Common Toilet Issues You Can Repair Yourself
The toilet is one of the most frequently used plumbing fixture. Thus, it’s prone to several problems from time to time. You can easily fix some toilet issues by yourself. Read on to learn more.
Most toilet issues occur in the toilet tank
A toilet comprises of two main components: the bowl that is fixed on the bathroom floor and a tank that stores the water used in flushing the toilet.
Toilet bowls are usually solid. They’re made of porcelain and don’t have any moving parts. The bowl hardly requires any repairs.
The tank comprises of multiple components making up the flushing mechanism. Most toilet problems occur in the toilet tank. Luckily, most toilet issues are relatively easy to repair on your own.
How does a toilet tank work?
Before doing any repairs, it’ll help knowing how a toilet tank functions. The tank’s main function is holding water for flushing the toilet.
It also houses the flushing mechanism. Basically, water rushes down from the tank into the toilet bowl upon flushing.
The water then goes down through the sewer line. The tank has two key components that make flushing possible, which are a fill valve (ballcock) and a flush valve.
The role of a fill valve, also referred to as the ballcock or refill valve, is to allow the tank to refill with water upon flushing.
In most cases, the refill valve is located on the left part of a tank. You can easily see it when you remove lid covering the tank. Refill valves come in four main variations which are:
- Floatless refill valve: This is a newer design. It’s not allowed under some codes.
- Float cup refill valve: This is another newer design. It’s typically plastic.
- Diaphragm ballcock: This as an older style, typically made of brass while newer ones are plastic.
- Plunger ballcock: This is the oldest design of refill valves. It’s typically made of brass.
Regardless of the design, a refill works automatically by opening the water inlet valve as soon as the tank water level goes down after flushing. The refill valve shuts off as soon as the amount of water goes up to the set level.
The refill valve is usually operated by a cup or ball that floats on water and moves according to the level of water within the tank.
Some valves are floatless such that they function by sensing the water pressure around the bottom area of the toilet tank.
You can remove the lid that covers the tank to watch the flushing process. Doing so will allow you to understand how the flushing mechanism works.
How to Replace a Ballcock
Fill valves are made of different designs. Older designs are commonly known as ballcocks. They comprise of a hollow ball that floats on the water to open and close the water inlet depending on the level of water in the tank.
While some people use the word ballcock to describe any fill valve, ballcock is technically used to describe the diaphragm and plunger types of refill valves. These two refill valve designs use a floating ball mechanism to open and close the valve. The ball is usually attached to an arm.
Modern toilets hardly use a ballcock. However, you can still find the ballcock style of valves in older toilet designs. If your toilet is the older type, then it probably has a ballcock valve mechanism.
A ballcock mechanism is simple. You can adjust the level of water as needed by simply bending the arm connected to the floating ballcock.
You can either bend it down or up to shut off the valve at a different point. For instance, if the toilet continues running after a complete flush cycle, then it means the level of water is set higher than required.
You can correct this problem by simply bending the arm down to lower the level of water upon the next refill. As such, adjusting the level of water in the toilet tank is as simple as bending the float arm for the valve to turn off the inlet at a different point.
Ballcock valves malfunction quite often. If your toilet uses a ballcock valve, then consider replacing it with newer fill valve designs such as the float-cup design. This is something you can replace yourself.
Repairing the Toilet Flush Valve
Toilets also have another component known as a flush valve. This valve usually fixed at the middle of a toilet tank. It’s made of either brass or plastic and its role is opening and closing the toilet tank bottom opening.
This valve operates by the means of a neoprene flapper, floating ball, or rubber. The float ball or flapper keeps the valve closed such that the water held in the toilet tank is only released upon pulling it by the handle mechanism.
Upon depressing the handle, a lift wire or chain attached to the toilet handle lifts the float ball or flapper, thereby releasing the valve for water to flow down into the bowl.
Once the tank empties, the float ball or flapper goes back into place to seal the opening, thereby allowing the tank to refill.
Toilets also have an overflow tubing which is connected to the toilet flush valve. The tubing extends up from the bottom are of the toilet flush valve.
Its function is to ensure that water does not overflow in the tank. The tubing also lets some water to move into the bowl during a refill.
Doing so allows the bowl to regain some standing water that keeps the toilet trap sealed. Sealing the trap ensures sewer gases don’t backup through the bowl into the home.
Repairing Running Toilets
You can be quite annoyed when your toilet is running. It’s a common problem and you can easily repair it yourself.
In most cases, the toilet runs due to a malfunctioning flapper, especially when the flapper isn’t properly set on the toilet flush valve.
The problem also occurs when the toilet tank water level is beyond the appropriate level, such that it flows over through the overflow tubing, thereby ending up in the bowl. Either problem is easy to fix.
All kinds of refill valves are adjustable to regulate the toilet tank water level. You can also adjust the flapper valve or replace it.
Fixing the Toilet Flush Handle
The toilet flush handle may feel loose or even get disconnected. It’s something you can easily fix. You’ll need one of these two solutions to fix the handle:
- Check whether the lift chain or lift wire is out of place. If so, reconnect it to the flapper or lift arm depending on where it’s disconnected.
- Make some adjustments to the handle’s mounting nut within the tank. The mounting nut is usually threaded. Rotate it counterclockwise to tighten it.
Repairing a Leaking Toilet Base
Although most toilet issues occur within the tank, you can also experience the problem of a leaking toilet bowl. If water is seeping around the floor area where the bowl is attached to the floor, then you get the leak fixed.
Although it’s normal to see some condensation during summer, finding a water puddle around the toilet base is an indicator of a leak. The leaking water is usually dirty. Thus, it’s advisable to only use the toilet after fixing it.
The main cause of a leaking toilet base is a worn-out wax ring. The ring seals the area where the toilet base meets the floor.
This type of leak can be fixed by replacing the failed wax ring. Doing so will require you to detach the toilet bowl from the floor.
It’s actually something easy to do. Doing it by yourself will save you a good amount of money that you’d have otherwise used on hiring a plumber.
Another common toilet problem is a blocked toilet. Unblocking most toilet clogs doesn’t require the services of a plumber.
You’ll simply use a toilet plunger to unclog it. If a plunger fails, then you can try using a toilet auger. If a toilet auger fails, that’s when you’ll need to contact a professional.