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How to: Fixing a Toilet

The truth is that a toilet is a simple thing.  There are two moving parts: the float and valve assembly, and the stopper that controls the release of water.  When pressed, a Venturi effect sucks down (hopefully) the waste, & your back to the “game.”

But…parts come loose, break, ect & then your toilet isn’t working.  Follow these steps to a cleaner get-away:

1)  Check the connection between the handle and the stopper valve.  A chain connects the two pieces & can get stuck, not allowing it to flush.

2)  Check the stopper valve.  It should easily flop into its “seat” and seal the tank.  If its not seated, that’s when a toilet “leaks or runs.”    Sometimes you can tweak the hinge on the valve to get it to seat properly.  If not, it’ll need replacing.

3)  Check the float.  The traditional float is a big ball, more modern designs have a do-nut, at the end of a rod, which controls the value after the flush.     Either way, if the tank isn’t filling up as much as needed to flush properly, make sure the float isn’t leaking.  If it is, it’ll need replacing.

Let’s say all your work to now has gone unnoticed; you’ll need to replace the GUTS!

You can spend a lot or a little.  The expensive ones are quieter, but other than that, it doesn’t matter.  Fifteen bucks will do the job.  It’s a toilet.

Remove Old Toilet Guts

2)  Disconnect the flushing handle from the stopper on the inside.  It should be a simple chain or other mechanism you can do by hand.

3)  Shut off the water.  The valve below the toilet – turn and it should stop supplying water to the bowl.

4)  Drain the tank.  Easy to do–flush the toilet by reaching in and pulling the stopper up.  The tank will not refill because you shut the water off.  To keep things a little neater, you could sponge out the remaining water and wring it into the bowl.  It makes for less dripping later.

You’ll notice I use braided steel-covered supply lines.  They’re probably overkill, but it’s cheap insurance.  Your mileage may vary.

5)  Loosen the supply hose at the valve.  Use a proper wrench…not a crescent wrench.  Let it drain into a small pan.  Then loosen the supply hose at the fitting under the tank.  Proceed carefully here.

6)  Loosen the big, plastic nut under the tank where the supply hose entered.  It’s a bigger plastic knob that attaches the guts on the inside of the toilet.  Water will leak out here, but it’s clean water, just like from the tap.  Continue to loosen it and remove the guts.

7)  Pull off the old stopper thing.

Congrats, your toilet is now dry and useless.  Time to fix that problem.  Here’s the dead one below.

Install New Toilet Guts

1)  Reinstall the new guts by dropping it through the hole in the tank.  There should be quite a bit of gasketing here.  Make sure the area is clean so the new gasket seals properly.  Get a friend to hold it in place while you tighten the big nut underneath the tank.  If you overtighten it, you might crack the plastic, so just go until it’s snug.

Proper building code says that the overflow tube has to be at least an inch above the full level.  Different assemblies adjust differently.  This one adjusts by twisting the whole mechanism and sliding it up and down, then twisting to lock it.  The float is internal in that white part that sticks off to the side of the water feed.

2)  Attach the supply hose to the bottom of the tank.  Finger tight only, but do turn it until it stops. No need to use Teflon tape here; it’s plastic to plastic.  No wrenches.

3)  Attach the supply hose to the faucet.  Here it’s metal to metal, so use a bit of Teflon tape.  Just wrap the threads, then re-attach.  Non-crescent wrenches work best.

4)  Turn the water on, no leaks please!  Your fill hose should squirt into the overflow as noted. The tank won’t fill here, you’re just checking your connections.  Turn the water off.

5)  Install your new stopper. This should be easy

6)  Reattach the chain from the stopper to the toilet handle, adjusting the chain so it is as taut as possible without lifting the stopper.  Test by flushing a few times.  The stopper should drop on its seat when the water reaches the bottom of the tank.  If it doesn’t, adjust it a little until it does so consistently.

That’s it.  Your toilet is now operational again, simple as that.