7 Common Toilet Problems You Can Easily Fix

Jan10 By Home Services Plumbing Toilet
White toilet bowl

Toilets are an essential feature in any bathroom, but they can sometimes cause headaches. Thankfully, you can fix many common toilet issues yourself with a bit of DIY knowledge. Learn how to fix seven typical toilet problems and why you should trust Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating for professional toilet repair if your DIY efforts don’t pan out.

Adjusting the Float

The correct water level in the toilet tank is crucial for efficient flushing. Here’s how to adjust the float and change the water level:

  • Identify the float type: Check if your toilet has a ball float or a cylinder float.
  • Adjust a ball float: Locate the adjustment screw or dial on the float arm. Turn it clockwise to raise or counterclockwise to lower the arm, thereby adjusting the water level.
  • Adjusting a cylinder float: Cylinder floats slide up or down along the central shaft. Squeeze the clip to release the float, then move it to the desired level.
  • Check the water level mark: Most tanks have a water level mark inside. Aim to set the water level 1 to 2 inches below this mark.
  • Test and re-adjust: After adjusting, flush the toilet to ensure the new water level provides effective flushing.

Dealing with a Leaky Flapper

A faulty or degrading flapper allows water to leak from the tank to the bowl, causing “phantom flushes,” where the toilet runs briefly all on its own. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Identify the problem: Check if the flapper is worn out or simply not sealing properly.
  • Adjust the chain: If the chain is getting caught under the flapper, shorten the length to prevent this.
  • Remove the old flapper: If the flapper has deteriorated, you’ll need to replace it. First, turn off the water behind the toilet and flush to empty the tank. Then, disconnect the chain from the flush lever and slide the flapper off the pegs on either side of the flush valve tube.
  • Choose the right replacement: Take the old flapper with you to the hardware store to ensure the new one you pick out is compatible with your toilet.
  • Install the new flapper: Hook the new flapper onto the pegs and reconnect the chain to the flush lever.
  • Test the flapper: Turn on the water and flush to test if the new flapper seals properly now.

Unclogging the Toilet

Toilet clogs can be daunting but are often easy to fix. Here’s how:

  • Select a plunger: Choose a flange plunger designed for toilets. Ensure there’s enough water in the bowl to cover the plunger head.
  • Use the proper plunging technique: Place the plunger over the hole to create a seal, and plunge with steady, forceful strokes. Maintain a good seal throughout.
  • Consider a toilet auger: If plunging doesn’t work, insert a toilet auger into the bowl, extend the cable down the drain, and turn it to snag or break up the clog.
  • Flush test: After plunging or augering, flush the toilet to check if the clog is cleared.

Replacing a Fill Valve

If your toilet won’t stop running or has a noisy flush, you may need to replace the fill valve. Follow these steps:

  • Identify your fill valve type: Check if your toilet has a plunger, diaphragm-type, float-cup, or floatless fill valve.
  • Shut off the water and drain the tank: Turn the shutoff valve behind the toilet and flush to drain the tank. Soak up any remaining water with a sponge.
  • Remove the old fill valve: Loosen and remove the nut under the tank with adjustable pliers or a wrench. Then, lift out the old fill valve.
  • Install the new valve: Position the new fill valve in the tank, ensuring it’s properly seated. Tighten the locknut to secure it.
  • Reconnect the water supply: Reattach the water supply line to the new fill valve.
  • Adjust the water level: Turn the water back on and adjust the level according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Fixing a Leaky Toilet

Toilets can leak in several places, including around the base, where the tank meets the bowl, and at the water supply line. Here’s how to tackle each type of toilet leak:

  • Fix a leaky toilet base: If water pools at the toilet’s base, you may need to replace the flange and wax ring. This involves removing the toilet, replacing these components, and reseating the toilet properly.
  • Fix a tank-bowl leak: For leaks between the tank and bowl, you most likely need to replace the tank-to-bowl bolts and gasket.
  • Fix a supply line leak: Tighten all connections at the supply line and replace the line if it’s damaged.

Handling a Loose or Stuck Toilet Handle

You can’t flush the toilet if the handle is loose or stuck! Fortunately, this common issue is easy to fix:

  • Adjust the handle nut: Remove the toilet lid to access the nut holding the handle to the tank. Tighten if loose; loosen slightly if stuck.
  • Adjust the lift chain: Ensure the lift chain isn’t too tight or too loose, causing the handle to stick or not lift the flapper properly.
  • Replace a broken handle: If the handle is broken, remove it by detaching the lift chain and the mounting nut. Install a new handle and reconnect everything.

Toilet Seat Issues

Fixing a loose or damaged toilet seat is simple:

  • Tighten a loose seat: If the seat is wobbly, tighten it at the hinge with a wrench or screwdriver. You may need to pry up decorative covers to access hidden bolts or screws.
  • Replace the seat: To replace a cracked or broken seat, remove the bolts at the hinges and lift off the old seat. Then, place the new seat and secure it with the bolts.
  • Ensure proper alignment: After installation or tightening, check that the seat is aligned correctly and remains stable when you sit on it.

Can’t DIY Your Toilet Repair After All? Contact Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating

With over 20 years of plumbing experience, Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating can get your broken toilet working again. If you decide to replace your old toilet, we can recommend and install a high-efficiency model. For unbeatable work and a positive customer experience, choose us for all your toilet installation and repair needs. Contact us today at (206) 938-3219 to schedule services.

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