Tips for Troubleshooting Toilet Problems

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Troubleshooting toilet problems may lead to a simple do-it-yourself solution or a call to a qualified plumber to resolve the issue. While occasional dramatic events like an overflowing toilet do occur, toilets are more often a source of nagging minor problems that are an annoyance, waste water and affect proper operation. Troubleshooting toilet problems can narrow down the possibilities and allow you to make an informed decision about whether to tackle it yourself or seek professional plumbing services.

Here are three common symptoms and likely causes:

Toilet Runs Constantly

Remove the tank lid. Is the tank empty? Check to see if something is holding the round rubber flapper valve in the bottom of the tank open. It could be a snarled flush chain you can untangle yourself, or the valve itself may have deteriorated and fallen to pieces. Is the tank full and is water pouring down the round overflow tube? That’s a sign of a defective fill valve — usually something you’ll want a plumber to handle.

Toilet Runs On and Off Intermittently

Often caused by slow seepage from the tank into the bowl. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait an hour, then check and see if you see coloring in the bowl. This indicates a leaky flapper valve. Replacement is usually the fix. Alternatively, sometimes a defective fill valve may actuate intermittently, as well.

Weak or Partial Flushes

Usually a problem with the flapper closing too soon. If there’s too much slack in the operating chain, the flapper may not open fully, then close too quickly, without releasing enough water from the tank. Take off the lid, push the flush handle and observe operation. The flapper should stay open until about 80 percent of the water in the tank has flushed into the bowl. If not, take up a few links of slack where the flush chain attaches to the flush handle and try again. Another cause is a deteriorated, water-logged flapper. Replacement by a plumber is indicated.

When troubleshooting toilet problems calls for professional help, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

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