Common Toilet Issues to Ensure Smooth Operation

All joking aside, your toilet is an important piece of equipment in any home.  If you have ever had a broken one, I am sure you can relate to the major inconvenience of not having the toilet for use.  I will not go into the ins and outs of how toilets work, so if you are interested in learning more about that, following this link to a YouTube video explain that.  The article will go over the most common toilet issues found during home inspections, why they happen, and what you can do to fix them.

A Leak around the Toilet Bowl

Water around the toilet bowl (base of the toilet) is one of the most serious issues a toilet can cause.  The main reason it is a serious issue is where the leaking water is likely getting. For serious leaks, the water will likely work it’s way underneath the floor and has the potential to cause wood rot and mold growth.  If caught early, damage can be minimal and that is why we usually recommend not caulking around the toilet bowl to ensure you can see a leak when it occurs and take corrective measures.

The Fix: If your toilet is leaking then a bad wax ring is the culprit 95% of the time. A wax ring is just what it sounds like, a ring made out of wax.  It is installed between the toilet and the toilet flange (connects the toilet to the drain line) to form a watertight seal. Here is a video link on how to replace a wax ring (pretty cheap and easy) Also, it is important that you inspect (or an inspector or plumber) around and under the toilet to make sure there is no further damage after the repair.  

Toilet Constantly Fills or Slowly Fills

The average fill time for a toilet tank is 45 to 90 seconds.  If your toilet takes any longer to fill or doesn’t stop filling, it is very annoying and also can be inconvenient at times.  A slow filling tank can lead to long lines and potentially unhappy party guests. If the toilet doesn’t stop filling you will see a spike in your water bill from the constant flow of water.  Luckily these issues are usually not a hard fix.

The Fix – If you are experiencing issues with your tank fill time, it most likely has to do with a leaky flapper valve.  The flapper is located at the bottom of the tank and lifts up to empty the tank when you turn the valve handle. If it does not sit tight or is worn it may allow water to slowly leak from the tank and hence it will take longer for your tank to fill.  In bad cases, your tank will just keep filling endlessly. Luckily, you can replace this valve for under $10. Here is a video on how to easily replace a flapper.

A Leak at the Water Supply Line

Two of the most common leak locations on a toilet are at the water shutoff valve and the connection of the water supply to the toilet.  The types of leaks usually start off small, but should be fixed right away to ensure they don’t escalate.  

The Fix – Tighten all threaded connections that you see with a wrench (Just don’t over tighten, if you are straining you are probably over-tightening).  Most of the time the issue is just a loose connection, but if that doesn’t work you may need to replace the line and/or valve. These components aren’t hard to change out and may run you $30-40 at the hardware store for both valve and the line together.  Make sure you take the proper steps to turn off your house main water valve before performing work. Here are some videos on how to do this repair (Supply line replacement and shutoff valve replacement)

A Clogged Toilet

I didn’t do it!  Most of the time this happens when a larger than normal load is flushed and gets stuck in the toilet trap.  But in all seriousness, sometimes a clogged toilet can be a sign of a much bigger drainage issue, with something blocking a main house drain.  If you notice drainage issues in other plumbing fixtures, there could be a major problem.

The Fix – A good plunger should do the trick most of the time.  I do not recommend dumping chemicals like Drano in the toilet as they can eat at the main drain piping and can cause a bigger issue.  If you can’t fix it with a plunger, then it’s time to call a plumber to diagnose and fix the issue.