Don’t feel like calling a plumber? You may not have to. Fixing toilet problems yourself is actually pretty easy. We’ll walk you through how to fix a toilet focusing on some of the most common problems every household experiences.
Fix a Running Toilet
A running toilet is probably the most common problem you’ll face. And the good news is that it’s a problem you can most likely fix yourself. This problem can happen either when the water level in the tank is too high, allowing water to flow over the top of the overflow tube and down into the tank. Or because the flapper isn’t sealing itself correctly in the opening of the flush valve. No matter the issue, the repairs are super easy. All refill valves have a specific method for adjusting the water level, and flapper valves are easy to replace or adjust. You can also fix this problem by doing any of the following:
- Check for a faulty chain or flapper
- Adjust the water level
- Check for water-logged float
- Replace a fill valve
Tighten a Loose Handle
Another common problem you can handle on your own is to tighten the flush handle when it gets loose or disconnects from your tank. You can solve this problem in two ways:
- Adjust the flush handle mounting nut in the tank. It will have reverse threads that will require you to rotate it counterclockwise to tighten it.
- Reconnect the lift chain or lift wire that connects the lift arm from the flapper.
Repair the Flush Valve
Some toilet repairs may involve your replacing your flush valve. Your flush valve is a brass or plastic fitting attached to the bottom opening of the tank in the center. This valve operates with a neoprene or rubber flapper or a float ball. To repair the valve follow these steps:
- Turn off your water supply and flush the toilet.
- Remove the old valve flapper or ball assembly along with the flush lever chain, guide wires, or anything else connected to the drain valve assembly.
- Take a sponge and remove any excess water in the tank.
- If your valve seat is brass, use steel wool or sandpaper to clear it of debris, then rinse with a soft cloth. Let it fully dry before moving on. You can speed up this process by using a hair dryer.
- Now, install your new sealant ring onto the drain valve seat. Depending on the kit, you may just need to peel the paper off from one side of the ring. Carefully center it over the opening of your cleaned valve seat. Press it gently to set it in place. Don’t press too hard!
- Grab the flapper ball valve assembly, and test fit the best location before removing the paper on the sealant ring. Position it at about a 45-degree angle so the tank ball can pivot freely and open fully when the chain lifts it. The chain should pull at an angle slightly back toward the hinge of the tank ball, or straight up. Once you’ve got the right spot, remove the paper from the sealant ring and place the flapper ball valve assembly over the sealant ring and press down firmly.
- Next, attach the lift chain by checking that the tank ball is closed, then make sure the toilet flush lever is down. Connect the chain attachment to the clip hole in the flush lever. Connect the clip to the plastic chain link allowing for a slight bit of slack in the chain. You can trim off any unneeded chain links. Leave a couple hanging from the clip.
- Finally, turn back on your water supply and let the tank refill. You may need to adjust the chain length through a bit of trial and error.
Solve a Slow Filling Toilet
This toilet repair has a few steps, but it’s still not overly complicated. The most common reason for a valve to no longer fill a tank or to slow down is a debris issue and how long your valve has been in use. Debris can build up with time in your water system. The valve body, shut off valve, or supply line can also restrict the flow of water and slow down the filling speed. Valves tend to have a good life for about 7 years, then they start to wear out. To flush debris from your water supply, follow these steps:
- Turn off your water supply and flush the toilet.
- Reach into the tank with one hand under the float cup and lift it. With that same hand, grab the gray shaft the keeps the float cup all the way up. Don’t let the float cup drop or let the valve shaft turn—keep them in place.
- Now place your opposite hand on top of the valve cap and place your thumb on the side arm coming out of the top. Turn the cap and lever counterclockwise about 1/8th of a turn to unlock. You can now lift off the lever and cap from the valve body.
- You can now inspect for debris on the seal and the portion of the valve that is still in the tank.
- Grab a cup and hold it upside down over the exposed valve and turn your water supply back on for about 10 to 15 seconds. The pressure can help release any debris inside the valve.
- Reassemble the valve by replacing the cap arm next to the refill tube. In order to lock it in place, press the cap down while gently turning the cap and arm clockwise.
If flushing the debris doesn’t solve your slow-filling problem, you may have to replace or repair the valve completely.