

Step 4: If neither the plunger, the closet auger, nor the snake removes the obstruction, you may need to remove the toilet from the floor, turn it upside down, and force the obstruction out from the top or bottom.

Step 5: If you must remove the toilet from the floor, use either a wax preformed O-ring or fresh plumber's putty in reseating the toilet.

Courtesy of National Retail Hardware Association

Plunging Without a Plunger

A quick, clean and easy way to unclog a toilet.

Tools: A nearby waste basket or water bucket

Tips: An alternative to using a plunger to clear a clogged toilet when the water level in the bowl is low is to use hydrostatic pressure.


To accomplish this, fill a bucket or plastic wastebasket with water (I usually use warm water) and pour it into the clogged toilet from waist level or above . This is usually enough force to clear the clog. Sometimes it's necessary to repeat the process. There's no clean-up required, other than splash-back, and the tools are usually handy.

This helpful article was provided by community member Chuck Cook. If you are interested in sharing your do-it-yourself knowledge and know-how with the's community,
How to Remove and Replace a Toilet

Step 1 Turn the water off at the supply lines. Flush the toilet several times to remove water from the bowl and tank. Use a sponge to remove any remaining water from the tank and the bowl.

Step 2 . Remove the wing nuts that attach the tank to the bowl. If they are corroded, use penetrating oil to help loosen them.

Step 3 . Disconnect the water supply lines. Now the tank is ready to remove from the bowl.

Step 4 . Remove the caps at the base of the toilet. These may be severely corroded and require penetrating oil. If the corrosion is severe you may have to grind or cut off the nuts. Use a utility knife to cut the caulk at the base of the bowl for easy removal.

Step 5 . Lift off the bowl. The seal is now visible. Be careful to get the right wax seal. Some wax seals come with extensions for floors that have been built up. Some wax seals can be joined back to back to create a double height seal as well. If there is any question about the seal you need, take the old seal with you and the name of the toilet MANUFACTURER so a perfect match can be made.

Step 6 . Make sure the seal is room temperature or warmer before refitting the bowl. Lift the bowl back over the nuts into position. Rotate the bowl back and forth several times to seat the seal. Line the bowl up with the wall and check to make sure the bowl is level.

Step 7 . Replace the nuts at the bottom of the bowl and fill the caps with plumbers putty to keep water out.

Step 8 . Put the tank on the bowl. Check the spud washer for any damage. If damaged replace it now.

Step 9 . Tighten up the wing nuts and reconnect the water supply lines. Turn the water on and flush the toilet several times to check for any leaks.

Step 10 . Re-caulk the base of the bowl to create a water proof seal which protects the floor and provides additional stability.

Replacing the Toilet Tank Parts

The parts inside a toilet tank are used several times each day and are constantly submerged in water. This causes a lot of wear and tear on these parts, but the good news is, they are very easy to replace. There are three main parts in the tank:

• Handle
• Flush valve
• Ballcock

Replace the Handle

The handles need to be changed every once in a while because they crack or break. Also, if you are redecorating you might want to get a brass handle to go with a brass faucet.

Tools and Materials:
• Adjustable wrench
• Handle with hand lever

Step 1: Remove Handle: Detach the old handle by turning the mounting nut clockwise (the nut has reversed threads)

Step 2: Attach New Handle: Place the new handle through the handle hole on the tank. Inside the tank attach the new handle lever, or reuse the old one, to the handle. Tighten the mounting nut using the wrench by going counterclockwise.

Replace Flush Valve

Tools and Materials:

• Sponges
• Flat head screwdriver
• Adjustable wrench
• Spud wrench or channel-type pliers
• Flush valve
• Rubber flapper
• Lift chain

Step 1: Empty Tank: Shut off the water by turning the angle stop, the knob on the bottom left of the toilet. Flush the toilet to get rid of the water in the tank. Mop the remaining water with the sponge.

Step 2: Remove Supply Tube: Disconnect the supply tube from the tank using the wrench. This is the tube that runs from the tank to the angle stop.

Step 3: Remove Tank: Unbolt the tank from the bowl. It might be stuck on well, so grab the bolt with the wrench and use the screwdriver to unscrew the bolt. Lift the tank off the bowl and turn it over.

Step 4: Take Out Old Flush Valve: Take the spud washer off the pipe that sticks out of the bottom of the tank. Use the spud wrench or channel-type pliers and unscrew the spud nut. Remove the flush valve.

Step 5: Replace Old Flush Valve: Put the cone washer over the tailpiece so that the beveled edge of the washer faces up toward the pipe. Turn the tank right side up. Put the flush valve into the hole in the tank so that the little tailpiece sticks out the bottom. Position the valve so that the overflow pipe is next to the ballcock.

Step 6: Install Spud Nut: Turn the tank over and use the spud wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the spud nut onto the tailpiece. Put the spud washer over the spud nut. Turn the tank right side up.

Step 7: Reattach Tank: Place the tank onto the bowl making sure that the spud washer goes through the hole in the bowl. Bolt the tank to the bowl using the wrench and the screwdriver.

• Caution: Don't over tighten the bolts or it can break the porcelain. The bolts should just be snug.

Step 8: Put In Flapper: Attach the flapper to the overflow pipe inside the bowl. There are little lugs that it attaches to. Attach the lever chain from the flapper to the handle lever. The chain should be taut.

Step 9: Attach Supply Tube: If there are no more repairs, reattach the supply tube to the tank and turn the water on.

Replace Float-Cup Ballcock

The ballcock comes in different types. A newer style, to replace the old float-arm ball type, is the float-cup ballcock. This is recommended because it is more water efficient and is made of plastic, which wears better. The float ball-arm is made of brass which can warp, affecting the water level. The following instructions use the float cup ballcock because it is new and better.

Tools and Materials:
• Sponges
• Adjustable wrench
• Ballcock

Step 1: Empty Tank: Shut off the water by turning the angle stop, the knob to the bottom left of the toilet. Flush the toilet to get rid of the water in the tank. Mop the remaining water with the sponge.

Step 2: Undo Supply Tube and Remove Ballcock: Disconnect the supply tube from the tank using the wrench. The supply tube is the tube that runs from the angle stop to the tank. Take off the mounting nut and remove the ballcock.

Step 3: Install New Ballcock: Place the new ballcock through the hole in the tank. Adjust it so that the lid fits on the toilet. Bend the refill tube so the tip fits into the overflow tube on the flush valve.

Step 4: Reattach Supply Tube: Attach the coupling nut on the underside of the tank. If you have no more repairs, attach the supply tube to the tank.

Step 5: Open Angle Stop: Turn the water back on at the angle stop.

Step 6: Correct Water Level: Adjust the water so that it is 1/2 inch below the top of the overflow tube. You adjust the ballcock by pinching the spring clip. This moves the float cup up and down. Move the float cup up to raise the water level and move the cup down to lower the water.

Written by Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, Fairfield, CT.

Replacing Your Toilet

The toilet is often looked at as a set feature of your bathroom. But it isn't. You'll want to replace the toilet when remodeling your bathroom so it matches your new decor. Or you may want to get one that's more efficient.

There are two main versions that look similar but have some different operations. However both meet the federal law that states that new toilets can only use 1.6 gallons of water per flush.

• Gravity-Operated Toilet: Most commonly used today, it carefully regulates the inflow of water. Gravity-operated toilets are best used in houses that have low water pressure.

• Pressure-Tank Toilet: Named so because it pressurizes the water when it is filling and rapidly releases the pressure when flushed. This causes the water to be forcefully pushed from the toilet. One possible drawback is that when it flushes it makes a loud noise.


However, this is a good toilet when the sewer is far away (such as in the country) or it often clogs. The increased pressure helps break up any debris in the pipe.
Prices range from the blue collar toilet to the royal throne. You just need to choose the model type, color and shape that you want.

Measure first: Before you buy, make sure the toilet will fit. Measure the distance from the wall to the pipe that is in the floor. Measure from the wall (not the baseboard) to the center of the bolt that holds the toilet to the floor. Measure to the closest bolt if there are two. The customary distance is 12 inches but it could be more, or less.

Tools and Materials You Need:
• Sponges and rags
• Plunger
• 8-inch adjustable wrench
• 8-inch flat head screwdriver
• Hacksaw
• Pan
• Putty knife
• Wax or rubber closet seal
• Toilet
• Parts for inside the tank: ballcock, flush valve, handle, handle lever, rubber flapper, chain for flapper (you need to buy these but some parts might come as a kit so you might not have to buy them all individually)
• Brass closet and tank bolts (some toilets come with these but they might be plated steel, you want brass)
• Level
• Spud wrench or 10-inch channel-type pliers
• Flexible supply tube (if old one won't reach new tank)
• Tubing bender (need if using new supply tube)
• Tubing cutter (need if using new supply tube)
• Brass compression fittings
• Pipe joint compound
• Adjustable wrench

Tip: There are different types of ballcocks that you can get. The most durable and water efficient is the float cup ballcock. This ballcock regulates the water better and it is made from plastic which protects it from rust and warping. Avoid the ballcock made from brass, which can bend and warp.

Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Solutions

Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

     1. Read Phil’s five plain-English,
mold advice books to master mold inspection, testing, removal, remediation, and prevention for your house, condo, apartment, office,  or workplace.

     2. Buy do-it-yourself, affordable mold test kits, mold lab analysis, video inspection scope, mold cleaner, mold killer,
and a mold-killing high ozone generator for the  successful toxic and household mold inspection, mold testing, mold species identification and quantification, mold cleaning, mold removal, and mold remediation to find mold, kill mold, clean mold, and remove mold from your residence or commercial building.

     3. Get FREE mold advice, mold help, and/or answers to your mold questions, by emailing mold expert Phillip Fry at You can also email pictures of your mold problems in jpeg file format as email attachments.

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Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Solutions

Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

     1. Read Phil’s five plain-English,
mold advice books to master mold inspection, testing, removal, remediation, and prevention for your house, condo, apartment, office,  or workplace.

     2. Buy do-it-yourself, affordable mold test kits, mold lab analysis, video inspection scope, mold cleaner, mold killer,
and a mold-killing high ozone generator for the  successful toxic and household mold inspection, mold testing, mold species identification and quantification, mold cleaning, mold removal, and mold remediation to find mold, kill mold, clean mold, and remove mold from your residence or commercial building.

     3. Get FREE mold advice, mold help, and/or answers to your mold questions, by emailing mold expert Phillip Fry at . You can also email pictures of your mold problems in jpeg file format as email attachments.

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