Handyman Tip:

How to Troubleshoot and Repair Toilets

A toilet is one of the least thought of appliances in the house, until it has problems.  Then it becomes one of the most important repairs that needs to be taken care of quickly. Let your Chandler, Arizona handyman tell you how it is done!

Scenario:  When the toilet is flushed the bowl does not discharge, instead the bowl begins filling and will soon overflow!
Solution:  Turn off the water at the wall shut off valve behind the toilet.  Oh-No, the valve won’t turn (see “replacing a shut off valve”).  Carefully remove the toilet tank lid and set it aside.  Prop either device up so the water stays off.  CAUTION:  Do not apply any more pressure than necessary to activate the internal water shut off.  Now plunge the toilet bowl to discharge the blockage. 

Scenario:  You constantly hear water running in the toilet long after the toilet has been finished and has refilled. 
Solution:  Lift off the tank lid and carefully set it aside.  At the center bottom of the tank you will see a hinged rubber flapper that has a cable or chain attached to the tank flush handle has a flapper closed (seated on the discharge hole that fills the toilet bowl)?  Is the chain or cable caught not allowing the flapper to re-seat.  Free the chain/cable if the flapper chain is free, push down around the sides of the flapper – Did the sound of flowing water stop?  Yes – Replace the flapper.  No – Check to see if the pipe that the flapper is hinged to has water flowing into it at the open end of the pipe on top.  Yes – The tank water level is too high.  It is time to call a professional.  You will see either a long rod with a ball on the end, or doughnut shaped sealed plastic cup riding on a vertical pipe attached to the bottom of the tank.  If you see the “rod-w-ball”, carefully lift it until the water shuts off.  If you see the “doughnut-on-pipe”, lift the doughnut until the water shuts off.  No – If the water does not shut off after activating the internal shut off valve, as described it is time to call a professional.

Scenario:  The toilet wobbles when used.
Solution:  The toilet has two mounting bolts, one on either side of the toilet bowl at the floor.  The bolts are covered by decorative plastic covers.  Pry the covers off with the end of a straight blade screw driver.  Carefully tighten the nuts on the bolts – Do Not over tighten as you will crack the toilet.  Caulk around the base of the toilet.  Replace bolt covers (caps).
Problem:  The bolt(s) were loose at the floor and could not be tightened.  The bolt has come off the toilet closet ring under the toilet or the bolt has broken off and will require a professional expertise. 

Scenario:  The toilet seat slides around when you sit on it.
Solution:  At the back of the toilet seat near the toilet tank are two plastic covers.  Using a straight blade screw driver, lift the caps.  Inside you will see a screw head, at the other end of this bolt is a nut (both the bolt and nut are normally plastic).  Reach under and hold the nut with our fingers and tighten the bolt with the screw driver.  Tighten until snug – do not over tighten – Do not use a wrench.  Replace decorative caps.

After years of use it is recommended that all the internal tank parts be replaced, including the tank mounting hardware and seals.  This is best left to a professional.