General Toilet Information

Plumbers refer to toilets as water closets or “closets” for short. A typical toilet has the following identifying parts:

A tank that sits atop the bowl and is attached by tank bolts and sealed with a sponge gasket

A trip lever handle that operates the flush valve

A flush valve with a flapper located in the center of the tank. Some make a flapper less flush valve now.

The tank has water that the level can be adjusted to the proper level, a half-inch below the top of the refill tube on the flush valve.

A Float cock that opens to refill the tank and bowl. The float cock is on the left side of the tank and has a small tube going to the refill tube on the flush valve.

Bolts that hold the toilet to the flange. These are called closet bolts and closet flange respectivelysan antonio plumbing

Toilet Constantly Runs

It’s the old problem of the toilet stopping and going all night. It can drive you crazy! You have probably done a little of your own investigating already.

By lifting the lid of the tank you can see what is going on. On a typical toilet, there is an apparatus in the center where all the water drains out to flush the bowl. It is called a flush valve. There is a rubber part that seals the valve and opens when the chain is pulled, it is called the flapper. The flapper must be in good condition to seal the tank. You most likely will need to replace the flapper. When you go to buy a new one, buy a Korky brand flapper. They make the best one. Kohler toilets and some other brands may require original replacement parts such as a large rubber washer that fits on a plastic flapper. More here @
The seat on which the flapper sits must be absolutely clean and smooth. Use a Scotch-Brite scrub sponge or pad to clean the seat before replacing the flapper. The chain connecting the flapper to the handle must be properly adjusted. A small amount of slack is just right. If you still have problems with water escaping into the bowl chances are you need a new flush valve. To be certain this is the problem before proceeding, turn off the water supply to the toilet and see if the tank drains on its own. If you replace the flush valve, you will want to replace the tank bolts and sponge gasket at the same time. The tank bolts may need to be cut to be removed.

Another problem that occurs in the tank is the apparatus on the left side known as the float cock. The water in the tank should be about a half-inch below the top of the flush valve fill tube, also known as the hush tube. A standard float cock with the ball on the end of the rod can easily be adjusted by bending the rod. If the float cock needs replacing, I recommend using a Fluidmaster brand float cock. It is easy to install and adjust. Please refer to replacing supplies and stops if needed.

Toilet Overflows

If the toilet overflows or gurgles when other drains are used you probably have a clogged main. If not, proceed to the next step.

By now you hopefully have stopped the toilet from overflowing, but if not be sure the water is off to the toilet.

Always attempt the easiest fix first. The Plumber’s Helper, the good old plunger. The proper plunger for a toilet is shaped more like a rubber ball than a cup. The correct action on the toilet plunger is the downward stroke to force the water down the drain. Be aggressive.

If the plunger doesn’t clear the toilet, the next easiest is the Closet Auger. The closet auger is a short snake designed to clear an object from the toilet itself. If you don’t have a closet auger, and most don’t, you can always remove the toilet and check it for objects.

Toilet Leaks

Toilets leak from one of three places: the base, the tank, or the supply connection. Leaks from the base are fixed by removing and replacing the toilet. Leaks from the tank require removing and replacing the tank

To remove the tank turn off the water to the toilet, empty the tank, and remove the tank bolts. Cut them if you have to.

Remove and replace the old sponge gasket sealing the tank to the bowl. Replace the tank bolts with new ones. If you can’t get the tank bolts to stop leaking, install an extra rubber washer, brass washer and nut between the tank and bowl. If the supply connection is leaking refer to repairing supply lines.

Toilet Doesn’t Operate

This section is for if you operate the handle and nothing happens.

Open the lid of the tank.

Check to be sure the chain is connected between the flapper and the flush handle.

Adjust the chain so that there is a tiny bit of slack.

If the handle is broke or droops replace it with a new one

Remember the toilet handles nut has a left-hand thread and is removed by turning it clockwise or to the right, the opposite of a standard nut.

Toilet is Loose

Remove the caps from the closet bolts (floor bolts).toilet repair

Tighten down the floor bolts.

If that doesn’t fix the problem you will need to remove and replace the toilet.

Removing and Replacing the Toilet

Turn the water supply off to the toilet. Flush the toilet. Remove all water from the toilet with a large sponge or wet vacuum.

Remove the caps from the closet bolts holding the toilet to the floor.

Remove the nuts from the closet bolts. If the bolts spin, use a pair of pliers on the nuts giving them upward pressure when removing them. If need be, cut the bolts with a hack saw or Sawzall.

If the toilet is caulked to the floor the caulking will need to be broken with a knife.

Prepare a place to set the toilet by laying down a rag or a piece of cardboard.

With hands-on either side of the toilet seat hinge area, gently lift the toilet out of place.

If you are reinstalling an old toilet, the wax will need to be removed from the bottom with a small putty knife.

Inspect the closet flange for damage to the area the bolts hold onto. If the flange is broken it will need to be replaced.

Install new closet bolts on the flange. If there is a hole under the place the bolts go they will need to be secured to the flange with a stainless or brass nut and washer.

Install a new wax ring with a plastic insert onto the flange. If the floor level is above the flange you may need to add an extra plain wax ring.

Lower the toilet directly in place so that the bolts go through the holes. You should feel the toilet rest on the wax and crush the wax ring as it is secured to the floor.

If you have two-piece bolt caps, place the base on first. Next place the metal washer and secure it with a nut. After the toilet is securely fastened, check it to see it doesn’t rotate or move in any way. If need be, shim up the bottom to keep it from rocking.

Attach the water supply. If need be, replace the washer on the toilet connection. If the supply is corrugated copper the washer will need form-fitting threads on the inside.

Turn on the water and test for leaks flushing the toilet several times.

Cut off the excess closet bolts with a hacksaw or Sawzall being careful not to damage the porcelain. Install the bolt caps

Caulk the base of the toilet and install the seat if needed.
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