Fix It Series: Part 3

Katelyn Preston February 10, 2017

In this final installment of our three-part Fix-It series, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for two more common household DIY fixes: a loose toilet base and hard water build-up on your showerhead.

Tightening a loose toilet base

If your toilet is wobbly and loose, it might be due to poor installation or common wear. Whatever the reasons, you can fix your loose toilet very easily without having to call in your plumber. Before you get started, here are a few things you should know!

Toilets are attached to a metal or plastic ring known as a toilet flange, which is secured to the floor of your bathroom with screws. It’s also attached to the drain pipe called a “bend”, which is designed to let pass liquids at high speeds.

The flange and toilet are held together with what are known as closet bolts. The space between the flange and toilet is sealed with the help of a wax seal that’s pressed onto the base of the toilet before placing the toilet over the floor flange. This wax seal helps to keep water from leaking.

Very often, fixing loose toilets will require you to lift your toilet. When you do so, the wax seal will break, so make sure you have a new seal handy.

Having said that, let’s talk about the process.

A wobbly toilet may simply be a result of loose mounting bolts. In that case, follow these steps:

  • Remove the small plastic bolt caps at the base of your toilet (they will be on each side, and can be removed with a small screwdriver).
  • The bolts you see should normally be unmovable with your fingers. If either of these bolts are moving, tighten them down with a socket wrench.
  • Note: Do not overtighten the bolts; the material underneath can crack.

If loose mounting bolts isn’t your problem, then it’s more likely the toilet flange. In that case, follow these steps:

  • Close the shut-off valve to turn off the water connection to your toilet.
  • Flush the toilet and hold down the lever to empty the tank. Then, scoop out the remaining water from the tank and mop it with a sponge or absorbent cloth until no water remains in the tank.
  • Use an adjustable wrench to detach the water-supply line from the toilet tank.
  • Remove the caps from the closet bolts on each side of the toilet to expose the nuts. Remove the nuts using an open-end wrench. Lift up the toilet and set it carefully on newspaper or cardboard.
  • The old wax seal will now be visible. Scrape it away with a putty knife.
  • Block the drainpipe with a rag to prevent the sewer gases from coming in.
  • Chip away tile, if needed, to expose the toilet flange. Slip a repair plate under the damaged part of the flange.
  • Now install new bolts in the flange.
  • Replace the wax seal.
  • Set the toilet back into place and press down to compress the seal.
  • Tighten nuts on the closet bolts and put bolt caps back in place.
  • Check to make sure toilet secured tightly to floor.

Now, you can reconnect your water supply and get the bathroom back to normal!

How to clean a showerhead with hard water build-up

One of the most common causes of low water pressure in your shower is the build-up of hard water deposits. If you find that your shower head doesn’t have the proper water pressure, check if the shower head is coated with hard water deposits. If it is, here’s an easy way to clean it out.

What you’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush
  • Hair-pin or paperclip
  1. Fill a glass bowl with white vinegar. Warm it in the microwave for 90 seconds.
  2. Put the shower head in the bowl and let it soak for 4-5 hours. If there’s a lot of build-up and crust, soak it for a longer period. 
  3. After the soak, use a toothbrush to clean the shower head and remove the lime and mineral deposits. If the nozzle holes still seem to be blocked, clean them using the hair-pin or paperclip.
  4. Rinse the shower head with fresh water.
  5. Reinstall the shower head and test the water flow through.

Showerhead good as new? We hope so! Repeat the steps when hard water build-up returns.

We hope you found these step-by-step instructions to fix common household issues useful. Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Fix-It Series.