A general guide for the care of porcelain fixtures
- Do not drop or allow heavy items to impact onto the porcelain or tile.
- Frequent good housekeeping practices should prevent most stains so you can avoid using abrasive cleaners.
- Paint can be removed with gentle use of a razor blade.
- Do not use abrasive cleaners on the porcelain or the metal fixtures.
wax ring” seal (a thick gasket device). If the toilet becomes loose this gasket can leak invisibly and cause serious damage. The mechanical genius of a toilet is how it works. Under normal circumstances water will sit trapped in the bottom of the bowl. When water from the tank is allowed into the bowl, it pushes the contents into the curved drain pipe at the bottom. This creates a siphon which pulls all the contents out of the bowl and into the sloping sewer drain and on to the septic system. When the bowl is finally empty, air is sucked into the drain which breaks the syphon and stops the suction. The remainder of the water from the tank slowly refills the bowl ready for the next use. All this happens almost magically using nothing but gravity. Some of the newer toilets have selectable flush, water saving features. Toilets are designed to handle human waste and toilet paper only. Anything else placed in the toilet will cause problems either with the toilet directly or worse, may clog the waste piping system somewhere downstream. The key moving parts of a toilet are the float valve and the flapper valve. Both of these will need replacement every couple of years. When they break or wear out the toilet will “run” and waste water. A water-saving regulation went into effect in 1993, prohibiting the manufacture of toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. After much government research and public debate, a balance of comfort, convenience, and sensible use of natural resources, concluded that the 1.6- gallon toilet would be the size that overall consistently saves water yet still functions albeit marginally. The result of this standard is that flushing twice is occasionally necessary to completely empty the toilet bowl. Even though you flush twice on occasion, overall you are saving water and have complied with the law.
- To stop a running toilet, check the shut-off float in the tank. You will likely find it has lifted too high in the tank, preventing the valve from shutting off completely. In this case, gently bend the float rod down until it stops the water at the correct level or simply turn the adjustment screw. The float should be free and not rub the side of the tank or any other parts.
- If you hear the toilet flush on its own or if you hear the tank refill without having been used, then the tank flapper valve is leaking and should be replaced.
- The main causes of toilet clogs are domestic items such as disposable diapers, excessive amounts of toilet paper, sanitary supplies, Q-tips, dental floss, and children’s toys. Keep these things OUT of your toilet.
- 2x per year: operate the angle stop valve that feeds water to the toilet to keep operating freely and help prevent corrosion build-up. If you notice any leaks around this valve or the water line, a repair should be made, or the valve and water line should be replaced.
- 1x per year: Also check the chain on the flush handle. If it is too tight, it will prevent the rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank from sealing, resulting in running water.
- 1x per year: nudge the toilet to see if it is firmly secured to the floor. Toilets that “rock” or move, are not mounted securely and should be repaired immediately and the wax seal replaced./li>
- Every 2 years: replace the inner flapper and float valves
SinksSinks are basins used to hold water for washing or shaving or whatever. Sinks are usually made of porcelain or stainless steel but also come ceramic or even fiberglass. Kitchen and utility sinks are equipped with larger drain holes to accommodate disposers or basket strainers that will help prevent things from being washed into the drains. Bathroom sinks have smaller drains with stoppers that will allow the sink to hold water for washing and shaving. Bath sinks with stoppers are equipped with an overflow located at the upper lip of the sink to prevent accidental flooding. The stopper mechanism is usually operated by a small lever at the back of the faucet. These can sometimes come loose or go out of adjustment making the stopper inoperable. These are repairable by accessing the lever connections under the sink. All sinks have drains equipped with a P-trap. The P-trap is a curved piece of drain pipe directly under the sink that holds a small amount of water in it when the water is turned off. This small amount of water is enough to block the drain pipe so that foul smelling air from the drain system cannot come back up through sink and into the home.
- Look under your sink and identify the P-traps and the angle stops.
- Test the angle stops by operating them and note any functional difficulty or leakage for repair.
- The P-trap can sometimes become clogged with debris and cause the sink to either drain slow or not at all. These can easily be removed and cleaned, or a plumber snake can be inserted into the drain to clear out the debris.
- If not used often, P-traps can also dry out to a point that they no longer function to block out the bad smelling sewer gases. If this happens just run some water down the drains.
- 1x per year: Test P-trap connections, they should be easily loosened by hand for servicing. If not, a repair is needed.
- 1x per year: Clean the plunger drain stopper (usually found in bathroom sinks) by loosening the nut under the sink at the back, pulling out the rod attached to the plunger, and lifting the stopper. When clean, return the mechanism to its original position.
- Every 2 years: caulk the sink edges as they should be tightly sealed to the adjacent countertop to prevent water from seeping into areas where it can cause damage.
- Definitely avoid allowing any clogging material to go down the drain of your bathtub. It is much more difficult to clear a tub drain and you will likely have to call a plumber.
- Get a screen and place it over the drain when you use the tub to prevent hair and things from getting down the drain.
- 4x per year: Clean any drain screen to keep it clear and free flowing.
- 1x per year: Check the operation of the stopper and adjust as needed
- 1x per year: Inspect and repair and missing or damaged caulking.
- 4x per year: Inspect for leakage around any enclosure and make repairs before permanent damage occurs.
- Get one ASAP here or here
- Inspect the joints where your sinks, tubs and showers meet with other materials see if the caulking is beginning to fail.
- Inspect joints between your windows, baseboards and door trim where it meets the walls to see if any open joints are visible and need caulking.
- Identify what kinds of caulk are needed for each location.
- Applying caulk can be tricky. Before doing any caulking, practice applying it to something…disposable.
- Locate and inspect your faucet water lines and operate the little valves “angle stops” under the sinks. Include the valves and lines for the washing machine.
- Watch for water leaks or weeping as you operate the angle stops and have a plumber make any repairs. Don’t delay making repairs as these leaks can do a lot of damage.
- Follow manufacturer’s directions for cleaning fixtures.
- Avoid abrasive cleansers. They remove the shiny finish and leave behind a porous surface that is difficult to keep clean.
- 1x per week: Clean plumbing fixtures with a soft sponge and soapy water (a nonabrasive cleaner or a liquid detergent is usually recommended by manufacturers). Then polish the fixtures with a dry cloth to prevent water spots. Care for brass fixtures with a good-quality brass cleaner, available at most hardware stores.
- 1x per year: Clean the faucet aerators, wands and shower heads. These have screens in them that can clog with sediment over time and lower the flow of water. Soak corroded items with CLR. If corrosion is left unattended it will build up on itself and eventually make the fixture unusable.
- 1x per year: Check the tightness of all handles and mountings and tighten securely as needed. Many faucets are mounted directly on the surface of the tile or stone and secured by a nut from the underside. These can be difficult to work on without special tools.
- Prior to the first freeze of the year, disconnect all garden hoses from the outdoor faucets.
- Install insulated protectors over any hose bibs not rated for outdoor use.