4 simple bathroom repair tips

September 15, 2015

If your bathroom is in need of repairs, here are four simple fixes to get it back up to par.

4 simple bathroom repair tips

1. Replacing a shower head

  • Installing a new shower head is not much harder than screwing in a lightbulb, and it can do a lot to upgrade your bathroom.
  • If you've got an old water-saving shower head (or one that doesn't save water at all), you can replace it with a new water-saver that delivers a full stream of water.
  • Other easy-to-install options include a pulsating shower head or a handheld unit. Head to a plumbing supply store or home centre to see what's available.
  • To remove the old shower head, turn its collar counterclockwise with pliers or an adjustable wrench. If the collar doesn't budge and the shower arm starts to twist as you turn the wrench, wrap the arm with a protective cloth or with duct or utility tape and hold it in place with a pipe wrench while you unscrew the shower head.
  • Wrap the shower arm threads with three to five clockwise turns of Teflon pipe-thread tape to prevent leaks. If a washer is supplied with the new showerhead, install it following the manufacturer's directions. Screw on the new shower head or handheld shower attachment, and tighten with the adjustable wrench.
  • If you're installing a handheld shower attachment, screw the hose onto the attachment and the shower head onto the hose, using all required washers or gaskets.

2. Repairing enamel

  • A chip or nick in a porcelain enamel surface need not be permanent. Home-improvement stores stock many types of repair kits, ranging from simple touch-up paints to two-part epoxy compounds. The latter come in a variety of colours and are usually your best bet.
  • The package directions will explain how to apply the material, but here's what's usually involved: Scrub the chipped area with soapy water, let it dry, then use a small piece of medium-grit sandpaper to remove any rust and give the epoxy a rougher surface to cling to. Mix the epoxy components together as directed, and brush the compound onto the damaged area, but not beyond — don't try to blend the new with the old. If the chip is deep, apply a second coat eight hours later.
  • Wait at least 24 hours before allowing the repair to get wet.
  • Wait a week before scrubbing it.

3. Sealing leaks

  • The difference between water that stays in the tub and water that seeps through to the walls is a good caulking job.
  • Caulk seals the cracks between the tub and adjoining walls and floors. There are three places you want to make sure are well-caulked: between the tub and the wall, between the tub and the floor, and between the wall and the plumbing fixtures. Some inside wall corners are caulked, too.
  • Before applying new caulk, use a putty knife or a razor blade to remove old caulk.

4. Clearing the bathtub drain

  • More often than not, when a tub drain gets clogged or is slow to drain, the culprit is a buildup of hair and soap scum on the tub's pop-up stopper.
  • This is a problem that can be quickly solved. Just pull out the stopper and the rocker arm attached to it, remove the accumulated gunk, and wash the stopper mechanism with soapy water and a toothbrush.
  • If cleaning the pop-up stopper doesn't unclog your bathtub, try using a plunger. Position the plunger cup so that it completely covers the drain hole, then fill the tub with enough water to cover the cup. Hold a wet towel over the tub's overflow plate to seal it, and plunge vigorously to dislodge the clog.
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