Thank Your Plumbers — For Real!

Thank Your Plumbers — For Real!

5 Little-Known Yet Common Problems With Bathroom Plumbing In Old Houses

by Bill Turner

If you recently bought an old house that hasn't been updated in quite a while — or ever — and aren't ready to remodel the bathroom just yet, there are a few important things you need to be aware of regarding bathrooms in older houses. Of course, you may be wondering what type of plumbing pipes the house has and if they've been updated at all or not, but the type of piping isn't the only thing that can be problematic in an older house. Here are a few less-common issues you may run into. 

There Is A Lone Toilet In the Basement

In some areas, many older houses have toilets in the basement . . . and nothing else. No walls around the toilets and no sink nearby. It's actually so common in Pittsburgh that it's called the Pittsburgh Potty, but it's also found elsewhere, too. The true intent behind the reason these were so popular may never be known, but stories handed down from older generations say these toilets were used by steelworkers when they came home after a long day of work. However, the toilets may have also been installed in the basements as a sort-of backflow/overflow device. 

Hot Water Blasts Out And Then Slows

Another common problem with an older house is when you turn on your hot water and it blasts out of the faucet and then slows down. The reason it does this is because many of the old washers and the seats they sit into in the faucet expand when they get hot. It does this because metal expands when it heats up, which causes less space inside the fixture for the water to run through, thus causing the water to slow down. Now, there are non-expanding washers, washer seats, and other parts so this problem can be avoided. 

Small Parts Are Difficult to Replace

Speaking of washers and washer seats, another problem you'll likely run into if your house's bathroom has never been remodeled is that you'll likely find it difficult to replace these small parts of the faucets because some are no longer being manufactured and because the small parts could have essentially melded together due to corrosion over the decades. You may need to replace the entire faucet instead of just a washer for a pesky leak at the bathroom sink. 

Nothing Is Level or Plumb

The walls and floors in older houses may not be level or plumb. Therefore, a perfectly square sink, bathtub enclosure, or shower may not fit perfectly in the bathroom. If you want to use decorative, functional items such as a heated towel rack or a laundry basket on wheels, you may find these types of items difficult to manage in a bathroom of your old house if the walls aren't plumb and the floors aren't level. 

Flooring May Have Hidden Water Damage

Over the years, there's probably been at least one or two or half a dozen instances when there was a plumbing leak or overflowing toilet. There may be hidden water damage underneath the flooring and, possibly, underneath the bathtub. When you consider that a bathtub full of water can weigh as much as 500 pounds, you definitely want to know if there currently are or has been any water leaks that can cause damage in the supporting structures.

While the home inspection service should've discovered an issue with outdated piping or water leaks before you closed on the home, it's still a good idea to hire a plumber to do an assessment of your home's plumbing, particularly if you have more occupants than the previous owners since more occupants use more water and you'll have more wear and tear on the plumbing and fixtures. 

Contact a local plumbing company to learn more.


About Me

Thank Your Plumbers — For Real!

When you have a plumber come work on your home, we hope you thank them. Really, you should be thanking any contractor who works on your home, but we are a little partial to plumbers and happen to think they deserve a little more recognition. After all, the stuff inside the pipes they work on doesn't usually smell very good. And even though they wear gloves, they have to get pretty close to it! If you would like to learn a little more about plumbers, then we invite you to read this blog. After learning the basics, you'll really want to thank your plumbers!