How to Repair Common Toilet Problems

  • 01 of 07

    How to Repair Your Home's Toilet

    Toilets need occasional attention but it's not difficult if you know some basic tips. Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    The toilet tank is where all the major plumbing takes place in a toilet and where most of your toilet repairs will occur.

    The purpose of the tank is to contain the water needed to flush the toilet and to conceal the plumbing apparatus that fills and empties the tank. The tank may contain a variety of different parts that need repair.

    Open any two toilet tanks and you'll often find very different components inside. Why? Well, new technologies and materials have evolved over the past several...MORE decades, but in the end, there are just two major components with several variations.

    The two major components are:​

    The Toilet Fill Valve is the mechanism that fills the tank with water. It is also known as a "ballcock" or a "refill valve". Fill valves comes in four basic variations:

    • Plunger Type Ballcock (oldest style brass type valve)
    • Diaphragm Type Ballcock (older brass style and newer plastic type valve)
    • Float Cup Type Ballcock (newer plastic type)
    • Floatless Type Ballcock (newer plastic type)

    Compare Prices Toilet Fill Valves / Ballcocks

    The Flush Valve is what releases the water stored in the tank, closes the flow of water into the toilet and allows the tank to refill for the next use. It is the assembly that bolts to the bottom of the tank and includes the overflow pipe and the valve seat. The flush valve has two common variations used to seal the valve seat:

    • Tapered Rubber Float Ball or
    • Flapper Ball (tank flapper)

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  • 02 of 07

    Flush Valves: Flapper or Tapered Float Ball

    Toilet cistern with home-made water saving device (a plastic water bottle with the top cut off, placed in the cistern)
    Peter Anderson / Getty Images

    The flush valve can use a tapered rubber float ball or a flapper ball to control the flow of water into the toilet.

    Flapper balls are common on newer flush valves and are connected to the handle lift arm with a lift chain.

    Compare Prices Toilet Tank Flapper Ball

    Float balls are more common on older style flush valves and are designed to lift and drop into the valve opening. The float ball is connected to the handle lift arm by a lift wire that runs through a guide arm attached to the overflow pipe.

    Compare Prices Toilet Tank Float Ball

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  • 03 of 07

    Toilet Tanks With Float Balls

    Man using screwdriver to adjust screw on float arm in toilet cistern
    Gary Ombler / Getty Images

    Two types of ballcocks have been around the longest. They are the plunger fill valve and diaphragm type fill valve ballcocks.

    The float ball and plunger or diaphragm fill valve or ballcock combination have been used in toilets for many decades. The float ball is hollow and floats on top of the water as it is being filled in the tank. When the water gets to the desired level, the float ball moves the float arm and turns off the water flow in the ballcock. By bending the float arm you can "fine...MORE tune" the point at which the water turns off and stops filling the tank.

    Compare Prices Toilet Float Ball

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  • 04 of 07

    Toilet Problem: Toilet Runs Constantly

    Toilet and bathtub in the bathroom
    Basic toilet. Rob Melnychuk/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Possible Solutions:

    • Lift chain is disconnected from handle lever or is kinked preventing the flush ball or flap from properly seating
    • Lift wire is kinked or binding
    • Float ball is rubbing on side of tank
    • Plunger or diaphragm type ballcock is not shutting off completely. Bend float arm to push float ball more into water.
    • Water level in tank is too high and water is running into overflow pipe. Adjust water level in tank.
    • Flush valve not sealing. Inspect tank ball or flapper ball and replace if worn or...MORE soft. See how to ​repair a leaky toilet tank flush valve.
    • Make sure tank ball lift wire is straight and that tank ball is dropping onto the center of the flush valve opening.
    • Replace leaky float ball.
    • Replace faulty ballcock.

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  • 05 of 07

    Toilet Problem: Flush Handle Loose

    Flushing toilet
    Sarah Musselman / Getty Images

    Possible Solutions:

    • Reconnect lift wire or lift chain from the handle, it is disconnected.​
    • Adjust handle mounting nut inside the tank. It has reverse threads so rotate counterclockwise to tighten.

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  • 06 of 07

    Toilet Problem: Water on Floor

    Close up of water spill in bathroom
    Adam Gault / Getty Images

    Possible Solutions:

    • Tighten loose water connection to the tank.
    • Tighten tank bolts.
    • Condensation is forming in summer, insulate inside of ​the tank.
    • Replace wax ring in toilet base.

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  • 07 of 07

    Toilet Problem: Toilet Clogged

    Toilet clog
    BanksPhotos / Getty Images

    Possible Solutions: