Learn how to diagnose and fix toilet problems including not flushing completely, filling
slowly, and a stopped up toilet. Learn why low flow toilets can be a problem.
Toilet problems. Like toothaches, everybody has had them at one time or another. Whatever the
problem is, troubleshooting and fixing common toilet problems is a homeowners must-have skill, as are
other plumbing repair jobs.
Different Toilet Valve Types
There are two different toilet valve types: ballcock fill valve types and float cup fill
valve types. The ballcock fill valve is older and not encountered as often as the newer float
cup fill valve type. The difference between the two is water supply hardware.
The ballcock uses a ball that floats on the water's surface. The float cup travels vertically
on the fill tube. Here are a few types of common toilet problems and how to resolve them.
The Stopped Up Toilet Bowl
A stopped up toilet bowl is the most common problem so its a good place to start. To start with,
looking in the bottom of the bowl reveals a round opening.
Where this opening disappears from
view it takes on an elliptical shape. Logically, that which disappears from sight might become
lodged just a couple of inches beyond view.
The basic solution is to use a plunger. Seat the rubber end of it in the bottom of the bowl
with the best seal possible. Plunge in and pull back out while retaining the seal. If water
splashes out, too much force is being used. The water should soon go down of its own accord.
If the plunger doesnt clear the blockage, a toilet auger (closet auger to our British
friends) should be used. They may be rented in some areas. Theyre also available at home
improvement stores for a reasonable price.
The Constantly Running Toilet
When the toilet runs constantly, chances are that water is running into the overflow tube because
the ballcock or the float cup needs adjustment. The ballcock link has an adjustment clip that
can be pressed and lowered.
With a float cup type, find the adjustment clip on the side of the float cup.
If this still does not make the toilet stop running, be sure that the refill tube that goes
from the fill tube to the overflow tube is just above the overflow tube, not going into it.
The final thing that will make the toilet run constantly is a defective fill valve seal.
This will need replacement.
The Slowly Filling Toilet
The most likely culprit when the toilet takes too long to fill is a clogged fill valve tube.
Shut off the water supply valve at the wall. Remove the hardware on the top of the tube to gain
access to the toilet fill valve tube.
Now use a bottle brush or length of stiff wire to clear
anything in the tube. Hold a glass over the fill tube and open and close the valve several
times to flush out the tube. Reinstall the hardware.
The Toilet That Doesnt Flush Completely
This can be a problem with the newer low flow toilets. Unfortunately, the effort to save
water has backfired when multiple flushes are required. Another problem can be clogged entry
into the bowl.
Under the rim of the toilet bowl are a series of entry holes. Clean each one, ensuring that water
flows freely. Finally, examine the flapper in the bottom of the toilet. Is it old and rotted?
Is it seating properly? Is the chain too long, causing it to hang up? Just replace the
flapper and adjust the chain to 1/2 slack.
These toilet troubleshooting and repair tips should solve most toilet malfunctions. Use them
and save on service calls from the plumber.
Of course, many people just dont want to mess with toilet repair work themselves in any
case. Is this you? If thats the case, keep in mind that a plumber has a lot of overhead and will be
more expensive than an all-around handyman. Angies List: Find thousands of unbiased ratings and reviews on service companies in your area with Angies List.
Clear a Clogged Drain? Dont Panic!
There is also, of course, the clogged drain; this
can be fixed with a plunger or any number of devices that can be found at the hardware store. For
the really tricky clogs, however, its
recommended you call in a plumber — itll cost you more, but its guaranteed
to get the job done right.