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Determining And Fixing Plumbing Noises In Your Home

To diagnose noisy plumbing, it is important to determine first whether the unwanted sounds occur on the system’s inlet side-in other words, when water is turned on-or on the drain side. Noises on the inlet side have varied causes: excessive water pressure, worn valve and faucet parts, improperly connected pumps or other appliances, incorrectly placed pipe fasteners, and plumbing runs containing too many tight bends or other restrictions. Noises on the drain side usually stem from poor location or, as with some inlet side noise, a layout containing tight bends.

Hissing

Hissing noise that occurs when a faucet is opened slightly generally signals excessive water pressure. Consult your local water company if you suspect this problem; it will be able to tell you the water pressure in your area and can install a pressurereducing valve on the incoming water supply pipe if necessary.

Thudding

Thudding noise, often accompanied by shuddering pipes, when a faucet or appliance valve is turned off is a condition called water hammer. The noise and vibration are caused by the reverberating wave of pressure in the water, which suddenly has no place to go. Sometimes opening a valve that discharges water quickly into a section of piping containing a restriction, elbow, or tee fitting can produce the same condition.

Water hammer can usually be cured by installing fittings called air chambers or shock absorbers in the plumbing to which the problem valves or faucets are connected. These devices allow the shock wave created by the halted flow of water to dissipate in the air they contain, which (unlike water) is compressible.

Older plumbing systems may have short vertical sections of capped pipe behind walls on faucet runs for the same purpose; these can eventually fill with water, reducing or destroying their effectiveness. The cure is to drain the water system completely by shutting off the main water supply valve and opening all faucets. Then open the main supply valve and close the faucets one at a time, starting with the faucet nearest the valve and ending with the one farthest away.

Chattering or Screeching

Intense chattering or screeching that occurs when a valve or faucet is turned on, and that usually disappears when the fitting is opened fully, signals loose or defective internal parts. The solution is to replace the valve or faucet with a new one.

Pumps and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers can transfer motor noise to pipes if they are improperly connected. Link such items to plumbing with plastic or rubber hoses-never rigid pipe-to isolate them.

Other Inlet Side Noises

Creaking, squeaking, scratching, snapping, and tapping usually are caused by the expansion or contraction of pipes, generally copper ones supplying hot water. The sounds occur as the pipes slide against loose fasteners or strike nearby house framing. You can often pinpoint the location of the problem if the pipes are exposed; just follow the sound when the pipes are making noise. Most likely you will discover a loose pipe hanger or an area where pipes lie so close to floor joists or other framing pieces that they clatter against them. Attaching foam pipe insulation around the pipes at the point of contact should remedy the problem. Be sure straps and hangers are secure and provide adequate support. Where possible, pipe fasteners should be attached to massive structural elements such as foundation walls instead of to framing; doing so lessens the transmission of vibrations from plumbing to surfaces that can amplify and transfer them. If attaching fasteners to framing is unavoidable, wrap pipes with insulation or other resilient material where they contact fasteners, and sandwich the ends of new fasteners between rubber washers when installing them.

Correcting plumbing runs that suffer from flow-restricting tight or numerous bends is a last resort that should be undertaken only after consulting a skilled plumbing contractor. Unfortunately, this situation is fairly common in older houses that may not have been built with indoor plumbing or that have seen several remodels, especially by amateurs.

Drainpipe Noise

On the drain side of plumbing, the chief goals are to eliminate surfaces that can be struck by falling or rushing water and to insulate pipes to contain unavoidable sounds.

In new construction, bathtubs, shower stalls, toilets, and wallmounted sinks and basins should be set on or against resilient underlayments to reduce the transmission of sound through them. Water-saving toilets and faucets are less noisy than conventional models; install them instead of older types even if codes in your area still permit using older fixtures.

Drainpipes that do not run vertically to the basement or that branch into horizontal pipe runs supported at floor joists or other framing present particularly troublesome noise problems. Such pipes are large enough to radiate considerable vibration; they also carry significant amounts of water, which makes the situation worse. In new construction, specify cast-iron soil pipes (the large pipes that drain toilets) if you can afford them. Their massiveness contains much of the noise made by water passing through them. Also, avoid routing drainpipes in walls shared with bedrooms and rooms where people gather. Walls containing drainpipes should be soundproofed as was described earlier, using double panels of sound-insulating fiberboard and wallboard. Pipes themselves can be wrapped with special fiberglass insulation made for the purpose; such pipes have an impervious vinyl skin (sometimes containing lead). Results are not always satisfactory.

Thank you for taking the time with me to learn more about what Mr. Done Right, the handyman / contractor does for you.

Sincerely,

Don Fenton

(AKA) Mr. Done Right

For more information on handyman or contractor work in the greater Austin area (or beyond), please contact your premiere handyman, Don Fenton, AKA Mr. Done Right Handyman Contractor of Austin, because Mr. Done Right ensures any repairs and/or remodels get Done Right the first time! Call us now for a free estimate! 512-659-8931

www.Handyman-Austin.com

 

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So, What’s the Best Bathroom Remodeling Strategy for My Money?

Bathroom Remodeling Strategies: High-level Budgets

If you can afford to spend $40,000 to remodel your bathroom, you may be able to spend $200,000 on it as well. But because it is so easy to spend money when it’s readily available, it’s important to pay attention to getting your money’s worth. At lower budget levels, the budgetary limits tend to force remodelers to get the most for their money. With a large budget, you have to be your own budget cop and closely monitor your spending.

That’s why, in considering high-budget bath remodeling, we’ve chosen to set a limit of $40,000 or under. We don’t want to reduce the fun of remodeling your bath so much as we want to let you know how you can get the most fun for your money. Here are some suggestions from experts who know their way around the fun house:

BE BOLD: YOU CAN AFFORD TO REMODEL YOUR BATHROOM 

Having cautioned you to watch your spending, we should also remind you that you have plenty of money to spend wisely for what you want. Whereas at lower budget levels, for example, it makes sense to decorate conservatively with an eye on resale, at the high end you are at liberty to decorate to please yourself rather than future buyers of your home.

“I think that matchy-match look is kind of going out anyway,” says Janice Costa, editor of Kitchen & Bath Design News. “People have gotten away from coordinating the tub faucet with the faucet in the sink. They are not afraid of contrast, especially at the high end. I don’t think people are as afraid of going with some splash of color.”

USE QUALITY MATERIALS TO CREATE BEAUTY

At the high-budget level, it is no longer necessary to use cheaper, lower quality products, such as solid-surface materials with an artificial tile look.

“People will use solid surface materials to avoid having to clean grout,” says Sabrina Foulke, architectural designer at Point One Architects + Planners in Old Lyme, Conn., “but I see it as a lost opportunity, because tile is beautiful and artistic. I’ve also done marble shower walls, with the entire wall a slab of marble, and that’s pretty amazing. Marble is beautiful, and easy to maintain, too.”

Janice Costa recommends use of decorative glass and porcelain Italian tile: “Imported Italian tile can be very high-end. Some of it’s glass, some of it’s porcelain, it’s decorative, and it makes a statement. There are more custom sizes in Italian tile — it’s one-of-a-kind.”

In addition to marble and decorative tile, high-end remodelers can afford to invest in fine ornamental faucets. “There are lines of faucets inlaid with fine crystal,” says Costa, “and faucets in precious metals. That’s probably for budgets at the really high end.”

BUY THE NEWEST AND BEST

A large budget makes it possible to add the most interesting, highest quality products and services on the market to your bathroom remodeling plans. These can include:

– Combination bathroom mirror/TV. These innovative products (see the model by Seura) transform at the push of a button from a mirror to an LCD TV. “It’s so cool,” says Janice Costa. “If it’s off, it looks like a mirror, but when you turn it on it becomes a television. It costs a couple thousand dollars.”

– Whirlpools with chromatherapy. Models such as Jacuzzi’s Duetta combine the comforts of a whirlpool with soothing underwater light therapy, called chromatherapy.

– Leather-framed bathroom mirror and furniture piece vanity. Distinctive leather-framed mirrors (such as the Stone Top Bath Vanity from Weaver Wayside Furniture.

– Customized faucets. California Faucets is one of only a few companies that allows customers to design their own faucets by picking and combining different spigots, handles and finishes. Costa says she believes “you’re going to see more of that, because people like the idea of one-of-a-kind products, just for them.”

– Quality craftsmanship. With a high-end budget, you can afford to pay for top-of-the-line designers and craftspeople. Artists can do tile work that makes your bath a showcase for custom mosaics. Lighting specialists can create spectacular effects. And designers can manipulate your bath space, adding windows or skylights to make your bath a beautiful environment.

Hot Tip: Relax in your soaking tub. “More people are moving away from tubs because they’ve found that they don’t use them,” reports Sabrina Foulke. She says, however, that a product her firm is installing might slow down people’s rushed bathing habits considerably, particularly if they have the resources to afford a relaxed lifestyle.

“We’ve been putting in Japanese soaking tubs,” she says. “They’re three feet deep, so people can climb in and sit up to their neck in water, relaxing, but not lying down. It’s quite nice, particularly if you have a good view out the window.”

How do I Remodel my Bathroom on a Low Budget?

Despite a lackluster economy, a lot of people are thinking of remodeling their baths and are willing to pay to do so. However, experts say, you don’t have to have Bill Gates’ income to create an attractive, comfortable bath for your family.

“I would tell you,” says Thompson Price, president of Callier and Thompson Kitchens, Baths, and Appliances in St. Louis, “that for a standard 5′ x 9′ bath redone from floor to ceiling, the minimum price is not going to be much under $10,000. That’s not top-of-the-line products, but it’s not the most inexpensive products, either. It’s good quality, decent products done properly by licensed tradespeople.”

To redo your bath for $10,000 or less, the watchword has to be quality. You can get results you’ll be proud of for $10,000 or less, but of necessity you will find yourself focused on return on investment. Here are some of the strategies for keeping your eye on the prize:

DON’T MOVE THE PLUMBING
With $10,000 to spend, it’s important that you tackle the project with simplicity in mind.

“You can actually do it for less than $10,000,” says Janice Costa, editor of Kitchen & Bath Design News, “if you keep it within the same footprints. Usually, you start talking about a lot of money when you start moving plumbing around.”

Shower or tub, toilet and sink should all stay in the same locations.

FOLLOW THE CODES
Thompson Price of Callier and Thompson stresses that while the temptation to cut corners may be great at this budget level, the resale value of your home rides on following the building codes.

“We have customers who say, `I’ve got a bid from a guy, he’s going to do all the work himself, he doesn’t do permits, and he’ll do it the way it’s supposed to be done,’ but, frankly, that doesn’t meet code requirements,” Price says. “You can’t have a carpenter doing all the plumbing, electrical work and tile work. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but people who do it are at risk when they go to sell the home.”

DECORATE WISELY
“A fresh coat of paint does a world of good,” says Sabrina Foulke, architectural designer at Point One Architects + Planners in Old Lyme, Conn. “What we try to do is make the bathroom walls fairly neutral and then accessorize with towels and other elements. Neutral doesn’t mean white, either; the basic color could be blue, pale pink or yellow, as long as things are unified, and then you add items to pop as decorative elements — paintings, pictures on the walls, soap holders — and just have fun with it.”

Janice Costa says that fun can pay off when you put your house on the market. “People who are thinking in terms of resale use a neutral base with a nice accent color,” she says. “Watercolor blues are still projected to be hot in 2012. A lot of people are looking for something that will have long-term appeal.”

USE FIBERGLASS AND ACRYLICS IN THE TUB OR SHOWER
Savings can be realized by using prefabricated showers or bathtubs, or shower-tub combinations, made of fiberglass or acrylics. Tile can be expensive, and the labor involved in laying tile that doesn’t leak is complicated, as well. “It’s much more labor-intensive and, therefore, more expensive,” says Sabrina Foulke, “than if you just went out and bought a 76-inch square shower form.”

Acrylic liners can also be installed over an existing tub or shower wall to provide a handsome new finish. “They don’t last forever,” Janice Costa says, “but if you’re talking about staying in a house just three to five years, that’s a very popular option.”

SPRUCE THINGS UP
At $10,000, seemingly small improvements can yield handsome results, and, therefore, increase a home’s value. For example, Sabrina Foulke says replacing an old shower door with an accessorized shower curtain “can make a huge difference. Old shower door frames can get pretty nasty, so curtains are a way to redecorate easily.”

“One thing we’ve started doing,” says Foulke, “is using pendant lights in the bathroom. Sometimes people have these old Hollywood-style lights built into their bathrooms from the ’70s. Just replacing them with a really beautiful light fixture that hangs by the sink works well and looks good.”

“If you really want to spruce up the bathroom quickly,” says Foulke, “the biggest change would be the vanity — replacing the vanity cabinet, the top and the bowl, or even just the top and bowl and then painting the cabinet.”

Hot Tip: Build-in the hair dryer. “Hair dryers for women, built into vanity cabinets, is a cool little thing,” Foulke says. “You can put a plug in the cabinet and then hang the dryer inside the cabinet on a hook, plugged in and ready to go. All you have to do is open the door and dry your hair. It’s a little thing, but it can make somebody happy if they don’t have a lot of money to spend.”

 
 

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