The workings of a toilet remain a mystery to most people until something goes awry and needs toilet repair. Fortunately, what appears to be complex is, in fact, quite simple. Basically, there are two assemblies concealed under the lid: First, a ball cock assembly which regulates the filling of the tank and second, a flush valve assembly which controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl. Toilet repair kits are readily available at all hardware stores as well as stores like Walmart. Toilet repair parts can be purchased separately at any hardware or plumbing store.
Here’s the chain of events that occur when someone presses the flush handle. The trip lever raises the lift wires or chain connected to the stopper. As the tank stopper goes up, water rushes through the valve seat into the bowl via the flush passages. The water in the bowl yields to gravity and is siphoned out of the trap to the drainpipe and you have a flush.
Once the tank empties, the stopper drops into the flush valve seat. The float ball trips the ball cock assembly to let in a new supply of water into the tank through the fill tube. As the tank water level rises, the float ball rises until it gets high enough to shut off the flow of water. If the water fails to shut off, the overflow tube carries water down into the bowl to prevent the tank from overflowing.
Here are some common problems and remedies that the DIY toilet repair person can easily handle:
- Possible Cause: Defective Ball Cock.
- Remedy: Oil lever, replace faulty washers or install new ball cock assembly.
Continuously Running Water
- Possible Cause: Float arm isn’t rising high enough.
- Remedy: Bend float arm down or away from tank wall.
- Possible Cause: Water filled float ball.
- Remedy: Replace float ball.
- Possible Cause: Tank stopper isn’t seating properly.
- Remedy: Adjust stopper guide rod or chain. Replace stopper. Sometimes the stopper just warps over time (not to be confused with time warp in Star Trek) and will not seat properly.
- Possible Cause: Corroded flush valve seat.
- Remedy: Scour valve seat or replace it.
- Possible Cause: Cracked overflow tube.
- Remedy: Replace tube or install new flush valve assembly.
- Possible Cause: Ball cock valve doesn’t shut off.
- Remedy: Oil lever, replace faulty washers, or install new ball cock assembly.
- Possible Cause: Blockage in drain.
- Remedy: Remove blockage with plunger or closet auger.
- Possible Cause: Faulty linkage between handle and trip lever.
- Remedy: Tighten setscrew on handle linkage or replace handle.
- Possible Cause: Tank stopper closes before tank empties.
- Remedy: Adjust stopper guide rod or chain.
- Possible Cause: Leak between tank and bowl.
- Remedy: Tighten locknuts under tank or replace gasket.
- Possible Cause: Clogged flush passage.
- Remedy: Poke obstructions from passages with wire or plunge.
Toilet Repair Do’s and Dont’s
When performing any toilet repair, always place the tank lid well out of harm’s way where it cannot be accidentally broken. Don’t force any stubborn nut. Oil it first. This reduces the risk of slipping with a wrench and cracking the tank or bowl, a very costly replacement.
Before doing any toilet repair, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valve which is usually behind the toilet, near the floor. Flush the toilet twice to empty it and then sponge out any water remaining in the tank.
I have found it to be a whole lot easier when having trouble with parts such as the ball cock assembly that simple adjustments can’t fix is to just purchase a rebuilt kit and replace the whole assembly. The toilet repair kits are inexpensive and contain all of the toilet repair parts necessary to fix most problems. Sometimes for specific manufacturers such as Kohler, you may have to purchase a Kohler Toilet Repair kit specific to that toilet. The toilet repair kits contain installation instructions specific to that kit. If you are only having problems with something like the tank stopper leaking, toilet repair parts like this can also be purchased separately.
Armed with just a few basic tools like slot and Phillips screwdrivers, adjustable end wrench, pipe wrench, rib joint pliers, plunger, closet auger (snake) and pipe joint compound, the DIY toilet repair person can start their journey into the brave new universe of toilet repair.
1. Float Ball
2. Ball Cock Assembly (Fill Valve)
3. Float Arm
4. Tank Fill Tube
5. Bowl Re-Fill Tube
6. Tank Stopper (Flapper)
7. Overflow Tube
8. Flush Handle
10. Fill Line
11. Ball Cock
12. Flush Tube (Passage)
Tip of the Day:
Always protect the interior of your bathroom from fading and sun damage to your bathroom storage furniture, floors, and artwork by installing window tinting on all of your bathroom windows. It prevents fading, and also helps insulate your home from excess heat, and is one of the best investments in your home you will ever make.