Basic DIY Plumbing: Toilet Trouble?

Filed Under: Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

I’ve been a plumber for several years and cannot tell you how many times I have walked into home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot only to find a customer, despondent about a leak that their toilet has sprung. As a plumber I would always suggest hiring a professional rather than doing it yourself, but in tough economic times, sometimes homeowners have to take matters into their own hands. Let me provide you with some insight into why your toilet might be malfunctioning.

Most toilet leaks come from a few common causes. Your toilet may suffer from one or it may have a combination of problems. One of the most common sources of leaks for toilets is the wax seal. The wax seal is a gasket made of wax that is on the bottom of a toilet, where it rests on the floor. Often, water on the floor or on the ceiling below the toilet is a sure sign that you have a problem with the wax seal. To fix this problem you need a new wax ring and T-bolts which you can find at your local hardware store.

First, turn off the water supply to the toilet. Next, flush the toilet and soak up as much of the water as possible from the toilet bowl itself. After you do that, loosen the T-bolts, disconnect the supply tubes, and lift the toilet off the floor. Position the toilet so that it is upside down and proceed to scrape off the wax seal from the bottom of the toilet as well as from the floor. After you have done this, place in the new wax seal and connect everything back up the way it was and install the new T-bolts. Turn the T-bolts 5 and 1/4 turns being careful not to over tighten the bolts. Turn the water on and flush the toilet.

Inspect the toilet, the floor, and the ceiling below for leaks. While labor intensive, performing this repair yourself would save you a couple of hundred dollars easily on plumber costs. The second most common leak source is caused by flowing over the overflow tube. If you have this problem, you will need a new fill valve. There are two types of fill valves. One has a big floating ball and arm, and the other has a float on the valve itself. Bother are interchangeable. You will need to buy a new fill valve at your local plumbing supply store.

Begin by turning off the water and disconnecting the splash tube. Flush the toilet and soak up all the water from the tank. Unscrew the nut under the fill valve on the outside of the toilet tank and remove the old fill valve. Install the new valve, making sure the height is correct. Put the valve into the hole in the bottom of the tank, tightening the nut on the outside as you go. Replace the supply tube and turn the water back on. Flush the toilet and check for leaks. Finally, take the tube that comes with the new valve and connect it from the valve to the overflow tube.

Another problem that frequently makes a toilet leak is a leak from the connection between the tank and the toilet bowl. In this case, you will need to purchase a new spud washer and new tank bolts. Occasionally, this problem arises from a cracked toilet bowl in which case you will need a new toilet. In order to determine this, the first thing that you need to do is to find out where the leak originates. Ask yourself if it leaks all the time or only when someone flushes the toilet. If it leaks all the time rather than only when someone flushes it, this is a sure sign that the tank or the bowl is cracked.

Examine each closely looking for hairline cracks where water may seep from. If you do find a crack, you are out of luck and will have to replace the toilet completely. Otherwise, this is probably a problem with the spud washer. To change this, you will once again need to shut off the water supply and flush the toilet. Next, loosen the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl. There are usually two or three of these depending on the model.

After that, remove the supply tube. Pick up the tank and remove it and the washer that is at the bottom of the tank. It is usually made of rubber and will have a spongy feel to it. Replace this washer with the spud washer you bought and place the tank back onto the bowl. Place the new bolts in and tighten gently, but do not over tighten. Replace the supply tube and turn the water back on. Again, check for leaks. Occasionally leaks originate from the supply tube. To fix this, you simply need to purchase a new supply tube and switch it out with the old one.

Another source of leaks in toilets is leaking inside the toilet from the tank to the bowl. The problem stems from the seal inside the tank called a flapper. To diagnose this problem, place a few drops of food coloring into the tank and wait for a couple of hours. After a couple of hours, check the bowl. If you see any of the food coloring in your toilet bowl, you can be assured that you have a leaky flapper.

To fix this, you will need to purchase a universal flapper. Most flappers are the same, although American Standard has their own design. Step one is to turn off the water to the toilet. Next, remove the old flapper by taking the chain off the lever and removing the flapper from two hooks at the bottom of the overflow tube that are attached to the flapper.

Install the new flapper and turn on the water. Try flushing the toilet. If it does not flush or does not flush with enough volume, adjust the chain length from the lever to the flapper. Test flush again. Hopefully with these tips, I have armed you with the knowledge to tackle the most common cause of toilet leaking and have hopefully saved you hundred of dollars in plumber fees.

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How You Can Save For Home Improvement Repair and Renovation

Filed Under: Home repair, Money tips, Redecorating, Remodeling, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

If your home is due for some home improvement repair and renovation but you have a limited budget, there is no need to worry. It is possible to get your home fixed without having to spend a lot of money. Here are some ways that you can consider in order to save for some home improvement repair and renovation projects that you need.

First, consider buying used items. If you need to repair or replace some fixtures and furniture in your home, before going out to buy brand new items, you could try searching for used ones. Although it would be great to have new things in the house, sometimes, it just costs too much. You can browse in eBay or Craigslist to look for used furniture and appliances which you can get. However, make sure that you are careful when shopping for used items. Check the quality or condition of the item or material before purchasing as you do not want to end up saving now but spending more later on, when it breaks down after just a month or two.

Carefully plan out the home repairs and home improvement projects that you need. Come up with a list of the projects that are needed to be done and the materials needed for each one, along with your budget. Through being organized, you would be able to know which repairs and renovations are urgent and which are not, allowing you to allocate your available funds properly.

Try cutting other monthly costs incurred by your household. This could include the money that you spend on dining out, entertainment and others. Think of what you and your family would be enjoying after a month or two of not dining at your favorite restaurant. You might be surprised at how much money you can set aside to finally have your kitchen remodeled.

Do a lot of canvassing and researching on the materials which are available in the market. Spend time online browsing different websites which offer home design ideas and home repair tips so that you would be able to come up with low-cost ideas to repair and spruce up your home.

These are just some of the ways on how you can save on your home improvement repair and renovation projects. Through considering these tips, you should be able to complete the projects that are urgently needed to be done without having to go over your budget.

Quality Home Improvement Ideas For You to Consider

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Today, there are countless home improvement ideas and projects that you can do yourself or hire a contractor for. However, it is crucial to make sure that you are able to decide which of them are quality home improvement ideas and which ones are not. Knowing which ones would give you the most of your money and which ones would just be a waste of your money is important especially in the present economic situation.

One quality home improvement project would be kitchen remodeling. If you have been living in your home for half a decade or longer, your kitchen may already be outdated or may be showing some signs that it needs to be repaired or renovated. You can consider installing new cabinets for more storage space or just repairing the existing ones. You can also replace the sink or faucets or even the countertops. You might also want to install new lighting.

Another quality home improvement idea would be a bathroom remodel. Many contractors say that remodeling a bathroom can always help you get a good return on our investment, even when you get high quality upgrades. Buyers usually check the bathroom and use it to determine the value of a particular home so it would really help you get more if you are planning to sell soon. However, if you would just be upgrading to make your bathroom more functional or to improve its present condition, remodeling can still pretty much give you the added value you want for your money.

Although there are many quality home improvement projects that you can do, you should also be able to know whether a project is a worthy investment or not. A project which might be a good idea to skip would be window and roofing replacement. If you are thinking that replacing your windows and roofs could increase your home value, you need to think again. Replacing windows and roofs are usually quite expensive and are only necessary if they are already in bad shape. If they are still in good condition, you might want to look into other home improvement projects instead.

In order to know which home improvement projects would give you a good return on your investment, there are several things that you need to consider. First, check what the other homes in your area have. You might want to do home improvements or home additions which would make your home up to par with the other homes in your neighborhood. You should also think of how long you would be staying in your present home. If you are planning to stay five years or more in it, making upgrades and improvements could be worth it. If you are planning to sell soon, you need to calculate what the return on your investment would be if ever you would be remodeling. You should also determine how much the upgrade or home addition is worth to you. For instance, installing a pool might not be a very appealing idea to others but to you and your family, a pool could be something that you have always wanted. If that is the case, then having it constructed would definitely be worth it.

Also, you need to keep in mind that in any home improvement project you are planning to have done, you would need to make sure that the money you would be spending would be worth the added value you would be getting. Choose quality and durable materials that would be able to withstand the elements. Finally, conduct plenty of research and do a lot of comparison shopping before purchasing any building materials.

The Benefits of Doing Home Improvements

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Money tips, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

A lot of homeowners today who feel that they need a bigger space or a home which feels more like “home” no longer choose to move to a another house. This is because many contractors say that instead of moving, it would be better to try improving – your existing home, that is. This is the reason why home improvements have become more and more popular in recent years. Here are some of the benefits of doing home improvements.

First off, home improvements could significantly increase the value of your home. If you are planning to sell your home anytime soon, remodeling some rooms or your entire home could ensure that you would be able to get top dollar for your property. However, you need to make sure that the home improvement project that you would be doing would yield a good profit. This is because there are some projects which could give you just a minimal increase or even decrease the value of your home such as installing a swimming pool. It would be best to consult a real estate broker or a contractor to get a better idea of which home improvements could give you the highest payback.

A home improvement project can also make your home a lot more attractive and stylish. One particular project that could accomplish this would be redecorating or enhancing the design of your home’s interior. This could be painting a new color on your walls or removing and adding new fixtures and décor to create an entirely new design theme. For instance, if you have always been interested in living in an oriental-themed home, you can try to install dramatic lighting fixtures such as Japanese lamps and place some Japanese-inspired furniture and bamboo plants around the house. You can simply choose which style or theme to go for and you would be able to enhance the appearance and design of your home.

Home improvements can also make your home more functional. From adding a new room to constructing a new cabinet system in your kitchen, you can maximize the space that you have. Aside from this, there are also some home improvement projects which can increase the security of your home such as installing alarm systems, motion detectors and other safety features.

They can also transform your home into a warm and welcoming space for your relatives and friends who visit. Many home improvement projects are aimed at turning your home or a room of your home into a space where you can entertain guests and bond with friends and family.

These are just some of the benefits of having home improvements. If you are planning to renovate or remodel your home, you can start by determining your main purpose for the home improvement project. From there, you can list down your own ideas or you can search online to get inspirations on designs and materials that you can use. Through working on a home improvement project or two, you would surely be able to make your home more livable and valuable for you and your family.

How To Choose Which Home Improvement Products To Use

Filed Under: Home repair, Shopping, Tools    by: ITC

With any home improvement project, you would need several home improvement products to make sure that each one could be properly completed. From simple repair projects such as painting to more complicated ones such as remodeling your kitchen or installing new flooring, making the right choice of home improvement products can make the difference between getting your desired results and ending up with an even worse outcome that what you started with. Here are some pointers that could help you choose which home improvement products to use.

First off, you would need to make sure that you have a list of the building products and materials that your home improvement project calls for. Through having a list, you would be able to have an easier time canvassing the brands and comparing the prices of the items that you need.

You would also need to think of the result or effect that you want to have with the project. If you would be remodeling a craftsman-style home and would like to have the overall theme to still be the same, then you would need to make sure that you would be choosing products and materials which also have excellent workmanship and hand-crafted details.

When choosing home improvement products, it would also be good to get those which are of the highest quality possible. This would make sure that they are durable enough to withstand all kinds or most kinds of elements. You might want to consider the climate that you have in the area where you live in since there are some products which are better for warmer climes and some which work for cooler climes.

If possible, choose environment-friendly products. Because of the increased awareness of the society on the different environmental issues, many companies and manufacturers have started producing eco-friendly items including those in the home building and construction market. These products are generally made from renewable materials and are safer to use compared to those which are not as friendly to the environment. They are also usually free of harsh ingredients and chemicals which can pollute the air inside your home and potentially cause health risks.

Lastly, make sure that you would be sticking to your budget. With the wide range of home improvement products and building and construction materials available nowadays, you could easily compare their features, quality and price, allowing you to decide on which products would best suit your needs and your budget. However, be careful not to just go for the cheapest products without checking their quality and durability first.

Through following these pointers in choosing home improvement products, you should be able to get those that would help you finish a project that you are working on or a necessary home repair.

How to do up small spaces when living with children

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Redecorating, Remodeling    by: ITC

Walls and ceilings

It is fun to do your own mural and paint a child’s favorite story on the wall. Use a base color for the background and paint the details on top with emulsion and/or gouache, similar to the technique except that the picture takes the place of the wash coat.

An ocean-with-fish theme is easy even for the inexperienced, with the help of illustrations from a book. Children won’t expect you to be Michelangelo and will be delighted whatever the result. You can get a landscape onto one small wall or a whole ocean of sea creatures and all the stars in the firmament on the ceiling, given an extra twinkle by the addition of self-stick glowing stars and moons. Friendly pictures of this kind will help children go to sleep at bedtime and will give them something to look at when they are ill.

A section of wall covered in cork tiles provides an exhibition space in which to pin up children’s own paintings. Cork tiles covering a whole wall will act as insulation in rooms which suffer from condensation, particularly attics or rooms which open onto a central staircase where drafts make them feel chilly.

Another idea is to have one completely white, washable wall on which children are allowed to draw and scribble. When it is full of artwork, you simply paint over it again. Fixing a blackboard to the wall takes up less space than having a free-standing easel and blackboard. Painting and scribbling activities are very absorbing, keeping children occupied for a long time, and they are good for manual, visual and artistic skills so it is worth providing a permanent place for them.

Work and play

There should be plenty of room for books and writing things, as well as a well-lit place to write comfortably. There should also be adequate background lighting in the room, and reading lights by the bed and over the desk area.

If toys are played with in the living room, try, if you can, to put up with them for the whole day and then sort and store them in the evening, otherwise you will be putting things away all day and will be resentful when the children want to turn a new lot out onto the floor.
Crawling babies and toddlers love to get under tables and discover electric sockets. Socket guards are available for when a socket is not in use and it really is sensible to invest in one or two of these cheap and effective safety devices.

Lighting

There are a number of ways to provide gentle lighting. Wax nightlights were the old-fashioned way of giving children assurance, but they didn’t last the whole night through and were superseded by tiny glass lamps in the shape of animals or birds which glowed in the dark. Nowadays there is a whole menagerie of lifelike geese, rabbits, ducks, pigs and sheep to keep a child company at night.

Children really seem to love these lit-up creatures and often make friends of them. Other lamps include ceramic pixie and mouse homes, old women in shoes and suchlike which light up inside, giving a cosy feeling. If you place a nightlight on the floor, be sure you choose a safe model where the bulb socket is inserted in such a way that a child cannot pull it out.

Even the ceiling light can be used as a nightlight if it is on a dimmer switch and can be left as just a faintly luminous glow when the child is asleep.

A shared bedroom

If you have to share a bedroom with your new baby, the most pressing need is to provide a degree of privacy for the parents. Again, planning the space is important. There are advantages to sharing: you know at once if the child is restless at night and can comfort it and get it back to sleep almost before it (or you) has woken up. Nursing mothers may also find sharing the room convenient for night feeds.

A very young baby does not take up much room. A small crib and a storage unit are the only essentials, although a comfortable low chair for feeding is a good idea. A folding screen will help to provide a certain amount of privacy and can be fitted with rails or hooks for hanging tiny clothes, so that it becomes dual-purpose.

Alternatively the cot area can be screened by a row of chests or shelving units, either tall or low which will also act as storage. Nappy-changing can take place on the parental bed, with its essential equipment stored in a bedside table. Play equipment can be stored in the living room if necessary, or spread around there and the bathroom and perhaps the hall.