how-to-fix-a-toilet-pic1Fixing a toilet does not need to be hard. The trick is to know what to look for. The first thing you want to do is some 'Toilet Troubleshooting'. Use this article to determine what your problem is. Then follow the related link to get instructions on what to do. The following is a list of common toilet problems thay you may be experiencing.

Toilet repairs are linked to two main problems. The first is a Toilet Clog. For information of fixing nasty clogged toilets, see the article 'How To Unclog a Toilet'. The other common toilet problem is 'Fixing a Running Toilet'.

Another common problem that deserves honorable mention is leaks. Go to the series of articles on 'How To Fix a Leaking Toilet' for more information. The article Follow these links if this is your problem.

For other Toilet problems, see the 'Troubleshooting Section' below.

How a Toilet Works

The basic priciple of a toilet is to allow a quantity of water to rush into the bowl and create a siphon effect. The design of the water inlets allow the water to both rinse the bowl and drain away the waste matter. For the last few decades toilets are only allowed to use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. At first this minimal quantity of water caused a lot of clogging issues.

Newer toilets have improved designs and flush pretty well with the reduced quantity of water. Older toilets still require more water

Toilets use water so there is always a potential for problems. Leaks are common with toilets. The way the toilet fills and flushes can also cause problems. Parts can wear out and require replacement.

The parts to fix a toilet are readily available. Home supply and hardware stores have them readily available. The parts are not expensive most of the time.

Fixing a Toilet - The Issues Involved

For a minor repair, $50 to $100 for a service call, plus parts. Replacing a standard toilet could be $300 to $500. In most cases the parts to repair a toilet would be less than $25. Savings = $50 to $500. You can easily see that it may be worth your while to learn how to repair a toilet.

Fixing a toilet yourself may not be worth it if you damage something worth more than the toilet repair would cost. The toilet uses water to operate. If it clogs up, the water can be, well, let's just say, less than desirable. Anything that can be damaged by water should be removed from the area before the repair is attempted. Plunging a clogged toilet can splash dirty water around the area, old clothes and some protection for the walls might be a good idea.

Getting the toilet partially repaired before it gets too late or the parts store closes can leave the toilet not operating. One trick is that a toilet can be flushed by dumping a couple of gallons of water quickly into it from a pail. This emulates the normal function of the tank.

Toilet Troubleshooting - Locating Your Problem

Different toilet problems will have different symptoms. The symptoms are listed below with a description and the location of a resource to help you fix it.

Toilet Will Not Flush

Plunging a Clogged ToiletThis problem had obvious symptoms, the water will not go down and there is usually a mess in the bowl. This is the result of a blockage, commonly called a toilet clog. Do Not flush the toilet again until you have done something to remove the clog. The toilet can overflow and it will make a bad situation worse.

See the article 'Fixing a Toilet Clog' for complete directions on how to solve this problem. Two common tools for dealing with toilets that won't flush are a plunger and a toilet auger. See the articles, 'Plunging a Toilet' and 'Using a Toilet Auger' for information on using these tools.

Toilet Flushes Slowly

Slow Flushing Toilets Cause Clogs

The water goes down, but it takes a long time. Sometimes, not all of the material in the bowl is flushed down. When this problem is not fixed it can lead to a completely clogged toilet.

There are a few reasons this can happen. One, the water level in the tank is not adjusted correctly. Two, the water inlet holes in the bowl are partially clogged, thus slowing down the release of water from the tank. Three, the toilet is partially clogged and only allowing the water to drain out slowly.

See the article 'Slow Flushing Toilet' for a complete explanation on how to solve these problems.

Toilet is Overflowing

This is usually the result of t blocked or clogged toilet. When the toilet is clogged, Do Not Flush It, it will overflow. The water will continue to rise and overflow in the tank while the tank is filling.

See the article 'How To Fix an Overflowing Toilet' for more Information.

The Toilet Runs Constantly

Bad Flapper Lets Water Run Into Toilet BowlEven after the tank has filled the water continues to run and will not shut off. This problem is generally related to the toilet fill valve. The fill valve has a float on it the tells the valve when to shut off. A defective valve or a float that is out of adjustment will cause the water to run continuously. This is irritating and expensive.

Adjustment of the float and replacement of the fill valve are the two likely choices for this problem. See the articles 'Repairing a Running Toilet' for a discussion on fixing tank related water problems. If you are sure it is the fill valve you can go to the article 'Repairing a Toilet Fill Valve'.

Toilet Tank Will Not Refill

When you flush the toilet the water tank does not refill. The only way to flush the toilet the next time will be using a pail of water.

A faulty toilet fill valve can stick shut. When this happens, it does not open the valve even when the float is down. The toilet fill valve will need to be replaced. Go to the article 'Replacing a Toilet Fill Valve' for instructions on fixing a toilet with this problem.

Water Trickles Into the Bowl

You will usually notice this at night when it is quiet. The water will trickle for a while and then the float will engage refilling the tank. This cycle will repeat itself over and over again.

Besides the obvious irritation that this problem causes it is also costly. The wasted water can add up to hundreds and thousands of gallons over time.

Fixing a toilet with this problem will involve the toilet flapper. A leaking toilet flapper allows the water in the tank to trickle into the toilet bowl. On rare occasions it can be the toilet flush valve. Start with the flapper, since it is the easiest to repair. See the article 'How To Replace a Toilet Flapper' for more information. The article 'Fixing a Toilet Flush Valve', covers the possibility of a bad valve.

Toilet Tank Refills Unexpectedly

This is another problem that is more noticeable when it is quiet. The toilet tank will start filling when no one is using it.

This is likely the toilet flapper allowing water to run slowly into the toilet bowl. When the water level in the tank gets low enough, the tank will refill and the process starts again.

Replacing the toilet flapper is the likely solution. For information, go to the article 'How To Replace a Toilet Flapper'.

The Toilet Flapper Closes Too Soon

When you flush the toilet, some of the water is released into the bowl. But before it flushes the flapper closes quickly and most of the water remains in the tank. This problem keeps the toilet from flushing and may cause it to clog.

Fixing a toilet with this problem requires some adjustments inside the toilet tank. For instructions on what to do, see the article 'Adjusting a Toilet Flapper'.

Water Keeps Running Into the Toilet Bowl

When you flush the toilet it works fine. However, the tank does not refill. The water keeps running and running into the bowl.

This condition happens when the toilet flapper does not close after the tank has emptied during the flush. One common solution is to jiggle the handle until the flapper closes.

To fix this toilet problem properly, some adjustments are needed inside of the toilet tank. The article 'Adjusting a Toilet Flapper' covers this topic.

Water Is Leaking at the Base of the Tank by the Water Supply Line

There is a hole in the bottom of the toilet tank for the toilet fill valve. It is usually on the left as you face the toilet. The toilet fill valve controls the amount of water that is stored inside of the tank.

The toilet fill valve is held in place by a large nut and it has a rubber seal to stop the water from leaking out of the toilet tank. When the nut is loose or the seal is bad, there can be a leak at this location.

For instructions on how to tighten or replace the toilet fill valve, see the article 'Toilet Fill Valve Leaking'.

Water is Leaking at the Base of the Tank, Where It Connects to the Toilet Bowl

This problem only applies to two piece toilets. However, most toilets are the two piece design. The two pieces consist of a toilet bowl, which is the base unit that sits on the floor and a toilet tank.

There is a large rubber gasket between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl. The gasket and the toilet tank are held in place by bolts. It is possible for the gasket to be leaking or it could be the bolts. Some toilets use bolts that have a rubber washer around them. When the washers go bad or the gasket fails it you can have a leak.

The article 'Fixing a Leaking Toilet Tank' has guidelines for tightening the toilet tank bolts and replacing the seals if needed.

The Water Supply Line is Leaking

Your toilet needs water to operate. The water is provided by a supply line that runs between the shut off valve and the toilet. There are actually four different spots that could be leaking on the supply line.

(1) The connection where the valve is attached to the water supply. (2) The connection where the supply line is connected to the water shut off valve. (3) The valve stem seal on the water shut off valve. (3) The connection where the supply line connects to the toilet fill valve.

See the article 'Toilet Supply Line Leaking' for information on how to locate these leaks (pictures included). There are also instructions on how to tighten or repair the problem.

Water Is Leaking From Under the Bottom of the Toilet

Just because you have water on the floor, does not mean that the toilet is leaking at the base. Make sure that you do not have another type of leak before you pursue this problem.

A toilet leaking at the base will only occur when the toilet is flushed. That means, well, that the toilet is leaking dirty water from when the toilet is used.

The toilet is connected to the floor with bolts that hold it in place. There is a wax seal between the bottom of the toilet and the toilet flange. When the toilet loosens over time the seal can be broken, causing the toilet to leak.

There are two possible fixes. One is tightening the tee bolts that hold the toilet to the floor. The second is replacing the wax ring. The article 'Toilet Leaking at the Base' has more information and instructions on how to fix this problem.

Water Beads Up on the Toilet Tank and Leaks Onto the Floor


This is not really a leak at all. This problem comes from condensation on the toilet tank. There are some things that can help. See the article 'Fixing a Leaking Toilet Tank' for some suggestions.

How to Fix a Toilet Summary

Knowing how to fix a toilet will help you with a re-occurring problem that will require attention from time to time. Bookmark this page and refer to it when necessary. It can help you in the future when you need to know how to repair a toilet. There are a few tools to keep on hand, those items combined with a little patience will save you hundreds perhaps thousands of dollars over the years.

Use this website to build your knowledge and confidence. Is repairing your toilet yourself using common sense, in most cases it is. Calling a repairman, many times is not using common sense.


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