Common Toilet Problems and Solutions

On average a family of four will flash a toilet 20 times per day, that’s more than 7,000 flashes per year. While the porcelain bowl and tank will last for many years, the working parts inside will not. They are used constantly and are also in contact with water, which shortens their lifespan. Many new tanks contain all-plastic parts, which may not last as long as brass but do not corrode.


Toilets are simple. They have two basic mechanisms: the flush valve and the fill valve. When the handle is tripped, the flush valve releases water from the tank to the bowl and then fill valve opens to fill the tank. The float rises with the water and stops the water from overflowing.
The rushing water fills the bowl siphon, and that draws waste down the drain.

Dos and Don’ts of Toilet Repair and Maintenance

Dos:

  • When a small clog causes a toilet to drain slowly, use a plunger or closet auger to clear the blockage before an emergency develops.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t use a power auger to clear a clog. For serious blockage, it may be necessary to remove and reseat the toilet or call a plumber.
  • Don’t use chemical drain openers to unblock a toilet. Chemicals don’t work and the heat they produce can crack the bowl.
  • When working on a toilet, do not overtighten any bolts. Porcelain cracks very easily, which means replacing the entire toilet.

Common Toilet Problems

  1. Toilet bowl overflows
  2. Toilet does not flush
  3. Toilet bowl drains sluggishly
  4. Water runs continuously
  5. Vibrations when water tank fills
  6. Water under tank
  7. Floor around bowl wet
  8. Dampness or discoloration on ceiling below toilet
  9. Seat loose

Toilet bowl overflows

Possible CauseProcedure
Blockage in bowl or drainUse plunger or auger.
Call plumber.

Toilet does not flush

Possible CauseProcedure
Water supply turned off.Turn on water supply.
Handle loose, broken, or disconnected.Tighten or replace handle.
Lift chain broken or disengaged.Service lift chain.
Lift chain too loose.Shorten lift chain.
Faulty fill valve.Service or replace fill valve.

Toilet bowl drains sluggishly

Possible CauseProcedure
Blockage in bowl or drainUse plunger or auger.
Call plumber.
Fill valve float too low or rubbing against tank wall.Adjust fill valve float.
Water level too low.Adjust fill valve float
Flush holes blocked under bowl rim.Clear holes and clean bowl

Water runs continuously

Possible CauseProcedure
Tank handle stuck.Service handle.
Water level in tank high.Reposition or replace float ball.
Adjust water-intake assembly.
Lift chain short or tangled.Adjust or replace lift chain.
Lift wire bent or corroded.Service lift wire.
Fill valve faulty.Service or replace fill valve.
Flush valve leaking.Service or replace valve.
Clean valve seat or replace flush valve assembly.

Vibrations when water tank fills

Possible CauseProcedure
Water level incorrect.Adjust float arm or water intake assemply.
Fill valve faulty.Service or replace fill valve.

Water under tank

Possible CauseProcedure
Tank loose or washers worn.Tighten nut or replace washers.
Water leaks through handle.Adjust fill valve.
Shorten overflow pipe.
Flush valve leaks.Replace gasket.
Replace flush valve assembly.
Water spraying from refill tube.Replace refill tube.
Water spraying from fill valve.Service or replace fill valve.
Condensation on tank.Insulate tank.
Install factory-insulated tank.
Shutoff valve leaks.Tighten coupling nut at shutoff valve.
Replace shutoff valve.
Hairline crack in tank.Replace tank.

Floor around bowl wet

Possible CauseProcedure
Wax gasket faulty.Have toilet reseated.
Crack in bowl.Have toilet replaced.

Dampness or discoloration on ceiling below toilet

Possible CauseProcedure
Wax gasket faulty.Have toilet reseated.
Drain pipe cracked.Call a plumber.

Seat loose

Possible CauseProcedure
Seat bolts corroded or seat cracked.Tighten or replace bolts.
Replace seat.

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