fix-it

How to replace your exhaust fan

Is your old exhaust fan too noisy? does it let cold air through from your ceiling cavity? Exhaust fans are easy to replace. I’ll show you how.

Warning
Ensure the power is off to the exhaust fan before you do any work on it. Go to your electrical box and turn off the circuit the fan is on. It may be on the light circuit or one of your power circuits. If you are in doubt, don't do any work. If you're Australian, all electrical work involving wiring must be performed by a licenced electrician.

So, can you do the work yourself? It depends what sort of power cable you have. Climb into your ceiling and have a look. If you can see a single thick cable in the ceiling, and it is connected to an outlet - you can do the work yourself. If you can see a cable that appears to be 3 separate cables joined together, then what you have is “twin and earth”. That means the fan is hard wired, and you should call an electrician.

How to Replace it

Step 1. Measure

Grab a ruler and measure the diameter of your existing fan opening (take the cover off first). Now go to the store and buy a new exhaust fan the same diameter. Note that some come with ducting and some don’t. In my state, it is legal (and usual) to vent straight into the ceiling cavity - so I haven’t bothered installing a duct. Make sure you get an exhaust fan with a “draft stopper” built in.

A draft stopper is a small, spring-loaded flap that starts off closed, but when the fan is on the flap opens and allows air to pass through. This stops ceiling drafts coming back down during winter and freezing you.

original fan

Step 2. Unscrew the old fan

Before you do this, get up in the ceiling and unplug the exhaust fan. Now you can safely remove the fan.

There will be a series of screws around the rim of the fan. These screws are connected to small clamps/brackets. Support the fan with one hand, and work your way around the fan, unscrewing as you go.

original fan with cover off

Step 3. Remove the old fan

Now you should be able to lift the old fan out.

original fan with cover off

Step 4. Install the new fan

Have a look at the new fan before you install it. Pay special attention to the clips that secure the fan to the ceiling. They should all be tucked in. As soon as you start turning the screws, they will pop out to clamp the fan in place.

Lift the power cord through first. If you can safely plug the fan in, do it now - then lift the fan into place and tighten all of the screws around the rim.

Make sure the fan is secure before you move your hands away.

original fan with cover off

Step 5. Install new cover

If you couldn’t plug the fan in during installation, get in the ceiling now and plug it in.

Now you can turn the power circuits back on. Once on, go test the fan. If it doesn’t work, turn the power back off and check the connections. If the connections are fine, you might have a dead fan (you will need to return it to the store).

If everything is working, push the new cover into place, turning as you push to lock it into place.

original fan with cover off

Enjoy your new fan.

/eof

How to plane a door

Is your cupboard (or other) door scraping against the frame? All you need to fix it is a power plane (the type with a blade, not wings).

You can use a regular manual plane, but why would you? Power tools are fun.

The Problem - Rubbing Door

Here is a photo of my linen cupboard. I’ve circled the problem. The left hand door is scraping the other door. No amount of hinge adjustment or other messing around is going to fix this, we have to modify the door.

Our door is too big

How to Fix it

Step 1. Mark out the door

Grab a ruler and draw a line, marking the amount of wood you want to remove. Note that if it is a hollow core door, there is a limit to how much you can remove. A few millimeters is going to be fine, but don’t start taking huge chunks out. The door pictured is a hollow core door.

I’m removing about 1mm, to keep the gap between the doors as uniform as possible.

marking the door

Step 2. Remove Door

How to do this will vary depending on the type of hinge you have, but it is generally a matter of undoing the hinge screws, while not dropping the door on yourself.

If you are going to drop a door on yourself, try to ensure it is a hollow core door - they weigh far less than a solid core door.

Step 3. Plane the door

Lay the door down so that the face you are planing is flat and easy to run the plane over. Ensure your power plane is set to take off a small amount of material (I went with a 0.2mm setting). This is to reduce the chance of damaging your door.

When you do plane the door, the direction should be from the outside in. When you lift the plane (after shaving some timber off), you should still to be on the door.

Keep planing until you reach the line you made in step 1.

If you run the plane the other way (off the end of the door), you greatly increase the chance of taking chunks out. This means your door will either be destroyed - or just look crap. You would need to use filler to fix it.

{% raw %}

Warning
A power plane is an unforgiving tool. It has a very sharp blade that rotates at 16,000 RPM. It is just as happy shaving your leg as it is shaving timber. Wear eye and ear protection, keep kids and pets away - and pay attention at all times.
{% endraw %}

plane goes this way

Step 4. Admire your handywork, rehang door

Have a look at your door. Ensure you have taken off the right amount of material. I found that I needed to give the newly planed surface a quick sand with some 150 grit sandpaper to smooth it over a little (I probably need to sharpen my plane more often).

nicely doored

Once you are satisfied, refit the door. Check that it now opens correctly. If not, take it down and go plane some more.

Update: @MaximRouiller informed me that I did not have a picture of the rehung door. Here it is…

rehung door

Step 5. Paint

The final thing to do is repaint the planed edge of the door. Doors are usually painted with a high gloss enamel. If you want to match the paint, get a piece of paint that your plane has taken off, and have it matched at your local paint / hardware store.

Now you know how to fix a scraping door.

/eof

How to replace glass door rollers

Don’t let a scraping, dragging door ruin your day. Let’s replace the rollers!

Before you start, clean the track your door runs on. Your door may be scraping or dragging due to being caught on something. Have a good look at the raised ‘rail’ the door roller sits on. If this is worn down too low, you’ll need a whole new door track, not just a replacement roller.

Removing the Door

Assuming the problem is your door roller - the first order of business is to remove the door. If it is a large glass door, it will weigh approximately 1 metric-shit-tonne. If you have help, use it.

Before removing the door, clear a space for it. It sucks to remove the door then realise you have nowhere to put the door down. It’s not a bad idea to put down a blanket to protect your floors. Metal framed doors can have sharp edges, and will happy scratch a deep groove into a timber or bamboo floor.

The actual removal process is fairly easy. Simply lift the door up into the frame - then (while keeping the door suspended in the air), bring the base of the door in towards you, as in the diagram below.

removing the door

Once you have it out, lay the door on the long side. You’ll find a screw. This screw will either be attached directly to the roller assembly, or pulling the door frame tight and clamping the roller assembly in place.

door rollers

Once you remove the screw, the roller assembly should slide out. Examine the roller wheel for wear and dirt. It may be worn down (you will need a new one). After cleaning any dirt out, it should spin freely. If not, you need a new one. If it does spin freely, it may have been sitting too high in the door.

old and new door rollers

If you need a new roller assembly, take the old one to a hardware store, and find the matching replacement part. Keep in mind that your house is missing a door, which will make it pretty easy for thieves - so hurry.

Replacing the roller assembly

Putting the new roller assembly in simply reverses the process. Pay careful attention to how high the roller is sitting before you put the screw back in and tighten.

new door roller

The roller needs to be sticking out the door enough that the door will move freely without scraping. Too high and you won’t be able to get the door back in the frame. In my case, having the rollers protrude 3mm worked perfectly.

What about windows?

Window rollers are replaced exactly the same way - assuming you have modern sliding windows. The only difference is that a window weighs less than a door, so it is easier to lift out.

/eof

Child proofing my TV

Kids destroy your expensive TV? Your $1700 TV? Good news dear reader. I’ve found a way to stop it happening again.

The answer is perspex! (clear plastic acrylic).

Perspex is great stuff. If I could, everything my kids go near would be covered in perspex or bubble wrap. Might be easier to just bubble wrap my kids. Stay tuned for a future DIY article on that. In the mean time, I had a perspex TV cover made.

Plastic Fantastic

After the sad demise of my TV, I started looking into a TV protector, and thought “surely someone will make one?”. Yes, they do. The problem is that they charge $250+ for it, then another $100+ shipping. They also use hopelessly thin perspex (3mm).

Time for Plan “B”. I sketched out a design for a TV cover and started calling plastic manufacturers in Brisbane.

My sketch:

TV Cover design sketch

Result:

  • 5 companies didn’t respond
  • 2 companies couldn’t do a 90 degree bend in perspex (?!)
  • 2 companies wanted to charge stupidly high prices
  • 1 company who could make it for a decent price

Hamilton Plastics were able to produce exactly what I wanted. The price quoted was $160. Win! I submitted my order and waited.

Measure TWICE

I went to pick up the TV cover. Disaster! The top part (that overhangs the TV) was 3 times as long as it should have been. Turns out that I didn’t double check my measurements. The cost of fixing the mistake was an extra $70. Damn.

The Final Product

Here are some photos of the final product:

TV Cover side

TV Cover top

TV Cover base

TV Cover front

It is fairly simple design. The TV protector consists of a large perspex sheet (6mm thick) with a folded section at the top - which rests on top of the TV. All edges are rounded.

There are two straps ($10 cargo straps from Bunnings) which secure the screen protector to the TV. The straps loop through slits at the top and bottom of the protector.

I added some stick on rubber pads around the edge, to protect the cover and the TV.

TV Cover straps

FAQ

How does the TV protector affect your viewing experience?

I’ve been using the protector for one year now, and I’ve found that unless I look for it, I never even notice it is there. There is a slight increase in glare, but nothing that I’ve found irritating.

How well does it protect the TV?

My 2 year old has hurled matchbox cars at it, the worst damage so far is a few light scratches. I don’t notice them unless I get very close (within an arms length), and actively look for them.

Is it heavy?

Yes. I have my TV secured to the wall, so the weight isn’t an issue. If the TV is on a stand, it would at least need to have a safety strap anchoring it to the wall - just to ensure it doesn’t fall on your kid and/or cat.

How do you clean it?

I use a couple of cheap microfibre cloths. The first one is damp with a bit of water. The second is softer and used to give the cover a bit of a buff/polish.

Will you sell me one?

No, The shipping costs would be a nightmare.

How do I get one?

Call or email plastic fabricators in your area. Explain what you want, and send them a sketch with the dimensions. It may take a few calls though!

/eof

Fix Dry Wall Surface

If you’ve tried ripping anything off drywall (like Tiles for instance), you’ve probably notice a problem. It utterly destroys the surface of the drywall. It is fairly easy to fix.

Step 1 - Things you need

My wall had a bad day

You’re going to need the following items:

  • 2 plaster knives. These are not knives as in ‘stab stab’, these are broad and flat scraper like tools. Plastic versions cost about $5 each.
  • a tub of pre-mixed plaster. Get the “final coat” or “top coat” stuff. It spreads a lot more easily than the premixed “multi-purpose” version.
  • sanding block or paper

First, use the sanding block to remove any bits of drywall paper that are sticking out, and generally smooth the surface. Don’t be pedantic about it, spend a few minutes at most.

Step 2 - Get your plaster ready

Getting ready to plaster

Open your tub of plaster. Mix it around a bit if the liquid has seperated and is sitting on top. Now, to get plaster ready to spread on your plaster knife, you need to “play” with it a bit. Remember as a kid how you would roll around a ball of play-dough and swap it from hand to hand? Do something similar with your two plaster knives.

Scoop some plaster onto one knife, then scrape it on to the other knife, and vice versa. Doing this a few times makes sure it will be easy to spread.

Step 3 - Spread the plaster

spreading plaster

Make sure your blob of plaster is in the middle of the knife, then put the knife up to the wall and spread the plaster. You want a fairly thin (but even) coat. If you put it on too thick, you will need to do a lot of sanding after it dries.

Using the knife to smooth it out

After you have spread the plaster on the knife, use the second knife to scrape the first knife clean. Then use the clean knife to scrape the excess plaster off. You want enough pressure to scrape the surface smooth and flat, but not so much that you are exposing the old wall.

Step 4 - Let it dry

Leave the plaster to dry overnight. You may or may not need a second coat. Give it a light sand to smooth it over. If the new coat is completely hiding the damaged wall, then you are good to go. If it is still showing through, repeat all steps.

Plastering done!

If the wall is not visibly smooth, keep sanding until it is.

Step 5 - Finishing

At this point you are good to prime and paint. If you want to match the existing paint, chip a little bit off and take it to a paint store (or Bunnings), they should be able to get a near perfect match.

Now you’re a plastering DIY expert. Awesome!

/eof

Replace an old dome skylight

I’m going to show you how to replace your old acrylic dome skylight. It sure beats a hole in the roof… unless you want a hole in your roof.

Skylights are not always standard sized

My house came with a 30 year old dome skylight. Rain, hail, even sufficiently sized bird crap made me nervous. I was worried that one day my skylight would disintegrate. This would devalue my property and may even let rain in. It would probably upset my wife too.

My skylight is crap

Should be easy to swap out right? just order one the same size, right?

Nope.

The size I have is 1200x700(ish), and that size is not made any more. Damn. This next best option is to replace the dome with a much better tempered glass skylight. These skylights are made by Velux, and available from Bunnings. Unfortunately they do not come in the right size either.

What we can do - is to buy a bigger skylight. Then we make a collar, which will sit on top of the existing skylight frame.

Which Skylight do I need to buy?

Buy one that is both taller and wider than the model being replaced. When measuing your skylight, you will need to get on the room and measure from the edge of the dome (including the flashing securing it in place). At the same time, verify that there is actually a “lip” supporting the dome.

If your existing model does not have this lip, then this method will not work.

Buy the size closest to the old model as you can find. Don’t bother getting a fancy model, just a plane one that doesn’t open or have a curtain attached, or anything. Keep things easy.

Building the collar

Here is the plan for the collar, which will support the new skylight:

Collar plan

My initial plan was to use aluminium L-channel to fabricate the collar. I used my sliding mitre saw to cut the L-channel. Since aluminium is a soft metal, it cuts just fine with the wood blade. Make sure you wear safety glasses, and a face shield if you have one. As with all cutting, the material being cut can catch and be flung by the blade. A sharp aluminium off-cut in the face could kill you, or at least ruin your day.

I mitred all 4 sides, positioned inside the skylight, and screwed the L-channel in place.

Whacked out collar

Nice L-Channel corner eh? Perfectly mitred! Sadly, my existing skylight sits close to the roof tiles… which means that this collar caused the new skylight to sit on the roof tiles. That’s no good (for many reasons, including water run off).

To fix the height issue, I added a timber frame:

Timber frame

Removing the old Skylight

This is going to be a one attempt only affair. Your old dome skylight will probably be brittle, and quite likely to crack/break when you remove it.

Removing the skylight will vary between models. As a general rule, there is a lip holding the dome in place. The lip will be screwed or riveted down. In my case, I had to drill out about 10 rivets, which allowed me to remove the dome.

Timber frame

Installing the new skylight

{% raw %}

Skylights are heavy

Skylights are heavy, and awkward. A larger model, could be 50kg or more. Get help lifting it in place.

{% endraw %}

If your measurements are right, the skylight collar should fit over the top of the old opening.

The new collar now needs to be secured. Screw the skylight frame into the collar. The skylight should have pre drilled holes you can use.

To secure the skylight to the old opening, you will need to put some screws up through the old lip, and into the collar. If you can’t fit a drill or screw driver under the collar, use hex head screws or bolts. That way you can use hex/allan keys, or a socket set to secure the skylight.

Skylight in place

Too easy, eh? Now I’m ready for storm season.

/eof

Replace your Nexus 4 screen

The Nexus4 is a great phone. Unfortunately it is a little bit fragile. I fell asleep with my N4 in my pocket… woke up, and the back had a crack. My wife dropped her N4 and the screen shattered.

I’m going to walk you through how to fix it.

Should You fix it?

First, be aware that you are going to need up to AUD$100 in parts. You may need to get another $20 worth of tools.

If you pay someone to fix it, the cost is around $160.

You need to decide if it is worth paying an extra $40-$60 to have someone else do the repair. If I had to decide again, I would probably just pony up the extra cash.

How to Repair Your Phone

Risks

You have a real risk of breaking other parts of your phone. I managed to break the antenna cable - and had to wait 2 weeks for another one to ship.

Break the wrong part, and you will wish you paid someone else to do it for you.

Parts

I went with this complete assembly from Etradesupply. There are a lot of second rate screens on ebay that have bad digitizers. This one seems to be genuine, and it comes as a complete front assembly. Having the full front assembly is much easier doing a straight screen swap.

The cost was AUD$80 plus AUD$20 shipping. The shipping cost sounds expensive, but it arrived within a week (most of the time anything from China/HK takes 3-6 weeks).

Tools

  • Tools for opening things

    Spreader Tool

    You will need one of these to crack open the case. Yes, you can use a flathead screw driver like I did, but you shouldn't, because you will scratch the case.
  • Screw drivers

    Screw Drivers

    You need a good set of small size screw drivers, including a phillips (cross) head, and a T5 Torx. See below for a close up.
  • Torx screw driver.

    Torx Screw Driver

    A Torx is like a phillips head that doesn't slip and strip the screw head.
  • Magnetic pickup tool.

    Magnetic Pickup & Tweezers

    The screws are pretty small, so a magnetic pickup tool is a good idea. You will need tweezers to unplug some of the more fiddly cables.

Step By Step Guide

  • Borked phone

    1

    Find a comfy spot and a level surface.
  • Removing the sim card

    2

    Remove the sim tray. If you can't find your sim eject tool, a paper clip will do. If you forget this step, you will break off part of the back cover.
  • T5 torx screws

    3

    See these two small screws on the bottom of the phone? Use a T5 torx screwdriver to remove them.
  • Cracking the seal. With a club. boomtish*

    4

    Time to crack the seal. You should start from the bottom of the phone. Don't be a dodgy bastard like me (using a flathead screw driver), use a plastic wedge tool (available on ebay for about $5).
  • Using my professional tool kit to open the phone.

    5

    I used a plastic card to work my way around the rest of the phone. It takes a surprising amount of effort to remove the back cover. **If you are only replacing the back cover, you can put it on now and re-assemble.**
  • N4 in various states of undress.

    6

    The image shows the new screen assembly (middle) next to the phone (right). Remove the screws holding the L-shaped plastic cover on the right. Be careful not to strip any. The top left screw may be a little more difficult to remove than the others."
  • I'm a derp, and I stripped a screw.

    7

    This is what happens when you strip a screw. It's not the end of the world, but I did have to drill it out. The top left screw seems to be the most difficult to remove.
  • Battery.

    8

    Use a wedge tool to leaver out the battery. It has a fair bit of glue, so it will take some wiggling about. Do not use anything sharp - you don't want to pierce the battery. Bad things will happen (I think demons fly out).
  • Speaker module

    9

    Remove the 2 phillips head screws holding the speaker module down. Use tweezers to disconnect the ribbon cable at the top of the module, then carefully pry the module out. Use a wedge tool. There is a little bit of glue holding it in place.
  • Logic boards

    10

    Use tweezers to remove the antenna cable. I didn't, it broke, and I had to wait for 2 weeks while a replacement was shipped. Use the tweezers to remove all the connectors going to the logic boards, then lift out the logic boards.
  • Little grey thing

    11

    See this little grey thing? Pay attention to how it sits, and don't lose it. It is needed by the front facing camera.
  • Switches

    12

    Here is the volume rocker. The power switch is similar. Have a good look at how they sit, then remove with tweezers. If not mounted exactly the same way, they won't work.
  • New front assembly

    13

    This is the new front assembly. You will notice a couple of 3M glue stickers. Make sure you remove them before mounting anything over them.
  • Assembled front assembly.

    14

    Reassemble everything in reverse order on the new front assembly. Remember to be careful with that antenna cable. Make sure you power up and test the buttons before you snap the back cover on.
  • Fixed phone, next to old broken screen.

    15

    Here is the fixed phone. There are no additional steps, it should happily power on (if it has charge). The most likely issues you will come across are: your buttons don't work right (make sure the pins have good contact); the camera doesn't work (did you connect all of the ribbon cables?).

/eof

Replacing a toilet cistern

Have you ever seen just how curious a 4 year old can be? My 4 year old wondered what was under the impossible-to-replace vitreous china Cistern lid. As a result, I needed a new cistern lid (my 4 year old survived unscathed).

Turns out that you can’t buy a Cistern lid in Brisbane, so read on and learn how to replace the entire toilet cistern…

Materials List

  • Toilet Cistern
  • Small metal strip

The Problem

Here is a picture of my old cistern lid:

Smashed cistern lid

Oh dear.

I decided to try and fix it. Multiple people advised me that this was a bad idea, and I wouldn’t be able to do it. I ignored common sense, experience, and reason and pressed onward.

I glued the lid back together with epoxy. I sanded it. It fell apart. I re-glued it with building glue. I made the mistake of not using expoxy filler and tried to compensate with extra paint (expoxy enamel).

Do not try to fill gaps with extra paint.

It doesn’t work. You end up with a layer of thick ugly paint, which may be liquid paint underneath. The finish will be terrible. You will need to sand it. I ended up with this abomination:

Badly painted cistern lid

I tried to sand it, but the paint hadn’t bonded properly, causing patching of it to lift. There’s a reason why people tell you not to paint ceramic/china toilets.

Time for Plan B!

I managed to find a whole new Cistern on Gumtree for $20. Brand new, never used, but from a different model of toilet. I checked out the measurements on Caroma’s website, and it seemed like a close fit - with only 1mm difference between the mounting holes. Caroma were able to confirm that was a match.

If you are buying a Cistern, measure up the mounting holes for your old cistern (the holes in the top of the toilet bowl), then call the manufacturer to confirm that it is compatible. You will save yourself a lot of potential pain.

Tools

  • 2 x Shifter spanner (to remove the water line)
  • Power drill/driver

Steps

  • sizing up the enemy

    1

    The before shot. Turn off the water line next to the toilet. Unscrew the seat (this is usually a couple of thumb screws underneath the hinge at the back). Flush the toilet to clear out the excess water.

    Use the shifter spanner to undo the water line. There should be a braided line with a screw on connector. You can use the 2 shifter spanners to undo that connector. Use one to hold the connector, and the other to unscrew the fitting.

  • removing the cistern

    2

    There should be screw(s) holding the cistern to the wall. Remove them, taking care to catch the cistern if it falls away from the wall. In my case I found a large amount of silicon as well, which I have to remove with a knife. Lift the cistern off the bowl. Once the cistern is out of the way, take this opportunity to clean around the bowl where the seat normally sits.
  • Fitting the new cistern

    3

    To secure the new cistern, there are 2 attachment points. The cistern will have 2 bolts that go through matching holes on the bowl, and there will be the screw points on the cistern. Lift the cistern into place (putting the bolts through the holes). Holding the cistern in place with one hand, use your other hand to screw the nuts onto the end of the bolts. Only hand tighten at this point.

    In the photo, note the metal bracket I used to secure the cistern to the wall. Any flat piece of metal will do, I just used a spare bracket I had lying around. Use an appropriately sized screw and fix to a wall stud if possible, or use a plasterboard anchor.

  • put it all back together

    4

    Use your shifter spanner to tighten up the bolts you placed under the bowl earlier. Be very careful not to over-tighten, or you will break the bowl. Attach the water line using the reverse process to step one. Turn it on and allow the cistern to fill. If you see water leaking, turn the tap off immediately and check that the connections are tight enough.
  • all done

    5

    Put the lid on, and give it a test flush. Reattach the seat. All done! Easy, right?

/eof

Installing a new bathroom basin

When I moved into my house 2 years ago, it had one glaring problem…. a strip of rust around the front of the bathroom basin. Because I’m not the best at prioritising things (and there happened to be some great sales on Steam, and I have 2 young kids, etc etc), my solution was to put a piece of white duct tape over it for 2 years and get on with my life.

I happened to impulse buy a sink a few weeks ago (I had the old sink measurements saved on my phone!), I decided to have a go at installing it.

Materials List

  • Basin
  • Bathroom silicon caulk
  • Dishwashing Soap
  • Paddlepop Stick

Tools

You only need two tools for this:

  • 2 adjustable spanners (wrench for our friends in the US and Canada)
  • a paddle pop stick (yes really)
  • a spray bottle

Missteps

It’s surprisingly easy to stuff this up. Learn from my stupidity…

  • stupid sink was too small
    Measure twice
    Most import, make sure you have measured the basin accurately! I thought I had, but actually hadn't - so I had to rush to Bunnings 30 minutes before closing.
  • stupid wrong connections
    Check your connectors
    Make sure you have the right hose/pipe fittings! I didn't the first time. My taps and my water connection both had *female* fittings - so it was off to bunnings again for a coupler (those 2 things in the middle of the photo)

Time to fit that basin!

  • sizing up the enemy

    1

    Take a final look at your old sink, yes that is duct tape. Yes, I am embarrassed.
  • water off

    2

    Turn your water off. Some of you will be lucky enough to have a tap under your sink to do this. I don't, so I had to shut off supply for the whole house.
  • sink gone. goodbye.

    3

    The old sink may have a few clips holding in place underneath. Undo those. The old tapware will (hopefully) have braided lines with screw on connections. These can be removed with a shifter spanner. If you have copper lines that are soldered in place, you are going to need a plumber to replace them with braided lines.

    Once the taps are disconnected, and any screws undone, unscrew the pipe connected to the drain. I found wrapping a rag around it helped me get enough grip to unscrew it. If you are wondering, that is rust around my old sink.

  • setup new sink

    4

    Before putting your new basin ready, we need to fit the tap and drain. Before you do that, measure the old sink hole to check the new basin will fit.

    Your new tap will look something like this, with two braided lines (hot and cold).

  • don't over tighten the taps

    5

    Slide the braided lines from the tap through the hole in the sink. Note in the photo the brass nut. That has to end up underneath the sink. Once you have done that, use the shifter spanner to tighten that brass nut. The idea is that you tighten it just enough to stop the tap rotating. If you over tighten, the sink will crack, so go easy here mate.
  • put the drain in

    6

    Screw the drain into the bottom of the basin. Some basins come with a drain, some have to be purchased separately. Generally, they all require you to push the drain in from the top, and then screw one or more plastic rings onto the bottom (sometimes with a rubber washer between the sink and screw on ring.)
  • bad pipe work

    7

    Now you can settle your sink into place. Connect up your braided lines first. I hit a snag here. Both ends of the braided line had female connectors. This is where I had to go back to Bunnings and get a female-to-female coupler.

    Once you have done that, it's time to connect the drain. Notice something about the pipes under my sink? They suck. Yeah, they probably could be fixed, but a new trap is all of $5. Do yourself a favour and buy one.

  • nice new trap

    8

    This is in the new trap, ain't she a beauty. If you are wondering, this is an S-Trap. An S-Trap does a full S, with the entrance pointing up, and the exit pointing down. If the exit points sideways, you have a P-Trap.
  • plumbing done

    9

    Here is the new trap plumbed in. On the bottom left, I used a 90 degree bend with an inspection opening. The inspection opening is handy if anything gets stuck in the bend or I need to clean the pipe. I also used a straight section of pipe and joined it to the existing with a slip coupling. Anything that can't be screwed together is held in place with plumbers cement - that blue glue seen in the picture. For cutting pipes, a hacksaw works best.
  • nice sink

    10

    Nearly done, but missing one thing - silicone!
    (Note: you may notice that the basin has mysteriously changed between here and step 6. I had to swap it with a different basin because I didn't measure properly, and the first basin was too small!)
  • putting on silicone

    11

    I used Parfix Bathroom and Kitchen silicone, with the cheap $5 caulking gun from Bunnings. Make sure the area is dry before you start. You will need more than you think - we are going to wipe the excess off and smooth it after application. You want enough to fill the gap between the basin and the bench top. After you run the initial ring around the basin, spray it with a light mist of dish washing detergent and water.

    Use a paddle pop stick over the silicone to give it a nice smooth edge. You will need to wipe the excess off on a rag pretty frequently. This detergent stops the silicone from bonding with the paddlepop stick.

  • stupid wrong connections

    12

    Ta-Da!

/eof

Replacing a shower head

A bad shower head is more annoying than you might think. It’s something we use every day, but it amazes me how many people will put up with a rubbish shower head for years. You wouldn’t put up with a crappy text editor for that long, would you?

It takes 10 minutes to replace, so lets get started!

Tools

You only need two tools for this: - adjustable spanner (wrench for our friends in the US and Canada) - knife or flat head screw driver

You may notice instead of a spanner, I’m using a rusty pair of vice grips. The photos below were taken at a family member’s house… possibly the only house I’ve found without a spanner.

Steps

  • Old shower-head

    1

    Here is the shower head we are going to replace.
  • Not using a spanner

    2

    Turn the nut at the base of the shower head in a counter-clockwise direction (lefty-loosey, righty tighty!). Use the spanner for this, not the vice grips pictured.
  • Removing stuck trim

    3

    The trim piece is usually stuck on pretty well with a combination of rust and 10 years of soap. A butter knife or flathead screw driver will come in handy to remove it.
  • Taping it up

    4

    Wrap some plumbers tape around the pipe to get a good seal. Your new shower head probably comes with some plumbers tape.
  • Screwing the fitting in.

    5

    Put the new trim piece over the pipe, then screw the new shower fitting on (in a clockwise direction). Hand tighten it. If it feels secure and doesn't leak, hand tightening is fine. Otherwise lightly tighten with your spanner (if you do this, put a bit of masking tape on the shower fitting first - so you don't scratch the chrome finish).
  • Admiring the finished item.

    6

    Ta-Da!. Check for leaks, then have a well deserved beer/Coke/RedBull.

/eof