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Avoid a Plumbing Catastrophe During the Holidays By Doing These Things

Prevent plumbing problems when your house is full of guests by checking these tasks off of your list before the holidays.

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Fix a Clog in SecondsFamily Handyman

Fix a Clog in Seconds

Before you run a drain snake into a clogged pipe or disassemble the trap, there are a few other tricks worth trying: Often, you can yank out a clog with a flexible-shaft pick-up tool (shown above) or a Zip-It (below). Likewise, a wet/dry vacuum just might suck out the clog.

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Unclog a Bathtub Drain Without Chemicals

Unclog a Bathtub Drain Without Chemicals

Fix a clogged tub drain quickly and easily by removing the stopper and fishing out the hair and gunk that causes the problem 80 percent of the time. We show you how to open most common types of drains. Learn how to unclog a bathtub drain without chemicals.

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How to Fix a Clogged Toilet

Unclog a Toilet

Clogged toilet? No problem. With a little practice, even a home repair rookie can get most clogged toilets back up and running in minutes, without flooding the bathroom and making the situation worse. In this article we’ll show you how to avert a morning household disaster by clearing a clogged toilet fast. Learn how to fix a clogged toilet.

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Fix a Leaking Water Heater

Fix a Leaking Water Heater

Fix common leaks from a temperature and pressure relief valve or a water heater drain valve by checking temperature settings and mineral deposits. A simple cap solves the water heater drain valve problem. Learn how to fix a leaking water heater.

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Fix a Water Softener

Repair a Water Softener

You can often fix water softeners by checking the brine tank for salt problems or simply cleaning the resin bed or several other key parts. All are easy to do and you might avoid the expensive service call. Learn how to fix a water softener.

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Family Handyman

Fix a Running Toilet

The mysteries of a running toilet can drive you nuts. Whether you hear water running constantly or cycling on and off, we’ll help you decipher the clues so you can stop wasting water. Hardware stores and home centers carry the parts for almost all toilet repairs. One cause of a toilet running is a flapper that doesn’t seal. If water from the tank seeps around the flapper and into the bowl, the flapper is probably shot.

Flush the toilet and look for a fill valve leak. Lift up on the toilet float arm when the tank is filling to see if the water stops. Bend or adjust the toilet float arm so the tank stops filling when the water level is 1/2- to 1-in. below the top of the overflow pipe. If the fill valve still leaks, replace it. Find out more about how to fix a running toilet.

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Family Handyman

Fix a Rocking Toilet

If your toilet isn’t solidly fastened to the floor, there may be trouble in your future. Any movement of the toilet damages the wax seal. That leads to leaks and ultimately major repairs. To steady a rocking toilet, cut plastic shims to fit and slip them underneath (you may have to remove caulk before adding shims). Then caulk around the toilet and snug down the nuts on the bolts. But don’t crank them down super-tight; that can crack the toilet.

Ever wonder why old houses have a random toilet in the basement? Here’s why.

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insulated toilet tankFamily Handyman

Repair a Sweaty Toilet

If summers are humid where you live and you don’t have air conditioning, you’ve probably noticed your toilet “sweating” excessively. Condensation forms on the outside of the tank, which can drip down and make a mess or even rot out your floor. Some toilets are available with insulated tanks to prevent condensation problems.

Ever worried about waking someone up when flicking on the bathroom lights in the middle of the nights? Then this tricked-out toilet will blow your mind.

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Family Handyman

Deal With a Bubbling Toilet

If you have air bubbles that rise up through your toilet bowl (except when it flushes) or notice the water level rising and falling, you probably have a clogged or improperly vented toilet. This toilet bubbling problem is especially true when you have an appliance like a clothes washer nearby. Your drain line is gasping for air.

When you pour liquid from a can, you’ll notice that it doesn’t flow evenly unless you have a second opening for air. The same holds true for plumbing vent pipe. As water goes down a drain, air is needed to equalize the pressure in the drain line.

This is the purpose of a venting system. If the drain lines in your home have poor venting, water rushing down the drains will pull water from nearby P-traps. The drain in the toilet bowl is basically a P-trap. If the problem just started, it’s probably a blocked drain or plumping vent pipe that needs to be “snaked” out. And since the water in the toilet is dropping and gurgling, it’s likely that the problem is near that area.

Unfortunately, a clogged or missing vent is tough to fix, since it usually requires breaking into the walls to examine the drain system. Unless you have plumbing experience, this project is best left to a professional. That way you can avoid one of these 100 plumbing goofs and other scary things.

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Family Handyman

Fixing a Toilet Won’t Flush Well

Master baths are often distant from the rest of the plumbing in the house, so they often have their own plumbing vents independent of the home’s other plumbing. If the flushing performance is anemic and there are no clogs or obvious malfunctions, there may be an amazingly simple remedy. Occasionally, plumbers forget to remove the temporary plug that’s used to pressure-test the lines after plumbing rough-in. They’re located at the top of the vent pipe up on the roof. If you can’t see a rubber cap clamped on the vent over the bathroom from the ground, climb up on the roof and inspect the end of the vent over your bathroom and I’ll bet you’ll find an overlooked plug. If so, break through the plastic with a screwdriver and pry out the pieces and that toilet will work just fine.

If that isn’t the problem, you probably have a defective toilet or an obstruction in the drain line. Get ahold of the plumber who worked on the house. He or she should be able to solve the toilet wont flush problem. Discover these 9 super-simple toilet tuneups, too.

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unclog toilet fill holes

Battling a Sluggish Toilet

If your toilet flushes slowly, the rinse holes under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. With a mirror and a coat hanger, you can clean out those clogged holes without ever getting your hands dirty. The photo says it all—look into the mirror to see if the holes are clogged. If they are, bend a coat hanger flat and probe the tip into the holes to poke out any mineral deposits.

If you thought some of those toilet seats were crazy, prepare for 50 of the most insane toilets ever created.

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Family Handyman

Replacing a Corroded Flush Handle

Toilet flush handles are another part of a toilet that can cause toilets to keep running. Often handles are toilet parts that get loose or corroded and no longer pull the flap up or drop it back down properly. It’s an easy repair, but there’s a trick to getting the flush handle out. The retaining nut inside the tank is a reverse thread. So, if you’re in front of the toilet, turn the nut to the left to loosen. Then remove the old handle and lever, slide the new handle into place, and thread on the retaining nut. Tighten by turning to the right. Find out why some toilet bowl cleaners aren’t as great as you might think.