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Bathroom Plumbing

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Your Complete Guide to
Common Bathroom Plumbing

When you think of the bathroom, what do you think of first? Is it the almighty throne, your clawfoot tub, or a gorgeous sea glass sink basin? Whatever fixture catches your fancy, you're probably aware that each component has a lot of moving parts.

So, how about a little rundown on the integral bathroom plumbing fixtures that tie it all together? Whether you're wondering how to do plumbing for a toilet or install a new shower head, we'll break down each moving part for you and douse you with a little bit of lingo.

Lay out your plumbing tools. We're going to cover:

We'll have you drawing a bathroom plumbing diagram in no time as you become the master of your very own throne room.

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The Toilet

Let's start with the most important fixture. A bathroom plumbing layout drawing quickly reveals that a toilet is much more than a seat and a lever. Within the tank atop the seat, there are a lot of levers and valves. So, let's start there.

The Tank

Within the tank, you have your external tank lever which leads to a fill valve. The job of the fill valve is to refill the tank after it's been flushed. If this valve starts to see a lot of wear and tear, it can create a leak and have a domino effect on some of the other moving parts within the tank.

Next up, we have the flush valve. This is located in the center of the tank. It includes an overflow tube, the hole that allows water to enter the bowl whenever it's flushed, and a rubber ball (or flapper) that covers the hole when the tank is full.

When the flush valve goes kaput, the tank can no longer hold water because the seal which holds the water in the tank has been broken. This creates a leak in the tank. It's that pesky sound of water that never seems to stop running.

So, when the flush valve is acting up, you can first try replacing the rubber ball or flapper. Or, it might be time for a new flush valve. Ultimately, a fresh and new valve will help you conserve water.

At the base, you'll find a flapper seal. This brings us back to that pesky sound of running water. If you've ever heard a toilet that sounds like it's refilling too often or steadily hissing out water, there may be a faulty flapper.

You may also hear the flapper seal referred to as the flush valve seal. It's simply the plug that presses up against the drain hole on the bottom of the tank.

Sometimes, people replace the flapper seal, hoping it'll stop the sound of running water. But, if that doesn't seem to be the solution, then it's likely the flush valve seal that's the culprit. This component can become pitted over time.

We can't leave off without mentioning the mounting hardware. Although we consider them to be one unit, the tank can actually separate from the bowl. So, it's important to secure the connection with proper mounting hardware.

The Bowl

While the mounting hardware is integral to a secure connection between the tank and the bowl, there's also an important gasket. Typically, it's just referred to as the tank to bowl gasket. To no surprise, this needs to be an airtight, secure connection.

At the base of the bowl, there's an internal wax ring and flange that leads to the sewer pipe. And, you guessed it; this needs to be another airtight, secure connection. Any little leak could create quite a fuss either in liquid or gaseous form.

You've also probably noticed little white caps at the base of a bowl. These are called mounting caps and they cover the mounting hardware that bolts the bowl to the floor (similar to the mounting hardware that links the tank to the bowl).

And there you have it. Something we use a few times a day - and probably take for granted - actually has a lot of moving parts. It's much more than stand and flush. All connections need to be secure like Fort Knox and it's a bit of a domino effect.

If the tank lever doesn't connect with the fill valve or the flush valve, things won't be movin' and groovin'. Likewise, if any of the mounting hardware isn't installed properly, things will go south pretty quickly. But, with secure connections, a well-installed toilet should give you years of stress-free visits to the throne room.

The Sink

After a visit to the throne, where's the next place everyone heads? The sink, of course. This fine fellow has a similar number of moving parts.

The Faucet

First up, we have the faucet lever which turns things on and off. The lever connects to a dome which houses a cartridge that connects to a spout O ring. The spout O ring is about as thick as a sheet of cardstock but is integral to a secure connection.

The spout O ring connects to the faucet spout which has another O ring. At the end of the spout, there's a little O ring that connects to an aerator which delivers a mixture of water and air. Essentially, this helps prevent too much of a splash from developing.

Going back to the other side of the spout, back at the base of the sink, there's one more O ring that connects to the escutcheon, which is a fancy word for "flat piece of metal."

The Basin

The basin is pretty straightforward. It's part of the reason why you can purchase practically any shape, style, or material for your basin. It can be glass, porcelain, marble, bronze, you name it.

Here, you have the basin and a drain. Nice and easy. But, on top of the drain, you can install a sink hole cover or a sink strainer.

A sink hole cover allows you to seal the drain and draw some water into the basin. This is, of course, great for face washing, shaving, and other daily routines.

But you can also install a sink strainer. If there are any ladies in the house, then, every time they brush their hair, there's a strong likelihood they'll brush a few strands down the drain. Over time, this creates one of those gag-worthy clogs that will need to be snaked out.

Much like a shower strainer, an ounce of prevention here will save everyone a lot of time hunched over a sink searching for lost hair (or even diamond rings).

The Shower

Onto the final component of the bathroom. The shower and bathtub are where all our cares get washed away and relaxation sets in (unless there's a faulty flange or valve).

So, let's start at the top. First, you have your shower flange, which is that silver disk that lies flat against the wall. This leads to the shower arm which connects to the shower head.

Plumbers' tape was all but made for this scenario. A little strip on both ends of the shower arm is a time-old maneuver that provides a tiny bit of peace of mind.

Then, it's down to the faucet. Within the wall, there's a valve that releases the water. This connects to a cartridge which leads to the stop tube. So, the valve, cartridge, and stop tube are the major components that control the flow of water.

At the end of the stop tube, we have another handy escutcheon (a.k.a. flat piece of metal) which leads to the handle. Of course, when it's bath time, we also need to refer to the spout at the bottom of all this.

The tub spout connects to its own valve in the wall, pretty plain and simple. The spout will come with all the working parts to allow you to pull up the drain and fill the tub to your heart's content.

The final connecting piece is the drain or drain stop. This will pull up or down as needed. But, no matter what you do, be sure to invest in a little forward thinking and place a hair catch over the drain.

Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures

You probably suspected one of the most frequented rooms in the house had a lot of moving parts, but now you can name most of those bathrooms plumbing fixtures.

And, while it may be nice to know you can probably pop in a new flapper seal or O ring, should you ever need to call in a crew of well-versed, hard-working plumbers, we hope you'll give us a call today.

Here at 1-800-Plumber +Air, we're your guys for every kind of plumbing need, HVAC need, or emergency service (i.e., when the toilet or shower springs a leak that you can't contain).

As for our plumbing services, we can help you with everything from drain cleaning, to water treatment, to the installation of tankless water heaters. Whatever the job is, we'll get it done and restore your throne room to all its glory.

Give us a call today. With locations all across the US, we've got you covered from coast to coast. As for the northeast, you'll find us in Long Island, NY, Attleboro, MA, and Shelton, CT.

We also have five offices in the great state of Texas (Amarillo, Duncanville, Pearland, Sugar Land, and McKinney), and one in Portland, OR. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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