Many little things can go wrong in your day to make your mood turn. Being stuck in a bathroom with a toilet that won’t flush, is both infuriating and embarrassing.
Especially more so if you share the bathroom with other people. Even more so, when they know you used it last; you get the idea. Well, however devastating this situation might be, it is a common problem and therefore, has commonplace solutions.
The first and foremost of which is to find out exactly what is the problem. Yes, we know the primary problem is ‘it won’t flush’, but we need to be certain of the cause behind it. Here are some of the reasons why it won’t flush and solutions.
Table of Contents
- Tools Needed To Fix A Toilet
- Fixing Common Toilet Scenarios
- Fixing a Totally Clogged Toilet
- Toilet Not Flushing Properly
- Fixing a Running Toilet
- Fixing a Slow Filling Toilet
- Fixing Toilet Leaks
- Fixing a Noisy Toilet
- Video – Fixing a Toilet
Tools Needed To Fix A Toilet
If you’re planning on fixing your toilet yourself, you’ll need a few basic items to get the job done. Regardless of what type of toilet you want to fix, there are three pieces of equipment you will definitely need.
- Adjustable wrench – In essentially every possible scenario, you’ll absolutely need an adjustable wrench. Whether you need to remove the bowl, the tank, or just loosen the bolts, an adjustable wrench will be the best option. Plus, as its name suggests, you can adjust the wrench to be any size you need, so it’ll work on a variety of different parts.
- Longnose pliers – Another useful tool to have on hand is a set of long nose pliers. Especially when it comes to reattaching broken chains, a good pair of pliers will help you fix the chain quickly and easily. Toilets often use chains, particularly for the flush mechanism in the tank, so a set of pliers can help solve a lot of issues.
- Thick pliable wire – Although pliable wire isn’t technically a tool, it can still be very useful when it comes to short-term repairs for a toilet. For instance, if your toilet seat breaks, you can thread a pliable wire through the bolt hole to quickly and easily reattach the seat. In general, if you’re hoping to implement short-term fixes until you’re able to get somewhere to repair a bigger issue, a thick pliable wire can be super helpful.
Always First Step – Turn Off Water Supply
Before anything else, the main tip for fixing any type of bathroom fixture issue is to turn off the water supply. Once you have completely turned off the water supply to either the specific appliance or the entire house, you can start replacing or repairing your toilet. By turning off the water supply, you ensure there won’t be any water wastage. Furthermore, if you don’t turn off the supply, there’s a big risk for water damage and even flooding, so no matter what you need to do, it’s always best to start by turning off the water supply.
Read our full guide if you are having trouble turning off your water valve.
Fixing Common Toilet Scenarios
With the tools listed above, you’ll be able to resolve a number of common toilet issues. Below, we’ve addressed six of the most common toilet scenarios which you can fix quickly and easily by following our instructions.
Fixing a Totally Clogged Toilet
A completely clogged toilet can be extremely inconvenient. Thankfully, there are a few fairly simple solutions that you can try to resolve the issue.
Use Drain Cleaner
One of the most common methods of unclogging a toilet is drain cleaners. If the toilet is clogged only by human waste, a drain cleaner can be a great way to fix the problem.
However, if the toilet is clogged by an inorganic item, like something that accidentally fell into the toilet, drain cleaners won’t help. It’s also important to note that, although drain cleaners do a good job of clearing human waste, a lot of people avoid using them due to the fact that they are full of harsh and dangerous chemicals, so they can cause issues in the long run if you use them too often.
However, if you want to use a drain cleaner but don’t want to use those chemicals, you can make your own drain cleaner. One of the most popular natural drain cleaners is a baking soda and vinegar mixture. If you decide to go with the vinegar and baking soda method, start off by pouring a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl. After you have done that, sprinkle one cup of baking soda into the bowl as well. Then, close the toilet seat lid and let the solution rest for half an hour before you try to flush the toilet again.
Use a Plunger
Using a plunger is both an effective and simple way to unclog a toilet. Especially if you’re dealing with clogs due to solid objects, a plunger will be much more effective than drain cleaners. Therefore, it’s a good idea for every household to keep a plunger on hand, particularly one with a flange.
When it’s time to use your plunger, the main tip you need to know is that after you’ve placed the plunger over the drainage hole, the first push needs to be gentle. This push is important as it eliminates any air, creating the suction which helps eventually remove the blockage.
However, if you push too forcefully, you may not get a tight seal, and you risk splashing dirty water onto yourself. Once you’ve completed the first push, you can then use more force for additional pushes until the blockage clears.
Read our complete DIY guide about plunging a clogged toilet.
Check The Lever
Sometimes the main reason your toilet won’t flush is the trip handle lever itself. Therefore, if you’re dealing with flushing issues but the toilet itself isn’t clogged, check to see if everything is alright with the handle. If you have checked the handle itself and there is nothing wrong with it, check whether the nuts holding the handle are in good condition. These are located inside the water tank. You can basically follow each component of the flush lever technology to see what’s preventing the lever from triggering the flush like it normally should. Once you’ve identified the issue, you can tighten the component (if it’s loose), replace the part (if it’s broken), or call in a professional to help resolve everything.
Toilet Not Flushing Properly
Not Enough Water in the Tank
The toilet uses the water from the tank to flush into the bowl, and if there is no or low levels of water in the tank, it won’t flush. Check that the valve that controls the water supply to the tank is turned on. There is an overflow tube in the tank, and ideally, the water level should reach one inch below that.
If it is not so, then that is what’s wrong with the flush. If the valve is turned off mistakenly; then turn it back on and make sure it fills up to the mark. It should work just fine after that.
This article can help you, check our guide about fixing a slow-filling toilet tank.
This is another, common occurrence. The flapper is a rubber device at the bottom of the toilet tank that controls water flow from the tank to the bowl. It also closes the tube when the water in the bowl is sufficient. Remove the tank lid and check the flapper, if it is broken you will need to replace it.
Fortunately, it is quite an easy task, and you won’t need to shell out for a plumber to get it repaired. However, a step to step guide to do the same is not in the limits of this article.
Here is a full DIY guide about replacing a rubber flapper.
An issue with the Chain
As you might have guessed, when you pull the flush lever, a chain pulls on the flapper to release the water in the bowl. Sometimes the chain gets disconnected or loose. Open the tank and check the chain connecting the flush lever and flapper.
If need be adjusted the chain length or replace it in case it has been broken or damaged. Once you do that, the flush should work fine.
Fixing a Running Toilet
A toilet that doesn’t stop running after you flush can be quite annoying, although many people don’t know what causes their toilets to run constantly. If you’re experiencing this issue with your toilet, there are 2 possible reasons:
Check The Refill Tube
First off, if you have issues with a running toilet, you’ll want to check the refill tube. Sometimes, if the refill tube is too long or otherwise isn’t properly positioned in the overflow tube, it will constantly pump water into the toilet bowl. To fix the tube, start by pulling it out of the overflow tube and then repositioning it to be just above the opening. Then, trip off the tube in the new position, making sure to clip it to the side of the overflow.
Lower The Float
If it doesn’t look like the refill tube is out of place, another thing that could cause your running toilet is overflow water leaking down into the toilet. If there’s too much water in your tank, it could end up leaking down into the toilet. To adjust the water level in your toilet’s tank, start by adjusting the float. If you want to lower the water level, just loosen the screw, lower the float, and tighten the screw back. Then, you’ll no longer have excess water leaking into your toilet bowl from the tank.
Fixing a Slow Filling Toilet
Toilets that fill slowly can be just as irritating as ones that keep running after flushing. Thankfully, a slow-filling toilet is a common issue that’s easy to fix on your own. In general, the water tank shouldn’t need more than a minute to refill. Although this depends on the water pressure in your home, if you notice that your tank needs much longer than a minute, you may want to look into one of the below options:
Check The Water Supply Valve
The main water supply valve is located just below the water tank. The purpose of this valve is to control the flow of water into the tank. Therefore, even if it is just partially closed or not working properly, it could be the reason your toilet fills slowly. Another potential problem related to the water supply valve is debris. If the valve is fully opened but still isn’t delivering enough water at the right speed, you should contact a plumber to check if there is any debris buildup blocking the water flow.
Check The Fill Valve
You should also check the fill valve, a tube-shaped vertical device located inside of the water tank. The purpose of the fill valve is to control the level of water inside the tank. However, the fill valve can shift out of alignment, wear down, or even become clogged over time. If any of these happen to your fill valve, it would cause your toilet to fill more slowly. Keep in mind that the water level should always be up to one inch below the top of the overflow, so if the water level is off or the fill valve isn’t functioning as expected, you’ll likely want to replace it.
Fixing Toilet Leaks
One of the most alarming issues that can occur in your bathroom is a leak from your toilet. However, you don’t need to panic over a leak, especially if you notice it right away, because the solution is often pretty simple. Even people with basic DIY skills can usually fix a leaking toilet in no time.
Check The Wax Ring
The most common cause of a leaky toilet is a bad wax ring. If your toilet becomes loose, it could be a sign that it is time to replace the wax ring. The wax ring is a part that can easily wear down over time. If the ring wears down, it won’t be pliable anymore, which breaks the seal, letting water leak through the toilet base.
Check The Bolts
Another part that can break the seal between the base of your toilet and the bathroom floor is the bolts. Basically, there are two bolts that hold the toilet to the ground. If they get loose, they can break the seal on the toilet base and the toilet will start leaking. If this is the case, the water may leak out of the base every time you flush, which can cause a lot of damage over time.
Check The Seal Between The Bowl And Tank
Finally, the seal between the toilet base and the bathroom floor is not the only one that can cause a leaky toilet. If you notice that water is leaking from your toilet tank and not the toilet base, it could be due to an issue with the seal between the bowl and the tank. If you notice any leakage in this area while flushing, you will most likely need to replace the seal gasket.
Fixing a Noisy Toilet
If your toilet suddenly becomes too noisy, it’s not only inconvenient but can actually indicate larger issues. Therefore, you’ll want to resolve the issue right away. First, you need to figure out what part of the toilet is causing the noise. Sometimes, noise can come from a part within the toilet. At other times, the toilet itself could be the main issue.
Noisy toilet vibrations are a very common issue when it comes to toilets. Although they can happen for numerous reasons, it doesn’t mean that the solution is too complicated. If the vibrations occur randomly and not only when you flush, it could be that your flapper has worn out. Your flapper can wear out particularly if you use too many cleaning chemicals on a regular basis, so you may want to switch to a different type of cleaner after you replace the flapper.
On the other hand, if the vibrations happen only when you flush, there could be something wrong with the diaphragm gasket. This gasket is a small part of the toilet’s fill valve which tends to wear out and become less flexible over time. Therefore, when it tries to shut off, it starts bouncing which creates a vibrating noise.
Tighten The Bolts
If you have issues with a rocking toilet, they can sometimes be fixed by just tightening the bolts located at the base of the toilet. However, be very careful as over-tightening the bolts can cause the porcelain to crack, which can’t be repaired. Therefore, check the bolts on both sides of the toilet – if one or both are loose, carefully use an adjustable wrench to tighten them so the toilet no longer rocks on the floor.
Use Small Shims to Stabilize
Using small shims is a great way to fill gaps between a toilet and the floor which can cause a wobbly toilet. Start off by identifying any gaps and then inserting shims in each spot. Then, to check whether the toilet has become more stable, sit on the toilet seat and gently try to rock in all directions. You’ll know you’ve successfully used enough shims when the toilet no longer rocks or moves in any direction when you sit on it.
Video – Fixing a Toilet
Here’s a great video discussing many ways of fixing a toilet. If you think you need a new toilet, then watch this video.
Apart from these reasons, there can be some others, not directly related to the tank or the bowl. In case the blockage is in the drain itself and not the toilet, the drain cleaner solution of unclogging should work fine.
Also, the low pressure of water in the bowl could be due to low water pressure in the main supply, in which case you should get it checked. In case none of these works or seem to be the cause, it is better to leave it to the professionals.