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Bathroom Troubleshooting Guide

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Bathroom Troubleshooting Guide

The cold hard facts first, designed to ease your selection of bathroom fittings:

  • A tap that is left running can waste 17 litres of water per minute
  • A water efficient shower head will save a household between $50 and $100 in energy and water bills per year
  • A single flush toilet dispels up to 12 litres of water whilst a dual flush one only uses as little as 3 litres
  • A leaking toilet will waste 16,000 litres of water per year
  • Efficient taps with aerators use 50% less water than standard taps
  • Bathrooms account for 49% of all water usage inside a home
  • A water efficient shower head uses about 72 litres of water during an eight minute shower whilst a standard one will use 120 litres

The design and the layout of your bathroom are a blend of personal taste, budget, physical limitations of the building structure and requirements by Building Code of Australia. There are however critical factors that need attention when building or renovating a bathroom.

  • Make sure the design and layout of the bathroom are complete prior to obtaining quotes or construction starting. The plumber needs all fixtures on site so that work can proceed fluently.
  • What is the theme of the bathroom and whether it will blend with the rest of the house?
  • Who will be using the bathroom? A young family will require a bath whilst an elderly couple would rather have a spa for therapeutic reasons and extra grab rails especially in the shower and near the toilet.
  • Size of the bath. Is a bath and shower going to severely restrict floor space? The use of a bath in many households is negligible. Its removal or omission can free up luxurious space to dress within or relax. The elderly member of the family will not appreciate getting into a restrictive shower.
  • Carefully consider natural lighting. A bathroom with no natural lighting can become very claustrophobic.
  • Measure the dimensions of the area you want tiled and visit your tile supplier who will establish the amount of tiles required and always allow 10% extra for cutting and breakage. If budget constraints need to be observed, save with inexpensive wall tiles but invest in more expensive floor tiles, highlight tiles and feature walls such as glass mosaic tiles which are making a definite comeback.
  • Choose the toilet, bidet and vanity unit before the plumbing work starts since these have varying set-outs. If the plumbing is done first, the choice of fixtures is then restricted.
  • Make an allowance for a ceiling exhaust fan at least over the showering area in order to ventilate the bathroom but do not discharge the moist air into the ceiling space as this will promote rot, destroy your ceiling insulation and warp ceiling panels. Ducting needs to expel moist air to the outside of the home.
  • Often overlooked, bathroom heating can mean the difference between relaxed pampering and a hastened shower. Heating can come in many forms but if you’re opting for a ceiling-mounted radiant bathroom heater that incorporates lighting and an exhaust fan, choose one that has an in-built sensor which detects the level of humidity in the bathroom and automatically turns the fan on and off as required.
  • No need to move out of your home or pester your friends whilst bathroom renovations are carried out. Hire a porta-shower and porta-loo and have them lifted in place onto your backyard.
  • If your bathroom needs to be adapted for people with immobilities or the elderly, contact the Independent Living Centre who will put you in contact with contractors who can help you accommodate their needs allowing them the dignity and independence they deserve.
  • You will come across clearance stores that advertise heavily discounted goods but think carefully before seizing the bargain. Outdated units will outdate even faster in your bathroom and replacement parts may be a distant memory to the manufacturer.

Tiling tips:

  • Endeavour to use as many full tiles as possible, minimising the number of cut tiles
  • Tiles that have been cut should be located away from the focal point of the eye. In a bathroom, establish which corner your eye focuses on the moment you open the door and make that the area with full tiles.
  • Avoid cutting tiles more than half their original size.
  • Cut tile should be applied at the bottom of walls so the top will have full tiles.
  • When tiling walls, establish a vertical line at the middle and tile from this point outward so that at each end of the wall you will have similar sized cut tiles.
  • Always place cut tiles last.
  • Grouting of laid tiles can only commence after the tile adhesive has set, usually 24 hours after.
  • Expansion joints need to be placed over areas where expansion joints have been place in the substrate i.e. the concrete slab; where there is a break in materials that make up the area needing to be tiled i.e. if a bathroom floor consists of a concrete slab and part of it is timber framed; at internal vertical corners; around the perimeter and at a maximum of 5 metre interval.

It is disheartening to find that in many cases a definite time within which a bathroom renovation is to be carried out is omitted from a contract. A bathroom renovation should never require months to complete. If this is the case, your licensed bathroom contractor is most likely devoting more time to other projects. Despite this, under the Home Building Act of 1989, there are Statutory Warranties that “the work” has to be completed “within a reasonable time”. Six months, for a bathroom renovation, will never be a reasonable time. Do your homework before engaging a contractor so that the excitement and eagerness for a new “relaxation centre” will not turn into heartbreak.

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