common plumbing errors bathtub

Common Plumbing Errors to Avoid When Remodeling Your Bathroom

When done correctly, a bathroom remodel can add long-term beauty and value to your home. When done incorrectly, it can quickly become a money pit, requiring you to spend more than your initial budget to correct critical plumbing errors. It’s critical to complete your bathroom remodel correctly. Below are the most common plumbing errors that homeowners make when remodeling their bathrooms. We’ll also talk about how to make sure you don’t make these mistakes. 

plumbing error incorrect measuring

Plumbing Error #1: Incorrect Measurements

Incorrect measurements are a common (and aggravating) error when remodeling your bathroom. If you don’t plan ahead and measure carefully, things will go wrong: your toilet won’t be the right size, your tiles won’t be straight, your vanity won’t be level, and so on. This is especially true of your bathroom’s plumbing and pipes.

Homeowners often think they can DIY a bathroom update: new tile, cabinets, and fixtures. Unfortunately, homes settle over time, and the building codes in your county may have changed. 

If your home is older, it’s not uncommon to find surprises when you demo the old fixtures. A common discovery is subterranean termite damage. You don’t see it until you demo. It needs to be rectified immediately and will stop all your progress. 

plumbing error shower sloping

Plumbing Error #2: Improper Shower Sloping

To the untrained eye, your shower floor probably appears relatively flat. Every shower has a slight slope that allows gravity to pull water down to the drain. Without this sloping, the water will become trapped on the shower floor, leaving you standing in a cold pool of water every morning.

The minimum slope recommended for a shower drain is 4%, which means that the floor level drops. Another rule of thumb is 5 inches for every 12 inches of flooring in the direction of the drain. E.g. If you have a three-foot-by-three-foot shower, the edges of the shower basin near the wall will be 1.5 inches higher than the floor near the drain.

The slope is formed during the foundation process. This means that if a shower slope is installed incorrectly, it most likely needs to be restarted from the beginning. This is not an easy DIY job. You need a professional plumber or bathroom remodeler.

Plumbing Error #3: Improper Drain Venting

The sink trap beneath your bathroom sink is far more sophisticated than you might think. The purpose of the trap is to collect standing water that separates the sink end of the pipe from the sewer line end of the pipe. This serves several functions. First, the sink trap configuration prevents hazardous and odorous sewer gases from entering your home through your pipes. Most homeowners know they have a sink trap problem when they wake up to a bathroom that smells like a sewer. Your sink trap can also act as a barrier to pest infiltration through the sewer pipe.

To form this critical seal, the pipe must be precisely vented to generate air pressure. This is yet another reason why a professional is required, and remodeling with proper permits is essential. If you do it yourself or hire a handyman and the pipes are not properly installed, there will be no one to catch the error (local inspector). You won’t realize this until you’ve finished and wake up to the sewer smell. So much for saving money by not hiring a professional. 

plumbing error hiring a contractor

Plumbing Error #4: Hiring (or not) the Wrong People

Poor workmanship or advice from an unqualified plumber can delay your project by weeks and deplete your bathroom remodeling budget. Trying to save money can end up backfiring. Not to mention the aggravation of countless trips to the home improvement store and time not spent doing other more enjoyable things. 

We recommend the following steps to find the best plumbers and bathroom remodelers for your job:

Ask Neighbors

You’re probably not the first homeowner in your neighborhood to remodel a bathroom. Your neighbors will not only have advice for you, but they will also be able to direct you to local professionals they trust–and those they warn you to avoid.

Read Reviews

Online reviews can reveal a great deal about a plumber. Consider more than just the star rating. Get into the review’s content and discover why people liked or disliked that professional. Focus on plumbers who keep their word and do the right thing by their customers.

Investigate

Plumbing installation and bathroom remodeling specialists should have references. Call them and explain your project. If you’re lucky, they’ve dealt with similar scenarios before and will know exactly what to do.

When You Need an Architect

You might not expect an architect to take on a minor project like a bathroom remodel. It will save you headaches in the long run if you plan to move fixtures, expand the footprint, or add new, trendy features like a multifunctional toilet or decorative tile designs. Plus, they know the best local contractors who specialize in your type of project. 

When in doubt, hire a professional to assist you with your bathroom remodeling project. 

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