Some Common Toilet Problems and Fixes

Shut off the Water for Toilet Repairs

Under every sink, and next to every toilet, there are water supply lines connected to a shutoff valve. Some are known as the quarter turn, others are multi-turn shutoff valves. Simply turn them clockwise to shut off the water supply to the toilet. If they do not fully shut off, you need to call a plumber to replace the valves before you attempt any repair work on your toilets.

Water Trickles Into the Bowl / Flushes by Itself

You might hear the toilet flushing by itself or notice water running into the bowl, even though it hasn’t been flushed.

To check, lift up the tank lid and check to see if the flapper is centered over the drain hole. Flappers are very inexpensive and can be purchased at your local hardware store. It’s always a good practice to replace toilet flappers every few years simply because they wear out over time.

  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet
  2. Drain the tank.
  3. Gently replace the flapper inside the tank, hooking up the chain to the flush arm.
  4. Check for and clean off any debris around the tank seal.

Water Trickles Into the Tank

 If water is constantly flowing into the toilet tank, there are several possible reasons:

  • The float (if used) is stuck or broken
  • The overflow tube is pushed too far into the overflow pipe. It acts as a siphon, pulling water from the tank into the bowl. It should only extend about 1/4″ below the top of the overflow pipe.
  • The valve assembly is worn out or needs adjusting. The valve assembly turns the water supply off or on depending on the water level. Valve assemblies usually cost less than $20, as do most of the other parts inside a toilet. 

Toilet Bowl Empties Slowly

 If your toilet is flushing slowly,  usually it’s because of clogged holes underneath the rim of the bowl.  You can use a curved piece of wire (like a coat hanger) to poke into each flush hole to clear out any debris. The siphon jet in the bottom of the bowl can also be cleared with this method, however, be careful not to scratch the surface of the bowl.

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