Toilet Troubles: 5 Common Issues & Fixes

When you think about home DIY projects, toilet repairs are probably not the first that come to mind. However, basic toilet fixes are extremely valuable to have in your back pocket. 

That way, if your toilet DOES have an issue, you can quickly make the repairs without having to call a plumber for a relatively simple task.

In this blog, we describe FIVE of the most common toilet problems and explain how to fix them yourself.


1. Running Toilet

When your toilet runs constantly – or at least, when it’s not supposed to – you likely have an issue with your overflow tube OR your flush valve and/or flapper.

Your system might be allowing water to flow continuously (or sporadically) through the flush valve. Or your flapper might not be sealing properly, slowly leaking water into your toilet bowl. Or perhaps the water level in your tank is a little too high, sending water up into the overflow tube.

But how do you fix a running toilet? 

  • Make sure the flapper is in good condition. Over time, calcium deposits can degrade the flapper and keep it from sealing the end of the flush valve properly. Wipe off any calcium deposits. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to replace the flapper.

  • Replace the flapper valve. If replacing the flapper doesn’t do the trick, your entire flush valve may be damaged.

  • Clean or replace the fill valve. If the water in your tank is spilling into the overflow tube, check the manufacturer’s instructions and clean out the fill valve. If you have an older toilet, it may be best to replace the valve.

If you notice your toilet running excess water, you should fix it right away. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of water and rack up a pretty big water bill. 


2. Leaky Toilet

Unfortunately, you most likely won’t be able to tell your toilet has a leak until the problem has gotten really bad. Water leakage can cause major damage to your floor and subfloor. So, if you notice any of the following signs, address the issue ASAP:

  • Puddle or dampness on the floor around your toilet

  • Flooring around the toilet coming up or has a spongy feeling

  • Moisture indications on the ceiling directly under your bathroom

  • Occasional strange smells (like sewage gas)

A variety of issues can cause a leaky toilet, ranging from loose mounting bolts and valve misalignment to an old supply line or cracked tank.

If your toilet is leaking, there is a good chance the water is dirty. Avoid using your toilet until the repair is complete, and use waterproof gloves when doing the repair. 

You should easily be able to tell where the water is coming from. Depending on the source of your leak, you can try one of the following fixes:

  • Replace the wax ring around the base of your toilet (requires removal of the toilet)

  • Tighten or replace the water supply line

  • Tighten or replace the bolts that secure the tank to the toilet

  • Replace toilet tank if cracked

  • Double-check that the toilet is mounted correctly

  • Replace the flapper 

  • Repair or replace the flush valve


3. Weak Flush

A toilet with a weak flush is not only cumbersome and annoying. It can also impact bathroom hygiene and create larger plumbing problems.

Common causes of a weak flush include a clog in the trap (the curved part of the toilet base), a worn-down flapper, blocked rim jets, incorrect float positioning, or a problem with the handle or chain.

Possible fixes for a weak flush include:

  • Cleaning out the rim jets

  • Adjusting or replacing the float (the big rubber-looking ball)

  • Replacing a worn-out flapper (or making sure your flapper is the correct type and size for your model of toilet)

  • Tightening and adjusting the lift chain

  • Ensuring a proper water level in the toilet tank (make sure your water supply line is set properly)


4. Cracked or Wobbly Toilet Seat

When you’re using the loo, there’s nothing more irritating than a wobbly toilet seat. And, over time, toilet seats often wear down and can crack. Although these are minor issues, the fixes are too quick and simple NOT to try.

  • If your toilet seat is WOBBLY, odds are you just need to tighten the bolts securing your seat and lid to the toilet base – that is, unless the problem is a result of a damaged seat. In that case, you will need to replace your entire seat.

  • If your toilet seat is CRACKED, you should replace it. To ensure your new seat is the right size, measure the old seat (including the distance between the bolts).


5. Loose or Stuck Flush Handle

Another very simple toilet problem to fix is a loose or stuck flush handle. Handle issues generally are connected to your handle mounting nut, lift chain, or flush arm.

  • To fix a LOOSE flush handle, reconnect or reduce the slack of the lift chain and/or tighten the handle mounting nut on the inside of your tank (turning it counterclockwise).

  • To fix a STUCK flush handle, check the handle mounting nut to make sure it’s not too tight. Turn the nut clockwise to loosen it. Clean the mechanism thoroughly. If that doesn’t work, you may need to adjust the flush arm or loosen the lift chain.


Odyssey Mechanical LLC | Wilmington, NC Plumbing

If you’ve tried these methods without success – or would rather a professional plumber to make the repairs – we can help! Our experienced plumbers provide same-day service for a wide range of plumbing issues – no matter how small or large.

Looking for a reliable plumber in Wilmington, NC? Our team is here to help!

Contact us today for service quotes and questions.



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