Having issues with your toilet? Is it leaking? Gurgling? Not flushing? Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to fix a toilet.
How embarrassing. That toilet of yours is broken, so you can’t flush down the waste. Worse yet, your company is coming over, and you only have one bathroom.
What are you going to do?
Fortunately, the most prevalent toilet ailments only come in 4 varieties, all of which are relatively easy to fix.
If you’re dying to save yourself from a world of embarrassment by learning how to fix a toilet, read on.
1. My Toilet Won’t Flush
Open the lid and look at the bottom of the toilet bowl? Did your kids drop a stuffed animal in there? Did you just finish making a deposit?
See what’s down there before you continue. If it’s something large and solid, like a toy or a shoe, you’ll have to fish it out. If it’s less solid, like human waste and toilet paper you’ll have to take a different approach.
In either case, don’t hold down the handle in the hopes that the mess fixes itself. Toilets continue to fill with water even after you let off the handle. If you hold it down, your toilet will overflow.
Toilet clogs are the number 1 cause of toilet trouble. Fortunately, they’re an easy fix. If you don’t already have a toilet plunger handy, you’ll need to get one.
You can buy a toilet plunger at any hardware store and most grocery stores.
Take the plunger and insert it into the bowl while it’s still full of water. Press the mouth of the plunger firmly into the opening at the bottom of the bowl. The lip of the plunger will form a seal with the bowl.
Then use a push-and-pull pumping motion. But be sure not to go too fast, or polluted water may slop out of the bowl. The action will create pressure which will drain the clog-free.
After 5 to 10 plunges, lift the plunger. If you free the clog, your water will drain away. Then you’re good to go.
If not, try the process again.
2. My Toilet Handle Wiggles and Won’t Flush
Depress the handle. If you feel no resistance and your toilet fails to flush, your chain has probably come loose. If so, it’s an easy fix.
Your toilet tank is the squarish tank located on the back of your toilet. It’s a reservoir for the water, and it houses a handful of uncomplicated parts. One is called a lift arm.
The arm is a thin metal or plastic rod with a chain dangling from it. On the bottom of the chain is a rubber stopper called a flapper.
If your chain gets unhooked from the lift arm, your flapper won’t lift. It’ll continue to plug the hole at the bottom of the tank and prevent water from draining. In other words, it won’t flush.
There’s also a nut that secures the lift arm to the handle. If that comes loose, it’ll have the same effect. Here’s how you fix either problem.
- Turn off the water to the tank using the shut-off-valve located on the hose behind your toilet.
- Take the cover off your tank. Pull up on the chain that connects to the flapper, and the water will drain out of the tank.
- If the chain has come loose from the lift arm, reattach it. If it’s broken, you’ll need to purchase a new one.
- If the nut is the problem, retighten it to the back of the handle using your fingers.
Finish up by turning the water back on and giving it a practice flush.
3. My Toilet Keeps Running
Start by giving your toilet handle a little jiggle. Wait for a minute to see if the problem stops. Either your chain got bunched up and needed to straighten out, or your flapper wasn’t positioned correctly and needed adjustment.
If the leaking toilet tank persists, your flapper needs to be replaced. The rubber pieces degrade with age and won’t form a proper seal, so water leaks out.
- Turn off the water that runs to your tank as described in the last section.
- Remove your old flapper by hand. You won’t need any tools.
- Take it to your local hardware store and ask them to give you a replacement.
- Install the new flapper.
As usual, turn the water back on and give it a test flush. You’re ready to go.
4. Water’s Pooling Around My Toilet
Check to make sure your toilet bowl or tank isn’t overflowing. If not, squirt a little food coloring into your toilet bowl and flush it. If the water running out from the base is colored, it looks like you have a leaking wax ring seal.
This fix is a little more complicated than the rest, but still a DIY project. First, head to your hardware store to pick up a new wax seal. Then follow these directions:
- Turn off the water supply as described above. Then flush your toilet and drain both the tank and bowl. You’ll need to bail out any remaining water with a wet vacuum or a cup.
- Disconnect the water supply valve from your tank. You may need to use a crescent wrench.
- Pry off the plastic caps that cover the toilet bolts.
- Using a crescent wrench, remove the bolts.
- Lift the toilet base and tank straight upward, off the bolts. It weighs anywhere from 70- to 125-pounds, so use caution. Set the bowl aside on a piece of cardboard
- scrape off the old wax that’s now visible using a putty knife.
- Center the new wax ring on the flange and press it gently into place.
- Put the toilet back in place. Be careful to align the holes with the bolts and lower it straight down.
- Tighten the nuts and bolts back in place.
- Reattach the plastic caps.
- Reattach the water supply hose and turn it back on.
As you finish, give it a test flush to make sure it works.
Are You Still Wondering How to Fix a Toilet?
If your problem isn’t listed above, it may be more severe. You might even need to replace your entire toilet. Contact your local professional plumber to learn more.
Now that you know how to fix a toilet, it’s time to start fixing yours. Grab the tools suggested in the section which best described your problem. If you need to, also run to your local hardware stores, such as Lowes or Home Depot then follow the directions above.
If you found this information helpful, zip over and check out our enormous library full of practical home guides. So long and good luck!