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5 Common Toilet Problems & How to Fix Them

Toilets often have issues at the worst times. A plumber is usually your best solution, but there are some problems you can try to fix yourself. Before you call for an emergency repair, learn more about five common toilet problems and their potential solutions. 

If the problem continues and you really need to contact a plumber, Ace Plumbing has experienced plumbing technicians standing by 24/7 to fix any toilet problem you may be faced with.

Common Toilet Problems

Slow-Filling Toilet

A slow-filling toilet is a common issue and may be fixed with a few simple steps. A toilet tank usually refills in roughly three minutes, but several factors may affect this. Follow these steps to assess and potentially solve the problem: 

  • Check your water valve & make sure it is completely open. A partially open valve may cause a slow-filling toilet. 
  • Try cleaning the pump & valve to remove built-up sediment. Turn off the water supply, remove the parts then rinse with warm water to clear debris. 

If neither of these solutions works, disconnect and remove the water supply line if possible. Place the hose in a bucket and test the water pressure. If the pressure is low, there may be issues with your drainpipe a plumber can diagnose.

Phantom Flushes

Phantom flushes happen when water leaks into the toilet bowl from the tank. This is usually caused by issues with the flapper (the device allowing water to move into the bowl from the tank) or the chain connecting to the flapper may be too short. This can cause the flapper to improperly seal. 

If you notice phantom flushes, add food colouring into the toilet tank and wait approximately 30 minutes. If you’re noticing the coloured water has leaked into the bowl, check the chain connecting to the flapper and follow these steps: 

  • Lengthen the chain by one or two links. 
  • Re-test the water with food colouring. 

If the water is still leaking, the flapper may be the issue. Turn off the water supply to the toilet and empty the tank by flushing. If the flapper is damaged or worn down, follow these steps to replace it: 

  • Remove the flapper from the chain & overflow tube. 
  • Bring it to a hardware store & find the proper replacement. 
  • Connect the flapper to the overflow tube & chain. Ensure there is enough slack to allow the flapper to fit properly. 
  • Turn on your water, test the new flapper, & repeat the food colouring test. 

If leaks persist, inspect the bowl and bottom of the toilet for cracks or pools of water and contact your plumber.  

Clogged Toilet

If your toilet clogs, begin by cleaning up any spilled water. Next, try to determine if this is a natural clog or a foreign object. Use a plunger when dealing with a natural clog. 

Using a plunger on a foreign object may force the object further down the drainpipe, worsening the problem. A toilet auger can safely remove a foreign object. 

Using a plunger

Lay towels around the toilet to catch any overflowing water. If the toilet bowl is full, wait 30 minutes for the water levels to drop or remove with a small container. 

The water in the bowl should completely cover the plunger. Create a tight seal and begin to pump the plunger. Do this six times before taking a rest. Continue to do this approximately 10 to 15 times. 

After the clog has cleared, pour around 18 litres (5 gallons) of water down the drain to clear any residual debris clogging the toilet. 

Using a toilet auger

A toilet auger can easily access trapped items in your toilets without damage. Place the bottom of your closet auger into the bottom of the bowl. 

Rotate the auger handle clockwise while pushing the rod downwards into the toilet trap. Press the rubber sleeve of the auger into the trap. 

You’ve likely found the clog if you feel resistance. Rotate the auger the opposite way to remove the cable and object. 

Loose Toilet Handle

A loose toilet handle can be an easy fix. Have an adjustable wrench with you and follow these steps: 

  • Locate & turn off the water valve for your toilet. 
  • Remove the tank lid & flush the toilet to drain. 
  • Use your adjustable wrench to tighten the toilet lever nut. 
    • Do not turn after feeling resistance to avoid damaging the porcelain. 
  • Check the toilet handle after turning on the water & refilling the tank. 

If the toilet handle can’t push down, the nut is too tight. Loosen the toilet lever nut and try flushing again. If the handle is still loose after adjustment, it may be time for a replacement. 

Incomplete Flush 

If your toilet begins to flush but stops midway, there are two possible causes: the fill valve may not allow enough water into the tank or the chain inside is loose. 

Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet. If the flapper drops before the end of the flush, remove some of the slack within the chain by hooking it a few links higher. If problems persist, follow these next steps: 

  • Flush the toilet & watch as the tank fills with water. Keep an eye on the overflow tube (the cylinder the flapper connects to). If the water is lower than 2 centimetres from the top of the valve, there may not be enough water in the tank.  
  • Find the fill valve (it lets in water to the desired level). It’s located above the water supply line connection into the tank.
  • Find the fill valve adjustment screw near the top. Turn your screwdriver slightly either way to adjust the water level. 

This may take a few tries to figure out. Make continuous adjustments until you get the correct water level. 

These are only a few common toilet problems. If you experience any consistent issues or cannot fix a problem alone, contact your plumber. 

Call Your Plumber

Toilets can be complicated, and what may seem like a simple solution can be a part of a larger problem. If your toilet troubles won’t go away or you’re experiencing an immediate emergency, contact your plumber for help. 

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