Common toilet problems and when to call a plumber
When it comes to fixing a malfunctioning, broken or leaking toilet, it can be tricky to know whether or not it’s something you can fix yourself. In most cases, it’s best to call a plumber for repairs to your toilet (but not always). The reason? While bathroom plumbing issues like a leaking or running toilet may be common, the cause may be hard for a novice to find quickly and easily.
Truth is, some things like toilet leaks can be pretty serious and could be wreaking more havoc on your home than they appear to be. That’s because, as water consistently leaks on to the floor, it can eventually cause costly repairs. Plus, water from a leaking toilet can also cause mildew and mold build up which can create health issues for you and your family.
In the case of a cracked toilet, it can be difficult to determine whether or not it’s appropriate to repair the crack yourself, replace the toilet part that’s broken, or get a new toilet entirely.
Still not sure when to call a plumber for a toilet issue? Below are some of the top toilet problems and our advice about when to leave your tools in the toolbox and call a professional.
The porcelain bowl is cracked. Even if you aren’t seeing a leak from the crack, it’s still a good idea to call the plumber. The main problem is the risk of the crack getting larger as people sit on the toilet which will eventually cause the bowl to break.
Typical wear-and-tear that comes with age is usually the reason a toilet bowl will crack, and while it is often alright to repair a cracked toilet tank on your own, if your bowl cracks, you’ll need a new one or the entire toilet replaced.
There’s water at the base of the toilet. If water pools at the base of your toilet, you’ve obviously got a leak. Often, this is caused by a faulty or worn wax ring.
To help pinpoint the cause of the leak, start by placing a towel at the base of the toilet to soak up the water. If the towel is more wet after a few hours, you probably need the wax ring replaced.
If you return and the towel hasn’t taken on any more water, you may have to replace the supply hose or have a bad flush valve. Regardless of the cause, you’ll want the help of a plumber to pinpoint and fix the problem completely (and correctly) so your home doesn’t withstand additional water damage.
The tank is slow to fill. If your toilet tank takes forever to refill after the toilet is flushed, or if the water runs irregularly, a broken flush valve could be to blame. You can tell this by lifting the lid of the tank and then flushing the toilet. If you hear running water or see that the valve is stuck it needs to be replaced.
Another cause for a toilet to fill slowly is a leaking flapper. If water leaks through the flapper after you flush the toilet, you’ll need a new seal (and flapper). Regardless, plumbers can find the source of slow filling tanks fast. And broken flush valves, seals and flappers are repairs best left to a professional.
The toilet runs constantly. Contrary to popular belief, jiggling the handle is not the best way to fix a toilet that is plagued by constantly running water.
Toilet chains are usually to blame for this problem, and the good news is that you can usually fix this yourself. Check to see if the chain covers the hole at the bottom of the tank, thus sealing it. If it isn’t, it’s probably because the chain isn’t long enough to drop the flapper fully. To fix this, you can lengthen the chain on your own. Simply unlatch it, make it longer, and reattach.
Another culprit for constantly running toilet water is a broken rubber diaphragm seal, and this is a repair best left to a plumber.
Leaky gaskets. Your toilet’s gaskets can get brittle with age, crack and cause a leak. Usually when this happens you’ll spot a leak that starts at the tank and trickles down to the floor. Rubber gaskets can be simple to replace and can be found at your neighborhood home improvement store.
You’ve got a loose feed line. The feed line is the rubber tube that provides fresh water to your tank. If it becomes loose or cracks, it can cause a leak. We recommend reaching out to a plumber for this repair. Leaks, in general, can do damage to your home and get worse the more you use a toilet with a cracked or loose feed line.
When in doubt, call a plumber to repair your toilet in the event that it leaks, breaks or stops working at its best. And don’t put off repairing a faulty toilet because it can lead to further damage down the road.