Many toilet tank problems can be fixed easily, saving you the inconvenience and expense of a plumber visit. Surprisingly, many of the parts needed to repair simple toilet difficulties cost less than $20.00 at your local home improvement store! The really expensive part of a plumber’s services usually falls into the labor category, not the parts category.
So, let’s talk about two of the most common toilet tank problems and how to fix them. Does your fill valve turn on and off without the toilet being flushed? Or perhaps your toilet runs all the time? We will answer these two most frequently asked questions below, and hopefully save you a visit, and a bill, from the plumber.
Maybe your fill valve is giving you trouble, making your toilet run, unprovoked, at intermittent intervals? Chances are that the toilet’s tank ball or flapper is dirty or worn out. Especially in areas with hard water, the bottom of the tank ball or flapper builds up with dirt, water deposits or calcium deposits. This build up prevents the ball or flapper from sealing with the base, and makes the toilet run.
The first thing to try is to simply clean the ball or flapper. Just get an old toothbrush, lift up the ball or flapper and brush away all of the muck. Set it back in place and see if the running stops. If that doesn’t work, it is possible that the ball or flapper might be so worn out or warped that it cannot seal with the base, so you will have to replace the part.
Before you undertake any replacement activities, be sure to turn off the water supply by turning the valve underneath the back of the toilet! In some instances, also, the base itself becomes defective or corroded and you will have to replace the base. So, try to clean the parts first, and then try replacing the parts.
When you are replacing parts, be sure to get the name of the manufacturer, and if possible, the part identification number, before you go to the plumbing store. The instructions mentioned above are for toilets that only run intermittently. What do you do if your toilet runs all the time?
If your toilet runs all the time, there may be something stuck under the valve seal, the valve seal may be defective, or the chain on the tank lever is corroded. As I mentioned before, it is very important to shut off your toilet’s water supply before you begin any repair activity! For toilets that have the float cup-type fill valves, first you take off the valve cap by turning the arm and cap counter-clockwise.
In certain models, you may have to lift a little arm first, before you turn the valve cap. Then cover the opening with an upside down cup, and turn on your water supply for just 10 seconds to flush the line. If there is anything stuck in there, this flushing should do the trick. If you have a float ball or ballcock-type fill valve, you have to remove the valve top with a Phillips screwdriver. Then use the inverted cup to cover the opening, run the water supply for 10 seconds and flush that line.
If the valve still won’t shut off after you try to flush it, most likely your valve seal is broken or defective, and you’ll have to replace it. On the other hand, you might also check to see if the chain links on your tank lever are corroded. Sometimes the corroded chain links make the flapper unable to close or seal properly. In this instance, the tank lever would need to be replaced.
If you run into a snag, remember that there are always helpful resources on the internet. Good luck repairing your toilet tank, and congratulations on the money you saved by doing it yourself!