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BLOG: Common Toilet Problems Print E-mail
Toto class 5 toilet in white In our first blog post ever, we are going to talk about common toilet problems. My hope for the new blog is to freely give some information to educate people on plumbing. This will most likely include advice, funny stories, information on how plumbing systems work, and much more. Visit often and see what’s new.

For the first blog entry I’m going to delve into the world of diagnosing plumbing problems over the phone or the internet, not something I normally do, but I have done in the past.

My brother Mark in OKC is the one that designed my website and has been a good resource for all things web related. His website is webguy.com and he offers web design services, phone service, hard drive recovery, and probably other things that I don’t know about. Anyway, he had a toilet issue that he couldn’t figure out and so he sent me an entertaining video of it. I could tell what the problem was instantly and it seemed pretty simple. The flapper was closing to soon and not letting enough water down fast enough to get a strong flush. He was having to hold the handle down in order to flush. The way a toilet flushes is by syphon, in other words the more water that hits the bowl faster, the better it will flush (barring bad toilet design of the bowl) by pushing the contents of the bowl through the trap (squiggly thing on the bowl under the tank). As new water comes into the bowl, the old water is pushed over the trap weir and creates a suction that pulls the contents of the bowl. He changed the flapper and once again he had a flushable toilet as good as new. He then sent me another very entertaining video of the repaired toilet flushing.

Everything has a lifespan when dealing with plumbing fixtures. Copper water lines may last 80 yrs or longer when installed correctly. A gas water heater can last 20 years with soft water. Toilet parts will last anywhere from 2 years or less, to well over 10 years. This all depends on use, and water quality, and the quality of the toilet. The good news is that most every part of a toilet is designed to wear out and can be replaced. The only killer for a poorly designed toilet in this area would be lime build up in the jets, which can be cleaned, but often it is better to just replace the toilet. Flappers (the round rubber thing that holds water in the tank) are the simplest designed tanks and still a part of a typical toilet tank. They rot over time from water and eventually lose their effectiveness at keeping water in the tank, or will not stay open long enough due to water log, or some other issue. It is a simple thing to replace for most people and will bring new life to an old toilet.

Some other common toilet problems include:

1) Not shutting off when the tank is full- the fill valve of whatever type is not operating correctly. This is fairly common as problems go and the valve itself can be changed out to a better model, or if it is a Fluidmaster, often repair parts are available

2) The toilet will fill off and on all day without use-this is caused by water seeping past the flush valve of whatever variety. Common design would be a flapper, but there are also cone types common for Mansfield toilets and some old mobile home model toilets. The disc type that would be common on some American Standard models. Then in flapper design there may be a cone on the bottom of the flapper to catch air or a flat flapper with a float on the chain. The seepage is caused by rotten rubber seals in these scenarios and can be fixed by replacing whatever seal is rotten.

3) You may have a tank leaking caused by rotten rubber seals either at the bolts in the bottom of the tank, or at the foam rubber washer under the flush valve between the tank and the bowl. Replace these washers with new, and if you replace one go ahead and replace all as it requires you to remove the tank from the bowl.

4) Another common problem would be lime build up in the passage ways inside the toilet. This seems to happen more often with cheaper toilets and cannot be effectively fixed for the time involved in the process.

Well, I hope this was helpful for everyone, and I will talk to you later. Happy flushing.