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Bathroom Plumbing Mishaps

Common plumbing problems and mishaps in the bathroom

A Quick Shower

A few years ago, my father was remodeling the downstairs bathroom. To make the connection to the waste pipe, he had to cut it open at about eye level. He then announced that no one should use the bathroom upstairs until he finished connecting the waste pipes.

After a bit, he heard the unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing. Before he could finish yelling my sister's name, a flood of water and solid waste hit his face. My sister's plea of forgiveness went unheard as he wiped himself off with a rag. He couldn't wash up right away because he had the water lines disconnected too. Like a dedicated do-it-yourselfer, he finished the job, then went straight to the shower!

While You Were Out

My wife and I had just moved into our first house and a few days later decided to celebrate with a night out on the town. When we got home, I slipped into the dimly lit bathroom, lifted the toilet lid and slammed it back down in horror! How much beer had I had? I turned on the lights, brought in my wife and we confirmed that yes, that indeed was a huge, very dead squirrel floating in the bowl. I guess when a home inspector suggests you put a critter guard over the end of the plumbing vent on the roof, he means now. We'd planned on getting to that little task soon, but apparently not soon enough. Even with the critter guard securely in place, we still have a houseful of squirrels, as friends and relatives send us lots of ceramic and stuffed varieties to remind us of our first houseguest.

Toilet Blues

My wife came home with one of those $10 chlorination gadgets for the toilet that 'self-cleans' the bowl after flushing. Installation seemed simple enough, but within minutes I had broken the fill valve assembly at the base. I quickly turned off the water supply at the wall and tried to loosen the coupling nut that secures the valve so I could replace the part. It was corroded and wouldn't budge. I decided to pull the toilet for better access to the stuck nut. I removed the flange nuts and lifted the toilet with all my might...and learned that the caulking bead around the toilet base can be exceptionally strong. The bowl base broke into three pieces and water spilled everywhere. My wife and I decided that I should quit while I was behind and call a real plumber. The $350 bill was an expensive end to a simple task, but there is no cleaner toilet than a brand new one.

Unplanned Shower

Last year my fiancé and I started our first home improvement project together, aptly, a shower. We installed a new control valve along with new tile. Although my fiancé was still grouting the tile, I decided it was safe to turn on the main water supply valve because we'd finished the plumbing. A second later, a scream echoed through the house. I ran to the bathroom and saw that the shower was blasting on my fiancé. We'd left the valve in the open position and she couldn't turn it off because we hadn't installed the handles. Anyway, a year after this first shower, we're happily married!

Glue Goof

My brother-in-law and I decided to help his father remodel his bathroom. Being pretty handy, we thought it would be a snap. When it came time to set the tub, we hooked up the water supply and the PVC waste lines, then took a break for dinner to let the glue dry. When we finished eating, we turned on the water to try it out. After a few seconds, my brother-in-law said he could hear water dripping. Then it turned into a gusher. After investigating the problem, we found we'd used rubber cement instead of PVC glue. The containers were similar and were right next to each other on the shelf. After a couple of hours of redoing our mistake, we were ready for a hot shower!

Shower in a Tub

My handy husband was tearing out our old fiberglass tub/shower combination to remodel our bathroom. He proudly brought out his trusty reciprocating saw and went to work.

All of a sudden, the steady buzz of the blade cutting through fiberglass was replaced by his favorite naughty word, followed by a cry for help. He'd sawed straight through a water pipe and water was spraying everywhere.

Our remodeled bathroom is extra deluxe now that it has some brand new pipes.

Can You Hear Me Now?

I was going to install a faucet in our upstairs bathroom and had brought home some slick new quarter-turn ball valves to replace the old shutoffs under the sink. My wife's task was to choose and bring home the new faucet while I got started on the valves. When it was time to turn the main water line back on, I had my 15-year-old son stand in the bathroom with his cell phone to watch for leaks. Out at the street I called him on my cell phone and said, 'OK, here we go' as I turned on the water.

Then my phone went dead. What a time for a dropped call! I quickly redialed but the call rolled to my son's voice mail. I hung up and my phone rang immediately. 'Dad, shut the water off!!!' I did and raced inside and up the stairs to find the entire bathroom and hallway carpet completely soaked. Turns out I'd left my slick new ball valves in the open position when I installed them.

Big Porcelain Doorstop

A friend of mine decided to replace his toilet with a great-looking new one. We pulled out the old one with confidence and hooked up the new toilet in no time. After finishing, we decided to relax and watch the game on TV. About a half hour later, we heard laughter coming from the bathroom. We rushed over and found his wife unable to close the bathroom door. The new toilet protruded a few inches farther, blocking the door from closing.

Commode Flambeau

A part from my young son's plastic potty had somehow gotten stuck in the toilet trap. I couldn't snake it out, nor could the plumber, who left saying, 'Buy a new toilet.' But I had a brilliant idea: I'd burn it out! I pulled the toilet and dragged it outside. There I poured charcoal lighter fluid down the trap and lit it up. Standing back, I basked in the glory of the geyser flames and my phenomenal ingenuity... until the bang. The commode literally cracked from the heat. I bought a new toilet. Learn how to replace a toilet yourself.