A properly working toilet is essential, after all, no one wants to have to live in a house where the toilet does not flush properly or is constantly overflowing. Toilet problems are a somewhat common household issue; everyone, at least once in their home owning lifetime, has to deal with a toilet that does not flush properly, or will not flush at all. So, it can be a bit of a hassle, both in terms of time and money, to call a plumber every time you have a plumbing issue. So, to help out any flustered home owners, here are some of the more common problems that can affect a toilet, and how you can fix them.
Before jumping head first into trying to fix a toilet problems, you should probably familiarize yourself with how toilets work.
When you flush a toilet, the first thing that happens is that the chain lifts the stopper (also called a tank ball or a flapper valve). This allows the water to rush through the flush valve, which opens up into the toilet bowl. This water forces the waste from the toilet bowl and pushes it down the main drainage pipe. Once the waste is gone and the tank is empty, the stopper closes and the fill valve refills the toilet tank with water. Once the tank is near full, the fill valve is closed by a thing called a float ball.
And that is a how a toilet works, so what can go wrong with this process and how can you fix it?
Easily the most common toilet problems that you can encounter. The solution is very simple, take a plunger and well, plunge until the toilet flushes normally. If for some reason the blockage in the toilet is not being dislodged by the plunger, then you might want to try taking a wire coat hanger or a plumbing snake (a long piece of hard wire with a piece of metal at the end) and try prodding around the toilet bowl. You should be able to dislodge any blockages and get the toilet back to functioning normally. If you are having trouble seeing, a small mirror can help you get a better look inside the toilet bowl. There are also chemicals out there that can be used to loosen blockages and debris in toilets, if you do not feel like poking around a toilet bowl, then maybe you should look into buying a bottle of liquid plumber.
So, you notice that there is water around your toilet, this is a somewhat big issue because water around your toilet can damage your floors, so you want to fix the issue ASAP. Start by making sure everything on the toilet is tightly connected, the toilet itself, and all the parts in the tank. Tighten every bolt that seems loose, you never know where the leak can be coming from.
If the water is coming from the tank, then it is likely condensation (sometimes it is said that the tank is “bleeding”). When water enters the tank, it is usually very cold, so when the cold water in the tank is exposed to the warm air, it can cause condensation. It is nothing to worry about, but if it annoys you, you can try and fix it with two methods. First, try and ventilate the tank, maybe allow it to sit a bit with the top off to get some air flowing in, the other solution is to get a toilet tank liner, which is essentially a foam pad that lines the inside of your tank.
The other cause, can be that the wax seal around the base of your toilet is broken. If so, the solution is to replace the wax seal; which is a fairly lengthy process, so it may be a good idea to call a plumber. But, if you have a bit of experience with toilets and plumbing, then you can attempt the project yourself.
If your toilet just does not flush at all (pressing the handle does nothing), then the problem likely originates from the tank. Check all the components in the tank, the chain, the flapper valve, etc., and make sure that they are all tightly fitted and not broken. If that does not solve the issue, check the toilet handle, it may be too loose or too tight. Another common cause is that the connection between the lift arm and lift chain is severed or needs adjustment; if the lift arm and lift chain are not properly connected, then the stopper will not be lifted properly. As we discussed earlier, the stopper being lifted properly is an essential part of the flushing process, so if something is wrong with it, then the toilet will not flush.
If the toilet flushes when you press the handle, but for some reason seems to stop halfway through the process, or if the toilet has issues actually expelling the waste then you should check the following. First, check the lift chain, it may not be tight enough, if so, tighten it. Secondly, check the stopper, make sure it is installed correctly, and that it is the right model for your toilet. Finally, the most common cause of this issue is a low water level in the tank. So, open up your toilet tank and check the water levels. If you find that it is too low, adjust it so it is higher.
If you find that your toilet is broken and you are going to need a new one, or that the problem lies deep in your pipes (like say a serious blockage that you cannot dislodge yourself), then call a plumber. Most toilet problems can be solved yourself, especially if you are handy and have the necessary tools, but not all toilet problems can be solved by yourself. If you are unsure about your ability to fix a toilet issue, do not take the risk, just call a plumber, you will thank yourself later.