Solving Common Toilet Problems
Quick and Easy Toilet Repairs That Anyone Can Do!
Even if you’re less than handy when it comes to home plumbing repairs, the following toilet tricks are simple enough for you to tackle on your own.
Phantom Toilet Flushes:
If your toilet frequently refills spontaneously, as though somebody has just flushed it, you’ve got a phantom flush. No, your house probably isn’t haunted, but that sporadic running is caused by a slow leak from the toilet tank into the toilet bowl. The problem is likely a bad flapper or flapper seat. To fix it, drain the toilet tank and the toilet bowl, and check the flapper. Clean the seat if necessary or replace the flapper mechanism if it appears cracked, worn or damaged. Flappers and flapper parts are available at any hardware store.
Toilet Bowl Emptying Too Slowly:
A weak flush, or a toilet bowl that empties too slowly, usually means the flush holes under the rim of the bowl are clogged. Using a curved piece of wire, gently poke each hole to clear away debris. A wire coat hanger works well for this, and you can use a small mirror to help you find the holes inside the toilet rim.
Ugly Toilet Clogs:
By far the most common—and frequently most unpleasant—toilet problem is a clog. To clear a clogged toilet drain, try a force-cup plunger instead of the standard type. A force-cup plunger has a small rubber extension at the bottom that fits into the bowl drain for better suction. Put the bulb into the drain and pump straight up and down with force. Slowly lift the handle and let some water in to see if the clog is cleared.
If you’ve got a really serious toilet clog, you may need something a little stronger than a plunger. Try a closet auger, which you can purchase at any home improvement or plumbing supply store. Insert the auger into the toilet drain and twist the handle as you push the rotor down. Be careful not to scratch the bowl.
Leaky Toilet Seals:
There are at least five seals on a standard toilet, and all of them can leak. Before you can fix it, you have to figure out which seal is leaking. The largest seal is between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl; if you’ve got a leak here, water will shoot out from under the tank every time the toilet is flushed. The smaller seals at the bolts that mount the toilet to the floor and the one at the base of the ballcock will cause smaller leaks. To replace one of these faulty seals, drain the water from the toilet tank first. Then simply take off the damaged seal and put on a new one. If you suspect a leak at one of the smaller seals, you might also try tightening the bolts or nuts; this can often stop a minor leak.
The fifth seal is the wax seal mounted underneath the base of the toilet. If this seal is damaged, you’ll have water leaking from the toilet onto the floor. This can cause the floor to rot, which means big trouble. If you simply caulk the seal without repairing the leak, water will be trapped under the base of the toilet, making the situation worse. You’ll have to remove the entire toilet and replace the wax seal. If you don’t feel up to it, this would be the time to call in a plumbing professional.