The toilet might be one of the simplest and most straightforward plumbing fixtures we rely on today, and yet the overwhelming majority of homeowners have no idea how they work or what they do. That’s a shame because many minor problems with a toilet are actually so simple to fix that the average person could comfortably and confidently do it with no special tools and no formal training.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at four parts of a toilet that frequently break down, including how you can identify them as the source of your problem and what you can do to properly fix the issue so you don’t have to stress about it in the future.
The fill valve is responsible for opening and closing your toilet’s connection to the water supply. Water travels into the fill valve from your connection hose, and the fill valve then opens or closes as needed to allow water to fill up your toilet’s reservoir tank. When the fill valve fails, one of several things can happen:
- Water can blast upward from the fill valve, causing it to drip out of the tank and onto the floor
- The fill valve will never close again, resulting in water simply continuously flowing into the tank
- The fill valve fails to open, resulting in your toilet flushing but not refilling
In most cases, you can fix the issue you’re dealing with by simply replacing the fill valve outright. They cost no more than $15 to $20 at most hardware stores and take just a few minutes to install with no specialized tools (you may want a standard pair of pliers and a pair of needle-nose pliers to make a few things a little bit easier). However, a stuck float that refuses to open when you flush the toilet may be curable with a little bit of oil or lubricant. Simply locate the hinge that connects the float to the valve itself and place a tiny amount of lubricant into the joint. This should help it start moving freely again.
Flappers are also known as “stoppers” because they are designed to stop the drain at the bottom of your tank. This drain allows water down into your toilet bowl, thus creating the “flush” cycle. However, because flappers need to be able to form a sturdy and complete seal, they are created from a flexible material that molds to completely cover the drain. Because these softer materials are more prone to corrosion, they do eventually fall apart.
A worn-out flapper can be easily identified by an obnoxious dripping sound coming from your toilet at all times, particularly when it isn’t running. Likewise, when your toilet turns on and starts running again, even after nobody has used it or flushed it, then you probably have a leak from your tank down to your bowl, and thus a worn-out flapper.
The handle’s job is to lift your stopper upward so the water can quickly drain out of the tank and down into the bowl below. However, handles are often constructed using fairly low-grade metal materials in order to keep costs down. This is fine because they generally don’t need to support a ton of weight, but the constant exposure to a water-rich environment inside a toile tank means handles do corrode and eventually fail. If you lift or press your toilet handle and nothing happens, then you probably have a handle issue.
Replacing the handle is also simple, as it usually is no more than one nylon nut holding the handle in place. However, some handles don’t fit certain types of toilets, so make sure you get one that matches the style you’re looking for and uses the same flushing action that you had previously. Otherwise, you might find that your new handle can’t actually flush your toilet.
The drain is probably the part of your toilet that is the most prone to problems. This is simply by the nature of its job: it has to haul away all of the waste and water that gets flushed down the drain, and thus they are prone to clogging up. The most common short-term fix for a clogged drain is the trusty plunger, but this doesn’t usually solve problems for good. The best way to eliminate a clog from your toilet drain is with a professional drain cleaning service, like the ones offered by the pros at Moe Plumbing.If your toilet has a problem, whether it’s a damaged valve or a clogged drain, make the call to Moe Plumbing at (818) 396-8002 to schedule an appointment right away!