Common Toilet Problems

How often do you think about your toilet each day?  Probably next to never – unless you find yourself in an “emergency” situation…  but the toilet can be a huge culprit of high water bills, and it’s probably the most inconvenient of appliances to malfunction.  Here are some common problems that may happen to your potty.

Do you sometimes hear your toilet start to refill its bowl with water even though no one has flushed it?  These are sometimes referred to as “phantom flushes,” which waste gallons of water.  Phantom flushes are often caused by worn flapper or flapper seats.  These parts can be found at your local hardware store and are easily installed.  The instructions are usually printed on the packaging – and don’t worry, wear some yellow cleaning gloves, and you’ll be fine.  The water in the top of the tank where the flapper sits is clean, not potty water.

“Jiggle the handle”  is a solution we western Pennsylvanians have for this next issue, and that’s when water trickles into the tank from the water supply spout.  If you have a constantly running toilet, this is wasting water and largely affecting your water bill.  There are a few possibilities for the cause of this potty problem.  First, open the tank and check if the float is sticking.  The float is part of the inner assembly that tells the toilet when the tank is full.  If your float chain gets twisted around itself (which often happens to the newer plastic models), it tricks the valve into thinking it needs to let in more water.   If your chain isn’t stuck, check the water refill tube to be sure it isn’t inserted into the overflow pipe too far.  It should overlap only by a quarter inch.

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And the worst for last.. the clog.  I hope that your toilet never clogs, but if it does, you should know what to do, so you can fix it before anybody else finds out you clogged your toilet!  Just kidding – but here are the best practices: a plunger is the easiest solution.  I didn’t say cleanest – but it will get the job done.  Plunge forcefully into the drain at the bottom of the bowl two or three times, and then check to see if the passage is open.  If the clog is serious, use an auger.  This rotor tool gets inserted into the drain and twists the clog out.  This is easy too, but be careful not to scratch your bowl!

Jacque Link is the featured writer for, where you can find affordable double bathroom sinks and spectacular floor mirrors for any home.

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