Identifying Common Problems with Toilets and How to Repair Them

The toilet really is one of the most amazing inventions in history. You could likely do without your iPad or computer or TV or guns in the event of a major disaster that changed the way you live forever, but could you go without the use of a toilet for very long? I think not. For this reason, pay respect to the lowly toilet by becoming acutely aware of the various pitfalls that may await proper utilization and keep you from having to do your sinful business outdoors using god knows what as toilet paper.

Toilet Won’t Flush

That sinking feeling you get when you push down the handle, but the toilet refuses to carry away your fecal matter to the sewer system or septic tank need not evolve into panic. Pull up your pants and then lift the tank cover to take a peek inside. Look especially for the chain that connects the trip lever. This chain can come loose and make you think you’ve got major plumbing problems. A quick reconnection and another attempt at pushing down the lever should lead to evacuation of the items that you recently evacuated from your body.

Leaking Toilet

A leaking toilet can be tested by dribbling in some colored food dye into the toilet tank. If the water in the bowl turns color, the leak is located at the valve on the base of the tank. If the colored water starts to collect somewhere outside the toilet, the problem is a leaking tank that needs to be repair.

Flushing Ghosts

If you toilet suddenly seems to flush by itself, don’t reach for the phone and call those Roto Rooter guys who moonlight as ghost hunters. A toilet flushing without benefit of a recent occupant in the bathroom is most often caused not by a spectral visitation, but by a leaking flush valve. The solution to this conundrum is that water is seeping from the tank into the bowl which lowers the level of water inside the toilet tank. The result is the activation of the toilet’s fill valve. You don’t even need to call the ghost hunters in their guise of Roto Rooter plumbers to banish the alleged otherworldly guests forever. Just clean the flush valve and replace the faulty flapper on the bottom of the tank.

Whistling toilet

Rather than a ghost who flushes the toilet when nobody is there, many households must deal with a Mariah Carey sound-alike streaming for from the bathroom following a very unspectral appearance by a household guest. Whistling more often occurs on older style toilets than new ones, but you never know. Look for the metal float arm and metal flush assembly and replace them with newer ballcock washers. Very quickly you will hear the beautiful silence of a Mariah Carey album playing on a stereo with the volume turned to 0 rather than miserable warbling that is most definitely not a multi-octave voice.

That’s No Baby Gurgle, That’s My Toilet

The problem of a toilet that makes a gurgling sound can be approached by checking the stopper ball and making sure it is centered on the valve seat inside the tank. You may need to loosen the screw on the guide of the lift wire and manipulate a little bit. Once this is accomplished, tighten the screw. If this doesn’t fix the gurgling toilet, take a close look at the valve seat and touch it to see if there are signs of pits, corrosion and roughness. Take a piece of sandpaper to the valve seal after emptying the tank and that should stop the gurgle. If not, your last hope before buying a new toilet is to replace the stopper ball with a flapper ball. You can pick up one of these at any hardware store. Shop locally rather than immediately heating to Lowe’s or Home Depot.