Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them Yourself

Common Toilet Problems


You may have renovated or shifted to a new house and decided to get the best flushing toilet from the market. You get all the installations done and are marveling at the beauty of this stunning piece of porcelain, thinking you have finally got rid of all your toilet woes. But, just a few months down the line, you are woken up by the sudden flushing of your toilet. You wonder if you have got a ghostly company, but in most of the cases, it is nothing else than a phantom flush. While toilets work on a fairly simple mechanism, their frequent use can cause the components to wear out over time causing common toilet problems such as overflowing or constantly running toilets, leaky seals, sweating toilets, etc.


So what do you do? Do you call for help, Google for common toilet problems and solutions, or wait for the issue to vanish on its own? While you may want to call professional help for troubleshooting toilet problems, mind you, it doesn’t come cheap. Moreover, some of these common toilet problems such as leak issues can be fixed on your own. Imagine the money that you will save plus the satisfaction of dealing with a dire situation on your own. And, if the DIYer in you is looking for something to work on, you have a new task at hand. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to get your hands dirty for troubleshooting toilet problems on your own. Being a DIYer you must have already searched for toilet flush problems – how to fix it? But didn’t get a satisfactory response? It may be because you aren’t fully aware about the functioning of a toilet.


So, before we delve into the common toilet problems and how to fix them, let’s begin by understanding how a toilet works.



How a Toilet Works

For troubleshooting toilet problems and understanding how the flush mechanism works, remove the lid of the flush tank and keep it safely aside. Now push the flush lever down and follow how the water is flushed into the bowl and how the tank refills. Here is what you will notice in 90 percent of the household toilets.


  • As soon as you push or pull the flush lever, you will see a horizontal rod attached to the lever from the inside of the tank cause a vertically dropped chain to lift up. This chain, on the other end, is attached to the flapper that opens the flush valve and causes the water to rush out of the tank into the bowl.
  • The water siphons out the waste from the bowl through the trapway into your home’s drainage system.
  • Once the tank empties, the flapper drops back to seal off the flush valve opening. Most of the common toilet problems and solutions are related to fixing the flush valve.
  • Simultaneously, as the water level drops, it causes the float cup/float ball to drop in the tank which then opens the supply valve attached to the water supply pipe that feeds water into the tank. The function of this float cup/ball is to move up and down to sense the water level in the tank and seal the supply valve when the water reaches an appropriate level.
  • As the water continues to fill the tank, a small amount is also sent into the toilet bowl to replenish the standing water via the refill tube and the overflow tube to prevent the sewage gases from traveling back inside the toilet. This overflow tube is attached to the flush valve and serves as a safety mark to prevent any overflow in the tank. Any excess water topples the overflow tube and is transferred to the bowl.
  • Once the water level is reached the supply valve is closed shut due to the float ball and the water supply is cut off making your tank ready for the next flush.
  • Now that you know about the different parts of a flush mechanism, you should be able to figure out where the problem lies. You’re one step closer to your answer for toilet flush problems – how to fix them? So, it’s time to understand the common toilet problems and begin troubleshooting toilet problems on your own.



Common Toilet Problems and Solutions

1. How To Stop A Running Toilet?

A constantly running toilet is one of the most common toilet problems that can cause your water bills to soar up pretty quickly. However, troubleshooting toilet problems such as this one is pretty easy and you can fix the issue in the fill tank. So, if you find that your toilet doesn’t stop running it can be due to the water level inside the tank being too high that causes excess water to pass through the overflow tube into the bowl. On the other hand, it can also be due to the flapper not shutting off the water supply in the flush valve causing the water to seep into the bowl.


  1. Begin dealing with these toilet problems and solutions by shutting off the water supply. In the first case, pull up the float arm to check if it is shutting off the water supply. If it does shut off the supply, you can adjust the float arm by bending it to a level so that the tank stops filling when the water level reaches ½ to 1 inch below the rim of the overflow tube. The float arms usually have a screw mechanism to adjust the height.
  2. In case adjusting the height doesn’t stop the water flow, you may need to open the fill valve to check for any debris or mineral deposit that may be obstructing the valve from sealing off. Do follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning the debris of your fill valve.
  3. On the other hand, if the flapper is not sealing the flush valve completely, the flapper may be worn out and needs to be replaced. It can also lead to a phantom flush where the toilet flushes automatically without pressing the flush lever. To fix toilet problems of the flapper, first, disconnect the chain from the flush handle. Unlatch the flapper from the pegs and replace it with a new one. Turn on the water supply and flush to check the flapper.
  4. However, even if after making both the adjustments the toilet problems and solutions don’t help, you will have to replace the fill valve.


2. How To Fix A Slow Filling Toilet?

Next up in toilet problems and solutions are the common toilet problems of a slow filling tank. A toilet tank on average takes approx. three minutes to refill. If not, you may need to check the water supply valve. But don’t worry; troubleshooting toilet problems with the supply are easy to tackle.


Make sure that the water shut off that supplies water to the tank is completely open. If you have a flexible water supply, you can shut off the supply and disconnect the line. Place the line in a bucket and open the water supply to check the pressure. If you are experiencing low pressure in the supply, you will have to get the problem fixed in the waterline by a professional.



3. Toilet Won’t Flush Correctly: Toilet Flush Problems – How to Fix Them?

  1. How to unclog a toilet? Guide to one of the most common toilet problems and how to fix them.

    Having a clogged toilet is amongst the worst toilet problems and how to fix them is the most searched question on the internet. If you happen to face one of these common toilet problems, as soon as you notice the clog, turn off the water supply. This will prevent your bathroom from becoming a mess pool.

    1. Using a PlungerThe easiest way to fix toilet problems of clogging is to force out the blockage in the toilet trap with the help of a plunger. To do so, cover the drain hole inside the bowl with the plunger cup and push the handle up and down a few times. Wait for 15-30 seconds and the water should recede. If the clog persists repeat the process a few times. Once the water clears out, reopen the water supply and use the flush to wash out any remaining obstructions.
    2. Tips to Prevent Common Toilet Problems of Clogging
      • To avoid troubleshooting toilet problems in the first place, avoid flushing heavy paper towels, loose hair, Kleenex, sanitary waste, condoms, etc. into the toilet.
      • Instead of looking for the toilet problems and solutions you can also consider getting a drain maintenance treatment to reduce buildup in pipes.
      • If you have a septic tank in your home, make sure to get it checked by a professional once every 2-3 years.
  2. Toilet doesn’t flush: Most common toilet flush problem – How to fix?

    1. First, check that the flush handle is neither too loose nor too tight. You can adjust it by screwing the nut present inside the tank.
    2. Check the flush lever arm and replace it if there is any breakage.
    3. Other common toilet problems are with the lift chain that can prevent the toilet from flushing. Make sure that the chain is loosely attached between the lift arm and the flapper. Untangle and adjust the slack in the chain by hooking it onto the handle lever through a different link.
    4. Another way of troubleshooting toilet problems with the flush is to make sure that the flapper seals off the flush valve opening. Sometimes the gasket may have worn out or is damaged. Replacing it should fix toilet problems.
  3. How do you fix a toilet that won’t flush completely?

    1. Check whether the water level in your tank is at an optimum level (1/2 -1 inch below the overflow tube). Adjust the water level by adjusting the float arm.
    2. Check that the lift chain does not have excess slack that can cause the flapper to close before the tank is emptied completely. Adjust accordingly.
    3. In case you have installed a new flapper make sure it is of the correct size and type for your toilet.


4. How Do You Fix A Noisy Toilet?

Troubleshooting toilet problems related to a running toilet or ghost flushing involves a series of checks. If the noise is due to the constant sound of water flowing, refer to the first pointer of our common toilet problems and solutions.


  1. A warped or an ill-fitted flapper can cause constant leaks. Put firm pressure on the flapper and check the water level in the tank. If the level rises up, you will need to replace the flapper.
  2. Another way of troubleshooting toilet problems of noise can be to address ghost flushing. In some cases, the ghost flushing/phantom flushing can be caused due to issues with the fill valve or flush valve. Check for any leaks or build up that is causing the leak.
  3. Also, check that the refill tube that runs from the fill valve is not disconnected and draining into the overflow tube.


5. How To Fix A Leaky Toilet?

Troubleshooting toilet problems of leaks are one of the hardest to figure out as the leak can occur at various points and they often go undetected since the leak occurs without making any sound. However, these common toilet problems and solutions can be traced to the flush valve.

Here are the most common leaky toilet problems and solutions:


  1. Leaks from the flush valve

    If you are facing such toilet flush problems – how to fix them needs the following steps:

    1. Flush once and let the flapper drop.
    2. Let the tank refill and add a few drops of food color. You can also drop a colored dye tablet that you can easily find at any hardware store.
    3. Wait for 15-20 minutes and come back to check the water in the bowl. If the bowl shows any colored water, there is a leak through the flush valve.
    4. The leak can be fixed by replacing the float cup/float ball, installing a new flapper, or replacing the entire flush valve.
  2. Leak from the water supply valve

    1. Check the connection of the supply line to the supply valve to see if it needs tightening.
    2. If needed, hold the supply pipe and use an adjustable wrench to tighten the nut behind the supply valve. Go only 1/8 of a turn every time to avoid damaging the valve.
    3. In case the supply line is more than 5-years old, you may consider replacing it.
  3. Leakage where the supply line enters the tank

    1. Tighten the supply line connection to the tank.
    2. Also, check that the fill valve mechanism is firmly secured to the base of the flush tank.
  4. Leaks where the tank connects to the bowl

    1. Make sure that the bolts that fasten the tank to the bowl are tight enough to prevent leaks. Tighten them if needed.
    2. In case the leakage persists, try replacing the bolts and the gasket present between the tank and the toilet base.
    3. Sometimes the tank may be cracked; in such a case replacing the tank should fix toilet problems. Else, you must consider replacing your entire toilet with a new one.
  5. Troubleshooting Toilet Problems of Leaks near the floor

    1. Leaks where the toilet if fixed on the floor can often occur from the mounting bolts or if the toilet is not fixed in the right position.
    2. Try tightening the bolts first. If that doesn’t help, you will have to uninstall the pot and check the bolts and the wax ring that seals the toilet to the sewage pipe. Replacing the wax ring can also stop the leak sometimes.
    3. In case there are cracks at the base of the toilet, the only way to fix toilet problems of leaks is to replace the toilet.
  6. Water dripping from the side of the tank

    1. The first step for resolving such toilet problems and solutions is to check the tank for any cracks. In such a case, there is no other option but to replace the tank.
    2. Sometimes, the water that you notice on the tank can be the condensed water that collects on the surface when the cool water enters the tank of a warm or humid bathroom. To prevent so make sure that your bathroom is well ventilated. Using the exhaust fan should also help.
    3. In some cases, the condensation can also be caused due to leak from the flapper causing the tank to drain continuously and the cool water keeps refilling the warmer tank. In such a case, fixing the flapper should do away with the condensation.


6. How To Fix A Loose Flush Hand?

If you have been rummaging through common toilet problems and solutions to fix toilet problems of a loose flush, following the below steps should help.

      • If the flush handle has disconnected from the rest of the flush mechanism, reconnect the lift chain to the lift arm.
      • Make sure that the flush/lift arm pulls up the chain and opens the flapper correctly. In case there is extra slack in the chain, reconnect the chain with a lower link.
      • Make sure that the nut holding the handle from the inside is tight enough. If needed, turn the nut anticlockwise to tighten it.
      • Clean the handle nut and the shaft to ensure that it functions smoothly.



7. Overflowing Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them?

Amongst the common toilet problems and solutions, troubleshooting toilet problems of an overflowing tank or bowl can be quite frustrating. An overflowing tank can result from worn out or damaged valves. It can also be caused if the level of the float ball is too high. The level can be adjusted by adjusting the clips attached to the float rod. Sometimes accumulated debris on different flush parts can also result in a leak and overflowing tanks. Follow the manufacturer’s guide to clean the parts correctly and safely.


The second scenario and the worst case can be of an overflowing toilet bowl. This usually occurs due to a clog in the trapway. Your first reaction should be to cut off the water supply to the tank. In case you do not have a flexible water supply, pull up the float ball to stop the water from filling into the tank. However, you will need extra hands here to keep the float ball in a pulled-up position to prevent the water from refilling while you salvage the situation with a plunger.



8. What Causes The Water Level In The Toilet Bowl To Drop?

Low water-level in the bowl can be due to several common toilet problems. Troubleshooting toilet problems will fix the problem of low water levels in the bowl.

      • Check that the tank fill tube is not damaged and is correctly positioned.
      • Make sure that the water level inside the tank is adjusted to the right height. Ideally, it should be 1-2 inches below the fill valve and the overflow tube. You can make adjustments with the float ball or the float cup.
      • Sometimes, prolonged use can clog the holes present inside the rim of the bowl which prevents the water from flowing freely. You can check the blockage by running a mirror along the inner edges of the bowl. To fix toilet problems of clogged inlets, pour hot vinegar in the overflow tube and let it sit for at least an hour. Run a full flush to clear out the loosened debris.
      • If none of these toilet problems and solutions works inspect the bowl for cracks. You may need to replace the bowl ultimately.



9. How Can You Stop Condensation and Moisture In Your Toilet?

You may have inspected every inch of your toilet tank and bowl but cannot seem to figure out your toilet problems and how to fix them. However, what you may be considering as a leak is in fact moisture accumulating on your tank or bowl surface. This is again one of the most common toilet problems for people living in colder climates. To get rid of the condensation, you can try installing tank insulation that is easy to install on your own and is also readily available at the hardware stores.



10. Rusty Hinges: What Are The Reasons For This Toilet Problem and Solutions To Fix It?

Just like any other metal part, the hinge screws on a toilet seat are prone to rust due to frequent exposure to water. However, these toilet problems and solutions to fix them are easier than you thought. To prevent rusting in the first place, get hold of clear nail paint and dab some on the screw heads to insulate them completely. On the other hand, if the screws have already rusted, you can fill the holes with a sealant such as caulk.




Troubleshooting Toilet Problems: Tips to Keep In Mind

To avoid any mishaps or damages while you try to deal with common toilet problems and solutions, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind.


      • When beginning to fix toilet problems, remove the toilet lid carefully and place in a safe location to avoid any damage due to slip.
      • Do not apply too much elbow grease trying to tighten the nuts and screws. Over-tightening the metallic nuts can lead to cracks in the porcelain toilets. Also, over-screwing plastic fasteners will damage them.
      • Another great tip for toilet problems and solutions is to apply tape on the jaws and pliers before using them on the connectors and fasteners. This will prevent scratches on the metal parts.
      • Make sure to follow the codes that apply to plumbing while addressing common toilet problems.
      • If you still cannot figure out your home’s toilet problems and how to fix them, it is best to contact a licensed plumber.




With that, we come to the end of our article on how to fix toilet problems. Troubleshooting toilet problems on your own isn’t easy and we hope that you found our take on toilet problems and how to fix them informative and helpful. We cannot deny the fact that troubleshooting toilet problems may seem a daunting task, but with some careful analysis and patience you can deal with the common toilet problems on your own. While we have tried to cover most of the common toilet problems and solutions and give out detailed steps that you can follow to fix toilet problems, there is absolutely no harm in seeking professional help for your common toilet problems and solutions instead of troubleshooting toilet problems on your own if you have a costly toilet installed at home and you fear damaging its delicate parts.