A broken toilet can rank anywhere from a minor inconvenience (if you have multiple bathrooms), to a major emergency (if you’re a one-bathroom household). Even if the broken toilet isn’t one that you use regularly, small plumbing problems can quickly become big disasters if they aren’t properly repaired right away. Luckily, toilets can be one of the simpler plumbing fixtures for homeowners to troubleshoot and repair.
While most residential toilets have the same components and setup, not every toilet is the same, so these fixes might not apply to your situation. If you have any concerns about making the repair yourself, contact a plumbing expert in your area for help.
Here are some common problems with residential toilets that you can troubleshoot on your own.
Toilet Not Flushing
If you push the handle to flush the toilet and nothing happens, then there’s a problem with the hardware somewhere inside the tank. Most commonly, the problem is a simple result of chain disconnecting between the handle and the other flushing components. If that’s the case, you only need to reattach or replace the connection between the handle and the valve, and the problem should be solved.
If there’s nothing wrong with that connection, then your problem is likely with one of the other valves in the flushing system, which can be much more difficult to diagnose. In that case, you’ll want to review the specific instructions from your toilet’s manufacturer to determine how to proceed. If you don’t want to spend the time required to troubleshoot the problem, an experienced plumber will likely be able to find and repair the problem quickly.
Ah, the dreaded clog. Although clogs are extremely common in residential toilets, they often appear at the worst, most embarrassing times. If you have a plunger nearby, you’ll be able to resolve most clogs without too much fuss. However, if the clog is especially stubborn, or if you are having issues with repeated clogs, there may be a more significant problem with your sewer line. In that case, it’s best to call out a plumber who can auger the line to clear out any obstructions that could be causing the problem.
Slow or Incomplete Flushes
If your toilet bowl empties slowly or doesn’t flush all the way, it might be a result of clogged holes under the rim of the bowl. This is most commonly caused by hard water deposits or a build up of cleaning agents under the rim. The simplest solution to get water flowing quickly again is to clean out the holes using wire and a mirror. Be careful not to scratch the bowl with the wire. Damaging the porcelain can cause more problems in the long run.
Toilet Constantly Running
A toilet that’s constantly running can waste thousands of gallons of water and add hundreds of dollars to your utility bills. The most common reason for a continuously running toilet is a flapper that isn’t sealing properly against the opening of the flush valve. Replacing the flapper is usually a simple and inexpensive fix to the problem. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s possible that the water level in the tank is too high and is causing water to constantly flow over the overfill tube. If so, adjusting the water level on the refill valve should take care of the problem.
Similar to a toilet that’s always running, phantom flushes, or spontaneous flushes occur when the toilet seems to flush on its own. This is almost always caused by a very slow leak from the tank into the bowl. This problem is also usually associated with the flapper not sealing firmly. Check the flapper and the flapper seat to find the problem and correct it quickly.
Just like any plumbing fixture, toilets can develop water leaks in a variety of places. Leaks in different areas can be fixed with varying degrees of difficulty. For example, a leak at the shutoff or supply line is usually easily resolved by replacing a washer or another basic part. Leaks from the tank or base of the toilet can be significantly more complicated to troubleshoot and repair. For example, a leak at the base of the toilet will require the entire toilet to be uninstalled to find the source and repair the leak. Although removing a toilet doesn’t have to be complicated, it may be a more extensive plumbing repair than you want to take on yourself. In that case, you should find a local plumbing expert to help.
Getting Help With a Broken Toilet
Whether your bathroom toilet needs a simple flapper repair or a completely new toilet installed, getting expert assistance with your plumbing problems is always a good idea if you’re at all uncertain of your skills. Incorrect plumbing fixes can lead to water leaks which can result in severe damage to your home over time. In addition, leak toilets can create serious health hazards, if the water leaking from the toilet contains human waste. Instead of taking the risk, consider calling the experts.
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