Fast fixes for common toilet troubles

July 27, 2015

The toilet is something we often take for granted. But you could save time and money if you know how to care care of minor issues yourself.

Fast fixes for common toilet troubles

Plunging basics

  • To unclog a toilet, you'll need a plunger with a flanged cup. The flange fits the opening more snugly than a regular plunger and the larger air pocket inside the plunger increases its effectiveness.
  • Bail out excess water, leaving just enough to cover the plunger cup. Place the plunger into the drain opening with the flange covering the opening.
  • Stand directly over the plunger and work it up and down. Move the handle of the plunger only while keeping the cup over the drain opening.
  • After plunging vigorously 10 or 12 times, yank the plunger out. Repeat if necessary.

When in doubt, snake it out

  • If using a plunger doesn't clear the clog, use a closet auger (or toilet snake) instead.
  • Push the cable through the drain and crank the auger handle to get the cable down the drain pipe.
  • When the auger end reaches the clog, move the auger back and forth to push the obstruction through or pull it out.


Condensation forms on a toilet tank when cold water in the tank meets the warm air in the bathroom. To minimize condensation, you can install an insulation liner, sold as a kit at home stores. Here's how insulation liners are usually installed:

  • Drain the tank and wipe it dry.
  • Trim the insulation to fit the sides of the tank, then attach it with the adhesive supplied in the kit.
  • Take care not to block the flush-valve assembly.

How to catch running water

  • If your toilet water is constantly running, first make sure that  the lift chain isn't twisted or tangled, if your toilet has one.
  • Then check the overflow tube.
  • If water is overflowing the top of the tube, adjust the tank water level. It should be about two centimetres below the top of the overflow tube. Too little water can cause inadequate flushes.
  • On an old toilet with a metal float rod and ball, bend the rod in the middle so that the ball is lowered to the right level
  • For a floatless ballcock, change the water level by turning an adjustment screw found at the top counterclockwise to lower water level, clockwise to raise it.
  • On a floating cup ballcock, pinch the clip on the side and slide it down a little to lower the water level. Make small adjustments and test by flushing the toilet.

You should have a better understanding of your toilet in order to avoid major problems down the road. It may save you some time and money.

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