Common Toilet Problems

Your toilet is a complex piece of engineering that usually consists of a toilet bowl that rests on the floor and the tank, which holds the flush mechanisms and the clean water to flush waste away.

Over time, common toilet issues may crop up and repairs will need to be made. If you’re in a really tight spot, you may want to make some repairs yourself until you can get a professional plumber out to fix any mechanical issues.

Toilet flush problems 

It is never pleasant to find out that your toilet won’t flush. The first thing you’ll want to check is if the flush handle is working. Sometimes the flush can disconnect from the rest of the tank, so you’ll have to reattach it[1]. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Open the toilet tank and check that the nuts that secure the handle in place are tight against the tank. If it is loose, tighten it with a spanner or adjustable wrench.

Step 2: If the flush handle is broken, you’ll need to replace it with a new one, which you can get from a hardware store. Ensure the one you buy includes a flush handle, lever nut and tank lever.

Step 3: Once you have your new part, disconnect the flapper chain from the broken flush handle and unscrew the tank lever nut from the flush handle. Remove the broken handle from the toilet tank. 

Step 4: Insert the new handle into the hole and align the nut to fit. The nut is reverse fitted to withstand daily use. Tighten the nut with the adjustable wrench to tighten the nut securely to the tank.

Step 5: Reattach the flapper chain to the toilet flush lever.

Step 6: Press the handle down to see if the flush is working and replace the tank lid.

Some toilet tanks have a variation of working parts within the cistern, so the steps may differ from types of cisterns. If you’re unsure, always consult a qualified plumber.

Knowing how a toilet works is important in order to keep it tip-top condition. You can find out more about toilets in our article on how a toilet works and why using one is important . 

Fixing a slow running toilet

Another one of the most common toilet problems is your toilet running constantly after flushing. This usually happens because the flapper isn’t sealing correctly over the flush valve. If you’re in a tight spot, these steps may help stop any leaking from the tank to the bowl[2] or consult a trained plumber:

Step 1: Turn the water off at the wall and allow the water to drain from the tank.

Step 2: Feel the flapper to see if it’s soft and supple enough to create a proper seal. If it has hardened it won’t be able to create a good suction to the flush valve. If this is the case, you’ll have to buy a new one. 

Step 3: Remove the old flapper from the overflow tube and unhook the chain from the flush handle arm.

Step 4: Clean the flush valve seat (where the flapper sits) and remove any hard water to ensure it is smooth. If you don’t, it may not create an effective seal.

Step 5: Reattach the new flapper on both sides of the tube and attach the chain to the flush arm handle.

Always consult a professional if you’re unsure of the steps.

Understanding what is inside your tank can make it easier to navigate your way around it. Read our article on how to clean a toilet tank to keep it in tip-top condition.  

How to fix a blocked toilet

A clogged toilet is a common problem that everyone may face at some point. Even though seeing your toilet leaking water because it’s clogged up can be a panic-inducing, it is usually a quick fix. If you can’t get a plumber out quickly, you’ll need a plunger (preferable an accordion plunger which is designed for toilets) and some elbow grease to fix your blockage[3]. Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Put rubber gloves on and submerge the head of the plunger in the water. If the toilet is too full, you’ll need to get rid of some of it with a bucket.

Step 2: Seal the plungers around the hole at the bottom of the bowl.

Step 3: Give a small gentle push to see that it is suctioned properly.

Step 4: If sealed, plunge up and down vigorously about ten to twelve times. Repeat this until the water starts to go down.

Step 5: If you’re confident that the blockage is dislodged, try flushing the toilet. If not, you should have access to the flapper within the tank to close it in case the pipe is still blocked.

Unfortunately, wear and tear will mean common toilet repairs are necessary. With the right research and tools, you may be able to make these restorations yourself – if you do not have immediate access to a plumber. However, always consult a professional if it doesn’t go to plan.








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