Toilet problems keep plumbers very busy because they get lots of use and many homes have more than one loo. Quite often the fix doesn’t take very long or require many tools. Some of these easily repaired toilet issues can be completed by a DIYer. Meanwhile, others need a professional eye to diagnose and guide you through the repair, and this is where a video call with Herofix would be very useful.
What causes toilet plumbing problems?
Toilet problems are created mostly through wear and tear, although original sub-standard installation or poor maintenance can also create issues.
Here are 5 of the most popular plumbing problems you could fix with your own hands:
1. Toilet won’t flush
Toilets that do not flush are either due to the flush valve, water filling valve (aka ball valve), or flush handle/button. The parts can vary as there are many different manufacturers and styles. Although, there are a few things to look out for if you lift the cistern lid. If the water level inside is at the normal filled level, then the issue will be the flush valve or handle, and if the water level is very low, it could be the filling or flushing valve. Some of these repairs could be undertaken by yourself. Although, you would likely need a plumber to give you the correct diagnosis. Changing toilet flush handles is not a very difficult job. All you need is a little patience and to think it through. Modern filling and flushing valves can be changed very easily if you source the new like-for-like part, they’re designed so that once you turn the water off you can click out the old part and click in the new. Easy peasy!
2. Toilet leaks
Toilets can leak from places. Sometimes leaking clean water from the cistern, or unfortunately dirty water from the soil pipe connections. Also, toilets can leak internally into the pan. This is a design feature to act as a warning overflow, that there is a part inside the cistern which is failing, and it would be the filling or flushing valve that needs attention. Read our ultimate plumbing leaks guide and water leak emergency plan for more detail.
3. Sluggish Flush
Some toilets do not flush very well, and there are a few different reasons. If your toilet did once flush fine and it has worsened, then something has changed. The issue is likely to be a mechanical part inside the cistern, or the soil pipe is blocking up. So the problem is one end or the other.
If there is a blockage forming inside the exit soil pipe then the cause could be that the soil pipe is very old. Most commonly known to be with cast iron soil pipes, as the metal corrodes, causing dirt to collect on flakes, and over a long time, the pipes internal hole becomes smaller. It can be cleaned by jetting or be replaced with a modern plastic version. Another cause is that if the soil pipe was installed with insufficient gradient fall, then scale and grime could have built up in the soil pipe, causing a slow-building blockage, and the toilet will start to poorly flush away. This can potentially be fixed temporarily by cleaning the soil pipe internally. Although, a long term solution would require you to correct the soil pipe installation.
At the other end, if the flush is not letting through enough water when flushing, then there is an issue with either the cistern not filling high enough, the flush handle/button malfunctioning or the flush valve not doing its job properly. This is a handy time to use a video call to diagnose the problem and learn whether it’s something you can fix yourself or you need to pay for a professional to visit.
4. Toilet internally overflowing – This will be due to one of 2 reasons.
- The cold water filling valve is not shutting off when it should be, so the water level has reached the overflow level and is warning you that attention is needed. You can try adjusting it with a floating ball valve you’ll move the threaded plastic screw-back or with the more modern valves you’ll tweak the threaded plastic rod to adjust the floating cup height.
- The other reason is that the flush valve is letting water through to the pan when it should be in the shut position, and this is usually because the sealing rubber washer needs replacing or cleaning. Cleaning the washer is very easy and always worth a try first. Failing that, you can decide whether to replace the washer or the whole flush valve as the most commonly preferred method.
5 . Blocked Toilet
It happens to all of us. There are a few tricks anyone can try.
Hand inside a plastic bag and push your hand round the end in the pan to tear apart what might be blocking it up. When you pull your hand out, pull the bag inside out.
Don’t fancy putting your hand in the loo? The second hack is to use an old metal coat hanger, straighten it out so that it is as long as possible with the hook at one end, then stick it into the loo to pull apart what has binded together, restricting the flow.
Thirdly, a plunger! Pick one up from a DIY store and plunge the water to push the blockage out. Usually, it works as long as you’ve not put anything down the toilet that you shouldn’t have done.
Do not put wet wipes, cotton earbuds, or thick tissue into the toilet. None of them is good for main drains in the streets or your toilet system.
Toilet problems can be fixed with your own hands and some guidance. It is best to fix them as soon as possible to avoid wasting water, high water bills, severe damage caused by leaks, and expensive repair bills. The quickest way to get started on fixing the problem is to jump on a video call with a professional. Here at Herofix, we can help you save time and money by taking you through the journey and identifying if the issue can be resolved by yourself or not.
The quickest and most convenient option is to book a 15-minute video call at herofix.com. Here, you will learn how to fix something yourself, giving you skills and knowledge to take away for life; or you could have the problem diagnosed at the fraction of the cost of a heating engineer’s call-out fee, saving you lots of money to spend on more fun things.