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How to Fix Common Toilet Issues

Imagine waking up on a workday and heading to the bathroom only to find the entire place submerged in toilet water. There’s no way you can leave now.

Your toilet breaking down ruins your day. Now, you’ll have to skip work or cancel plans so you can find a plumber to fix the problem. They may charge a bill worth your weekly food budget. The entire situation is a huge hassle and a waste of money. 

While some problems need a professional touch, common toilet issues only require basic plumbing knowledge and skill to fix. It doesn’t take an expert plumber to solve these problems.

Inadequate Flushing

If your toilet isn’t producing enough water to flush, it may be because of low water level in the tank, a slack chain, or valve blockage. Remove the lid of the tank to find the cause of the inadequate flushing.

Low Water Level

  1. Check the water level in the tank. If it sits more than one to two inches below the overflow pipe, it’s too low. 
  2. Adjust the fill valve to let more water into the tank. 
  3. Inspect the float ball too. Water should not get inside the float; otherwise, it will affect the tank water level. In this case, you must replace the float.

Loose Chain

  1. Check the chain connected to the flush handle and flapper. When you push the toilet handle, it lifts a chain linked to the flapper, which blocks the water flow to the bowl. If the chain turns loose, the flapper won’t lift when you press the handle, so no water comes out. 
  2. Unhook the pin at the end of the flush handle. 
  3. Rehook the chain a few holes lower than where it was placed previously.
  4. Try flushing to see if the length is enough to lift the flapper completely. 
  5. Readjust until you get the perfect length.


The tank is always filled with water, which means mineral deposits can build up over time. These deposits create blockage, preventing water from traveling down to the bowl. 

  1. Turn off the water valve and drain the tank first. 
  2. Lift the flapper, then pour toilet cleaner down the flush valve. 
  3. Wait a few hours to let the cleaner dissolve the deposits. 
  4. Create an equal mix of cleaning solution and water.
  5. Pour the mix down the valve 
  6. Close the flapper right away.
  7. Flush to remove deposits.

Wonky Toilet Seat

Unstable toilet seats happen when the bolts holding them have become loose or the seat is broken. Follow these steps to stabilize your toilet seat:

Loose Bolts

  1. Check whether the bolts are loose.
  2. If they are, tighten the bolts by hand or using a screwdriver. 
  3. Be careful not to apply too much force or to tighten the bolts too much because you may chip the porcelain.

Broken Toilet Seat

  1. Measure your current toilet seat. You can also take a photo for reference.
  2. Get a new toilet seat at the local hardware store. Ask a sales attendant if you don’t know which seat will fit your toilet.
  3. Remove the old seat by unscrewing the bolds. Spray oil or lubricant for hard-to-remove screws.
  4. Install the new seat, and secure the screws. 

Clogged Toilet

Clogs happen when people use their toilets as trash bins and flush toilet paper, tampons, and dead goldfish down the drain. You can use a plunger, plumbing snake or auger, drain cleaner, or boiling water to clear a toilet clog. 

Turn off the water valve firstbefore doing anything. Next, cover the surrounding area with newspapers or paper towels, and turn on the ventilator. Protect your hands with a pair of rubber gloves.

Using a Plunger

  1. Use a flange plunger or accordion plunger for this job.
  2. Place the plunger cup in the bowl, making sure to cover the hole entirely.
  3. Ensure the water in the bowl is enough to submerge the entire cup.
  4. Pump the plunger swiftly and powerfully. Repeat until the blockage is completely pushed out.
  5. Do a test flush to check if the drain is clear.

Using a Plumbing Snake or Auger

  1. Use a plumbing snake or auger if the clog is deep into the drain. The auger has bendable coils that can get into the twists and turns of the pipe to reach blockage at the end.
  2. Insert the metal coil down the drain slowly until you encounter an obstruction.
  3. Twist the auger handle gently to push out the blockage.
  4. Continue twisting until the drain is completely clear.
  5. Wait until the bowl is empty before removing the auger.
  6. Flush the toilet to clear any leftover blockage.

Using a Liquid Solution

  1. Prepare boiling water or a drain cleaner.
  2. Pour the boiling water or drain cleaner down the bowl.
  3. Wait until the liquid solution dissolves the blockage.
  4. Check if the water in the bowl has drained.
  5. Flush the toilet once the bowl is empty.

Running Toilet

Running toilet, also known as a phantom flush, happens when the toilet flushes by itself. No, it’s not a mischievous ghost playing a prank on you, but a faulty flapper that’s letting all the water flow freely down the bowl.

How do you fix a faulty flapper? Follow these steps:

A modern looking toilet with a fuzzy, orange toilet seat cover.
  1. As always, shut off the water valve, and drain the water inside the tank.
  2. Locate the flapper inside the tank lid.
  3. Check if the flapper is perfectly aligned to the gasket and not damaged.
  4. If the flapper is misaligned, adjust the connecting chain.
  5. If the flapper is damaged or stiff from accumulated mineral deposits, remove and replace it with a new one.
  6. Do a test flush with the tank open to see if the flapper is doing its job.

Repair or Replace?

While it’s not unusual for a toilet to have an issue for time, frequent and reoccurring problems are indicators that your porcelain fixture may need a water-efficient replacement. Problems will only get worse and more costly if you continue to use a problematic toilet.

Old toilets from before 1994 also need to be replaced to adhere to the federal standard. it requires toilets manufactured after January 1 of that year to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.

If your toilet keeps breaking down or it’s too old, save yourself the hassle, and invest in a new toilet that works better and uses less water.

How to Fix Common Toilet Issues

Heidi Gray

Money saving Mom/Nan (Grandma) of 1, who loves to travel, cook, and of course spend time with family. Fun.Travel.Food not necessarily in that order serving Missouri and beyond!



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