Could your toilet enter a marathon with all the running it’s been doing lately? Does it wobble when you take a seat? Is it the unsightly pink color of a liquid stomach antacid?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be wondering if a toilet replacement should be your next home improvement project.
Learn a little bit more about common toilet problems, when you can DIY and when you need to throw in the towel and replace your tank. A toilet is something you don’t want to have to live without — for any amount of time!
How to diagnose a chronically running toilet
Troubleshoot Your Toilet
Even if you only have limited handyman chops, there are a couple of things you can try on a problematic commode before calling the pros.
Replace the flapper: If your toilet is filling when it shouldn’t be (i.e., times other than right after flushing), the flap in your tank may be failing to form a seal or your float may not be working properly. Make sure nothing is impeding the float and try replacing the flap.
If your toilet is constantly running, a flapper fix might solve the problem as well. Other parts that may need replacing in a toilet with old innards: seals, flanges or chains.
Tighten the bolts: If your toilet makes you feel seasick when you sit because it wobbles, rocks or otherwise moves, you can try tightening the bolts at the base of the toilet.
Toilet seats that become cracked or loose over time can be easily replaced with supplies from a home improvement store.
Adjust the fill: If signs — like high water bills — indicate you’re using too much water, trying adjusting the fill level. You may also need to adjust the fill level if you’re having difficulty flushing, which could mean the level is too low.
For models with float arms, try raising or lowering the adjustment screw on top of the valve. If your toilet has float cylinders, squeeze the clip and slide it accordingly.
Heed These Signs of a Toilet Beyond Repair
- Clogs, overflows and leaks occur: If you experience frequent clogging, overflowing or leaking, you probably need a toilet replacement or other plumbing service. When you have to pull out the plunger on a weekly basis, that’s the sign of a serious problem.You should have a professional to diagnose this, as it could indicate an issue with anything from your toilet to your home’s connection to the sewer line. A soggy or uneven floor surrounding your toilet could indicate hidden leak.
- Utility bills are high: If you have consistently high water bills or experience a sudden spike in charges, you may have a leak. If you’ve tried adjusting the fill level and can’t find an evident leak, you may just need a low-flow model of toilet. Newer models are more energy efficient, which will help you avoid flushing unnecessary dollars in utility bills down the drain. Modern toilets meeting high-efficiency standards use only 1.3 gallons per flush, according to the EPA. Older models can use 5 gallons or more per flush. That’s quite a difference!
- Damage is visible: It may seem obvious, but if your toilet is damaged or shows the wear and tear of time, you might consider replacing it. Cracks can be more than just unsightly — they could be signs of a slow leak.A leaky bowl could result in decreased efficiency or water damage to your bathroom or the floor below. Do you have an older toilet? If it’s princess pink, powder blue or avocado green, that may be a clue that you're due for a toilet replacement. It may be more prone to cracks, and less efficient to boot.
Easy ways to reduce water waste in your home
If you have an older toilet, you may also want to replace it to one that meets modern ADA accessibility standards of sitting 17 to 19 inches from the ground. Especially consider this if anyone with limited mobility lives in or visits your home regularly or you plan to live in your home as you age.
Should You DIY?
Be sure you have the proper handyman ability before you attempt to replace a toilet yourself, especially since you’re dealing with plumbing that transports waste. Plumbers have licenses for a reason!
Definitely call a pro if you want to relocate a toilet or install one in an entirely new spot in your home. An expert will be able to conduct a toilet replacement quickly and easily, and you can rest assured that it will function properly the next time nature calls.
To make sure your new toilet functions as long as possible, replace any worn out parts as soon as possible. Call a pro to diagnose more complex problems. Clean your bowl once per week using ¼ cup of vinegar and a toilet brush.
If you need the toilet evaluated, repaired or replaced, contact the plumbing professionals at John C. Flood, which services the D.C. metro area, including Virginia, Maryland and D.C.