Can you find a bathroom plumbing leak that could be costing you over 10,000 gallons of water a year? Even resolving the slow, silent leak found at a bathroom plumbing supply line, toilet flapper valve, or shower faucet, bathtub spout or showerhead can save a homeowner approximately ten percent on their yearly water bill.
How would you like to recover about 270 loads of laundry’s worth of water? Eliminating bathroom plumbing leaks, repairing a slow moving drain or opening a stubborn clogged drain are the subjects of this plumbing series on a home’s bathroom plumbing problems involving the following: toilet, bathroom sink, bathtub and shower.
Bathroom Plumbing Problems That Require a Plunger
Plungers are not universal and do not do the same job for every bathroom problem. For instance, a red, rubber-cupped plunger is best for a slow moving drain in a sink or a bathtub/shower, whereas, a cone-shaped, black-cupped plunger is designed for pushing a stubborn clog through the toilet trap and on out the drain toward the municipal sewer or septic tank. Using the right tool for the job intended could help resolve those minor bathroom plumbing problems.
Leaks that occur at faucets can usually be resolved with a few replacement parts or by replacing the entire faucet assembly. This principle holds true for both the bathroom sink and the bathtub/shower faucet. When a leak presents itself at a water supply line, sometimes it can be a simple tightening of a fitting. In this next section, we take a look at common leaks found in the bathroom plumbing along with some handy resolutions and prevention measures that normally work.
Common Plumbing Problems with Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures
Finding the leak in and around bathroom plumbing fixtures, i.e., a toilet, bathroom sink, bathtub or shower can be easy when it comes from an obvious or visible source. It’s the silent, under the sink, behind-closed-vanity-door leaks that can be difficult and costly to discover and repair.
Toilet plumbing leak problems: Anything subjected to being submersed in water that contains minerals and sediment will naturally deteriorate over time. A toilet tank flapper valve, (responsible for sealing the hole between the toilet tank and bowl), is just one of those parts that become rigid and fail over time. The other, also a common part that can fail to do its job, is the wax ring, (forms the seal between the toilet and the floor). Water leaking from the former will seep into the bowl and you can usually hear the tank refilling on its own, (commonly referred to as “a phantom flush”). The second leak will damage floors, walls, a ceiling below an upstairs bathroom, and/or floor joists – all of which cost plenty to repair.
Bathroom sink plumbing leak problems: Supply line fittings and valves can begin leaking with little or no provocation. Faucets wear out after time and have small parts that can be replaced if the time consuming task can be tolerated by a busy homeowner. Sink drain assemblies and P-trap or S-trap, (depending on whether your sink drains through the floor or wall, respectively), connections can fail and most of us have been kept awake by the constant drip, drip, drip of an annoying bathroom sink faucet spout leak.
Bathroom tub and shower plumbing leak problems: A combined bathtub and shower has shared faucet handles which can develop a leak at either the cold or hot supply valves, the diverter, (which controls the flow of water to either the bathtub or shower), the shower supply pipe where the showerhead attaches, and of course, the drain assembly and mechanism can fail allowing water to seep out when trying to hold the water long enough to enjoy a bath.
Checking the Bathroom Plumbing for Water Supply Line Leaks
It is a tricky thing to try and find a plumbing supply leak in your bathroom plumbing. The best thing to remember is not to rely on your sense of touch, rather wipe the areas in question, (fittings, connections, shutoff valves and areas where gaskets are used), dry with a paper towel or rag. Place newspaper or a dry paper towel down and watch for a wet spot to appear.
Damaging leaks under a bathroom sink vanity may go on for quite some time without detection because they are usually found near the back of the cabinet where the plumbing connections are found. It is important to realize that stashing tons of stuff in under the sink could potentially cause a leaking problem from disrupting the plumbing; usually caused by kinking, twisting or knocking connections loose.
Look with a flashlight for any signs of mold or mildew – that can certainly alert you to any moisture inside of a dark cabinet – any puddles, dampness or water stains can also be a sign of trouble that needs immediate attention. The wet area will be warm if it is a supply line carrying hot water to the fixture.
If the shutoff valve on either the hot or cold supply line is wet or dripping it is possible that tightening the packing nut could stop the leak. If the leak persists then replacing the valve is the only other solution. Leaky faucets, bathtub spouts and showerheads usually require replacement rather than repair, only due to the cost efficiency factor.
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