How to Solve 9 Common Toilet Problems

The toilet is one of the most taken-for-granted fixtures in the average household. No one thinks about it until a problem occurs. Fortunately, many toilet problems are simple fixes, and an experienced DIYer can handle them with a few simple tools and some basic information about how toilets work.

Toilets are relatively simple fixtures with a few parts that are often easy to replace or repair on your own. The most common type of toilet is a two-piece unit with a separate tank and bowl. The tank contains a refill tube, flapper, and float. When you press the handle, gravity takes over and flushes the toilet. Replacing worn-out flappers, floats, and handles are inexpensive DIY tasks.

Common Toilet Problems and Solutions

1. Toilet Won’t Stop Running

You may be able to quickly locate the reason your toilet is running by taking off the lid to the tank and looking inside. A broken flush valve, faulty overflow valve, broken flapper chain, or disconnected toilet handle are all possible causes of a constantly running toilet. Another frequent problem is a faulty flapper. Press your finger around the flapper’s edges. If the toilet stops running, your flapper has a bad seal and needs to be replaced which is an easy DIY project.

2. Toilet Won’t Flush

When a toilet doesn’t flush properly, it’s most likely because the tank water level is too low or there’s a clog. For low water levels, check and adjust the flush valve and float arm. If a clog isn’t too far down the drain, you may be able to clear it with a plunger.

3. Loose Toilet Handle

Constant use takes a toll on the flush handle, causing it to become loose, get stuck, or break. Sometimes, adjusting the existing handle is all that is needed to solve the problem. A replacement flush handle is inexpensive and easy to install.

4. Cracked Toilet Seat

Replacing a toilet seat is easy and will only take a few minutes. Unless the bolts that fasten the seat are corroded, removing the old toilet seat is a simple matter of unscrewing the nuts. Before buying a replacement, measure your existing toilet seat as they come in two standard sizes and shapes. 

5. Sluggish Toilet

If your toilet begins to flush very slowly, the rinse jets under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. With a mirror and a coat hanger or small brush, you can clean out those clogged holes without getting your hands dirty. Regularly cleaning the rinse jets is the best way to prevent mineral deposits from forming in the first place.

6. Clogged Toilet

For minor clogs, you may only need a plunger designed for toilets to dislodge the blockage. Buy a toilet plunger with an extension flange on the bell-shaped rubber end. These plungers fit toilets better, so you can quickly deliver a more powerful plunge and clear a clog.

7. Loose Toilet Seat

A wobbly toilet seat isn’t just annoying; it can be hazardous for young children or elderly family members. If you have a loose or wiggly toilet seat and tightening the seat bolts doesn’t work, installing seat stabilizers may solve the problem. 

8. Strange Noises

When your toilet is not in use, it should be silent. Gurgling sounds could be a sign that something is blocking your plumbing pipes. A plunger may clear a minor clog. If that doesn’t work, call a plumber for help. Attempting to remove a deeper clog on your own can create more significant problems.

9. Toilet Leaks

Any water leaks should be resolved quickly. Water can damage your bathroom floors, and leaking wastewater poses a health risk. Locating the source of the leak is your first task. Leaks from the water supply line are much different than leaks at the toilet’s base or where the tank connects to the bowl. Common leak areas include:

  • The nut behind the valve
  • The water supply line connection
  • The base of the toilet
  • Loose or worn-out tank-to-bowl connections

Old or worn-out parts should be replaced, and tightening the screw or nut on your tank may fix some leaks. Replacing the wax ring at the base of your toilet is a relatively simple project, but it involves lifting the entire toilet, which can weigh anywhere from 70 to 125 pounds depending on the size and style. Dropping and cracking a toilet is not uncommon for DIYers. A plumber will be able to replace a wax ring quickly and efficiently.

When Is It Time to Replace an Old Toilet?

If you have recurring problems with an old toilet, it may be time to have a professional plumber replace it. Toilets are the main source of water usage in American households accounting for about one-third of monthly water usage. Toilets manufactured before 1994 use up to 7 gallons of water per flush. Replacing an inefficient toilet with a modern water-saving one can result in significant savings, with most households saving around $140 per year.

Call the Trusted Plumbing Professionals in Los Gatos

We’ve offered some solutions for common toilet problems, but sometimes the help of a professional plumber is needed. If you are experiencing recurring clogs, leaks, or other plumbing problems, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter for assistance. Our trained plumbing technicians can handle any plumbing problem, no matter how big or small.

Call us at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. 

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