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6 Common Toilet Problems & How To Troubleshoot Them

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Toilets are surprisingly sturdy plumbing fixtures, which often last for years without the slightest sign of toilet trouble. But if your toilet runs constantly, or starts to go bad when you have to go badly, well… it can be a calamity. The good news, however, is that troubleshooting toilet problems is relatively easy. Find out 6 of the most common issues you might encounter and what you should do about them.

Another problem could be that your toilet needs to be replaced. Do you know the age of your toilet? Learn if it’s time for a new one.

Toilet Clogs Easily

As a matter of course, every commode suffers a blockage now and then, but if your toilet clogs so easily that you find yourself plunging multiple times a week from regular toilet flushes, there’s something wrong. You just have to figure out what it is.

When your family or guests attempt to flush anything other than a reasonable amount of toilet paper and bodily wastes, that spells trouble. Hygiene products and children’s toys are the source of many a clogged toilet. To avoid the first issue, place a discreetly covered bin by the toilet; for the second, a child-safe lock should do the trick.

Another DIY toilet clog fix involves fully opening your water supply line — simply turn the knob all the way.

If none of those solutions works, your fixture might be blocked with mineral buildup from hard water (not so frequent in central Ottawa, but often seen in outer areas, if you’re on a well). Or you might have venting issues or a poorly designed toilet. These are more serious dilemmas, which require professional toilet repair, mineral removal, or replacement.

Toilet Making Noises When Not In Use

Eerie, isn’t it, when your toilet makes noise even when it’s not being used? But those strange vibrations, whooshings, and whistlings all stem from very down-to-earth causes.

For instance, a malfunctioning fill valve or flush valve may be behind that vibrating or whistling sound you hear. Fortunately, fill valve replacement is one of the most inexpensive toilet repairs.

Learn more about why your toilet might be making whistling noises.

The noise of a constantly running toilet is unlikely to be music to your ears since it foreshadows a higher water bill with the water level in the tank always changing. Try checking the toilet handle, resetting the float arm, check the flapper, or replace the fill valve to quiet it down instead of wiggling the toilet handle.

A whooshing sound that occurs only as the tank fills is probably due to a buildup of calcium resulting from hard water. Your home plumbing system may need expert cleaning in this case.

Toilet Stinks Even After Cleaning It

Here’s an embarrassing situation — a toilet that stinks stubbornly, resisting your best efforts at scrubbing and deodorizing. But, once again, there are many potential solutions.

Mould under the bowl rim or bacteria in the pipes could be the culprit. Bleach may be the answer — used as a scrubbing agent in the former scenario or poured into the top of the overflow tube or refill tube in the latter.

If the toilet hasn’t been used for a while, a lower level of water in the toilet bowl (from evaporation) or tank, might be letting smelly sewer gases escape into your bathroom. Flush the toilet a time or two to move freshwater through the refill tube and easily put a stop to the stench.

Another, more serious cause of sewer gas smells is a cracked toilet bowl. Even a tiny crack in the porcelain can result in a leak, lowering the water level enough to allow sewer gases to escape. You’ll need either toilet repair or replacement, depending on the scratch’s position and severity.

An additional possibility is a broken toilet seal (that wax ring your toilet sits on). Damage to the wax seal will allow water and odours to leak out onto the bathroom floor. You can try to replace the seal yourself, but a faster and more reliable way is to hire a licensed plumber for the work.

Toilet Leaking At The Base

Leaks at the toilet base are usually not only unsightly, but they’re also unsanitary. Unless the water is coming from the water shut-off valve behind the toilet, they stem from the contaminated liquid in your toilet bowl rather than clean water from the toilet tank. To solve this germy problem, you might have to tighten the tee bolts to fasten a loose toilet more firmly to the floor. Alternatively, it may be the wax seal itself that is at fault, as in the previous item.

Toilet Is Sweating

Though your toilet looks like it’s sweating, those droplets on its surface do not actually come from toilet water or water from the tank. They are due to condensation, produced when warm, humid indoor air comes in contact with the cool surface of your toilet tank. Although the drops don’t indicate a plumbing problem, all that moisture can wreak havoc with your bathroom floor tiles and under flooring. So take action.

First, check if the flapper is in good shape. A leaky toilet flapper causes the constant flow of water into the toilet tank.

Next, experiment with toilet insulation (yes, it is a thing!). You can insert a special foam tank liner in the toilet tank to keep the exterior from cooling down enough to cause condensation.

If these two options don’t help, have a plumber install an “anti-sweat valve.” This device will add hot water to the inflow of your toilet tank, so the tank’s water level temperature is closer to that of the surrounding air.

Toilet Is Filling Slowly

A toilet that takes much longer than one minute to refill post-flush could be experiencing issues. Your float ball (a ball-shaped piece that should be floating atop the water in your tank) could have become waterlogged, making the tank fill more slowly than normal. While you could just install a new float ball and call it a day, you’ll be better off having a plumber replace this outmoded mechanism with modern toilet technology.

Remove the tank lid, refill tube, overflow tube, and float ball’s fine? Then a partially closed or malfunctioning water fill valve (you’ll find it behind the toilet, attached to a pipe) may be responsible. Check that it’s open all the way. Inspect the fill valve as well (inside the tank, on the left side), looking for wear and tear, mineral sediment buildup, or improper positioning. If either of these essential valves is badly worn or damaged, you may need to replace it, with the help of an expert plumber.

Expert Toilet Service

When you need professional toilet service in Ottawa, contact Out of this World Plumbing. We are experts at toilet problems, troubleshooting, repair, and replacement. You can count on us to fix your existing toilet whenever possible. If it’s time for a new toilet, we carry two top brands — American Standard and Gerber toilets.

Once you experience our outstanding plumbing service, we hope you’ll agree with our client, Fiona H of Ottawa, who gave us 5 stars on Google Reviews:

Great service from Out of this World Plumbing today. Contacted them yesterday to fix a leaking toilet in my rental property. Scheduled easily and kept me fully up to date on arrival time. I really liked the personal touch of the email including photo of which plumber was assigned to my job. Thanks Trevor appreciate the excellent work.

Fiona H


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