Four Common Toilet Problems (& How to Fix Them)

Overflowing, constantly running, and sweating toilets can be an annoyance for homeowners and renters alike. Sometimes you’ll have to call a professional plumber for a quick fix, but there are quite a few toilet problems you can fix on your own. Whether you’re on a tight budget or are a DIYer at heart, sometimes it just makes sense to roll up your sleeves and take control of the situation on your own. From phantom flushes to leaky seals, here are some common toilet issues and how you can fix them with your own two hands.

#1: Phantom Flushes

If you hear your toilet begin to spontaneously refill in the middle of the night or when not in use, it’s not a ghost- it’s what plumbers refer to as a phantom flush. Caused by a very slow leak from the tank into the bowl, the problem is usually caused by a bad flapper or flapper seat. If you think your toilet has this problem but want to make sure, you can run a quick diagnostic test. To do so, add food dye to the tank after all the water has stopped running. Wait ten minutes and check the bowl water- if it’s colored, you do in fact have a leak. Replacing the flapper and flap seat is easy- replacements are available at most hardware stores. When purchasing a replacement be sure to take the old one with you to find a replacement that matches correctly.

#2: Bowl Empties Slowly

Also referred to as a weak flush, a bowl that empties too slowly is usually the result of clogged holes underneath the rim of the bowl. You can use oversized toothpicks or a wire coat hanger to poke gently into each flush hole to clear out any debris. Be careful not to scratch the bowl while cleaning. If the problem persists even after this cleaning, a muriatic acid wash may do the trick. Mix one part acid to 10 parts water and use a funnel to carefully pour half the solution down the overflow tube in the toilet tank. You should hear fizzing right away. Be careful of the fumes- open a window, and run the fan. Let the acid work its magic for half an hour and pour the rest of the solution down the tube. Wait another half an hour and flush the toilet. Note: if you have a septic tank, do not do this. You’ll have to disassemble the toilet completely and do this process outdoors.

#3: Overflowing Water

If your toilet is about to overflow and your usual trick of shutting the lid and crossing your fingers won’t work, there are a few things you can do. As soon as the water level starts rising, reach into the tank and prop up the fill valve (or the ball that floats on top of the water.) This should stop the flow to the toilet, avoiding an overflow but, in case it doesn’t, keep a plunger nearby. If the overflow is caused by a clog there are several tools available. A force-cup plunger is more effective than a standard plunger for cleaning minor clogs and, for serious clogs, purchase a closet auger. Insert the end into the drain hole and twist the handle as you push the rotor downward. Be sure to use caution, as scratching the bowl could leave unsightly, permanent scratches.

#4: Leaky Seals

A standard toilet has at least five seals and, unsurprisingly, each has the potential for leaking. In each case, the solution is to identify the broken seal and, depending on the level of damage, either tighten it or replace it. A break of the largest seal, located between the tank and bowl, will be the most obvious, as water will shoot out from underneath the tank with every flush. The others won’t be as noticeable, as they’re smaller. Regardless of the location or type of seal, they’re all replaced the same way. Drain the seal, remove the tank, turn the tank upside down for better access, remove the seal, and pop on a new one. In some cases, tightening the bolts or mounting nut is enough to stop the leak. Try this method first and, if the seal is still leaking, replace the seal altogether using the above steps.

Tips for Converting a Tub to a Shower

If you’re thinking about converting your outdated bathtub into the luxurious walk-in shower you’ve always dreamed of, you’re in good company. According to the American Institute of Architects, bathrooms without bathtubs are growing in popularity. In fact, 60 percent of homeowners preferred stall showers to tubs in a 2013 survey. However, there’s a caveat: most real estate agents recommend keeping at least one bathtub in your home to preserve its marketability when you decide to sell your home. So, before you take a sledgehammer to your bathtub, here are some tips for making the process as seamless and affordable as possible.

Measure the Space

Not all showers will fit in the space that’s being occupied by your bathtub, which is why it’s important to measure your bathroom as precisely as possible. Most tubs are 60 inches wide, which is a great width for a shower. Unfortunately, many homeowners typically run into an issue with the depth. You’ll want to aim for at least 32 to 34 inches from the finished tile wall to the future glass shower door. To comply with the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s guidelines for bathrooms, you’ll also need to have a finished ceiling height of a minimum of 80 inches and a shower that’s at least 30 X 30 to comply. It’s also important to record the toilet location- a distance of 15 to 18 inches from the center of the toilet to the shower door tends to be comfortable.

If the measurements of your future shower don’t fall in line, you’ll likely need to put your shower in a different location of the bathroom, which will probably require the services of a professional contractor and/or designer.

What about the Shower Door?

Many DIYers forget about the shower door until it’s too late. To avoid the headache that comes along with that, figure out your shower door situation before you plan the renovation. Ask yourself a few questions: where will you put the door in your new shower? Does it interfere with the bathroom vanity or toilet? Will there be enough room to get in and out of the shower with the new shower door? If the walkway from the vanity or toilet to the shower is too tight for a swinging shower door, there are other alternatives available on the market, including glass block walls, sliding doors, and retainer walls. Tip: if the bathroom floor is going to get wet outside the shower, choose a slip-resistant material for the floor.

Take Your Time with Fixtures

Shopping for bathroom fixtures can actually be a lot of fun, as long as you take your time and do your research. Research your options, and keep an eye out for specials and possible out-of-the-box combos. Many first-time DIYers may feel pressure to purchase all their bathroom fixtures and accessories from the same brand, which isn’t a necessity. In fact, many professional designers mix and match fixtures from a few different companies. Since bathroom fixtures are mostly chosen for their aesthetics, as long as they all look great together they’re fair game. Tip: if you’re building a custom steam shower, it should be constructed by someone with at least five years’ experience with vapor proofing.

Lighting & Tile

The key to a polished-looking shower is to consider your lighting and tile options from the very beginning. Make sure to include lights inside your shower, not just outside or around it. Depending on the size and overall design of your shower, one, two, or four lights might look best. When you remove the tub to make room for the new shower, take the opportunity to make sure the light system you chose can be installed like you had planned. Finally, don’t install the tile until you have the finished light sources already in place. Otherwise, it’s difficult to know how any lippage might look, as the lights of a shower are often quite close to the wall which will showcase any mistakes you made while installing tile.

For more information about your lighting and tile options, check out Bathroom Lighting: A Guide and Decorative Tile: A Guide.

How to Prepare Your Home’s Plumbing for Winter

Whether the deep freeze of winter is right around the corner or still a couple months away, there’s no time like the present to prepare your home’s plumbing system for the cold, winter months. If you don’t prepare your home for a drop in temperature, water can freeze and break pipes, causing significant damage to the walls, ceilings, and floors of your home. At best, the damage can be inconvenient. At worst, destructive and costly. As a good preventative measure, use this checklist to prepare your home’s plumbing for the winter weather that’s right around the corner.

Fix Leaks

If you currently have a leak in your home, it’s best to get the leak fixed before the first snow of the season, as even the smallest leak can turn into a huge problem when the temperatures drop. If you’re already aware of a leak, this step is easy. But if you aren’t, take a walk around the interior and exterior of your home and check for leaks or pools of water, just in case. If you wait for the water to freeze before getting the leak fixed, the damage to the surrounding pipes will be more significant. If your pipes are insulated, you can still check for leaks by feeling for any moisture that may have been soaked up.

Set Your Thermostat

If you leave your home, set your thermostat to 65°F or higher. If you’re out of town for more than a few days, set your thermostat to 55°F or higher. While it may seem wasteful, you’ll incur much more expense repairing the damage from a burst pipe than you will on the extra heating. Since prevention and planning are the two key ways to protect your plumbing throughout the winter season, this preventative measure should not be skipped under any circumstances. While you’re at it, reduce the water temperature of the water heater. Chances are, you can the thermostat down a few degrees and still have enough hot water for normal day-to-day use.

Drain & Disconnect Hoses

The pipes outside your home are exposed to the most extreme temperatures; therefore, they’re at the greatest risk for freezing. Since they’re the most susceptible to damage, extra measures should be taken to protect your exterior plumbing. You should drain the water from your sprinkler supply lines and swimming pool before the weather gets too cold, but remember: don’t pour antifreeze into the lines, as it’s dangerous to humans, animals, and landscaping. Next, disconnect garden hoses and put them into storage. Close the inside valves and open the hose bibs so the water can drain out. Then, leave them open so any remaining water can expand without breaking the pipe. For more information, learn How to Prevent Bathroom Pipes from Freezing.

Don’t Forget the Interior

While outdoor pipes are more susceptible to damage, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to your indoor plumbing. While keeping the thermostat at 55°F is a good preventative measure, you should also add extra insulation to crawl spaces, basements, and attics, check windows and doorframes for drafts, and keep windows and air vents that are located near water pipes closed. While you’re at it, feel for drafts around the chimney case or flue and repair these as soon as possible. If the outdoor temperature is extremely cold, allow cold water to drip from the faucets to keep the line from freezing.

Watch for Warning Signs

Even if you’ve taken every precaution, it’s still possible for one or more pipes to freeze. Keep an eye out for reduced water flow, as it’s often the first sign of a frozen pipe. Check faucets before you go to bed and again in the morning to make sure the flow and water pressure have remained consistent. If a pipe appears to be frozen, you can take steps to thaw it. Thawing can be done with a hairdryer, heating pad, or a portable space heater, but use caution when operating these near standing water. If you suspect a frozen pipe but are unable to locate it or thaw it, call a plumber immediately.

Bathroom Appliances & Water Consumption

The bathroom is an area of extreme water consumption, a large amount of which is not used in the most efficient manner possible. The EPA estimates that the average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water per day, most of which results from the use of bathroom appliances. Even for those households that make an effort to limit shower time and sink usage, there is only so much that can be done with common appliances and techniques. An unnecessarily high amount of water usage is not only harmful for the environment, but it can cost a fortune in water and electricity bills. It’s becoming more common for people to seek a different approach to household water usage, especially as new conservation-minded appliances are becoming available.

Low-Flow Toilets

It’s estimated that toilets alone account for 30 percent of a household’s water usage. The average toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush; however, low-flow toilets use less than 1.3 gallons per flush. There is also the option of the dual-flush toilet, which offers two different flush settings, one for liquid waste, and the other for solid. These are both great alternatives to the common toilet, as well as some other new designs that use smaller tanks, bowls, and make use of gravity to conserve water. Since the average toilet uses the same amount of water for each flush, regardless of its use, this appliance can become a major source of wasted water in your household. These more water-friendly alternatives can make a tremendous difference in your household water usage over time.


Similarly, you can find low-flow showerheads that will use less water with each use. The shower accounts for up to 20 percent of water use in the average household, but you can cut that in half by installing a low-flow showerhead that won’t compromise your water pressure. There are plenty of low-flow showerhead options available today that use air to provide water pressure, rather than simply using more water. You can also buy a showerhead with adjustable settings, so that you get to decide how much water you use with each shower.

Others rely on the “bucket system” to cut down on overall water consumption. If you have a shower that also functions as a bathtub, use a ten-gallon bucket to gather the water underneath the bath spout while you wait for it to heat up. When it’s hot enough, simply remove the bucket, switch it to shower mode, and begin your shower. Then, you can use the water in the bucket for your garden or other irrigation purposes, rather than letting it go down the drain. Since the shower is a major source of wasted water, consider these appliances and methods as a means of saving a significant amount of water in your household.


Sink faucets account for around 15-18 percent of household water usage. This appliance can easily be replaced with a more water-efficient option that will save up to 40 percent of water consumed by your faucets. You can simply install a low-flow aerator for around $5 and cut down your faucet’s water usage significantly. This is an easy, inexpensive, and painless improvement to cut back on the amount of water used by the common faucet, which won’t limit water pressure to an ineffective minimum. Low-flow faucet upgrades are quite possibly the most reasonable and affordable water-efficient solutions you can add to your home, and you’ll cut down your household’s water consumption drastically with this alternative.

These days, there’s no need to be wasting water in your home. With the availability of these eco-friendly alternatives, you can cut down your water usage dramatically and save yourself a great deal of money over time. So, if you’re tired of excessively high water bills or are concerned about the environment, consider these water-efficient appliances and start making a difference in your home today.

How to Find the Perfect Plumber

Finding the right plumber might not seem like a top priority, but it’s something you’ll be glad to have in case of an emergency. Although it’s common to neglect this necessity until it’s too late, finding a plumber ahead of time will give you plenty of time to conduct proper research and find the plumber that’s right for you. It’s important to have a trustworthy plumber who can solve any problems with your toilet, shower, or sinks, whenever you need him or her to do so, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’re receiving top-of-the-line assistance without being overcharged. These are a few basic guidelines you can follow when searching for a plumber, so that if a problem does arise, you can count on a professional to deliver the best possible service.


These days, you can find online reviews for almost anything. This holds true for plumbing services, so if you’re searching online for a plumber, it’s wise to look into the reviews people have written about them. As with anything, you’ll want to look for services that have a decent amount of detailed reviews that are mostly positive. Of course there will be the occasional negative review, but look into the nature of that review and evaluate the severity of the complaint. Also, in the case of a negative review, look into how that plumbing service responded to the complaint. A company that responds to a negative review with an apology is demonstrating that they value their reputation, and a company that feels this way will be less likely to send out a careless plumber.


If you’re unconvinced by a plumbing company’s advertising or online presentation, then you can ask around to see if any neighbors or friends have used this same plumbing service. If the area in which you live offers an online forum intended to keep neighbors in the loop, ask if anyone knows of a dependable plumber. This way, you’re not taking a shot in the dark at finding someone you can count on. Similar to the “reputation” section, you can also look into some online postings about certain plumbing services and see if anyone has had a similar job done by them. This will provide you with some background on a plumber before hiring them. Word of mouth can be a very effective means of confirming the reliability of this type of service, so look for people who can attest to the quality of service delivered by a plumber before hiring one.


Finally, you should check to see that the work the plumber does is guaranteed. This implies that if something should happen, the job you paid for will be finished. For example, if the original plumber is unable to finish the job, a guarantee will ensure that they will send somebody else to complete the task. This can also mean that they’ll guarantee an effective job, so that you don’t pay for a plumbing service without actually getting a solution. In many cases, a plumbing company or an individual plumber will belong to a larger organization that implements a code of service and can ensure quality service. Also, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t overpaying. In order to avoid this, do some research to see how much the job you’re requesting ordinarily costs. Then, when you go to get a quote, see if the price matches or comes close. A trustworthy plumber won’t try to make a profit by charging you thousands for what should have been an inexpensive job. When you find a plumber you can rely on, both for quality service and reasonable pricing, you have found your go-to plumber.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful in guiding you in the direction of the perfect plumber. While you may not have the opportunity to do extensive research before hiring a plumber, ideally you’ll have a little time to look into some of these details in the case of a plumbing emergency. However, it’s best to not wait until you’re in a panic, so if you have some spare time, get to searching and track down a dependable professional today!

How to Remove a Vanity in Preparation of a Remodel

Remodeling a room in your home can be a challenging and complicated process. Usually, you’ll have to perform a significant amount of demolition before you can rebuild, and it’s important to know how to do this effectively so you won’t cause any unwanted damage. In regards to the bathroom, one of the most puzzling parts of the remolding process is how to remove a vanity. Typically, a bathroom vanity is sealed and secured to the actual structure of the bathroom, including the plumbing, which can make removal especially tricky. With these basic tips, you’ll be on the right track towards properly removing your vanity.

Water Supply

First and foremost, you’ll need to shut off the water supply before you can remove the vanity. In order to do this, you’ll need to reach underneath the sink and turn the hot and cold-water shut-off valves. Next, you’ll want to disconnect the water supply lines by using a wrench to remove the nut that holds the water supply line to the shutoff valve. This process can get somewhat messy, so it’ll help to have a bucket close by. Finally, you’re going to need to disconnect the waste drain. This can be done either by hand or by using a wrench or pliers, depending on the material of the waste drain, which will typically be either PVC pipe or chrome.

Remove From Wall

Now that you’ve taken care of the water supply, it’s time to remove the vanity from the wall. In some cases, you’ll need to start with the mirror. If the mirror rests on the vanity counter top, then removing the mirror first will be necessary, as it can crack when the vanity is removed from the wall. Once this has been addressed, you’ll want to detach the vanity counter top and cabinet by using a utility knife to cut through the caulk joint adhesive that holds the vanity to the wall. It’s important to be both cautious and patient during this process, as you’ll want to avoid cutting into the drywall. The goal here is to carefully undo the attachment between the vanity itself and the wall of your bathroom, as well as between the vanity top and cabinet.

Take Apart

At this point, all that’s left is the removal of the main components of the vanity from the room. First, you’ll remove the vanity top from the sink base. Usually, this will be a fairly easy process and the top will be removed smoothly with the adhesive cut. However, in some cases, the vanity top will be attached to the bottom by clips, which you’ll need to loosen before removal. Once the vanity top has been disconnected from the base, it’s time to remove the sink base cabinet. Check to see where the cabinet is attached to the wall, which is generally done with screws or nails, and carefully remove them. Once you’ve done this, you should be able to remove the sink base cabinet from the wall with ease.

Once you’ve hauled out the vanity top and bottom pieces, just plug up the drain pipes, scrape off any excess caulk, and you’ll be all set. With these tips, you can be well on your way to properly removing your bathroom vanity in time to begin your remodeling process. Good luck!

How to Drain a Water Heater

Most people never give their water heater a second thought – until it stops working. Experts recommend draining your water heater every year, no matter what type of storage tank water heater is currently installed in your home. Regular maintenance helps remove sediment which, over time, can compromise the energy efficiency of your water heater and can cause fixtures throughout your home to clog. Just because clean-looking water comes out of your tank, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in tip-top shape. To remove sediment, you must completely drain your water heater using these steps.

Check the Pressure-Relief Valve

Before you start draining your water heater, it’s important to check the pressure-relief valve. This valve helps prevent the tank from bursting due to excess pressure. To check this valve, switch off the power to the water heater and trip the lever on the valve in the cold water supply line. Once you have opened the valve, listen for air and look for water. If you hear air and see water, the valve is working as designed and you can move onto the next step. If nothing happens, you’ll have to replace the pressure-relief valve before moving forward.

Run the Drain Line

Once you’ve ensured the pressure-relief valve is in working order, it’s time to run the drain line. To do this, run a garden hose from the water heater drain to the exterior of your home. If the tank sits in a basement, you’ll likely need to hoses: one that runs from the rank to a portable pump, and another that runs from the pump outside. To be on the safe side and protect yourself from burns, give the water in the switched-off water heater a few hours to cool off before beginning this process. Note: taking a long, hot shower is an effective way to speed up this part of the draining process.

Flush Your Tank

Once the water stops flowing out of the hose, open all the hot water faucets in your home and turn the water supply back on. This will flush out any of the remaining sediment left behind in the water heater. Let the water run through the hose until it comes out clear – once the water runs clear, close the drain valve. At this point, it’s safe to turn the hot-water faucets inside your home back off. The heating element could possibly blow if there is no water in the tank. Some tanks may need to be completely full in order to prevent damage, while others don’t. When in doubt, always read the warnings and instructions on the tank label carefully, as water tanks vary.

Finish Up

If the water coming out of the tank appears to be running clear, turn the supply off before closing the water heater drain valve and turning on the cold water supply. At this point, it’s safe to turn the pressure-relief valve back to its original position. Once you’ve done so, restore the power to your water heater and move on with your day, as you’ve successfully removed drained and removed the sediment from your water heater.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water

Most people assume that water is just water but, in reality, not all water is “created” equal. Typically, water falls into one of two categories: hard and soft. The difference has nothing to do with how it feels, and everything to do with the mineral content. Although both are safe for human consumption, some homeowners prefer soft water over hard water and vice versa. Knowing the difference between the two can save you money while improving your health.

As rainwater falls, it’s naturally soft. However, as water makes its way into our waterways, it picks up minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. Since hard water contains essential minerals, it is sometimes the preferred drinking water. Although hard water tastes slightly better, soft water is preferred in most households for one reason: hard water is harsh. Hard water is to blame for dingy clothes, dishes with spots, soap scum accumulation, higher energy use, weak lather, and dried out skin.

Identifying Hard/Soft Water

The most common way to determine the hardness of water is by investigating the formation of suds when you use soap. There is less lather formation with hard water; instead, soap scum is produced. Additionally, hard water forms deposits through calcification that can clog plumbing. In swimming pools, a cloudy or milky appearance is a sign of hard water. While hard and soft water test kits are sold at most home improvement stores, the identification of soap suds is the easiest way to evaluate the hardness of your home’s water.

When it comes to hard water, it’s often classified into either permanent or temporary hardness. Hardness that can’t be “removed” via boiling is called permanent hardness. Since water hardness is caused by the presence of bicarbonate materials, boiling hard water can actually remove these materials – with the end result being soft water. If the water hardness can be “boiled out”, the water is classified as being temporarily hard. Note: permanent hardness can still be softened, just not through boiling.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Although soft water may be preferred for household chores, both types of water have their own advantages and disadvantages. Hard water typically has a more pleasant taste, and some people believe it’s better for your health because it provides the body with essential minerals. However, it can leave deposits and corrode pipes over time. Hard water tends to leave behind spots on dishes and in showers and bathtubs, and doesn’t produce much soap lather. In some cases, hard water can prevent water heaters and washing machines from working properly.

While soft water is better for the skin, better for cleaning clothing and dishes, and helps household appliances work more efficiently, the biggest drawback is that it does not taste as good as hard water. If you use tap water for drinking and cooking, expect a salty, flat taste.

How is Hard Water Softened?

There are several ways to reduce the hardness of water, including distillation, reverse osmosis, or, most commonly, the addition of a chemical softener. A high quality water softener system will give you well balanced water for your home. If you think you may have hard water, contact a commercial water filtration and treatment company for more information.

How to Prevent Bathroom Pipes from Freezing

Winter is here and, depending on where you live, you’re probably wearing extra layers to keep warm. But did you know your pipes need protection from the cold, too? If you live in an area where the temperatures drop into the 20s, even for only a few days, you’ll need to do several things to protect your plumbing. Each year, thousands of households deal with the messy and expensive inconvenience of frozen pipes. So, if you’re warm and cozy in front of the fireplace, don’t forget about your pipes!

At-Risk Pipes

Although all pipes are at-risk in extreme temperatures, some pipes are more prone to freezing because of their location in the home. Pipes most at risk for freezing include exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home, pipes located in exterior walls, and any plumbing that’s located outside the home. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing, particularly if there are cracks or openings that allow the cold air from the outside to come in contact with the pipes.

Preventative Measures: Exterior

If you incorporate the following tasks into your regular seasonal maintenance, you can prevent frozen garden hoses, costly pool repairs, and post-winter faucet replacements:

  • Drain water from the swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines;
  • Remove, drain, and store any hoses used outdoors;
  • Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas;
  • Wrap insulation around any exposed pipes; and
  • Turn off the water supply to exterior faucets and drain them.

Preventative Measures: Interior

Although exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they’re in a heated portion of the home, there are plenty of pipes in unheated areas that require attention. Here are some preventative measures you can take to keep the pipes in the interior of your home from freezing:

  • Leave the cabinet doors open in the kitchen so the air in the room can keep the pipes warm;
  • Place a lamp with a 60-watt bulb in potential problem areas;
  • In moderately cold climates, cover exposed pipe in inexpensive foam pipe insulation or newspaper. In severe climates, wrap pipes in thermostatically controlled heat tape, which will automatically turn on at certain minimum temperatures;
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage;
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night; and
  • When the weather is very cold, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you forgot to prepare your pipes for winter and are suffering the consequences, you can still thaw out your pipes in a few steps. First, locate the water main cut-off valve and cut-off the water before attempting to thaw out frozen pipes. Once the water is shut off, open the faucet the pipe runs to so the thawed out water in the pipe has somewhere to go. By using a hair dryer, heat lamp, or portable space heater you can manually thaw the frozen water in the pipe, just be sure to avoid using blowtorches, kerosene, charcoal stoves, or other open flame devices. If you cannot locate the pipe or cannot thaw the pipe yourself, call a licensed plumber.

Five Budgeting Tips for Your Bathroom Remodel

So, you want to remodel your bathroom but don’t want to break the bank? Join the club. Although the cost of a bathroom remodel varies depending on location, materials, age of the house, and what kind of renovations have already been done, a typical bathroom remodel can set homeowners back by an average of $15,000+. With that type of investment, it’s important to stick to a budget the best you can. Here are some budgeting tips to help you minimize the costs associated with a bathroom renovation.

Purchase Items Yourself

When it comes to bathroom fixtures, like bathtubs and vanities, you can save some cash by purchasing these items on your own. While it might be easier to hire someone to purchase these items for you, you can save thousands of dollars on your bathroom renovation by finding your own deals. Online retailers are a great place to start – in many cases, purchasing directly from the factory can save you up to 70 percent and includes free shipping. If you’re going for a vintage look, try estate sales, auctions, and Craigslist – you never know what treasure you’ll be able to find until you take the time to look.

Ditch the Professional Painter

Whether you’re a DIYer or not, performing some of the work yourself is a great way to save on labor. When it comes to painting, it’s a time-consuming (and expensive!) act that most people can do themselves. Once you’re in DIY mode, think about what other parts of the renovation you can do on your own: demolition, removal of popcorn ceiling, and installation of smaller fixtures often top the list of bathroom renovation projects that are suitable for even the least-experienced individuals.

Don’t Relocate Fixtures

One of the major costs in a remodel is moving fixtures. Not only does repositioning fixtures require a lot of extra materials and plumbing expertise, but it’s a time-consuming act and you’ll be shelling out extra on labor costs as a result. If you keep the same floor plan, you’ll save up to $2,000 on plumbing costs alone. Then, there’s the cost of the fixtures themselves: if that exquisite glass vessel sink is a must-have, then pick a standard no-frills toilet or tub to make up the difference. While it’s certainly acceptable to splurge, don’t splurge on everything- especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

Donate Your Trash

While this won’t save you money right off the bat, donating your “trash” will give you a little bit extra come tax season. Before you begin a remodeling job, invite the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to remove materials and fixtures for later resale. About 85 percent of a home is reusable, so you’ll save space in the landfill, collect a charitable tax credit for the donation, and help a good cause. The average cost of trashing bathroom fixtures is about $100, and the cost to donate is nothing and includes a tax deduction – so why wouldn’t you donate?

Make Decisions Early

Start walking the aisles at the hardware store or home improvement center months before you call a contractor for an estimate. This way, you’ll get a good feeling for what you want in terms of fixtures, design, and appliances. Additionally, you’ll know their cost and have an idea of what number the contractor will throw your way. If the number seems too high or low, let the contractor know. If you’re absolutely clear about what you want from the get-go, your contractor will be able to give you a better estimate and, once the demolition and remodel gets started, you’ll be able to better stay within budget.