Blog

Are you looking for help with projects around the house? Our blog offers helpful tips and DIY videos, or schedule a service appointment today.

How to Fix a Toilet That Won't Flush & Other Toilet Repairs

The toilet is one of the most used fixtures in a bathroom, and even the entire home, which means it is vulnerable to chronic issues. Some of these issues can be diagnosed and resolved easily by reading the instructions below, while other toilet issues require professional Fairfax plumbers.

Chronic issues that a toilet can experience are frequent clogging, a loose handle, not flushing properly, intermittently running or even running constantly. If you find that the tips below don’t solve your problem, don’t hesitate to call for backup. It’s important to not let these issues linger as they could cause expensive repairs, irreversible damage and a high water bill, depending on the problem.

bathroom toilet handle

How to fix a toilet that won’t flush all the way

The first step in resolving this issue is identifying why it’s happening in the first place. There are two main reasons a toilet won’t flush all the way:

  1. The water level is too low. As a general rule, the water level in the tank should be one inch below the surface of the tank’s overflow tube.
  2. There have  been items flushed that aren’t toilet-friendly. Items like wipes, sanitary napkins and other foreign objects are not meant to be flushed and this can cause a backup in your pipes.

Follow these steps to diagnose and fix the problem:

  • If the water level appears too low in the tank, check the fill valve. The fill valve is located at the end of the float ball, usually on the left side of a tank. Sometimes these valves can shut off on their own, resulting in not enough water being pumped through. If your fill valve is a switch, simply flip it into the opposite position. If it's a screw, use a screwdriver to slowly adjust it, signaling to the valve that it needs to allow more water into the tank.
  • If the tank water level looks fine, check the water level in the toilet bowl. If it appears low, your issue may be in the pipes. Use a plunger and attempt to clear the blocked pipe.

 

How to fix a toilet that won’t flush at all

This is another common issue - are you moving the handle but nothing happens? Most likely, the handle chain has become unattached from the float ball, not triggering the valve seal to open. Open the tank and see if the chain is still connected. If not, hook it back up so that the handle triggers the valve once again.

If your chain is still connected but your toilet isn’t flushing, you need to work with a local plumbing expert immediately to get your bathroom functioning again.

 

Tips for solving common toilet problems

Like we originally said, because the toilet is used so often and constantly has water running through it, it’s vulnerable to issues every now and then. Fortunately, many of the most common problems can be fixed by homeowners without needing to call a plumbing professional. Here are a few of the most common toilet problems and how to fix them.

 

What causes a toilet to run constantly?

If your toilet is constantly running, this can not only be maddening, but can result in a higher than average water bill, too. More than likely, your flapper isn’t sealing properly. Remove the tank lid and watch it flush: you’ll see the flush lever lift the flapper so the clean water can enter the tank. If this flapper valve doesn’t seal properly, you’ll continue to hear water enter the tank although the flapper appears to be down.

 

How to unclog a toilet

A good old fashioned plunger and some elbow grease should do the trick. You can usually tell if a toilet is clogged if the water level in the bowl continues to rise when it’s being flushed, indicating that it’s slowly draining through the pipes. A few quick plunging tips: initially, the plunger cavity is filled with air and if you push hard your first time, you’ll splash water everywhere. That’s a bummer. Once you’ve removed the air and formed a good seal, alternate between forceful pushes and steady strokes. It’s important to keep enough water in the bowl so the plunger is covered, or else you’re just pushing air through the trap.

 

Why does my toilet randomly fill?

Sometimes your valve is stuck open, causing water to randomly enter the bowl, or maybe the flap isn’t secure over the hole. You could also have a shut off valve issue, interfering with how much water is entering the bowl at a time. There’s a four-step checklist to follow with more instruction for how to fix a toilet that randomly fills.

 

How to fix a loose toilet handle

Given the amount of times the handle is used in a day, it’s not uncommon for it to become loose and require tightening. Locate the nut on the inner side of the toilet that’s connected to the handle and use a wrench to tighten it. If you need to replace your handle entirely, it’s important to hang onto your old equipment and compare in-store to make sure you’re getting the right parts.

 

There you have it. Some of the most common toilet problems diagnosed and fixed. Fortunately for homeowners, these are the most common issues and you may not need to call a local plumbing expert at all. But how do you know when the issue is larger? How do you know when to replace a toilet? There are a few tell-tale signs that let you know that your toilet is beyond those random repairs and really should be replaced.

bathroom toilet

4 Signs You Need a New Toilet

How old is it? If you’ve had your toilet for more than 10 years, this is a good indication that a replacement is in your near future. While they are definitely meant to last a long time, if you’re entering double digits in age, keep an eye out for our other signs.

Cracks in the tank or the bowl. If you have visible cracks in either the bowl or the tank itself, you need to look into toilet replacement in Fairfax. These cracks will only get worse and you’ll end up with water on the floor.

Frequent repairs. Are you referencing this blog post frequently? Or are you calling a Fairfax plumbing expert too often? Don’t pour time and money into a piece of equipment that should just be replaced. Talk with your local plumbing expert about toilet replacement.

Frequent clogging. If you are finding that it is frequently clogging, this could mean your old, low-flush toilet is no longer getting the job done. While low-flush toilets are good for water savings, there are many new models and efficiency features that offer the same benefits without causing issue.

Here are a few more signs that it’s time to replace your toilet.

toilet paper

For larger plumbing issues, call the Virginia plumbing experts.

We think it’s important to share diagnostics and tips for common household repairs that every homeowner has the tools to complete. On the flip side, if your larger plumbing issue is going unattended, that could cause costly damage that’s tough to reverse. Knowing the difference between DIY fixes and larger plumbing issues is valuable knowledge to have.

When it's time for significant toilet repair or replacing a toilet, get in touch with Fairfax plumbing experts. Call John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule service online.