Plumbing Tips

9 Common Toilet Clog Problems and Toilet Troubleshooting DIY Repair Tips

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Friendly, affordable toilet repair in Saanich and Greater Victoria.

Ahh, toilets. What would we do without them? Ensuring that they work properly is important. But their parts break down over time, leading to common issues. No matter how strong and durable your toilet is, if you don’t give it the care it deserves, sooner or later it will fail.

The key is proper maintenance and care. We all know we shouldn’t flush foreign objects down the toilet, but aside from this, we also need to know how to keep our toilets in tip top shape.

In This Article, We Will Be Covering:

  • 9 common toilet problems that homeowners encounter
  • Top common causes of toilet clogs
  • Recommended clogged toilet fixes for common issues
  • Toilet leak troubleshooting
  • DIY toilet repair tips

9 Common Toilet Plumbing Problems That Homeowners Encounter

There are many things that could go wrong inside of your toilet. Here are some of the most common toilet problems you should know about to be prepared.

Friendly, affordable plumbers in Saanich and Greater Victoria.1. A Leaking Toilet

Toilet leaks when flushed? Toilet leaks can come from anywhere: in the supply pipe, at the bottom or the seat of the bowl, inside the bowl, at the supply valve, and many other places inside the toilet.

If you notice a pool of water constantly present in or around your toilet, or if there's no water in your toilet bowl, check your water bill. Is it getting higher and higher every month? If so, there must be a leak somewhere in your toilet’s water supply and discharge system.

2. A Clogged Toilet

You may also experience a sluggish or weak water discharge every time you flush the toilet bowl. The bowl could have a partial clog, or the clog could be somewhere downstream. You know your toilet is clogged when the water refills the bowl but the draining is very slow.

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3. Toilet Tank Dripping And Constantly Filling

When you flush your toilet, the toilet tank will fill up with water automatically. But if you still hear a persistent dripping sound after the tank is full, there could be a leak somewhere along the line or the system. Tracing the root cause of this problem can be a bit complicated.

4. Toilet Tank Has Low Water Levels

After you flush, the toilet tank should fill up completely. But if you notice a considerably lower water level even after your tank is done filling, that means water is leaking out somewhere. One possible cause of this problem is a crack in the piping or the interior colon of the bowl. If this is the case, the only solution is to replace the bowl with a new one.

5. Toilet Flushing Causing Backup in Sink Or Tub

If you flush your toilet and hear gurgling sounds in the tub or your sink, you probably have a clogged toilet vent pipe. It could be a partial clog or a full clog. These clogs can't be analyzed with regular at-home tools — you'll need to get the professional services of a licensed technician to fix the issue.

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6. Ghost Flushing

You’re just getting ready to fall asleep, and you hear the toilet flush. Fear grips your heart as it starts to pound fast— you're supposed to be the only one home. After a couple of seconds, you realize that for some reason your toilet is flushing all by itself.

This problem is caused by water leaking from the toilet tank into the bowl, and can waste up to 200 gallons a day! To test your toilet for tank leaks, drop food coloring dye into the tank water of your toilet. Avoid using the toilet for 30 minutes, and then check the water in the toilet bowl for any signs of the food coloring dye. If dye is present in the bowl water, you have identified the source of the problem. To fix it, simply replace the rubber flapper in your tank.

7. Toilet Keeps Running After Flush

You do your business, press the handle, and the toilet starts to constantly run without stopping. This problem is caused when the flapper valve in your toilet tank doesn't seal properly. Check inside your tank to make sure that nothing is preventing the valve from closing properly. Then, remove any mineral buildup that might be on the valve seat. A third checkpoint is to make sure the pull chain is the right length and is not holding the valve slightly open. Repairing a leaky toilet tank flush valve can be tricky, so if none of these fixes work, it's best to leave it to our experts.

8. Toilet Overflowing

You did your business, and your business was too large. You flushed, and now your toilet is filling and filling and about to overflow. To prevent a wet mess, reach into the tank and pull up the fill valve, which looks like a ball floating atop the water. This will stop the flow, allowing you to use a plunger to remedy the situation. Be aware that if you let go and the fill valve drops, the toilet will start to fill again.

9. Inefficient Toilets

Did you know that toilets manufactured before 1994 are very inefficient? These old toilets use an average of up to 3.6 gallons of water every time you flush, which is a problem for your water bill. By comparison, newer toilets use only 1.6 gallons per flush, and have just as strong of a flush as the old models.

If you wish to save money on your water bill, then you may want to buy a new toilet. Some models even offer a dual flushing system which uses less water for liquid waste, and the entire 1.6 gallons for solid waste.

Top Common Causes of Toilet Clogs in Your Home

Unsolved leaks and clogs in your toilet?  There's a saying that prevention is better than cure, so once you’ve found a solution to your problem, make sure that it does NOT happen again. However, in order to prevent clogs, you need to figure out why they happen in the first place. Here are some of the most common causes of toilet clogs:

Kleenex & Facial Tissue Clogs

It's well known among plumbing technicians that one of the main clogging culprits is facial tissues such as Kleenex. You may think throwing it down the toilet isn't a big deal — but it is! This is especially true if you’re using the 2- or 3-ply tissues on the market today. If you have no other choice but to dispose of them in your toilet, it's best to use single-ply tissues instead of thicker ones. But overall, it’s best to avoid throwing these in your toilet in the first place!

Personal Hygiene Product Clogs

You may think flushing diapers and tampons down the toilet is okay. Not at all! These are second in the common clog-causing list. Other personal hygiene products that should stay away from your toilet include condoms, Q-Tips, wet wipes, dental floss, and sanitary pads. Don’t believe everything you read on the label. Even if it says “flushable”, do NOT take the risk.

Hair Clogs

Okay, so you don’t often find hair in the toilet, right? Well, some people have a habit of cleaning their brushes and flushing the hair they clear out. Doing this tends to clog the toilet when that hair forms into clumps. That also includes pet hair!

Object Clogs

Aside from your toddler's toy car, there are other foreign objects that can get stuck in your toilet. You know those tank deodorizers made to be hung inside the bowl of your toilet? If these fall and get flushed, you'll need an industrial plumber’s snake to get them out.

You will definitely need to be careful with your plumbing system and what you flush, in order to save you from repair expenses and to prevent future headaches.

Toilet Troubleshooting: Usual Causes of Toilet Leaks

If your socks are constantly getting wet, your toilet must have a leak. Toilet leaks are caused by various problems, and there are several places where a toilet can spring a leak. Sometimes the leak will be obvious, but other times, you’ll have to inspect your fixture carefully to determine the source of the pool of water on your bathroom floor.

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Toilet Supply Line Leaks

Your toilet's supply line is usually a flexible hose, which runs from a fill valve in the wall or floor and leads to the bottom of the tank. Find the water supply valve, shut off the water, and then drain the tank by flushing the toilet. Unscrew the supply line from both the valve and the tank. To install the replacement, attach the new hose and hand tighten the locknuts at both ends.

Toilet Fill Valve Leaks

If the leak is at the fill valve itself, you’ll need to replace the fill valve and its gasket. Again, turn off the water supply and flush the toilet, then use a couple of wrenches to remove the fill valve and gasket. After you install the new parts, turn the water supply back on and make sure there are no leaks. If necessary, tighten it little bit more, maybe a quarter-turn or so.

Leaky Toilet Bowls

Clean and dry the floor area around the toilet. Once finished, put several drops of food coloring in the bowl water and leave it for a few minutes, then check the floor you dried earlier. If you notice streaks of colored water, then your toilet bowl is probably leaking.

Check the wax ring as it might have dislodged. If there are loose bolts, tighten them up. In the case that the bowl is cracked, then a new toilet is needed.

Leaky Toilet Tanks

If the toilet tank itself is leaking, either it or the spud nut will have to be replaced. This job requires two people to be done safely, and avoid injury when moving the heavy porcelain reservoir.

Sometimes there are occurrences of flush handle and valve issues in the tank. The solution to this is to reposition the flush ball. A flush ball sitting too high can cause the water leaks to happen. In the event that a broken valve is causing the problem, it's time to replace it.

Toilet Condensation & Moisture

What seems like a leak may not be a leak at all, but rather moisture from condensation collecting on your toilet. This is a common scenario during cold weather. Most hardware store sell toilet tank insulation that is quite easy to install.

DIY Toilet Repair

Not everyone knows how to resolve toilet problems, so hiring the services of a local plumber is the fastest and best method of solving the issue. However, some people opt to troubleshoot common plumbing issues by themselves, as some toilet dilemmas can be fixed by carrying out a few minor tweaks and adjustments. But before doing so, it is best to figure out the cause of the issue before carrying on with any solution.

Tip: Whenever you work on a toilet, take a few minutes to don a pair of rubber or latex gloves and sanitize the base of the toilet with a disinfectant.

How To Fix A Leaky Toilet Ring

One of the most difficult and time-consuming repairs is replacing the wax ring where the toilet meets the drainage pipe. We recommend hiring our highly-qualified team of technicians for best results, but if you want to risk handling it on your own, try these steps:

  1. First, shut off the water supply to your toilet and flush the water out.
  2. Once the toilet and bowl are empty, unhook the water supply and unbolt the toilet from the floor.
  3. Lift the toilet straight up (use at least two people for safety) and place to the side. Now the old wax ring should be accessible.
  4. Remove the old ring and replace it with a new one. Once installed, place the toilet firmly over the new ring and bolt the toilet down securely.
  5. Reconnect the water supply and check carefully for any leaks. Flush the toilet and check again to make sure.

How To Fix A Clogged Toilet

Most clogs are fairly easy to fix. A few minutes with a plunger will do the job most of the time. However, there are some things to remember when unclogging a toilet:

  • Never use a coat hanger or other improvised object to remove a clog. You will most likely scratch the bowl, allowing germs and smells to collect on the surface.
  • Never use chemical drain cleaners in a toilet, especially if you're on a septic system.
  • If you have to use an auger to clear a blockage, use a closet auger. They are specially designed for use with toilets.
  • When using a plunger, make sure there is at least some water in the bowl. It will help create a vacuum which will cause enough pressure to release most clogs.
  • Aim to buy an accordion-shaped toilet plunger instead of a bowl-shaped sink plunger. They're specially made for use with toilets and will not turn inside-out while you're using them.

How To Fix a Toilet That Keeps Running

Greater Victoria toilet repairsThere’s the sound of water running, but it’s not coming from the faucet. You listen closely and it’s coming from... the toilet. Can you imagine how much money and water is wasted if this problem continues?

It's important to remember that a running toilet may be caused by different sources, and the fix is different for each one:

  1. A stuck tank flapper. In order to fix this toilet malfunction, simply grab the flapper and securely close it with your hand, then carry out any required adjustments.
  2. Intermittent tank filling. The solution for intermittent filling differs based on its root cause; however, the most common method of correcting this is to remove any mineral buildup and clean the tank, and to replace the flapper.

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How To Replace Broken or Loose Toilet Seats

This is a fairly simple repair. Toilet seats are attached to the bowl with two locknuts under the lip of the bowl. Simply unscrew the locknuts and install the new seat. Consider using some inexpensive bushings or a seat stabilizer to keep the seat from sliding around.

How To Fix A Toilet That Won't Flush

Do you know how to fix a toilet that won’t flush? If you find it difficult to flush, the cause could be a limited water supply, no water at all, or a blockage in the flush tank obstructing the flow of the water.  

If the cause is a blockage, you can replace the fill valve yourself. This can be easily bought at your local hardware supply store. Over time, fill valves wear out and might need replacement. It is also essential to tighten the handle as it could also be the cause.

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How To Fix A Toilet That Keeps Overflowing

There are times when the tank lever or the flush ball has worn out and will cause your tank to overflow. You should notice this because the water will continue to flow even after flushing. You can fix this by replacing or moving the float ball, as it may be sitting too high. Intake assembly toilets have clips attached to the rod that need to be adjusted to lower the water level.

Overflowing toilets can also be caused by damaged or dirty refill valves.

If You Need Help Troubleshooting Toilet Issues, Call Plumbers 911

Plumbers 911 makes it easy and affordable to hire the best and most reliable plumbing professionals on Vancouver Island. All of our contractors must complete a rigorous screening process to join the ranks of the best in the business.

Each technician has over 10,000 hours of training including toilet tank installation and repair, passing an extensive background check and frequent drug tests. Plumbers 911 only works with the absolute best contractors in the business.

  • The work of each of our professional technicians is backed by guarantee. Our prices are highly competitive.
  • We pride ourselves on being able to provide the highest quality service at the most affordable prices in town. This is a commitment we make to our customers and to ourselves.
  • Our plumbers are all licensed and trained. They also receive continuing education and frequent training sessions.
  • This allows our plumbers to keep their skills fine-tuned. It also ensures that they are well-trained on the latest appliances, technological advances, codes and regulations, processes and trends.
  • You will want to make sure when you hire a plumber that they are knowledgeable about all recent developments in the industry. In addition to consistent training, our technicians are all very experienced in the real world.
  • Their years of on the job hours and experiences make them the best plumbers available. There is no plumbing service that we don’t do and do well.
  • We don’t want you to just take our word for it though. Our website contains tons of reviews from people all over Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island who are pleased to have used Plumbers 911 and who plan to use our services again in the future.
  • Browse our reviews and you will find words like outstanding, fantastic, best, dependable, reliable, professional, affordable, knowledgeable and friendly. Those are not our words. Those are the words of our customers.
  • No plumbing job is too large or too small for us. We will complete small jobs with the same smile and professional work ethic that we take to larger projects.
  • We want to make sure that every job we do is done to the best of our ability and that our work surpasses our customer’s expectations, regardless of the size or scope of the work order.

We hope to help you soon!

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