8 Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them

So, you are having issues with your toilet. It happens to everyone at some point or another but it is never fun as the toilet is a very used part in a household. Waiting for a plumber can often be too long or hiring one can be too expensive, so learning how to fix common toilet problems yourself is a great idea!

This article is going to go over eight of those. It will also give a guide to fix each of them in detail so that you can try it yourself before breaking down and calling a plumber.

Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them
Close up of pliers lying on toilet in public bathroom

Problem #1: Running Toilet

This is a problem that we have all dealt with. You flush the toilet, go back to your room, or the living room but still hear it flushing minutes later. Normally it would only make noise for about 30 seconds but it has been making noise for at least five minutes now. That is when you sigh and realize that your toilet is running once again.

This is super annoying for many people as the sound of a running toilet could drive anyone crazy. Therefore, having to call a plumber and listen to the sound while you wait on them to get there can often take far too long. Luckily, this can be a very easy problem to fix.

A running toilet normally happens because one of two things is happening.

The water level in the toilet tank could be too high. This would then allow water over the overflow tube, which is not supposed to happen, and then let it flow into the tank. The other scenario is that the flapper inside the toilet tank is not able to sit correctly on the flush valve. This could cause water to keep flowing long after the toilet had been flushed.

How to Fix the Problem

First, you are going to want to test some things out to see which situation from above that you are dealing with. By opening the tank, you can put a stick or something of the sort in and press down on the flapper. This will make it go into the flush valve successfully if it is not already in there. If doing this stops the toilet from running then you are dealing with a messed-up flapper.

When going to fix the flapper make sure to cut off the water supply so that you do not get any surprises and it stops running while you are trying to fix it. After shutting off the supply you can flush the toilet and that will get rid of most of the water that is inside of it so it is easier for you to work.

Now that the hard part is done all you have to do is unhook the flapper, buy a new one, and put that one in. Most flappers that you can buy have great instructions on how to install them so it shouldn’t be an issue.

If pressing down on the flapper did not solve your toilet running problem then you most likely have a fill valve leak. You can check this by taking the tank top off of the toilet and flushing the toilet. If the water stops then that is not the issue but if it keeps leaking then you have a fill valve leak.

For this, you will want to shut off the water supply and flush the toilet again so that it is easier for you to work. Then you should be able to reach into the toilet tank and simply unscrew the fill valve. Looking for pictures online is a good idea to make sure you don’t remove the wrong thing.

Then, all you have to do is go to the store and buy a new fill valve. Then once you come home there should be instructions with it on how to install it. After doing this turn on the water supply again and flush to make sure it is working correctly.

Problem #2: Loose Handle

This is probably the easiest problem for you to fix at home. If your handle to flush the toilet is loose or wobbly then it may have become disconnected from the other pieces in the tank or the tank itself.

How to Fix the Problem

This one is pretty easy, either you have to reconnect the lift chain that is inside the toilet bowl or you have to reconnect the wire. These are both things that connect the arm to the flapper so that your toilet can flush properly.

Problem #3: Toilet Base Leak

If your toilet is leaking from the base it may be terrifying and you may think that you have to get a new toilet but sometimes it is not that difficult to fix. If it is just a little bit of water it could even just be from condensation which is normal when it is hotter outside.

On the other hand, if there is more water, it is best to shut off the water to that toilet and refrain from using it to keep the problem from getting worse. This will most often be an issue if the wax ring is worn down. The wax ring is the piece that connects the bottom of the toilet to the drain hole that is in the floor.

This means that you will have to move the entire toilet in order to get to the issue and fix it but this is a lot easier than it seems.

How to Fix the Problem

First, shut off the water supply to the toilet, this will be next to the toilet normally. If it is easier to simply shut off all the water then you can do that as well. After doing this, continually flush the toilet until it is as dry as possible. Sometimes you may need a plunger to get all of the water out of the toilet bowl and train.

After making sure the water is out, you can detach the water supply line. This can normally just be unscrewed. Then you will want to unscrew anything attaching the toilet to the floor of the bathroom so that you can move it.

After moving the toilet, you will be able to see the old wax ring. It is best to just discard of this. Then you will want to plug the drain so that sewer gases do not come into your home. This can be very harmful to you and your family. Then you can go about the process of getting a new wax ring.

Make sure to clean the area well before putting the new wax ring in. That way it will stay better for longer. After this new wax ring is screwed in then you can start to put the toilet back on top and secure it into the ground as well as attach the water supply.

The last thing to do is turn on the water supply and make sure your “new” toilet works!

Problem #4: Clogged Toilet

This is absolutely the most common problem that people have with their toilets in their homes that results in low water flow. Often just getting your plunger out should do the job with getting your toilet unclogged.

However, if the toilet clog is deeper than the bowl/beginning of the drain then a plunger most likely will not do anything. This is when a toilet auger is needed. A toilet auger is a long metal pole that is bendable. It is used to get out clogs that are deeper in the drain of the toilet.

How to Fix the Problem

When you get a toilet auger you will want to make sure that the metal pole is reeled all the way in. You can do this by cranking the crank at the end of the pole. After it is all the way in, you will want to place it in the drain. Then slowly crank the metal pole into the drain further.

If you go too fast there is the possibility that the pole will fold up and not get deeper into the drain where the clog is. Sometimes it is best to go forward a little and then bring it back a little and then go forward again, especially if it is a big clog.

Eventually, you will see the water go down and that is how you know your clog is fixed.

Problem #5: Toilet Tank Leak

Another common type of leak happens where the toilet tank connects to the toilet bowl. This is most often because the toilet tank is not secured tightly enough or the correct way.

How to Fix the Problem

First look at the bolts that connect the two. If any of them seem loose, the first step is to tighten those. This has the ability to stop the leak all on its own. However, if the toilet leak still continues then you will have to do more than just this.

If the bolts seem old or worn you will want to try and replace them first because that could be causing the leak in itself. Other than this you may just want to replace the gasket that is in-between these two mechanisms. This is often the issue when there is a leak from the toilet tank.

If the tank happens to be cracked at all you will have to replace the toilet tank if not the entire toilet. This can be done on your own or by a plumber if you do not feel confident.

Problem #6: Slow Filling

If your toilet bowl fills very slowly then it could be an issue in the tank which seems odd but it is normally a very easy fix.

How to Fix the Problem

You will want to make sure that the water supply next to the toilet is open all the way, especially if you did other work on the toilet because you may have forgotten. If this is open all the way then it is time to go into the toilet tank to check for issues.

Look at the fill valve and see if there is anything blocking it or if it is dirty at all. If it is simply cleaning it or removing the debris may be the only fix that you have to make. Thankfully this is very easy for most people to do.

Problem #7: Ghost Flushing

With a spooky name like that you may think that this is a more serious issue but it is actually just the toilet flushing by itself. When hearing this is can be creepy but it often has an easy explanation to it.

The first thing you will want to do is go back to number one on this list and make sure all of that is okay within the toilet.

How to Fix the Problem

When looking inside the tank you will want to make sure that the tube coming from the fill valve is not in the overflow tube. This can happen accidentally and it will cause the toilet to continually flush itself because it feels that it is overflowing.

Another thing that could be happening is that the flapper is not correctly or successfully sealing the flush valve. By cleaning the flapper, you can ensure that this is working correctly and sometimes this can fix the problem.

Sadly, if neither of these fixes the problem you will have to replace the entire flush valve and everything connected to it. However, doing it yourself is not that difficult and much more affordable than hiring a plumber.

Problem #8: Stuck Handle

We discussed what to do if your toilet handle is loose but what about if it is stuck in the flushing position – another common problem…

How to Fix the Problem

Looking inside of the toilet tank you can make sure that the nut is not too tight. If you need to loosen it then it can be a very easy fix. Other than that, it could just need cleaning inside of the handle. It could be sticky or have some rust so cleaning it is a good idea.

Summary

There are many things that can go wrong with your toilet that are very frustrating. Since waiting for a plumber and then paying for a plumber can be even more irritating it is best to learn how to fix common toilet problems yourself.

This list went over eight different toilet issues that often happen in homes. There are such easy ways to fix these issues that you may never have to call a plumber again!