Sure your apartment has a superintendent that handles most of the repairs, but when you have toilet issues most of the time a fix is needed ASAP. In this post we’re providing some DIY advice for correcting common toilet problems as well as pointing out when a pro will be needed to get your toilet back on track.
How to Turn Off the Water to Your Toilet
One crucial step that’s needed to fix many toilet troubles is turning off the water. It’s a must if overflowing becomes an issue. If you only learn how to do one thing on your toilet, turning off the water is the most useful.
• Step 1 – Locate the water shutoff valve. It’s the line coming out of the wall behind the toilet.
• Step 2 – There is a knob that turns to open and close the shutoff valve. Try giving it a turn to shut the water supply off.
• Step 3 – If it’s an older valve that hasn’t been turned off lately the knob may not move smoothly. If this is the case hit it with some W-D 40 to loosen it up so it’s easy to turn during an emergency.
Using a plunger to clear a toilet clog is pretty much self-explanatory. As long as there is water in the bowl that can fully cover the suction cup this should always be your first step. Also consider using a force-cup plunger instead of the standard issue plunger. A force-cup design has a bulb that’s inserted into the drain and tends to be more effective than a regular plunger.
But what if the plunger isn’t able to de-gunk the pipe? It’s time to bust out a closet auger. One end of the auger is inserted down into the drain. As it is pushed down you need to twist the handle to keep it going. This tool can get down deeper into the drain and force out a difficult clog. Just be careful because an auger can scratch the finish on the toilet.
When something blocks the plumbing instead of going down the drain water will fill the bowl and at times overflow. To avoid this never flush the toilet once you realize there’s a clog blocking the drain. Trust us, if it didn’t flush the first time another try isn’t going to magically solve the problem. Next, turn the water off using the steps above. This will keep any more water from filling the tank and bowl. Follow the steps directly above for unclogging the toilet. Once the clog is out of the way the water should drain out and the overflow will be averted. Then, and only then, turn the water back on.
Tank or Toilet is Not Filling
Does it always seem to take your tank forever to fill up so you can flush? While this isn’t as serious as other toilet issues it can be very bothersome. If you’d rather not wait for a super to come fix it, here’s how you can DIY this toilet problem.
• Step 1 – Take the lid to the tank off.
• Step 2 – Check the water level – it should be within an inch or so of the overflow tube.
• Step 3 – Lift the float arm up to get the water flowing into the tank again. The float arm is the lever with the ball on the end.
If the tank is full but the toilet bowl still isn’t filling properly then the problem lies with the flapper valve. Water enters the bowl through an outlet in the bottom of the tank that is covered by the flapper valve. The valve is connected to a chain that connects to the trip lever, which is connected to the flush handle. You may need to connect the trip lever at a lower point on the chain so that the valve lifts higher and stays open longer when the toilet is flushed. You may also need to bend the float arm up slightly so that more water enters the tank. That way more water will flow into the toilet with each flush.
If that doesn’t do the trick call the superintendent to take a look at the ports underneath the toilet bowl. They may be clogged and need cleaning.
Water Runs Continuously
At some point we’ve all heard the annoying sound of the water running and running long after the toilet has been flushed. But this is more than just a noise nuisance; it can also make your water bill go up.
If water is trickling into the bowl the problem most likely lies in the flapper valve not sitting squarely in the valve seat. Open the lid to see whether or not it’s properly sealed. If not, check to see if anything is out of line or if adjustments can be made to the trip lever and/or its chain to fix the alignment problem.
If it’s still out of whack after making adjustments you’ll need get the superintendent to come by and take a look at it. Most likely the flapper valve or seat needs to be replaced.
If water is trickling into the tank there could be one of several things going on.
• Step 1 – Look to see if the float arm needs to be adjusted because it’s sticking.
• Step 2 – If the float arm isn’t the issue see if the line going from the ballcock assembly to overflow tube is inserted too far into the latter. It should only go in about a quarter of an inch.
• Step 3 – If neither of those is the problem that superintendent may need to replace the ballcock assembly.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing the work on your own or don’t fully understand the mechanisms it’s best to leave the work to your resident super even if it means waiting until the next day for a proper flush.