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Common Bathroom Problems... And How to Deal With Them

Blocked Toilets

Blocked toilets are annoying, but the solution is actually really simple, if a little unpleasant: pull on some rubber gloves and get stuck in! If you can dislodge the blockage by hand, great, if not use a plunger until the water drains on its own, however, if you live in a block of flats there is a risk that you could just move the blockage further down the stack pipe causing a further issue with the flats below.

Blocked Waste Pipes

Blocked waste pipes in your bath, shower or sink can be a real hassle. Since most drainage pipes are built with curves at the bottom end, they often get blocked by things like hair, dirt, soap scum and shampoo. As the majority of these blockages will be in the lower part of the pipe they will be out of your reach. The easiest thing to do is either to use a plunger, or simply buy some soda crystals from your local supermarket to un- block the drain. Do not use a plunger on hidden pipework as there is a risk that you could dislodge a joint leading to further flooding and long term water damage.

Leaking Tap Connection

A slowly leaking tap connector is one of the most common, but annoying bathroom plumbing problems as it can cause long term water damage to the surrounding area. It is slightly more difficult to fix than blocked toilets or waste pipes. Lay down some towels to soak up any water still in the pipes and then isolate the water supply to the tap by turning off the main stopcock. Use a wrench to tighten the tap. If water continues to leak from the base of the tap you may need to replace a washer. To do that, unscrew the base and check the washer to see if there are any signs of wear. If the tap is still leaking once you have tried all of these, then it’s time to call in a professional.

Dripping Tap

Before carrying out any basic repairs to water taps you will need to ensure that you can safely isolate the cold and hot water supplies, have a basic to good level of DIY skills, have the right tools to hand and are able to use them safely for the correct purpose.

Basically, there are two types of domestic tap and you will need to know which type you have before tackling the repair. The first and possibly the most common, incorporates a simple, standard sized rubber washer to restrict or stop the flow of water, this will usually be ¾” for larger bath type taps or ½” for single basin type taps. The washers can be obtained at any good DIY store and are reasonably easy to fit once the tap has been disassembled.

The second type incorporates a ceramic disc cartridge to restrict or stop the flow of water. These are becoming more common, lever or small paddle type operation taps will normally be ceramic cartridge type and most new taps supplied with bathrooms and kitchens will be the ceramic cartridge type. Depending on the design, these taps can be awkward to strip down and you will need to replace the correct sized cartridge if simple cleaning does not cure the issue. The cartridges are not normally stocked locally as they are specific to each manufacturer and there are just too many different types, therefore this type of repair may be best placed with a plumber. In certain situations, it may even be more cost effective to replace the complete tap.


Those of us who live in hard water areas will know how easily limescale builds up on taps and pipes. Limescale deposits are resistant to most ordinary bathroom products so it can often be tempting to turn to abrasive cleaners. Be careful though, these can scratch and permanently damage the surface of your appliances and tiles. Natural solutions, such as lemon juice or vinegar, often work the best. Long term, installing a water softener in your home is also a good way to prevent the build-up of limescale. Before installing the water softener, installers must check by asking the local water supplier the level of water hardness and sodium in the area, so that the sodium level after softening will not exceed the 200 milligrams per litre value, and advise the customer accordingly.

Softening water alters its chemical composition and may result in non-compliance with the quality requirements for wholesome water. Where a water softener is installed in premises the owner or occupier of the premises is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the softener and therefore, the quality of the water produced by the softener. If operation and maintenance is not carried out properly the quality of the water may not be satisfactory and may not satisfy the requirements of The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations. While commercial and industrial premises may have trained maintenance staff available this is unlikely to be the case in a private dwelling. It is recommended therefore that only water that has been derived from the water undertaker’s mains and not been softened on site is used for drinking purposes.