Common Toilet Problems You Should Never Ignore
There are lots of toilet problems that should be left to the pros. However, not every problem needs a plumber. In this article, we will go through some of the most common toilet problems and tips on how to fix them without hiring a plumber.
A clogged toilet is probably one of the most common toilet problems you will encounter, but in most cases, there is no reason to call a plumber. A clog or partial clog will block water from flushing down as it should. If you have small kids in the house, there is a chance they might have tried to flush toys or other objects in the toilet. Flushing of paper towels, sanitary pads, wipes, and generally anything else that is not biodegradable can result in clogged toilets. As a rule of thumb, avoid flushing anything that is not feces or tissue paper even if it has been marked “flushable”. Dispose of such items with other trash
At first, you should turn off the water supply valve as soon as you notice the toilet is not flushing properly. This could help to prevent the mess of the bowl from overflowing.
A specialized toilet plunger with an internal cup or flange will handle most clogs. Make sure to get a good-sized plunger to reduce splashing and also to get lots of suction. Stubborn clogs may require a special drain snake tool, called a closet auger or toilet auger.
There are several possible causes of the water leaks in our toilet. Address a leaking toilet as soon as you notice a problem. Sometimes, this water can leak into the water bowl and this extra water just goes down the drain. Because such leaks are hard to detect, you might end up wasting gallons of water every year without realizing it. The leaks of water also could damage your floor and subfloor if they happen for a very long time without fixing.
There are five possible reasons for the water leaking. Identify the cause of it and see the solution accordingly.
1) Leaks at the water supply
Tighten the nut behind the valve about 1/8 of a turn. Be careful with the supply pipe. You may need to hold the pipe while turning the nut. Check the supply line connection to the supply valve and tighten if needed. Check the supply line. If you see damage or if it's more than five years old, replace the supply line.
2) Leaks where the supply line enters the toilet tank
Check the supply line connection to the toilet and tighten if needed. Make sure the fill valve assembly is properly secured to the bottom of the tank. Check the supply line. If you see damage or if it is more than 5 years old, replace the supply line.
3) Leaks where the tank connects to the toilet bows
Check the bolts that secure the tank to the bowl and tighten if needed. If the bolts are tight and the leak persists, replace the bolts and the gasket between the tank and toilet base. Check for cracks in the tank. If the tank is cracked, you may be able to replace the toilet tank only. If not, replace the entire toilet.
4) Leaks where the toilet meets the floor and/or water stains on a ceiling below the bathroom
Check the mounting bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. If necessary, make sure the toilet is in the right position and tighten the bolts. If tightening the bolts doesn't fix the leak or if the bolts are damaged, you'll need to uninstall the toilet and check the bolts, the toilet anchor flange that holds the bolts, and the wax ring that seals the connection between the toilet and the waste pipe. Replace a Toilet Wax Ring describes replacing the toilet flange, bolts, and wax ring. Check for cracks in the toilet base. If you find cracks, you'll need to replace the toilet bowl or the entire toilet.
5) Water dripping from the side of the tank
Check for cracks in the tank. If the tank is cracked, you may be able to replace the toilet tank only. If not, replace the entire toilet. If the tank isn't cracked, the water may be condensation caused by cool water entering the tank in the warmer, humid space of the bathroom. Run your bathroom exhaust fan as needed to ensure proper ventilation. Condensation can also result from a leaking flapper; the tank will drain continually, and cooler water will be constantly entering the warmer tank. Replace the flapper as needed.
Toilet does not fill/bowl water level drop
When your toilet is functioning well, the water level in the toilet bowl is determined by the height of the outlet of the internal p-trap. If the water level in the bowl goes too high, it is an indication that the toilet is clogged. However, if the water levels go too low in the bowl, there are four possible reasons.
1) Damaged fill tube
Lift your tank lid and visually inspect to determine if your fill tube is damaged or has shifted. If it is damaged, replace it but if it is still in good condition, just reaffix it.
2) Cracked toilet bowl
If you have a cracked toilet bowl, get in touch with a plumber for assistance in replacing it.
3) Faulty vent
Use a plumbing snake to clean and dislodge any debris that might be blocking the plumbing vent.
4) Damaged fill valve
Inspect your fill valve to ensure it is seating properly in place and check to see if it has been damaged in any way. If damaged, replace it with another valve which you can buy from a home improvement store.
Whistling tank on flushing
Even though the sound of water traveling through the pipes is normal, a whistling and loud toilet is not normal and it is a sign of a faulty toilet tank fill valve. As the valve ages over time, it deteriorates and this is the main cause of the whistling sound in toilets. This problem will cost you just more than your peace. A faulty valve always leads to an increase in water usage so your water bill will also be higher.
As we have seen, the main reason for the whistling sound is a dilapidated tank fill valve. Replace the tank fill valve with a new one and that should fix the problem.
The main reason for sluggish toilets and drains is a blocked leach field. This is only the case for homes that use septic systems. A blocked leach field will not allow water to percolate as it is meant to. As a consequence, the drains and the toilet will become sluggish. But it is also possible to have sluggish drains even if you do not have a septic system. For instance, your toilet might be clogged or your tank might not have enough water that is needed to create a successful flush.
If you have a septic system, clean your leach field by using Bio-Sol’s shock treatment product. Afterward, use the keep-up product to keep your septic system healthy to avoid the same problem recurring.
If your drains are working just fine but your toilet is flushing sluggishly, then the toilet might be clogged with some debris that was flushed in the toilet. Use a plunger to unclog it.
Toilet rocks to and fro
A toilet should remain anchored securely on the floor. If your toilet isn’t solidly fastened to the floor, there may be trouble in your future. Any movement of the toilet damages the wax seal. That leads to leaks and ultimately major repairs.
Sometimes, the flange bolts are loose, and tightening them will help to keep the toilet stationed in one position. Tighten the bolts without making them too tight because they could also break the toilet thereby causing even more damage.
Shimming the toilet under its base is another DIY solution to this problem. Examine the gaps and insert shims in between the floor and the toilet by cutting the plastic shims to fit and slip them underneath (you may have to remove caulk before adding shims). Then caulk around the toilet and snug down the nuts on the bolts. Test and try different shim sizes and test at different locations until the shims fit perfectly.
Toilet refills on their own
Sometimes, you might hear your toilet making refilling sounds even though you haven’t flushed it. This problem is sometimes referred to as ghost flushing because a refill sound usually means the toilet has lost water either internally or externally. This could happen intermittently throughout the day. If you cannot see any water on the floor or the exterior of the toilet, then you have an internal leak. Water from an external leak should be visible on the floor.
Check the refill tube to ensure it is installed correctly. If it is inserted too far into your overflow pipe, remove it and reinstall it to the outside of the overflow pipe. This helps to ensure it doesn’t enter the overflow pipe and will, therefore, help to prevent an internal leak.
Check the flapper for any visible damage. If the flapper is damaged, replace it with a new one. If the first two steps do not solve the problem, you will have to replace the entire flush.
Sweaty toilet problem
If summers are humid where you live and you don’t have air conditioning, you’ve probably noticed your toilet “sweating” excessively. Condensation forms on the outside of the tank, which can drip down and make a mess or even rot out your floor over time. Wet floors are also a hazard. Bathrooms have lots of hard surfaces and someone could get hurt pretty bad if they slip and fall on the wet and slippery floor. Some toilets are available with insulated tanks to prevent condensation problems.
If high humidity is a common problem in your area, you can install a toilet tank that is insulated and that will prevent condensation. Making sure your air conditioner is working properly will also prevent condensation on the toilet tank.
Bubbling toilet problem
If you have air bubbles that rise through your toilet bowl (except when it flushes) or notice the water level rising and falling, you probably have a clogged or improperly vented toilet. This toilet bubbling problem is especially true when you have an appliance like a clothes washer nearby. Your drain line is gasping for air.
When you pour liquid from a can, you’ll notice that it doesn’t flow evenly unless you have a second opening for air. The same holds for the plumbing vent pipe. As water goes down a drain, the air is needed to equalize the pressure in the drain line.
This is the purpose of a venting system. If the drain lines in your home have poor venting, water rushing down the drains will pull water from nearby P-traps. The drain in the toilet bowl is a P-trap. If the problem just started, it’s probably a blocked drain or plumping vent pipe that needs to be “snaked” out. And since the water in the toilet is dropping and gurgling, the problem is likely near that area.
If the toilet is blocked, use a plunger to unblock it. A large plunger is always better because it will minimize splashing while increasing the suction.
If the vent is blocked, try unblocking it with a plumbing snake. If this doesn’t work, you might need to ask for the help of a plumber because the plumber might have to dig through the wall to get to the problem area.
Rusty hinge screws
It doesn’t take long for the hinge screws on a toilet seat to rust, and then you have rust dust all over the toilet rim every time the seat slams. These hinges will be more susceptible to rusting if you have boys who are still struggling with their aim. Urine has salts in it and when it splashes on the hinges, it exacerbates the rust problem.
To prevent this, all you need to do is dab a little clear nail polish onto the screw heads. If the screws are already rusted, fill the holes with caulk.
In conclusion, any of the above-mentioned problems should be fixed as soon as you detect them. Failure to attend to these common toilet problems in good time will make them develop into something worse that could end up costing you lots of cash. Also, even though most of the problems can be easily fixed, do not hesitate to call a plumber for professional help if you are not sure of anything or if the DIY fix doesn’t work.