10 Tips to Fix a Leaky Toilet in your Bathroom

There’s nothing more annoying – and costly – in the bathroom than a leaky toilet. Every drop into the bowl represents a penny being absorbed that adds up to significant overages on your monthly bill. Another result of a leaky toilet is the bowl getting low and refilling itself in the middle of the night or every 25 minutes, making you think you have a ghost with a bad prostate as a roommate. Some people get used to the white noise of a toilet flushing after putting up with it for years but a better solution is to try these tips for fixing that freaky leak.

You can check the first item off your list on whether or not to fix a leaky toilet by first finding out if you have one. Place food coloring in the tank of the toilet and if the bowl starts filling up with colored water, congratulations you’ve got a leak to fix.

Watch the Toilet Flush

The best way to figure out what is causing the toilet to leak or function improperly is to get a bird’s eye view of the situation. Sure, you may not be very familiar with how the internal workings of a toilet are supposed to operate but taking off the back lid and just watching it operate will help cross off general malfunctions. You might notice that there is something lodged in the flapper or that the toilet chain is tangled or any other tell-tale signs which could be causing this irritating leak.

Make Sure the Water Line is Met

Checking out your toilet’s water line is much akin to the doctor putting the stethoscope on a patient’s heart. Water that is significantly below the fill line is a sure sign of a leak somewhere in the toilet mechanism. On the other hand, water that is beyond the line shows that there may be blockage somewhere preventing the tank from draining completely.

toilet water line

Examine the Refill Tube

There is a small tube with a clip on it that points to a pipe (overflow pipe) in the toilet. When you flush the toilet you’ll notice how this small refill tube shoots water into the pipe. The first thing you should inspect is if the refill tube has obvious leaks in it. Next make sure the alignment of the refill tube is just above the overflow pipe and not submerged. Finally make sure the refill tube has a natural flow to it, kind of like an up-facing arc so that water doesn’t get stuck in the tube.


toilet refill tube

Check the Flapper

Toilet flappers are the small valves that open and close to let water in and out. Over the years these devices will become worn and will thus let water out even when closed. In many cases replacing this flapper is the $3.00 fix a leaky toilet fix that has been jacking up your water bill for months.

Ballcock Inspection

Before buying and installing a new ball cock assembly, first try adjusting it to allow different water levels. This unit is the one with the noticeable floating ball that rises as the toilet fills with water and shuts off when it reaches a certain level. There are four different types of ballcock assembly types so you’ll have to investigate your specific unit. Most often there is a screw that turns to adjust the unit up and down. Experiment with the height with this screw and gently bend the float assembly upward or downward until water reaches the correct line and the leaks stop.

Inspect the Float

Another thing to investigate is the ball float itself. The device should be sitting fully on top of the water and if it is submerged in any way there could be a small hole in the ball. This is an easy and inexpensive fix as the ball simply screws off the arm.

Adjust the Chain

A chain runs from the flip lever to the flapper and serves as the bridge between the two objects. The chain pulls the flapper up to let water out when flushed and guides it back down during the refill. The chain can not be too tight or too lose or else the toilet won’t flush or refill properly. Inspect and/or adjust the chain so that there’s minimal slack when the flapper is closed.

Bent Lift Arm

The arm that runs from the fill valve to the ball float is known as the lift arm. Sometimes slight bending is required to get the water line to the correct level. If this device gets too bent up though it will inhibit the efficient flushing of the toilet. In some cases its best just to replace this device.

Other Slow Leak Causes

There are a number of rubber gaskets,washers and other small devices inside the toilet that could be the cause of a slow leak. These can deteriorate and crack letting water flow when it’s not supposed to. Inspecting and replacing these small components could be the key to stopping the water flow the way to finally find the success to fix a leaky toilet.

Most solutions to the problem of a leaky toilet are relatively inexpensive to purchase and viable DIY projects. Of course if you don’t feel comfortable messing with the plumbing and toilet components, a professional plumber can usually solve the problem in less than an hour. It may be excruciating to pay for a service call, but remember that a silent leak in a toilet could be using up to 7,000 gallons of water per month.

Bathroom Demolition: Things To Know Before Tearing It Apart!

There’s one common denominator that almost every homeowner refers to when discussing the lack of a bathroom remodel – “it’s just not in the budget.”

It’s true that renovating a bathroom can be quite the expensive project. According to the 2014 Cost vs. Value report, a midscale restroom remodel runs about $16,000. That being said the project brings a return on investment of about 73%, which is actually one of the better ROI percentages in the industry. Plus even more money can be recouped with a water saving toilet, sink, and shower that lowers utility bills.

Now that the value of a bathroom remodel has been established, we must look for ways to lower the cost as much as possible. A great way to limit the financial pain of the entire project and to save budget room for other amenities is to DIY the demolition of the current bathroom. The task will involve some elbow grease and there’s much more to demo than bashing walls with a sledgehammer (although that is one fun and stress-relieving aspect), but taking on this project by yourself can save you some significant funds…not to mention get you in good graces with the contractor who by this point in his or her career the demo bloom is off the rose.

bathroom demolition

Here’s what you need to know for successful DIY bathroom demolition:

Contact the Contractor
Obviously you’ll need to contact a contractor to get the work done but it’s best to get ahold of them right before you start the demo as well. First off you want to make sure they’re on schedule to visit your house on the set upon dates. You don’t want to smash up your bathroom and remove your toilet only to find out they’re still a month out from getting to your house. Second, the contractor can do one final visit and mark out what’s going and what is staying as per their blueprint and your wishes. Taking out a wall that was supposed to stay or removing tiling when not needed will significantly raise the final billing costs.

Prep Work
Once you’ve developed and confirmed a demo plan, it’s time to prepare for the job. There is a checklist that should be followed:

  • Acquire a dumpster to place all the old drywall, tile, and fixtures. Even a smaller bathroom that’s being remodeled will result in a huge pile of rubbish and you need somewhere to put it all.
  • Get the necessary tools required such as a sledgehammer, tile chipper, prybar, sink wrench, utility knife, screw gun, etc.
  • Use protective foot wear, gloves, safety glasses, dust mask, and old clothes because it’s going to get messy and there will be exposed screws and nails.
  • Lay down a non-slip tarp and seal off the doorway or hallway with plastic sheathing. Dust will be flying everywhere and the bathroom cleanup will be hard enough without debris flying into other parts of the home.

Turn Off Water / Electricity
Safety is the first priority in any home renovation project. Since there are wires running through the studs and behind drywall in the bathroom you should flip off power to the room through your breaker box. Likewise the water will need to be turned off via the shutoff valves in the bathroom if toilets, sinks, and bathtubs are being replaced.

Salvage What You Can
Another rewarding aspect of home renovation is saving items that are still in good condition or that can be salvaged. Even if it’s not your forte, many people like restoring old cabinets, shelves, etc. that may be in your bathroom. Even tubs can be donated to Habitat for Humanity and toilets used for garden planters, salt block holders, serving dishes at parties, and so on. By limiting what you toss it reduces the burden of a renovation on the environment.

Remove in Reverse
Bathroom demolition final A good rule of thumb to follow when performing demolition in a bathroom is to remove items and features in the reverse way of how they were installed. For instance switchplate covers, light fixtures, and ceiling fans are usually the last pieces to be put in while finishing a bathroom so they should be taken down first. Continue that method onto the fixtures, cabinets, tiling, and sheetrock.

Final Demo and Cleanup
Most contractors will work with you on the little things but to enable them to get started remodeling ASAP make sure all the drywall screws are removed from the studs and all the tile glue and other debris scraped from the floor. Do a general sweep and clean up of the room and it should be ready to be brought back to life the morning the crew arrives.

By doing the demo work yourself it saves hundreds of dollars on the labor costs of the project and enables more of the budget to be spent on modern and luxurious décor and appliances. Plus, you’ll gain a little construction knowledge in the process to get started tackling the master bedroom renovation…in a year or two.





Bathroom Vanity: To Renovate, Replace or Just Renounce?

Bathroom vanities are really the heart of the restroom, kind of in the same way that The Dude’s Persian Rug really “tied the room together” in The Big Lebowski movie. A toilet and shower work together with other accessories to give an overall vibe to the room but it’s the bathroom vanity that is the focal point. That being said, one of the most popular home improvement projects is upgrading said vanity, whether it be via replacement, refinishing, or part of a complete remodel. Here are some of the factors to weigh when choosing what option is right for you.

replace bathroom vanity

Replacing the Bathroom Vanity

As part of a complete bathroom renovation, most homeowners opt to replace their old vanity altogether. This doesn’t mean it always has to be the case but the overall convenience of a replacement project is the go-to route for a number of reasons:

  • Poor Shape – In some cases the bathroom cabinets are just too far gone for even the most experienced renovator to salvage. There will come a time when it’s simply the best option just to tear out the beat up vanity and start anew. This also applies to a chipped vanity countertop or attached backsplashes that have become an eyesore.

  • New Faucets – Making the switch to more energy efficient plumbing fixtures throughout the home is highly recommended, although the change-up may come at the cost of your current bathroom designs. Even though purchasing a new vanity represents added overhead, if it enables lower utility bills then over time a good majority of the costs can be recouped.

  • Want New Style – Depending on the overall décor of your home, it may simply be time for a fresh look in your bathroom. Newer bathroom fixtures feature dual-sink vanities that can greatly reduce the time it takes multiple family members to get ready in the morning and adding more storage in a vanity cabinets can give more space in the rest of the room.

modern bathroom vanity

 There are some other popular reasons for completely switching out the bathroom vanity such as it makes it easier to lay down new tile or it has undergone water damage from a leaky source.

 Renovating a Current Vanity

 There’s a whole other faction of homeowners who prefer to restore their home decor wherever possible. Salvaging vanity is almost an ideal bathroom renovation project because of these factors:

  • Budget Friendly – Purchasing a brand new vanity and having it installed professionally is a project that can cost upwards of $1,000. On the other hand, hiring a renovation company to re-sand the cabinet doors and install new faucet fixtures won’t set you back more than about 2 days of labor. The money saved on buying a vanity can be put towards modernizing the bathroom light fixtures and other appliances.

  • Environmentally Beneficial – Throwing away an old vanity countertop takes up a lot of space in landfills and when combined with old toilets and tubs a bathroom remodel can be a very environmentally damaging project.

  • Fun Project – Bringing an outdated vanity back to life is a great way to show off your creative side in addition to saving money and easing environmental pressure. Thinking outside the box or finding cool ideas online to give the bathroom a makeover is a great talking point for guests and can get you started on the way to other DIY projects.

Restored bathroom vanity

 Much like other projects around the house, a number of things must be taken into account when deciding on how to tackle a bathroom vanity. Budget, city codes, and current home décor all determine the best route for homeowners. That being said, it doesn’t have to be the black and white decision of whether to purchase new or renovate. For instance an old clothes dresser or cabinet can be fashioned into a vanity or there could be none at all with a free standing sink.

 Make sure you’re comfortable with your decision, after all you have to look it in the mirror each morning.


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