How to Fix a Toilet Like a Pro | Plumbing
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How to Fix a Toilet Like a Pro

If you’re having trouble with your toilet, you might be interested in finding a plumber to handle the problem, but many plumbing problems are easy to identify and fix … you just need the right tools and instruction.

The guide below will help you fix a toilet, whether you have a leaking toilet, toilet than constantly runs, or even a clog.
Common Problems

Your toilet leaks at the base.

Whether it’s due to a poor installation or deteriorating materials, a toilet is susceptible to leaking. If you have a leak, it’s crucial you discover where the leak is coming from before you try to fix the problem.

One way to find out where the source of the problem is located is to add a small amount of blue food coloring to the water in the tank. This will dye the water so you can track leakage. Once the tank water is colored, give it a flush and wait for an hour. Wipe a dry paper towel around the base of your toilet; if there’s a leak somewhere at the base, you’ll see the blue food coloring.

Fixing this problem is inexpensive, but requires you to remove your toilet so you can replace the wax ring and toilet flange.

Your toilet flushes itself.

If you don’t see water on the floor, consider using the same food coloring trick … only this time, don’t flush the toilet. If after an hour you find the food coloring is in the bowl as well as the tank, it means you have a broken seal between the flapper and the flush valve drain. This constant leak into the bowl lowers the water level in the tank, and triggers the tank to refill itself (ghost flushing).

You can pick up an inexpensive flapper at your local hardware store, and install it in just minutes. If this doesn’t correct the ghost flushing, your flush valve might be corroded. In this case, you need to purchase a new flush valve kit, which in most cases includes the main flush valve and flapper.

Your toilet is constantly flushing.

If you notice a constant rippling in the water of the bowl, the water level in the tank might be too high, thus forcing water into the overflow valve which distributes to the bowl. In this case, all you have to do is lower the water level using the fill valve.

If your fill valve has a float cup and steel rod running vertically in the tank, you can squeeze the outside edges of the flip located on the back of the float cup, and adjust the clip and cup lower in the tank. If your valve has a plastic screw adjustment rod, you can turn the rod counter-clockwise to lower the water level.

Your toilet double flushes.

If you find your toilet flushing twice, the flapper may be deteriorating. Pick up an adjustable flapper and test which setting works best with your toilet. In the future, be wary of using in-tank cleaners with bleach, as this is harsh on the equipment in the tank. If that doesn’t fix the problem, you might need a new tank lever, as it could be sticking, which doesn’t allow the flapper to close.

You have a clogged toilet

This is by far the most common toilet problem of them all. Your first instinct might be to grab the plunger, but unless you have the right type of plunger, your efforts could be a waste of time.
A cup plunger has a flat bottom side, which is meant to be used for flat surface drains such as bathtubs and showers. A flange plunger includes a small lip on the bottom side, which creates the seal you need to effectively apply and pull pressure as you plunge. Without his solid seal, pressure can’t be applied, so be sure you have a flange plunger ready.
If this doesn’t work, it may be time to pull out the toilet auger, or snake as professionals call it. The toilet auger is designed to snake through the piping of your toilet,, through the flange, and even into sewer inlet if necessary. Snakes will vary in size, but the smallest should suffice for your standard toilet. Use a plumber’s auger, which comes with a rubber wrapping along the handle and into the base, so you avoid scratching the porcelain of your toilet.
Want to call in a pro?
If you're still not sure what the problem is with your toilet, you might need to call in a professional plumber to take a look. If you're certain of the type of problem, it might make sense to find a plumber specializing in the particular problem, such as drain odor detection or piping.

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