Toilet repair and maintenance will be required from time to time to keep it functioning correctly. Toilets are a necessary piece of your plumbing system that from time to time can cause you stress or worry. In this article we’ll cover how to repair and maintain your toilet to keep it working as it should.
The most likely causes of toilet problems:
- Tank leak
- Wax seal leak
- Crack in the porcelain
- Trip lever or chain malfunction
- Worn or dry-rotted flapper
- Sediment in fill valve or worn fill valve
Fill Valve vs. Flush Valve
Let’s start by clearing up one of the biggest misconceptions when describing the components of your toilet.
The Fill Valve is the vertical component on the most left side of the tank. It allows water to enter the tank by triggering the float that is set to a certain height. When the float reaches the trigger height the fill valve shuts off, not allowing anymore water to enter the tank.
The Flush Valve is the vertical tube in the center of your toilet that the flapper is seated on. Its purpose is to keep the water in the tank. When the tank trip lever is depressed the internal chain pulls the flapper valve up causing the tank to evacuate all the water inside. When you release the trip lever, the flapper falls with the gravity of water and then re-seats itself so that the tank will re-fill. This is the point where the Fill Valve takes over to replenish the evacuated water in the tank.
Causes of Toilet Leaks
Flappers leak when they are not properly sealed, the chain height is too short, or there is debris between the flapper and the flush valve housing.
The bolts that mount the tank to the bowl are made of brass but can, and do, rust. Over time they corrode, and any incidental leaning or movement of the tank can cause these to allow water to drip from the tank onto the floor. They will continue to drip as long there is water in the tank.
Wax rings fail when the toilet is not tightened properly or the flange that the toilet is mounted to is compromised. Oftentimes it is assumed that there is a bad wax seal when the real culprit is the tank, and it is leaking down the side of the bowl onto the floor. It gathers around the base of the toilet.
Repair or Replace Your Toilet
It is seldom necessary to replace a toilet. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous plumbers will try to convince you to replace a perfectly good toilet just to make a few extra dollars. Don’t listen to this nonsense. There is always a definite reason why your toilet is not flushing correctly. This can be caused by many different things including;
- Drain blockages
- Mold encrusted in the port holes due to ineffective cleaning
- Positive pressure on sanitary system by another source
- Flapper chain adjustment
- Fill valve adjustment
1.6 GPF or 1.28 GPF Toilets
As of July 1st, 2012 the Georgia General Assembly outlawed the sale of new 1.6 GPF (Gallon Per Flush) toilets. The only size available now is 1.28 GPF. The decrease in GPF has caused manufactures to increase the size of flapper and the integral P-trap within the porcelain housing. This lends to a quicker flush, and works well.
The “Lazy Flush” Toilet Problem
One toilet phenomenon known as “Lazy Flush” occurs on older toilets that were rated at 3 GPF or more. The port holes under the rim of the toilet can collect black mold. And if not cleaned or scrubbed properly, the mold can crystallize, not allowing the appropriate amount of water to surge into the bowl. The water then slowly spins as it eventually makes its way through the trap.
Tower vs. Flapper Valve Assemblies
Newer generation toilets use a tower style flushing assembly instead of a flapper valve. This allows a smaller volume of water to be dropped at a faster rate. The water passes through the trap with more velocity which allows less water to do the same job.
The main component failure for these types of toilets are a gasket or washer type of seal near the bottom of the tower’s housing. As they dry-rot or corrode they lose their seal and can stick. If you notice that your trip lever is starting to get harder to push or release back, then the seal needs to be replaced. These are readily available at most hardware stores.
Mansfield Plumbing designed these toilets years ago with their “tea cup assembly”. Champion Plumbing has always been a fan of Mansfield, and we highly recommend them. If and when they need to be repaired, it is always the gasket. It’s an easy and cheap repair that anyone can do.
If you need to replace a toilet that is broken, or just want a newer more environmentally friendly design, there are a few things to know. There are both round and elongated bowls, and your choice may be dictated by space. If your bathroom is narrow, you will need a round bowl. There are codes that mandate minimum partition spaces within bathrooms, especially ADA requirements.
Toilet Repair & Maintenance Expert
Champion Plumbing & Drain Cleaning in Canton, GA is happy to help guide you to make the best decision for your home and family. We’re the local expert in toilet repair & maintenance.