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Cahaba Valley Plumbing

​11 Common Toilet Problems / Self-Help Guide

​There are many different brands, styles, and types of toilets.  There are also many things that can go wrong with a toilet.  A toilet failure is also one of the most distressing, disturbing amd potentially unsanitary problems a homeowner or business owner may face.

​1.  Weak Flusher -- You could have a first generation 1.6 gallon per flush toilet that is destined to failure.  Look inside the tank for a manufacture date stamped in the clay.  If it was manufactured between January 1994 and mid 1997, this could be the problem.  No matter what you do, it won't flush correctly.  If the toilet was made before 1994, hard water deposits in the syphon jet hole or the angled bowl rim could be the source of the problem.  Sometimes a pick can clear the deposit; other times only muriatic acid will work.  The use of acid by the homeowner is not recommended by Cahaba Valley Plumbing because of the potential hazards.

​2.  Partial Flush -- The flapper valve may be waterlogged and dropping too fast.  Observe the flapper valve during a flush.  It should stay up until about 80% of the water has drained from the tank.  If it drops sooner, you may need a new flapper, flush valve, or tank to bowl kit installed.

​3.  Phantom Flusher! -- This is actually a 'phantom filler,' as the toilet tank fills with water as if it had been flushed. This means that the water in the tank is leaking into the bowl.  A dye test can confirm this.  You may need a flapper, flush valve, or tank to bowl kit installed.

​4.  Bowl water level drops -- You flush your toilet and all is well.  After a period ​of time, a significant amount of water has left the bowl.  Two things may be wrong: water could be slowly siphoning down the drain because of a partial clog, or there may be an internal crack in the trap way.  


5.  Double flusher -- The water level in the tank may be too high.

​6.  Slow tank fill -- This problem may be a partially closed shut off valve, kinked supply line, or perhaps a failed pressure regulating valve in the water service.

​7.  Whistling tank fill -- You may have an old style ball cock assembly with a float rod and ball.  As the ball floats higher it begins to slowly close the water fill valve.  This can cause vibrations, squealing, and all sorts of noises.  Replacing the fill valve with a unit that remains fully open until the tank is filled usually solves this problem.  If not, it is the bibb washer of the shut off valve that is loose.

​8.  Dripping and tank filling -- After the tank has filled, you hear dripping.  Then several minutes later, the tank fills and begins dripping again and again.  The most likely culprit is siphoning.  Check the refill tube and see if it is postioned below the water level.

​9.  Continuously running commercial toilets -- This problem is most often associated with the diaphragm assemble of the Sloan or Zurn flushometer.  Turn off the water to the toilet and remove the dome cap.  The diaphragm is right underneath.  Remove and replace.

​10.  Toilet leaking at base -- This problem can be caused by a number of things.  The gasket between the tank and the bowl could have deteriorated.  The problem could also be the supply line connection to the bottom of the bowl, the rubber washers around the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl, a cracked tank, a cracked flush valve, cracked toilet pedestal, and even a failed wax ring seal.  The best thing to do in this situation is to dry everything thoroughly including the floor.  See if there is an obvious culprit, and proceed.

​11.  Rocking and shaking toilet -- The floor may be uneven, or more likely the flange under the toilet has cracked.  The toilet will need to be pulled and reset.  The flange may need to be replaced while the toilet is removed.  When the toilet is reset, grout the base to the floor and allow plenty of time for the grout to cure.  Providing a solid base under the toilet usually protects the toilet flange from breaking again.