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Plumbing Problems? Here’s How to Fix a Broken Toilet in 5 Easy Steps!

May 9, 2024


Your toilet is one of the most important fixtures in your home for hygiene and comfort. While it’s reliable day in and day out, it’s likely you’ll run into a toilet problem from time to time.

If you have plumbing problems, Timo’s Air Conditioning & Plumbing is at your service. For 20 years, our family-owned business has been helping homeowners in Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and the surrounding areas with plumbing problems of all kinds – including toilet troubles.

However, not all toilet problems require a professional plumber. Learn how to identify common toilet problems, how to fix them, and when to call in the pros at Timo’s for help.

First, How Does a Toilet Work?

Toilets have two main components, the bowl on the floor and the upper tank that holds the water to be released with each flush. The tank holds water until you flush the toilet, which then rushes through the opening at the bottom of the tank into the bowl. This powerful flow of water pushes the waste out of the bowl, into the drain, and into the sewer lines.

The bowl is porcelain with a drain fixture, but there are no moving components. The upper tank is where most of the toilet’s operation happens – and the component that may require a repair. Most problems arise from one of the two valves or the handle that flushes. Fortunately, some of these problems can be fixed with DIY solutions.

Keep in mind that some modern toilets have more complex parts for flushing. Before you take on a repair, check the make and model of your toilet. Most toilets have information about the manufacturer under the tank cover.

Components of a Toilet

In addition to the tank and the bowl, there are smaller components that facilitate flushing. The fill valve is the component that fills the tank with water, which is located on the left side of most toilet tanks when viewed from above.

Fill valves come in various types:

  • Plunger ballcock: Plunger ballcock valves are the oldest type of fill valve. They’re usually brass.
  • Float cup fill valve: These valves are a newer design and often made of plastic.
  • Diaphragm ballcock: Older toilets may have a brass diaphragm ballcock, though some have plastic.
  • Floatless fill valve: Floatless fill valves are newer, rarer types of fill valves.

No matter the type, fill valves function the same way. They open the tank water supply valve when the water level drops in the tank, which occurs during flushing. The fill valve will close once the water level reaches the optimal level.
The flush valve is attached to the handle that you use to flush the toilet. It’s attached to a chain and a flapper inside the tank. When you flush, the flapper lifts and releases water from the tank, which pushes waste into the drain. As the water level drops, the flapper falls back to the bottom of the tank and covers the outlet pipe, stopping the flushing action.

Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them

Clogged Toilet

One of the most common problems with toilets is a clog, which can be a slow flush, partial flush, or a complete blockage with overflow.

Most clogs occur because of flushing things that don’t belong in the toilet, such as feminine hygiene products, tissues, or too much toilet paper. Avoid flushing anything but waste and toilet paper, even if a product says it’s “flushable.”

How to fix a clogged toilet in 5 steps:

1. Get a flange plunger, which is better for toilets.

2. Create a seal around the drain with the plunger. Add water if necessary to create a strong seal.

3. Use smooth, strong up and down movements to dislodge the clog.

4. If the toilet starts to drain, you can try flushing to see if the clog is resolved.

5. If the toilet isn’t draining or flushing, repeat plunging.

Running Toilet

A running toilet is a nuisance and a waste of water and money. Running toilets can waste gallons upon gallons of water, not to mention increasing your water bills. Most running toilets are caused by a faulty flush valve or flapper. These components can wear over time, causing water to continuously flow into the bowl.

Here’s how to fix a running toilet in 5 steps:

1. Remove the tank lid.

2. Inspect the flapper valve for damage.

3. If the valve is misaligned or damaged, you may need to replace it.

4. Check the float mechanism and ensure it’s set at the proper water level.

5. Consider replacing the flush valve at the same time.

Weak Flush

A weak flush is an annoying problem that can cause poor waste removal and potential clogs in the future. Often, this occurs when there’s a low water level in the tank or a problem with the flush valve.

Here’s how you can improve a weak flush in 5 steps:

1. Check the water level in the tank.

2. If it’s low, adjust it to the recommended level, which is marked inside the tank.

3. If the flush doesn’t improve, inspect the flush valve for signs of damage or wear.

4. Replace the flush valve if necessary.

5. If that doesn’t fix the weak flush, you may need to adjust the chain connected to the flush handle for proper operation.

Leaking Seal

Leaking seals may appear to be a minor problem, but they can cause serious damage over time. There’s a wax ring that seals the toilet to the floor, and if it wears down, water can leak around the base.

Here’s how to fix a leaking seal in 5 steps:

1. Inspect the wax ring for signs of wear or damage.

2. If the ring is worn, replace it.

3. Check the tank-to-bowl gasket for proper positioning.

4. If the gasket is worn, replace it.

5. If you still have leaks, contact a professional plumber.

Odd Noises

Strange sounds coming from your toilet, beyond the usual sounds of running or flushing, are a concern. If you hear gurgling, bubbling, or hissing, which can point to a problem with the drainage system.

Here’s how to address strange sounds in 5 steps:

1. Start plunging the toilet to see if a clog is causing the noise.

2. Try to flush the toilet.

3. If the toilet flushes, listen for odd noises.

4. If it doesn’t, you may need to use a plumbing snake to remove the clog.

5. If DIY methods fail, contact a professional plumber. It could be a deep blockage.

Slamming Toilet Lid

A toilet lid that slams down may not seem like a big problem, but it can damage your toilet if you don’t correct it. The problem could be caused by a damaged seal hinge, or your toilet seat may be old and worn.

Here’s how to fix a noisy toilet seat in 5 steps:

1. Spray lubricant on the seat hinges.

2. Open and close the seat and lid several times to distribute the lubricant.

3. See if the lid still slams. If it does, tighten the hinges.

4. If the problem continues, replace the hinges to the seat and lid.

5. Finally, if you’re still experiencing a slamming lid, you may need to upgrade the lid.

Broken Toilet Handle

A toilet handle has to have the proper tension to work properly. If the toilet handle is either too tight or too loose, it can affect how well your toilet flushes.

Here’s how to fix a broken toilet handle in 5 steps:

1. If the toilet handle sticks in the downward position, check the handle mounting nut inside the tank. Loosen it as needed.

2. Clean the handle mounting nut and shaft threads to the handle works smoothly.

3. Make sure the flush arm is putting tension on the chain to open the flapper properly. Adjust it as needed.

4. If the toilet handle is loose, clean debris from around the handle mounting nut inside the tank. Tighten as needed.

5. If these fixes don’t work, call a professional plumber.

Phantom Flush

If your toilet flushes on its own, it’s a “phantom” flush. This can happen if water leaks from the tank into the bowl, causing a flushing action. Aside from being annoying, phantom flushes can waste a lot of water and money.

Here’s how to fix a phantom flush in 5 steps:

1. Inspect the flapper valve for a proper seal.

2. If the valve is in good condition, check the water level in the tank.

3. Adjust the flapper valve if necessary.

4. Check the flush valve.

5. If the flush valve is leaking, replace it.

Get Your Toilet Running Smoothly

Toilet problems may crop up from time to time, but you can troubleshoot and fix a lot of minor issues on your own without an expert plumber. However, it’s important to know your limits and avoid taking on major repairs. If you need plumbing repairs, contact us at Timo’s Air Conditioning & Plumbing to schedule your appointment!

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