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Excellent question. Choosing the right Contractor is probably the most difficult part of the decision process, as you have to trust your instincts on complete strangers to work on your home. You increase your odds of a Contractor that will follow up to fix a problem by picking a Contractor that actually works out of a legitimate business ( Brick and Mortor ) location rather than with a Contractor that operates out of their truck and or uses a PO box address. A Contractor in a brick and mortor location is easy to find and has made a long term commitment to their business.
Sounds like inadequate venting for the drain lines. Could have been build this way or maybe a clog has developed in the vent pipe. Such as birds or squrrels building a nest in the vent pipe up on the roof. You should hope that it's a clog, which can easily be removed. In order for proper vent pipes to be installed the walls will need to be opened up.
Dennis D. Gehman, MCR - Master Certified Remodeler & Master Registered Plumber
Gehman Design Remodeling
Harleysville, PA 19438
We like to use a sanded caulk that matches the grout for that seam between the countertop and backsplash. The flexibility of the caulk allows it to expand and contract without cracking out like normal grout. It's not a forever fix and needs to be touched up occasionaly, but it's a much better solution than just grouting that joint.
The trick with caulking is to spray the wet caulking with Windex and then tool it with your finger. For "rookies" you may want to use masking tape. Here is a YouTube video that might help, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPGKdwnHhaE
First, clean out the existing caulk the best you can with a utility knife, flat razor or a putty knife. To get it extra clean and depending on what type of caulk was there before, you can use baking soda and a rag to remove hard water build up and caulk residue. Once you've done that, I recommend GE Silicone 2 or Dap Kitchen and bath caulk. (I like the small hand tubes, not the kind that goes in a gun.) Water based caulks are easier to work with, but silicone has it's advantages. To apply silicone, clean and dry the area, apply a small bead, then spray the area with soapy water. This will keep the silicone from spreading up the edge of the splash or onto the counter. Then wipe once with your finger and your done. The waterbased caulk can be applied in a small bead and then cleaned up/smoothed with a wet rag.
Call a plumbing professional. That way the toilets can be evaluated. You would not want to flush money down the drain on repairs if you are going to have to end up replacing the toilets in the near future. A plumbing professional would be able to go over all of your options, explaining the pros and cons of each. That way you can make an educated decision on what you should do.
I agree that buying quality fixtures is the way to go. We have had our best results using Moen, plus they carry a Lifetime Warranty. There are many good models but we have had the most success with the Kingsley line for bathroom remodeling. Not only is Moen Kingsley available in the most popular finishes of Chrome, Brushed Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze but you can coordinate with matching fixtures for the entire bathroom including accessories like toilet paper holders, towel bars, robe hooks, etc. Let's face it, you get what you pay for!
Plumbing fixtures are one area where you want to make sure that you choose quality. To the untrained eye, the only real way to rate them is on the style or outward appearance. However the tolerances involved internally are really important. Buying one of the bargain brands will often cause more expense and headache in the long run. Kohler and Moen are both high quality brands available widely and I recommend either. Generally I suggest that a homeowner should budget around $100 for a bathroom faucet and $200+ for a kitchen faucet. When I was installing a lot of bathrooms and kitchens, I found that cheaper products were either defective right out of the box, or required a call back within 6 months about 50% of the time. Definitely, not worth the hassle.
For those items that you mention there, it would be cost prohibitive to replace the entire unit. Keep in mind, most of the newer toilets do not include the best seats either.
Chains are easy to swap out as are the seats.
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