10 Ways to Creatively Expand and Enhance Your Bathroom Space

466548647Whether we admit it or not, no one likes a strictly utilitarian bathroom. We often have them but when we use them we make every effort to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Small, cramped and spartan, functional and efficient but dull and uninspiring—that’s a common bathroom “style,” instituted by designers and builders based on the assumption that bathrooms aren’t “living” spaces and it is therefore a waste of time and money to fuss over their design too much.

But we do live in our bathrooms, or at least we would like to at any rate. Attractive, well-designed bathrooms can be like mini-retreat spaces where we go to relax and reflect.

So if your master bathroom is cramped and uninspiring you should try to do better. Of course you aren’t going to knock out any walls just to make your bathroom bigger. But if you’re willing to do some remodeling, there are design choices that can help you improve your bathroom’s visual atmosphere and increase its available floor space.

Make Your Bathroom All that it Can Be—and Should Be

You bathroom is filled with hidden potential and here’s how you can bring it out:

  1. Paint, tile and decorate everything in light colors (white, ivory, beige, etc.) to create a feeling of airiness and openness.
  2. Unify your color scheme to eliminate or de-emphasize contrasts between the floor, walls, ceiling and fixtures.
  3. Use large tiles on the floor and on the walls. Even in relatively small bathrooms large tiling looks better and will make you feel less cramped.
  4. Install shower tiles all the way to the ceiling. A space that used to feel tight will suddenly soar to the sky.
  5. De-clutter wherever you can. Remove all excess shelving, racks and anything you’ve been hanging on the wall.
  6. If it is structurally feasible install recessed cabinets and shelves for storage.
  7. Get rid of your vanity or counter and replace it with a pedestal or wall sink.
  8. Go for more natural lighting by installing new and/or larger windows, preferably facing the south so you can maximize your exposure to sunlight. Cover them with clear-colored curtains if you need shading during the daytime.
  9. Put a clear glass door on your shower to create a sense of continuity with the entire room.
  10. Install one or two large mirrors that extend all the way to the ceiling. This will add visual depth to your bathroom, and if at least one of these mirrors is opposite a window that will increase the perception even more.

Better Bathrooms for Better Living

We’d all like a bathroom style that fits our personality and makes us feel comfortable. Your bathroom can and should be your oasis, and you have it in your power to transform this under-realized space into a room your whole family will appreciate and enjoy.

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How to Replace a Toilet

187452675If your toilet wastes a lot of water or repeatedly leaks or clogs, it’s probably time to seriously consider buying a replacement. You may decide to get a professional plumber to install your new toilet. However, the job is pretty straightforward, and you can probably get it done yourself with just a few tips. Here are the basic steps required to replace your toilet.

Buying Your New Toilet

The first step in replacing your toilet is buying a new toilet that fits the available space in your bathroom. Make sure to measure the space before you remove your old toilet. That way, you’ll avoid any unexpected return trips to the hardware store. Most toilets on the market are two-piece units with a separate bowl and tank. However, you can also find one-piece units that combine these two components. Some toilets come with all needed accessories (hardware kit, toilet seat, etc.), while others only include the tank/bowl assembly.

Removing Your Existing Toilet

Toilet removal is a multi-step process that starts with turning off the tank’s water supply, flushing the toilet and emptying out any water still in the bowl and tank. You can choose to remove the existing supply line, or simply detach it from the bowl and reuse it with your new toilet. After removing the tank top, unbolt the tank from the bowl and remove it. Next, undo the bolts that hold the bowl to the floor. (Some units have two of these bolts, while others have four.)

Once the bolts are off, release the bowl from its wax gasket by rocking it back and forth. After lifting the bowl out of the way, remove the gasket material (which is very sticky) and use a cloth to temporarily plug up the hole to the sewer line. Scrape any gasket residue from the mounting flange with a putty knife. To ensure a good fit for the new toilet, make sure the flange is level and in good condition. You will need to repair a damaged flange before proceeding.

Installing the Replacement

Your new toilet should come with instructions that detail precisely how to install it in your bathroom. Essentially, the process is the reverse of toilet removal. In order, the key steps include:

  • Setting the toilet bolts in place
  • Mounting the new wax ring on the bottom of the bowl
  • Removing the cloth from the drain hole
  • Mounting the toilet on the flange
  • Pressing the toilet into position by rocking it gently back and forth
  • Tightening the bolts in an alternating pattern to ensure an even fit
  • Mounting and securing the tank (if you have a two-piece unit)
  • Installing the toilet seat, and
  • Reattaching or installing the supply line

Keep in mind that you can damage your toilet if you overly tighten any of its bolts. Also keep in mind that you will probably have to make some adjustments to the flusher to ensure proper operation.


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How to Fix Your Own Garbage Disposal

461899345Garbage disposals are heavy-duty home appliances capable of lasting for years. But like any machine they can and will malfunction on occasion, especially if they are not used correctly.

If your garbage disposal is on the fritz you may be able to fix the problem yourself. It’s not guaranteed, but if your DIY efforts are successful you won’t have buy a new one and that is cause for celebration.

Let’s run down some potential problems and solutions …

Problem #1: Your garbage disposal is not working at all.

If your disposal has stopped completely your motor may be burned out. But you may have experienced a power interruption and that is a problem that can be fixed.

There is likely a reset button on the bottom of your disposal. Before doing anything else you should press it to see if that gets the disposal going again.

If not, go to your circuit breaker box and try to reset the disposal from there. Punch the correct circuit breaker off and on and then switch the disposal on again to see if that makes a difference.

If you’ve still had no success, unplug the disposal and test your outlet socket with another electrically-powered device you know is working. This is a quick and easy way to find out if your outlet has gone dead.

Problem #2: Your disposal is jammed.

When you turn the disposal and hear a buzzing or whining noise but no grinding, it means the unit is jammed and can’t do its job.

Your disposal may have a reversing switch that you can flip to unplug the cutting mechanism. If not look for a hex-shaped hole on the bottom of the unit, and if you find it insert a ¼” hex wrench and turn it back and forth several times to loosen the jammed blades.

If this doesn’t work, unplug the disposal and insert a short broom handle down the drain into the disposal to see if you can ply the blades loose manually. If this isn’t effective you can use a set of pliers or tongs to remove the item that is jamming the blades, assuming you can see it and it is large enough to grasp.

As a final resort you may have to actually remove the disposal so you can work on it directly. Don’t try this unless you have your disposal’s user manual to guide you or unless you have previous experience with garbage disposal installation.

Problem #3: Your garbage disposal is leaking.

First, try tightening any connections that might be the source of the leak. If this doesn’t work you may have to replace the drain gasket or the mounting screws that hold the disposal in place (check the user’s manual for more details).

Problem #4: Your drain is clogged and water is collecting in your sink.

This is a plumbing problem and does not directly involve the garbage disposal. But if you manage to get your drain unclogged with a plunger (chemical drain cleaners are a ‘no-no’ if you have a garbage disposal) or with the help of a plumber you may want to revisit your garbage disposal habits.

Don’t use the disposal to get rid of food waste you know will be difficult to grind into small pieces, such as banana peels, chicken bones or large pieces of lettuce. Also be careful not to overfill the disposal when using, and always run the water with a strong stream for up to 10 seconds both before and after you grind up food.

Problem #5: Your disposal blades are grinding poorly and leaving large chunks of food unprocessed.

This is one problem you can’t fix yourself. If blades are broken or worn-out it would be cheaper to just buy a new disposal than to try to replace them.

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Nine Great Tips for Kitchen and Bathroom Sink Cleaning

115026390Sinks are built to stand up to an onslaught of soap, water, food products and a variety of caustic chemicals. They are constructed for resistance but their surfaces can slowly wear out if they are not cleaned on a regular basis—or when they come into contact particularly erosive substances.

For sanitary, aesthetic and maintenance-related reasons, your kitchen and bathroom sinks should be a regular stop on your household cleaning route.

Here are nine time-tested sink cleaning tips that can help you stay ahead of the curve …

#1 Maintain a regular maintenance cleaning schedule

A tablespoon of dishwashing soap mixed with a cup of warm water makes a perfectly acceptable cleaning solution. A once-weekly scrubbing with a soft sponge you should be enough to stop most staining, rusting and water spot accumulation from getting off the ground.

#2 Proactively combat scratching and staining

Use plastic or stainless steel protection racks to prevent dishes from scratching the bottom of your kitchen sink. To prevent staining rinse the sink thoroughly after it has come into contact with food that has a high acidic content.

#3 Use lemon juice for general purpose de-staining

Regardless of the sink surface nothing removes stains quite as effectively as lemon juice. Squeeze one-half a lemon, combine the juice with a quarter-cup or so of laundry detergent and you can quickly sponge those stains away.

#4 Restore your porcelain’s sparkle with bleach or vinegar

Line your porcelain sinks with paper towels soaked in bleach (or vinegar for colored porcelain) for at least a half-hour or more. Then remove and rinse them with water your sink should be glistening like new.

#5 Clean acrylic-surface sinks with water and baking soda

Acrylic sinks are stain-resistant in principle. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t become discolored if cleaning needs are ignored. For prevention soapy water is generally good enough, but when staining occurs the best method for removal is to scrub the surface with a baking soda paste.

#6 Get rid of rust with a dab of WD-40

Wipe it on with a cloth (don’t spray it on), rub vigorously for a minute or so and then rinse the area with water to get rid of the WD-40 remnants. This works great for metallic surfaces, but for porcelain you should use a salt-lemon juice solution instead.

#7 Use vinegar to get rid of lime spots

Paper towels soaked in vinegar and wrapped around or draped across lime-spotted locations can work miracles. Leave the towels in place for 15 minutes, rinse with water and buff with a dry paper towel to finish the job.

#8 Clean your garbage disposal frequently and aggressively

A baking soda-vinegar mixture is too potent for most cleaning assignments. But for cleaning and de-clogging garbage disposals this is the perfect combination. Mix them to a paste-like consistency and use a long-handled cleaning brush to scrub out the disposal area thoroughly. This procedure should be repeated at least once every other week to make sure your disposal and drain stay uncontaminated.

#9 De-clog your drains with table salt and cream of tartar

Mix one cup of the former with one-quarter cup of the latter to create your anti-clogging remedy. A half-a-cup of this solution washed down with a quart of boiling water will terminate incipient drain clogging with extreme prejudice.

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How to Tell if Your Hot Water Heater is about to Fail


Hot water heaters are an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ type of technology. We don’t notice them or think about them until they stop working completely, leaving us shivering and miserable under shower streams that chill us to the bone.

It is an eventuality it that all hot water heaters will fail. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but at some point even the best hot water heater will reach the end of its lifespan.

So how can you know ahead of time when the end is near? Here are four signs that the final countdown to hot water heater failure may be underway:


Take a look at the serial number of your unit. It can be found on the manufacturer’s label, which should be located somewhere on the upper part of the tank. The date of manufacture should be on there, although it might use a letter substitute for the month (A for January, B for February and so on). If you’re hot water heater is more than ten years old, it may be on its last legs.

Rusty Water

If your hot water is coming out red/brown, it may mean your heater is rusting away on the inside. And if that rusting process is significant your hot water heater may be ready for the scrap heap.

To be sure your water piping is not the culprit, drain three five-gallon buckets of water from the tank in succession. If all come out looking rusty, it means the hot water heater is the source of the rust and failure of the unit is imminent.

Rumbling Noises

Sediment build-up in the bottom of a hot water tank is inevitable over time. Once all that crud starts to harden it will put excess strain on the unit, causing it to rumble, bang, creak and groan whenever the heater comes on.

Sediment hardening also causes cracking that creates small leaks. If you notice these around the base of the unit it means the end is not far off.

Water Seepage

Regardless of the cause, cracks and crevices are indicators of a hot water heater in its death throes. If you see moisture on the floor around the base of the unit you should check the fittings, connections and the overflow pipe to make sure they are not the source of the trouble.

If all are dry it means your hot water heater is leaking—and a leaking unit is a dying unit.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow – But All Good Things Must Come to an End

If only a couple of these trouble signs are present you may want to call a repair technician to check your heater first, to see if it can be fixed. But if multiple manifestations of failure are present you might as well save yourself the unnecessary expense. Bite the bullet and get yourself a new hot water heater right away, before the old one leaves you high and dry and standing out in the cold.

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Winter Plumbing Quick Tips


Broken pipes are common when winter temperatures dip below the freezing point. If your pipes burst, you are looking at much more than just a plumbing emergency. Your personal property is at risk of severe water damage. These winter plumbing quick tips can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repair and replacement costs.

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is failing to disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Water inside the hoses and outdoor pipes can freeze causing pressure to build up in the indoor water lines. If your home has shut-off valves, turn them off to drain excess water from the pipes supplying the outdoor hose bibs. Valves may be located near the water meter, near the water heater, in the crawl space, in the basement or under indoor sinks but not all houses have them. You can provide even more protection by installing insulated jackets on the outdoor faucets after disconnecting the hoses.

The constant circulation of warm air inside your home will help prevent indoor pipes from freezing. You should maintain an indoor air temperature of more than 55 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. Open any closet doors near exterior walls and cabinet doors under bathroom and kitchen sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes and keep them warm.

If your home has a sump pump in the basement, clear away any snow or debris that may restrict water drainage around the sump pump’s discharge line. If the water flowing into the drainage area is creating a puddle or anything is blocking the flow, water can back up into the inside pipes and freeze causing the pipes to burst.

It is best to turn your cold water faucets on during the coldest nights of the year. Allowing a small amount of water to trickle out of the pipes throughout the night can prevent problems because moving water will not freeze.

You can save yourself the time, money and hassle of broken water pipes by taking the time to winterize your plumbing.

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Understanding Trenchless Sewer Repairs


Maintaining a house properly helps in maintaining its charm. At times, it usually costs more to repair an older home. Things like sewer damage pose a difficulty in detection. If the sewer line is breached, conventional repair methods could be disruptive. Trenchless sewer repairs could be a viable alternative for homeowners who don’t want to spoil their landscaping.


Accidental damage and gradual wear of a sewer system are common problems. However, the most difficult problems are usually related to nature. If roots intrude into the pipeline, the sewer system could be badly damaged. This could further complicate into other issues in the home’s plumbing.

An older house requires special attention. The lifespan of sewer lines depends on several factors. If the house is older than 40 years, then the plumbing network is likely to have posed some problems.

Trenchless repair techniques are some of the best repair methods available. Despite being pioneered close to two decades ago, they’re not well-known among many home owners. In most cases, modern houses are connected to an older plumbing network. A camera is normally run down the main line to detect any present breaches and their severity.

There are 2 types of trenchless sewer repair methods used, namely pipe bursting and pipe lining. Under pipe bursting, a new tube is pulled through the damaged line in order to force it to crack outwards. An access hole needs to be dug up on either side of the lateral line.

Pipe lining is used where one wants to install a new pipe in place of a damaged one. Here, a flexible resin-coated tube is pulled or blown into the damaged pipe and then inflated. The resin hardens with time to create a new pipe within the damaged line.

Both of these techniques are equally effective. The contractor could offer a warranty covering between 10 and 15 years. One needs to ensure they choose the right contractor so that they have a similar labor guarantee.

Benefits of Trenchless Sewer Repair

Trenchless sewer repairs are usually cheaper when compared to conventional methods. The cost varies depending on material pricing, sewer depth and soil type. The process also takes lesser time, which means minimal disruption for the households. The method also helps one retain their landscaping. Follow us for more articles that will keep your home and plumbing systems running perfectly.

How To Use Push-Fit Fittings Instead Of Soldering Pipes


One of the trickiest aspects of DIY plumbing repairs is when the job involves soldering pipes. Caution has to be taken to avoid posing fire risks. The repair process could also be daunting, thus forcing the homeowner to attempt it several times before they nail the right approach. Luckily, it’s possible to get around soldering in most cases through the use of push-fit fittings. These accessories could help save time and effort as one conducts plumbing repairs.

No Need to Solder Anymore

Usually, when one spots a leaking copper pipe, they need to heat up the repair sleeve so that it fits in securely. Push-fit fittings could make this a whole lot simpler. Some of them even allow different pipe materials to be connected using a simple elbow grease.

Such fittings work well with both plastic and copper pipes. Besides eliminating the need to solder, no glue is needed either. Instead, the fitting comes with steel teeth which grip onto the pipe. This enables the O-ring seal tightly to avoid leaks. Even after clamping down the grip, the fitting could be released later if one needs to make any adjustments.

Sleeves for Any Season

Typically, plumbing repairs are conducted due to leaks that continue to persist even after the water supply has been disconnected. Another benefit of push-fit fittings is that one doesn’t have to wait for the area to dry out so that repairs can commence. Instead, one simply slides on the sleeve and they’re good to go.

One can find a wide array of push-fit fittings models at local hardware stores. Most of these can be used with common pipes, connectors, slip couplings and tees as well as elbows. These devices can be used for various repair jobs. Such include cracked or leaking pipes, frozen pipes and leaks on the shower line, washing machine and faucets. They can even be used to simplify the installation of new plumbing fixtures. No matter the job at hand, one could make the task easier and get rid of the hassle that normally comes with such projects.

Extensive Repairs

At times, one may be unable to access the location of a leak. Other complications could also hinder a homeowner’s DIY efforts. In such cases, one should contact an experienced contractor.

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All About Thermostatic Shower Heads

480553609Most people find it tricky to adjust their shower temperature in an ideal range. If it’s too cold, it becomes unpleasant while an extremely hot shower could cause scalds. As such, many people prefer to turn their shower on and wait for a few minutes for their preferred temperature to be reached before getting in. Unfortunately, this results in wastage as hot water goes down the drain. A thermostatic shower head could prove the best solution of going around this problem.

Waiting for the Warmth

It is estimated that about a fifth of every shower goes to waste as one waits for the water to hit the right temperature. Using an average shower time of 8 minutes and about 2-3 gallons of water per minute going through the shower head, one arrives at about 4 gallons that goes to waste. Besides, energy is also lost as the wasted water is usually heated.

Some even leave the shower as they wait for the hot water to reach the head. This duration is largely determined by a number of plumbing variables. In larger homes, water takes longer, which means that one could let the water run at full heat for a few minutes before they get in. This is where a thermostatic shower head comes in handy.

Hitting the Ideal Heated Spot

A heat-sensing shower head has built-in thermostatic shutoff valves which cut off the flow once the water reaches a specific temperature. It only continues when one manually instructs the device. This way, if the shower takes too long to heat up, one could turn on the water and go about their business.  The shower head will not release any water until one is ready. As a result, less energy is required to heat up a typical shower.

Estimates claim that a typical household uses about 17% of their water in the shower, which comprises of about 30 gallons per day. When summed up nationally, this amounts to a huge number. Every bit of saving would thus count, especially with water shortages reported in certain areas.

Types of Thermostatic Shower Heads

One could either purchase valves to install into their existing shower fixtures or opt for stand-alone heat-sensing heads. There’s also a greywater recycling mechanism which captures the waste cold water and channels it into the toilet or irrigation system. Homeowners looking to install these devices could contact a local plumber for help.

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Can I Be Liable For Unlicensed Plumbing Repairs?


Yes, you can be held liable for unlicensed plumbing repairs. Renovating your bathroom and getting it right the way you want can be a lot of fun. But, we strongly advise you not to forget your legal liability and not to throw caution to the wind.

All plumbing jobs—repair, remodeling, renovation, installation—must adhere to the local building code. The code is there to ensure that all remodeling and construction jobs are done in a safe manner and that they won’t be cause to any possible future hazards.

For this reason, you must make sure that you are hiring a licensed plumber. Some plumbing jobs may require getting permits from the municipality and it is the job of the plumber to pull all the necessary permits. However, it is also your task to see if he has received the permits alright or if there is any permit required for the job in the first place.

Normally, when you hire a licensed and a reputed plumber with a good track record behind him, chances are slim that he will start on a job without the required permits. Even so, we say that for safety’s sake, you make a check of your own all the same. Because if, in case, it is found that a job was done on your property without the right permits, you will have to pay hefty fines to the local municipal authorities. Apart from paying the fines, in most cases, you will have to undo the installations and then redo it according to the rules specified in the code. Which means a lot of unnecessary expense.

The licensed plumber will also face legal action in such a situation, but that wouldn’t be any help to you, right? Further, if any guest or visitor to your property gets injured owing to faulty repair or installation works, you will stand the risk of facing legal action yourself.
This is why our word of advice is never take a shortcut when it comes to plumbing or other HVAC jobs and always make sure that you are strictly adhering by the rules.

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