DIY Toilet Repair: How to Fix Any Toilet Issue

Trying to find a plumber today can be difficult. There may be fewer plumbers in rural areas, and the demand for their services is high in urban areas. What is the typical cost to fix a toilet? Homeowners spend an average of $250 having a professional fix a toilet. Costs often vary between $45 and $200 per hour. Also, the cost varies somewhat based on replacement part costs and time spent working. Fortunately, there are several DIY toilet repair tricks that can save you money. All you need is the right tools and some patience. This guide will cover common toilet problems and solutions.

Toilet Troubleshooting: Common Issues and Fixes

If you learn better visually, it helps to watch a few videos before you try a toilet repair task. Be sure to look for videos that apply to your type of toilet and are from reputable sources. For part replacement tasks, be sure to find and buy the right parts for your toilet first. These are some common toilet issues and toilet fixes.

Leaking Toilet Tank

This is one of the most common toilet issues. Learning how to fix a leaking toilet is important to solve other related issues as well. These are some steps to diagnose a tank leak:

  • After removing the lid, mark the top of the water line with a pencil.
  • Twist the water supply valve clockwise to turn it off.
  • Check the water level after two hours.

If the water is below the mark, there is a leak. Let the water sit for a couple more hours. If it drops below the flapper, the flapper is faulty and must be replaced. However, the flush valve is the likely cause if the tank drains completely. Another way to identify a faulty flapper is by putting food coloring in the toilet tank. If the water in the bowl looks colored after 10 minutes, the flapper is bad.

Replacing the Flapper

To replace the flapper, start by turning off the water supply before following the next steps. Be sure to have a good pair of pliers. These are the steps:

  1. Remove the flapper chain from the flush handle.
  2. Remove the flapper’s side ears from the extended pegs on the flush valve tube’s sides.
  3. Attach the new flapper to the flush valve’s pegs and slide it into place.
  4. Connect the chain to the flush handle.

Make sure the chain has a little slack. It should pull the flapper up when the handle flushes. However, if there is no slack, the flapper will not close properly.

Replacing the Flush Valve

This process involves removing the tank. If you are unable to do this, call a plumber. Start by shutting off the water and gathering the tools you need to remove the tank bolts. You will need to visually inspect them to find the right tools, which can vary for different toilets. These are the steps:

  1. Remove the tank bolts.
  2. Remove the foam gasket.
  3. Using channel-lock pliers, unscrew the mounting nut.
  4. Remove the flush valve from the tank.

Clean the tank before you install the new flush valve. Reverse the steps or follow package instructions to put in the new valve. You can also add a toilet sealant to prevent leaking from a tank.

Toilet Running Intermittently

Toilets that run too frequently or all the time are a top cause of higher water bills. If the toilet is running intermittently, first follow the steps in the Leaking Toilet Tank section to check for a leaking tank. Follow the instructions to replace the flapper or flush valve if necessary. If those are not the cause, you may need to replace the fill valve. Turn off the water supply before completing these steps:

  1. Flush the toilet before drying the tank with a sponge.
  2. Below the tank, take off the top supply slip nut with a wrench.
  3. With one hand, take out the fill valve locknut.
  4. Disconnect the toilet overflow tube from the refill tube.
  5. Remove the fill valve.

Follow the instructions to install the new part. After this, turn on the water to let the tank refill.

Toilet Running Constantly

Sometimes, an easy fix for a toilet that runs constantly is adjusting the handle. The handle may be stuck downward and simply needs to be pushed up lightly. If that is not the case, follow the steps in the Leaking Toilet Tank and Toilet Running Intermittently sections.

Toilet Is Clogged

When a plunger does not do the trick, there is a stubborn clog. Pour one-half cup of dish detergent into the toilet bowl. Heat a gallon of water until it is hot but not boiling. Pour it into the bowl, and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. Another DIY clogged toilet fix is using a toilet snake, which you can buy at a hardware store. Follow the directions on the snake to loosen a clog. If these methods fail, call a plumber.

Toilet Not Flushing

There are several potential causes of a toilet not flushing when you push the handle. First, check to make sure the water supply was not accidentally turned off. If the water is on, remove the lid to check the flapper. It may need to be replaced if it is warped or damaged. If so, follow the steps in the Replacing the Flapper section. In some cases, the chain is disconnected from the flapper and must be reconnected.

Another cause may be clogged inlet jets. With a handheld mirror, check the toilet bowl to see if they are clogged with mineral deposits. A mineral-removing cleaner can help. Try the steps in the Toilet Is Clogged section if that fails. If these steps do not work, or if this is a frequent problem, call a plumber.

Toilet Tank Not Filling

There may be many potential causes of this problem, and some require a plumber. First, check the float ball and arm. You may be able to solve the problem by adjusting them. If the float arm is broken, purchase a replacement kit. Follow the specific product instructions to replace it.

Check the flapper to see if it is broken or worn. If so, use the instructions from the Replacing the Flapper section. Another possibility is a cracked toilet overflow tube. Check inside the tank to see if this is the issue. If it is, replacing it is as simple as removing the old one and adding a new one.

Call a plumber if the bowl is cracked or if there is lower water pressure throughout the house.

Toilet Leaking at Base

Should you caulk around a toilet leaking at the base? No, you should first determine why the toilet is leaking. The likely culprit is a broken wax ring, which requires removing the toilet and disconnecting the water line. You must replace the ring and then reinstall the toilet. Since this process varies with different toilets and is more involved, do thorough research before attempting it. Some people use toilet caulk after doing this for extra stability. However, others prefer to avoid caulk since it could mask smaller leaks in the future.

Toilet Bubbles When Flushed

The cause may be a leak or something more serious that requires a plumber’s help. Follow the steps in the Toilet Is Clogged section. If that does not work, call a plumber as soon as possible. This problem can quickly turn into a serious and smelly backup.

Toilet Flushes But Waste Comes Back

This is one of the most common toilet flushing problems. It is often caused by a clog. The clog may be wipes, paper towels, or something that should not be flushed. Start by following the instructions in the Toilet Is Clogged section. If that does not work, there may be a clogged P-trap or S-trap. Using a snake or an auger may help. If not, it is time to call a plumber. There may be sewer line damage or plumbing vent issues that a plumber should fix.

Ready to tackle your toilet problem? Find the supplies you need to fix a toilet or various toilet repair kits at your nearest True Value store!