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DIY Bathroom Plumbing Repairs

We all experience bathroom plumbing issues from time to time and they are always a real nuisance.

Let’s take a look at the issues and some possible solutions.


Dripping Faucets, we all have experienced dripping faucets, but besides turning the handle farther and farther to get the flow to stop, how do we solve this problem?

There are two basic styles of bathroom faucet stems, brass with a rubber washer and ceramic disk cartridges.

Brass Faucet Stem

Brass stems have a rubber washer on the end which closes off the water flow when the handle is turned off. The rubber washers deteriorate with use and allow a small amount of water to flow when the faucet is shut off. This is your drip, changing the rubber washer solves the problem.

Ceramic Disk Faucet Cartridge

Ceramic disk cartridges are made with two ceramic disks with holes drilled into them, when the handle is turned on the holes in the disks align, allowing the water to flow. When the handle is turn off, the holes no longer align and the water is shut off. These are very durable cartridges and can last many years, however eventually they will begin to wear and leaks will develop. The repair solution is to replace the ceramic cartridge.


Most bath/shower valves use ceramic cartridges and rubber washers; in some cases, the rubber washers can be replaced to restore the bath/shower valve to proper operation without replacing the entire ceramic cartridge.

Running Toilets, we all have been annoyed by the sound of a running toilet, especially when you’re lying in bed at night, the house is quiet and the constant hissing from the toilet keeps you awake.

The solution can be simple, if the toilet is running constantly, the water level in the tank is too high and water is running down the overflow tube, as the water level drops it trips the fill valve to come on and the process repeats over and over again. This can be caused by the float level in the tank that is set too high or by a leaking toilet valve, which is not shutting off completely, or a bad flapper valve.

Toilet Repair Kit

The solution is to replace the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank or the fill valve, try replacing the flapper first, if this does not solve the problem, turn to the fill valve. It sometimes can be repaired, but in most cases it’s easier to just replace it.

Slow Drains, nothing is the bathroom can be as frustrating as a slow drain, waiting for the sink bowl or tub to empty can be a royal pain. Especially if you are rinsing it out to refill and use. Slow drains are usually caused by hair in the drain trap. We lose hair on a regular basis from brushing and combing, but the bathroom is where we lose the most hair when we shampoo our hair and dry it.

Drain Cleaner

This hair ends up going down the drain, and it clogs the drain very easily, building up in the drain until it becomes completely clogged or at least very slow. There are several drain cleaning products we can use to remove the hair, such as Instant Power Hair and Grease remover. This product uses an acid to dissolve the hair so it flows down the drain.

   Zip-IT Tool

You may also purchase a mechanical hair clog remover such as the Zip-It Hair Snare, it’s inexpensive and it works well. Simply slide it down the drain and pull out the hair. The tiny barbs on the Zip-It grabs the hair and removes it.


Clogged Toilets are certainly an issue you want to avoid, excessive use of toilet paper and personal wipes can result in clogs, in most cases a plunger will help the blockage along and clear the drain.

If the plunger doesn’t do the job, a closet auger is the solution, the word closet may confuse you because what we call bathrooms now were at one time called water closets, these were a small room the size of a closet that contained only a toilet, today they include a sink and we call them a half bath.

Toilet Auger

A closet auger is a form of a snake made for a toilet, it has a snake like cable enclosed in the tube handle with a rubberized tip to protect the toilet bowl from being marred during use. You place the tube into the toilet and slide the cable down the toilet opening, once in, you then rotate the handle and the cable turns to break up the blockage. They work quite well.

Low Water Pressure, we all have been in a restroom or home bathroom and experienced very low water pressure, the water just trickles out of the spout. This makes washing your hands a difficult task, especially rinsing. The cause can be one of several issues, sometimes in public restrooms the water pressure is lowered intentionally to save water and avoid a wet messy floor.

At home this is usually the result of corrosion in the plumbing which restricts water flow. In older homes corrosion usually has built up narrowing the pipe openings and restricting flow. If this is the case the solution is not an inexpensive one, replacing the piping is usually the only solution and that can be very costly.


In many cases, the issue can be solved by cleaning the faucet aerators, which have a screen in them which catches the mineral deposits in the water, the deposits usually come from the hot water heater. These deposits build up on the screen restricting water flow. Removing the aerator and cleaning the screen usually solves the problem.


Low or No Hot Water, low hot water levels is usually a result of an old and inefficient water heater. When water is heated, the minerals in the water become solids and are suspended in it, being heavier than the water they settle to the bottom of the water heater tank.

As time goes by, these mineral deposits build up in the bottom of the tank insulating the water from the heat being created by the burner. The result is less hot water and higher energy bills.  These mineral deposits flow out of the water heater to your faucets, tub and shower valves clogging them up and reducing the water flow.

To minimize this mineral buildup, flush out you water heater at least once a year, open the drain valve and let 15 to 20 gallons of water flow out, this will wash out most of the built up minerals in the tank. If you wait too long the buildup will be higher than the drain opening and the drain will be blocked.

For major repairs such as re-piping and new water heaters, Home Depots’ Home Services Division can assist you with your plumbing problems, just call them at 1-800-557-5221.


If you have any plumbing issues and need assistance, just submit your query here and our experts will be happy to help you in any way we can.


Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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Posted 2017-01-10T01:16:50+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC
Great post Mike!

There are 2 other very common faucet brands whose internal parts look quite different from the brass/rubber and ceramic cartridges.

Moen, a very popular brand, uses cartridges where the rubber parts are the wear points.  As such, repair is usually made the same way as the ceramic disk versions by replacing the cartridge.  There are rebuild kits though, so for less money you can just replace the rubber in some cases.

Delta, another very popular faucet brand, uses a completely different approach.
They often use a metal ball that rides on top of spring loaded rubber washers as the valve mechanism.  It looks totally different from anything else, but is also easy to repair.  We have repair kits in the stores for these, and they look like this:

Delta also uses cartridges in some models as well, like the ones Mike illustrated above.


Posted 2017-01-10T17:16:28+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Hey Chris,

You are correct and owners of older homes should be aware that these parts are still available. However these are old school styles and are fading from the scene.  While they're many out there still in service, the styles are out of production. I have some older Moen Shower and Tub valves in my home and would never give them up!  Delta has not made a faucet with the ball type water control system for some time, like everyone else they have gone to cartridges.


Posted 2017-01-12T19:49:02+0000  by Mike_HD_OC
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