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Posts Tagged ‘bathroom’

Let’s get something out of the way first: toilet cisterns are a**holes. Absolute a**holes.

And when they leak, they are quite possible the worst a**holes in the world. They are the parking inspector of a**holes. The traffic cop of a**holes.

They are incredibly fiddly and finicky things. If they were a human being, they would be a difficult person to deal with. If they were a person, they’d be the sort of person who can’t eat gluten as a rule, but can eat wholemeal stoneground organic wheat that’s been harvested by virgins. They’d be the sort of person who can’t eat dairy, except goats cheese (but only if those goats were milked under the light of a full moon) and they’d probably be able to eat those woeful cream cheese wheels that have fruit or herbs on the outside (who eats those things? they are a disgusting hangover from the 80s or 90s imho). They’d be the sort of person with weird, unpredictable, but definite food dislikes. Dislikes in spite of never actually having tried the thing in question, so an illogical dislike as opposed to an actual preference for/against something based on experience.

That’s what toilet cisterns are: one of THOSE people. Ugh.

There are 4 places they can go wrong, 3 of them are quite simple – but incredibly fiddly – to fix HOWEVER what usually happens is that they go wrong in combinations of those 3 places. So you might fix one part of the problem, but there’s still another part – and another trip to your local hardware and/or plumbing supply store in your future.

And unfortunately, while you can certainly selectively weed out THOSE people from your life (keeping only the best of a finicky bunch); basic house planning regulations mean that you will always have to have a toilet cistern in your house, and therefore your life. At least one. UGH.

I really hate those a**holes.

/end rant

If you can see water trickling into your toilet bowl even though you haven’t flushed it: know you are dealing with an a**hole. One that is simple to problem solve, and you can fix it yourself with some basic supplies but it will be a little fiddly. But knowing how to problem solve and fix, means you can potentially save money.

What makes is confusing is that:

  • the internals of the cistern can look slightly different
  • there’s no standard washer size (remember my point about incredibly finicky things)

However, there are 3 simple things to check (and fix) before you call in someone, regardless of what the internals look like:

  • The flush or outlet washer
  • The float
  • The ballcock or inlet washer

If water is trickling into your toilet bowl even though you haven’t flushed it…this is how to problem solve

Step One: Lift of the lid of the cistern

The lid is usually held in place on the cistern by the flush button. You should be able to unscrew that, lift out the flush button cover pieces (pieces: the button will be held in place by a threaded seat) and then take off the lid of the cistern.

At this point it’s good to place the lid and the flush button pieces somewhere out of the way, where you won’t step on them.

Step Two: See if you can visually identify the problem

  1. Underneath where the button sits, you will see a piece of equipment that is broadly called the flush unit, or outlet unit. If you press the flush button (you can still do that without its cover on), you should see part of the flush unit lift up to let water into the toilet bowl. The flush unit should also have an outlet for excess water towards the top (so if your cistern gets overfull, water leaks out through the water outlet and to the toilet bowl without you flushing it). There are two things to check here:
    1. When the cistern is full (so the water stops running into the cistern): does the water level sit higher than the outlet for excess water? If it does sit higher, you will see water trickling into the bowl. Then you need to adjust the float so that it sits lower (we’ll get to where the float is in a second).
    2. If the water level does not sit higher than the outlet for excess water, then the problem is probably the washer for the flush unit. This is the easiest thing to fix.
  2. You also need to look at the other piece of equipment in the cistern: this is the unit that is connected to a pipe that runs to the tap in your wall. This is the inlet unit, where water comes into the cistern. The inlet unit also has a washer in it (called a ballcock washer normally or inlet washer), as well as a float (the float floats on the water level in the cistern; when it reaches a predetermined level, the float acts to stop the cistern from filling any further. The predetermined level is adjustable). There are 3 things to check here:
    1. The level of the float, and where you can adjust it (this is the second easiest thing to do): if the water level is sitting higher than the outlet for excess water, you need to adjust the float so it sits lower in the cistern (the water level should be 2.5cm lower than the outlet for excess water). After you have adjusted the float, you will need to flush the toilet, and let the cistern fill. Watch the cistern fill to confirm you’ve adjusted the float properly, and then leave it for about an hour and then check the water level:
      1. If the water level is still 2.5cm lower than the outlet for excess water, you’re golden
      2. If the water level is back up to sitting higher than the outlet for excess water, there are one of two things that could be the problem:
        1. The inlet washer could need replacing. This is the third easiest thing to do.
        2. If the washer is fine (or you replace the washer and the water level still sits higher than the outlet for excess water), the issue will likely be the whole inlet mechanism. Somewhere in the mechanism there is a leak(s) that is bypassing the inlet washer and filling the cistern.

Step 3: Fixes

A) Replacing the washer for the flush unit

This is the most common problem, and the easiest to fix. Although it is a little fiddly.

Before you do anything: turn the tap off at the wall, and flush the cistern. Then you need to look at the flush unit to work out how you can lift it out so that you can change the flush washer.

The washer sits at the bottom of the flush valve (between that mechanism and the pipe that carries the water from the cistern to the toilet bowl), it seals the flush valve so water does not leak out. To replace this, you will want to google your brand and model of cistern (should be written on the front of the cistern) to determine what washer you need to purchase.

Equipment

  • Needle nose pliers: some inlet parts are detachable, they are held together by plastic pegs. You can pull out the pegs using the needle nose pliers
  • Replacement washer:
    • If the degraded washer is still in place, take it out and go to your local hardware/plumbing supplies store to pick up one.
    • If there’s no washer, you might have to google or buy a couple of different washers to see what fits

Note: sometimes the recommended washer does not sit nicely on your outlet. I use a washer that’s different to the one recommended for the flush outlet in my cistern. I tried the recommended one, and literally would have to flush 4/5 times before the valve would seal, who needs that in their life? So I bought 4 different washers and tried them until I found the one that worked best. The washers are $4-5 each normally, so not a huge expense to try a couple.

There are different ways to get to the washer, so I’ve included a couple of videos to illustrate

B) Adjusting the float level

This is the second most common problem, and the second easiest thing to fix.

Before you do anything: turn the tap off at the wall, and flush the cistern. Then you need to look at the inlet unit to work out where the float is, and what is keeping it in place. That should be adjustable: you should see a little knob or screw you can turn. You might have to google your cistern brand and model to see if you can see inlet units and find instructions for where to tighten/loosen floats.

Equipment

  • Flat head or phillips head screwdriver: some floats can only be adjusted by turning a little knob, which usually can be easily tightened/loosened with a screwdriver. The type of screwdriver depends on the float.

C) Replacing the washer for the inlet unit

This is a little more fiddly, as you will likely have to take off the float to get to the ballcock washer/inlet washer.

Before you do anything: turn the tap off at the wall, and flush the cistern. Then you need to look at the inlet unit to work out how you can  unscrew it so you can change the inlet washer.

The washer sits in the inlet unit, normally below the float, and when the float reaches the level, the float presses on the washer and seals the inlet so water does not leak out. To replace this, you will want to google your brand and model of cistern (should be written on the front of the cistern) to determine what washer you need to purchase.

Equipment

  • Needle nose pliers: some inlet parts are detachable, they are held together by plastic pegs. You can pull out the pegs using the needle nose pliers
  • Replacement washer:
    • If the degraded washer is still in place, take it out and go to your local hardware/plumbing supplies store to pick up one.
    • If there’s no washer, you might have to google or buy a couple of different washers to see what fits

There are different ways to get to the washer, so I’ve included a couple of videos to illustrate

D) Replacing the inlet unit

This is the most fiddly, and I’d only do this if I’d exhausted all other avenues as it’s also the least likely. But if you’ve replaced the flush washer, adjusted the float to get the water level right, replaced the inlet washer AND THE CISTERN IS STILL OVERFILLING AND LEAKING OUT THE OVERFLOW OUTLET AND DOWN TO YOUR TOILET BOWL…then you need to replace the inlet unit.

At this point, I call in DIY Dad (sometimes the nuts fastening the cistern and inlet unit to the inlet pipe are quite tight, and the instructions are painful to read when setting up, so it helps to have someone else doing this with you.)

Before you do anything: turn the tap off at the wall, and flush the cistern. You will need to purchase a new inlet unit. To replace this, you will want to google your brand and model of cistern (should be written on the front of the cistern) to determine what inlet unit you need. Or pop to a specialist plumbing supplies shop, so you’re given the right unit

Equipment

  • A spanner
  • Flat head or phillips head screwdriver: some parts of inlet units can only be adjusted by screwdrivers
  • Needle nose pliers: some inlet parts are detachable, they are held together by plastic pegs. You can pull out the pegs using the needle nose pliers
  • New inlet unit
  • Bucket

This video has two parts and includes a section on replacing the inlet unit.

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Persistance is not futile

Ever since I set up my bathroom in 2009, I have been looking for a full length mirror to go behind the bathroom door as this house is in need of full length mirrorage.

I really wanted another Ikea Stave mirror in mid brown, the full length version of the square mirror I bought on sale at Ikea way back when…but… the reason the mirror was on sale was Ikea was discontinuing that colour. Yay, not 😦

I have been workshopping solutions in the intervening period: replace original mirror (which I like) with another mirror and get full length mirror to match the “another mirror”, freecycle something completely different (a retro door with mirrors in it), find a mirror of roughly the same shade and type, find 3 of the square mirrors in the same shade or type or…see if someone sells a full length mirror on Gumtree.

Et voila! Someone finally sold a full length version on Gumtree, which I snapped up at the princely sum of $25.00! YAY 😀

house-674

Hiding behind the door

I had to get a second door stop, which I put on the door so that it meets the first door stop on the wall – this gives me clearance to ensure the door handle doesn’t break the mirror.

And when I say “I had to”, I mean “DIY Dad told me to”.

While I was at ikea, picking up the new office desk, I also picked up some cheapo storage cubes which have organised and decluttered the vanity:

house-673

Order 1, Chaos 0

So, apart from repainting the cornices and the top of the wall, the bathroom is pretty much done for now…

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I have another cheap, common but amazingly flexible item in my artillery of cleaning products. A product that, I would even say, equals bicarbonate soda in the range of uses up its sleeve. It’s vinegar of the humble white acrid kind that you can buy for a couple of dollars per 2L bottle.

That humble household vinegar whose uses for cooking have been usurped by modern pretenders to the throne like balsamic, white wine and rice vinegar can be put to a numbe rof domestic uses, succeeding where more expensive solutions fail. Apart from adding to hot water and mop tiled/wooden floors and using it to sooth jellyfish stings, you can decant it into a spray bottle and:

  • use as a surface and mirror cleaner
  • spray into leather shoes and leave for a couple of days (preferably in a sunny spot) to remove odours and refresh.
    When you spray it into shoes, the vinegar smell disspates as you dry,  leaving the shoes smelling neutral.
  • spray on shower glass, leave for 30 minutes and then clean off with ajax to remove soap scum completely!

And when I say remove soap scum completely, I really mean it:

The before (left) and after (right)

I have had a lot of problems getting soap scum satisfactorily removed from my shower enclosure. Until now, I haven’t found a method that worked well and I have tried alot of products. Butspraying vinegar over the enclosure and leaving for 30 minutes and then cleaning off using ajax cream cleanser really works.

It’s a match made in heaven as vinegar on i’s own doesn’t have the cutting power,  neither does the cream cleanser. Here is another before and after with the nathroom light on this time:

On the right, please observe the wonder, the sparkly and de-soap-scummed wonder

 

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It’s 3 sleeps until little sister arrives and I have spent the last month in an orgy* of preparations.

[Have you ever wondered why they use the term orgy in this phrase? Think about it: it implies you are having a lot more (possibly perverted) fun that you actually are. I vote this phrase should be changed to “I have spent the last month in a mundanity of preparations” – it’s more reflective of the tasks at hand]

This mundanity included, but was not limited to:

  • moving key items of furniture in my house
  • tidying my front garden and applying seaweed mulch provided by DIY Dad (more on that later)
  • tidying my back garden and applying woodchip mulch provided by dBoi
  • restoring a freecycled school desk (and inhaling regular doses of spray paint fumes as a result, and in spite of the face mask)
  • freecycling and restoring a discarded ikea benjamin stool (more on that later, ikea your ears had better be burning because I am not terribly happy with you right now)
  • cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning
  • purchasing key items like an inflatable mattress, pillows, bedding and a brushed steel retro desk fan
  • assembling a brushed steel retro desk fan
  • plugging a brushed steel retro desk fan into the power socket and turning it on
  • discovering the brushed steel retro desk fan has shorted out part of my house
  • returning the brushed steel retro desk fan and exchanging it for another one
  • assembling the replacement brushed steel retro desk fan
  • plugging the replacement brushed steel retro desk fan into the power socket and turning it on
  • discovering the replacement brushed steel retro desk fan does not work
  • pouring a very large glass of red wine and drinking it rather quickly while quietly simmering
  • doing touch up paint in my bathroom and laundry
  • shaking my head and admitting I may have attempted to bite of more than I could chew when lo0king at the lawn of the dead
  • having my washing machine short out
  • hand washing a lot
  • cadging washing machine usage off L’Artiste and Le Amazant Monsieur H + the Divine Miss K (<3<3 my friends – it was so much fun I wish I could make it a regular occasio, except I really would like a washing machine in my own house…but that doesn’t mean I love them any the less)

Oh dear god, are you tired yet? I am tired. Today I switched my alarm on snooze and slept through a gym date with the Countess Von Noodlestein. I am sure she will be pleased to know that the almost penultimate finishing coat on the school desk,  paint touch ups in the lounge and hall and oiling the outdoor setting out in the front garden cost her a gym buddy the next morning. Not.

While I have been cleaning, the following events have occured elsewhere around the house:

  • My first mulberry ripened (finally):

I shall call it...edible

  • My first okra ?fruited? (still waiting for a second):

One is the loneliest okra

  • I got a new bathmat:

Soaks up damp footprints, claw marks and bite marks extra

  • It really bites:

Go ahead punk, rub ma tummeh

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Following the logic that one never practices what one preaches; and being blessed with that certain je ne sais quoi that only the certainty of unfinished DIY projects at home can bring…I decided to put my DIY Dad instilled skillz to the test.

This Iron DIYer skillz test was brought about by the following cosmic conjunction:

  • A certain Imelda Ballerina removing the plinth of uncleanable sandstone (aka her previous vanity unit) from her bathroom, and
  • the installation of a suitable IKEA vanity unit which was not only cleanable, but also contained storage capacities hitherto only guessed at (how novel!), and
  • The requirement for some some jzuzzing in the bathroom area to cover up all traces of the uncleanable plinth’s previous dominion, and
  • The birthday celebrations of the aforesaid Imelda Ballerina, and
  • Her acknowledged lack of space, being in a small apartment with a very large wardrobe; and
  • My sensible requirement to give her a meaningful birthday present that was sensitive to her needs (so a large fugly ornament was out), and
  • My confidence in the learnings (or should that be learningz?) instilled in me by DIY Dad

Obviously, this convivial alignment of facts and circumstance meant the tale I am about to relay was meant to be…

Once upon a time, in a flat not so very far from here, there resided a bathroom which – having vanquished the dominion of an aesthetically evil overlord – was in need of some final touches:

Wanted: SWM (aka Simple white makeover)

The first step in the makeover, was to remove the items crowding around the site of the damage, sugar soap, scrape off the loose plaster and then fill with cornice cement.

[ Note: At this point, if you plan to touch up the paint rather than repainting the room, save a very large chip of the plaster with paint on it so you can colour match.]

This sounds terribly technical but all you need are screwdrivers to remove the items, a scraper to get into the plaster and a mix of cornice cement that you make to instructions on the packet.

Filling with the cornice cement is like icing a cake… A cake with several large sagging bits that you want to cover up.  The scraper (that you use to also apply the icing cornice cement, is your icing knife):

The horror, the horror

Next stop is to wait for the cornice cement to dry (6 hours / overnight) and then sand it smooth. I borrowed DIY Dad’s sander, but you could also do this with a sanding block and coarse sandpaper (the sanding block is what you wrap the sanding paper around)…obviously it will take you longer:

Like a very large, very inedible cake

Then you need feel how level your filling is – I was filling some pretty big areas, so I knew I would need to fill it twice. All you need to do is run your hand over the walls that you have filled, you will be able to feel any dips and ridges.

Back to filling and then sanding to make it smooth and then you are ready to paint:

Inadvertent self portrait with bathroom ready for painting

I used a cutting in brush for painting – I was worried that it would leave very sharp edges and I wouldn’t be able to blend the paint outwards to blend it in with the existing paint. But it worked.

Even though you colour matched your paint, it will never been 100% exactly the same, so you need to blend in your fill. This sounds harder than it is.

What it means…

Don’t overload your paintbrush, paint over the bit you want to cover and then start moving your brush outwards in cross and diagonal hatches. As your brush gets less and less paint on it, it is blending with the colour on the wall.

Don’t expect to cover up the darker marks in the first attempt, just keep working around to each touch up, waiting until they are touch dry (a short while if they are small patches) and then going over them again – a gradual build up of colour will blend in better than a dollop that covers everything in one layer.

Imelda only has a small bathroom, so I managed to touch up all the walls with the colour and fixed a couple of dents and paint chips along the way.

The final outcome looks almost like new, barring one more coat and a splashback that she’ll purchase to keep the water off the walls:

Pretty proud right now

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Bathing beauties

The next set of rooms to be finished – again barring touch ups and final once overs – were the wet areas: bathroom, toilet and laundry.

Before picture blurred so as to protect you from the full horror.

Before picture blurred so as to protect you from the full horror.

DIY Dad helpfully drilled and hung the mirror prior to consultation, so it warmed the cockles of his patience no end to be told that it needed to be 15cm to the right and 15 cm above where he put it so we could fit the little Grundtal shelves he would also be fixing to the wall.

(Luckily he is used to his patience being tested – wait until I tell you about how I said he could put my bed together but forgetting to tell him I didn’t want it in its four poster configuration…)

Slightly before finishing touches, somewhat after major work completed

Slightly before finishing touches, somewhat after major work completed

I decided on ikea grundtal for the functional accessories in these areas (shelves, loo paper roll holder, towel rack and etcs), unfortunately to deteriment of DIY Dad’s patience and the heads of his masonry drill bits…

BS, after C2

BS, after C2

It turns out the bricks used in the interior of the house are inconsistent in terms of hardness – a reflection of brick making in the 50’s where the technologies used did not enable / allow consistency in making and baking them.

The bathroom was mostly fine, but the bricks used where I wanted the Grundtal shelves and Tvatta drying racks were adamantine.

Beware all masonry drill bits who enter here

Beware all masonry drill bits who enter here

Even though we should be grundtal at Ikea for being tvattas about sustainability and they do need a boot up the ektorp and a swift punch in the hemnes for it; by golly do they make good storage.

Ironing board is display only, trust me.

Ironing board is for display only, trust me.

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