Bathroom Tips and Resources

WARNING: Should you wish to perform your own plumbing maintenance using the information we provide on this website, please be advised that Old School Plumbing cannot be held responsible for any work not performed by our  own licensed master plumber.  Failure to contract any plumbing work to a licensed master plumber could result in serious bodily injury or death.

Bathroom Tips and ResourcesOften times the homeowner is posed with issues that don't necessarily require the help of a contractor. These can range from mold to water pressure. We've brought together some common questions on bathroom maintenance that we hope you find handy:

My bathroom walls and ceiling keep getting mildew on them. How can I get rid of it?
The number one problem associated with mildew is lack of ventilation. Bathrooms naturally generate a lot of moisture that clings to the ceiling and walls unless it is quickly vented following a bath or shower. Warm air and moisture are perfect conditions for mildew, mold, and who knows what else.

If you don't have a bathroom vent, put one in. It's much less expensive than potential repairs to the walls, ceiling, and possibly even the house structure. Be sure to vent the air to the outside, not into the attic, where the moisture will only generate new problems.

An open window will help remove moisture, but not as effectively as a vent. If a vent is out of the question for the time being, wipe everything down after a shower or bath. Use a squeegee to wipe down the shower walls, and sponge off the shower door or curtain. You can use a variety of sprays to kill mildew while cleaning the walls.

When you repaint your bathroom, use latex paint, which contains ingredients that help minimize mildew growth.
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My toilet keeps sweating and the dripping water is ruining the floor. What can I do?
The water on the toilet tank is actually condensation, caused by cold water chilling the tank, which in turn draws moisture from the warm bathroom air. To stop this, purchase a kit available at a good home improvement or hardware store that allows you to mix a small amount of warm water with that going into the toilet tank. Problem solved.

Why is the water pressure in my house so low?
Corroded galvanized iron pipes are a common cause of low water pressure. If you live in an older house, it may well have galvanized iron pipes that have corroded inside over the years. The accumulated corrosion eventually restricts the water flow. Fortunately, there is usually a solution.

The corrosion primarily builds up behind restrictions in the pipe, such as the angle valves under the sinks and the shower or bath valves. To repair, shut off the water to the house and remove the valves. Use two pipe wrenches, one to turn the valve and the other to prevent the pipe from turning. Once the valves are off, you will likely see the hard, corroded material in the pipe. Chip it out with a screwdriver and hammer, and clean it out the best you can. Reconnect the valves and run water to flush out any debris.

Showers and baths are more problematic because the valves are usually in the wall. If you have an access panel, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, you will have to break out the wall, remove the valve and clean the pipe, then patch the wall. But before you do that on a shower, check that it's not just a clogged showerhead. Remove it and clean out any deposits that might have accumulated in there.

How do I fix loose or broken ceramic floor tiles?
Remove the loose tiles. If the adjoining ones are also loose, scrape out the grout around them and then carefully pry them out, too. Slip a narrow putty knife under them to break loose any remaining mastic. Scrape the underside of the tiles and the underlayment to remove old mastic, then put fresh mastic on the underlayment and press the tiles into place. Allow the mastic to dry for 24 hours and then regrout the tiles.

Cracked or broken tiles are removed and replaced in the same manner. Cut the grout around the tiles first, then pry out the broken pieces, clean the underlayment, put the new tile down in fresh mastic, and re-grout.

We are on a septic system and the tank has been pumped but our toilet still does not flush well, and sometimes it backs up. Why?
First, check that the soil stack on the roof for that toilet is not plugged. It must be unobstructed to permit the toilet to function correctly. If in doubt, take a hose on the roof (and take all safety precautions), put it down the stack, and run water forcefully for several minutes. If water backs up to the top of the pipe, you will need to snake out the obstruction. And of course, check that lines from the toilet to the septic tank are not obstructed. Another problem on older toilets is that the holes just under the rim become plugged by the minerals in hard water, which will also cause the toilet to function below par. If these holes appear plugged, you can try cleaning with a wire brush.

Why is water leaking down the pipes that connect under the sink to my faucets? It is causing mold.
You might get lucky and solve the problem just by tightening the fittings to the faucet with a basin wrench, which is usually the only tool that can reach up there. If not, replace the connections with braided stainless flex tubing. Once the leak is history, treat the mold with a strong bleach solution (using gloves, eye protection, and ventilation, of course). Then dry out the cabinet. If the wood is rotted, you may have to patch the bottom with plywood or replace the whole cabinet.