4 simple toilet fixes

July 27, 2015

Most household toilets work by using gravity to force a tankful of clean water into the bowl to push waste down a soil pipe and into the sewer system. But what sounds simple enough could be troublesome. Here are four simple toilet fixes.

4 simple toilet fixes

1. Quick leak fixes

  • If water is leaking around the bottom of the toilet bowl (at the floor) after a flush, tighten the nuts that hold the bowl to the floor (you'll have to pry off the decorative caps first). If tightening the nuts does not solve the problem, have a plumber replace the wax ring.
  • If water leaks from the bottom of the tank, tighten the nut securing the water supply tube to the underside of the tank.
  • Also, check the nut on the other end of the tube (that is, at the shutoff valve). If water pools on the floor under the toilet, check for a crack in either the bowl or the tank. If you find one, turn off the water to the toilet to stop the leaking, and have a plumber install a new bowl or tank.

2. Replacing a toilet seat

  • Close the seat cover and open the tabs covering the bolts that hold the seat to the toilet.
  • To remove a bolt, steady it with a screwdriver as you undo the nut below with a wrench. If the bolts are corroded, apply penetrating spray and allow them to sit overnight. If the nuts still can't be removed, you can carefully cut through the bolts with a small hacksaw.
  • First, protect the bowl with duct tape. Lift out the old seat, clean the mounting holes and install a new seat of the same size. Set the new seat in place, and hand-tighten the nuts from below. Then tighten a half-turn with a wrench.
  • Always measure a toilet seat's dimensions and the distance between the mounting bolts before you shop for a new seat. There are several sizes available.

3. Repair the handle

  • A toilet handle is attached with a locknut inside the tank. If the handle is loose, tighten the locknut by turning it counterclockwise. If the handle is broken, remove the nut by turning it clockwise and disconnect the chain from the end of the trip lever.
  • Slide the nut off the trip lever, then pull the handle and trip lever off the tank. Install a new handle, tighten the locknut and reattach the chain.
  • If you have to hold the handle down to flush the toilet, the lift chain may be too long. If the chain keeps the flapper from closing tightly, it may be too short. Adjust the chain by hooking it in a different hole or by attaching a different link to the clip.

4. Fixing a faulty ballcock valve

A brass or plastic ballcock controls the flow of water into the tank; it has a valve that is turned on and off by a float arm and float ball, or by a float cup, which slides up and down just below the ballcock.

  • When the washers inside the ballcock become worn, the valve won't close completely and water will run continuously.
  • If replacing the washers does not solve the problem, replace the entire unit.

Some toilet repairs are easy fixes that you can do yourself. Use these tips to get started on resolving the problem and if you're still having problems with your toilet, call a plumber.

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