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Goodbee Plumbing’s Guide to Toilet Troubleshooting

Sometimes, toilets and plumbing just don’t do their job! They can stop working when you most need them, too, and cause even more issues than before. But there always seems to be more involved with fixing a toilet than at first glance, too! So how are you supposed to start fixing a toilet or plumbing issue? There are a few ways to begin. Keep reading below to learn about Goodbee Plumbing’s guide to toilet troubleshooting so you’re never left without a helpful hand in the future!

What are the Different Components of a Toilet System?

You may not think this ancient and seemingly simple device could be so complicated, but you’d be surprised. The toilet system includes:

  • Toilet tank, which holds the water (up to 2 gallons) and most of the plumbing system and includes:
    • Roller clamp, 
    • Tank lever, 
    • Water level adjustment rod, 
    • Top cap assembly, 
    • Refill tube, 
    • Hose clamp, 
    • Refill clamp, 
    • Metal tab, 
    • Overflow pipe, 
    • Flush valve, 
    • Flush valve gasket, 
    • Tank bolt and washer, 
    • Flush valve lock nut, 
    • Lock nut, 
    • Lock ring, 
    • Shank washer, 
    • Fill valve, 
    • Flapper, 
    • Shank, 
    • Leak sentry device, 
    • Float cup
  • Toilet bowl, the part where excrement goes and includes:
    • Flush handle, 
    • Bowl refill tube, 
    • Tank, 
    • Fill valve, 
    • Overflow tube, 
    • Supply tube, 
    • Stop valve, 
    • Trap, 
    • Wax ring, closet bend, 
    • Trip lever, 
    • Float ball, 
    • Flapper, 
    • Flush valve, 
    • Seat, 
    • Bowl, 
    • Closet bend
  • Toilet seat, the area of the toilet where you sit and includes:
    • The lid, 
    • The seat, 
    • The hinges, 
    • The bolts,
    • The bolt covers.

With all these moving parts, how do they all work together? Quite easily, actually! It’s basic mechanics. 

  1. Once you’ve finished your business and push down on the handle to flush (or press down the button if you’re in Europe!), the chain in the toilet tank will lift the flapper, which then covers the opening of the flush valve. 
  2. Next, water from the toilet tank will travel through the flush valve opening you just created by pressing on the handle. 
  3. This rush of water forces any waste in the toilet bowl down through the trap and into the main drain, which is located behind/below the toilet. 
  4. Once the toilet bowl is empty, the valve will close (when you lift the handle, too!). Consequently, the toilet bowl will refill with new, clean water after it runs through the ball cock. The ball cock is like a buoy or sensor that lets the toilet know when the water level is back to where it should be. 
  5. Once the ball cock senses the water has been adequately refilled, the toilet will stop filling with new water. 
  6. Ta-da! Your toilet is ready to be used once again. 

What Kind of Troubleshooting Do Toilets Need?

As you read above, toilets have a lot of parts that make up the whole, which means many problems–be they small or large–can arise. Issues that can happen include: the toilet bowl overflowing, the toilet not flushing, the water not draining, the hinges coming loose, the valves not stopping, the traps not trapping, and more. 

However, the most common troubleshooting issues toilets undergo include:

  • The toilet clogging
  • The pipes–either the closet bend or one of the many tubes–leaking
  • The water level in the toilet bowl drops, causing flushing issues
  • Moving and/or rocking toilet
  • Slow flushing

These problems may also come with typical maintenance issues: parts need to be replaced after a certain period, parts break, parts are updated, and a newer version needs to be installed; like any home appliance, things can happen! That’s why it’s essential to have regular toilet maintenance and cleaning. 

Toilet Troubleshooting Tips

How do you fix these problems, though? While you can call a plumber if you’re unsure, there are also quite a few things you can do independently. While, of course, the first step is to assess what the issue even is, here are some common toilet troubleshooting tips:

  • If your toilet isn’t flushing, there may be a clog, or the flush chain isn’t catching properly. To fix a clog, use your toilet plunger on hand to unclog the closet bend and any pressure preventing the pipe from moving waste elsewhere. If the chain is too long–preventing the valve from closing and continuing the rest of the waste disposal process–you may have to replace the flush handle/lift mechanism. Luckily, a minor fix rather than a more significant issue!
  • If pipes or other parts of the toilet leak, you should first ensure all nuts and bolts are correctly tightened. A loose connection can be a minor cause of a large leak, so it’s always best to check. If everything’s all set and tightened, you should also check to see if there are any cracks in the pipes or toilet system. If it’s a crack in your sewage or drainage system, you may need to call a plumber as this requires more extensive work and investigation–and may include opening up a wall or bit of floor to check the pipes.
  • If your toilet is constantly running, the flapper may have an issue. To check on this, simply lift the tank lid–be careful! It may be heavy–set it down gently and peek inside the toilet tank. The flapper seals the valve and should be attached to a chain that moves when you push down on the toilet flush lever. If it’s not sealing properly, you may need to replace the flapper. However, if it appears to be sealing just fine, you may instead need to replace the flush valve instead. 

Preventing Further Toilet Issues

Keeping your toilet as squeaky clean as possible is essential to prevent further issues. Regular maintenance, including parts replacement and regular cleaning, will help prevent more significant problems or costs like replacing your entire toilet! 

Let Goodbee Troubleshoot With You!

If you’re still unsure how to troubleshoot your issues, or it seems like a more extensive issue than these common problems, contact us here at Goodbee Plumbing today and let us help fix your faulty flow. 

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