How to troubleshoot common toilet problems

A malfunctioning toilet can be very annoying, but sometimes you’d rather put up with the inconvenience than get stuck with a big bill from a plumber.

Don’t be inconvenienced any longer. Fixing common toilet issues is easier than you think, even if you’re not a DIY fanatic.

Incomplete flush

A toilet that won’t flush all the way is frustrating and can add to your water bill. Thankfully there’s an easy fix.

  1. Lift the top off your tank and check the length of the chain running from the handle to the flapper. If it’s loose you may not be lifting the flapper up high enough to get a complete flush. Shorten the chain and see if this does the trick.
  2. If not, the problem could be your water level. Allow the tank to fill completely and compare the water level to the “fill line” etched into the tank. If the water is below the line, adjust the float to allow more water to enter the tank before it shuts off.
  3. Finally, inspect the small holes around the rim of your bowl. They often collect mineral deposits over time and need to be cleaned out. Sometimes running regular dish soap through the system is enough to open up the jets.

Phantom flush

Don’t let phantom flushes in the middle of the night give you the heebie-jeebies. The mystery flusher isn’t a home intruder but more likely a worn out flapper allowing water to leak from the tank into the bowl.

Simply turn off the water feed to your toilet, remove the old flapper and install a new one. It’s easy and costs less than five.

Testing a leak

Some toilet drips are completely harmless. Some have the potential to cause thousands of dollars in damage.

If you find water on the floor and fear you might have a serious problem, drop food coloring into the tank, then check back in a little while to see if the water on the floor is colored. If it is you may have a broken tank or a compromised seal.

Finding colored water in the bowl is a sign that your flapper isn’t sealing properly.

Running toilet

A running toilet can drive you mad, but it’s not a cause for serious concern. It’s usually caused by a leak in your flapper valve is allowing water to pour out just fast enough for the float to never get high enough to shut off the water.

  1. Check that the flapper chain is not too short or tangled.
  2. Clean the area under the flapper to remove any debris or mineral deposits.
  3. Replace the flapper if necessary.

That’s all there is to it.

When it’s time to throw in the towel

Fixing minor issues is a great way to save money and alleviate your toilet woes. If you have problems with raw sewage backing up into your home or large quantities of water leaking from your toilet or piping, it’s best to call a professional plumber immediately before severe damage is done.

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