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DIY Plumbing Guide to Fix a Leaky Toilet

DIY Plumbing

We’ve all heard the ever-irritating sound of a leaky toilet. While your toilet consists of many parts, people are often surprised to know that it’s possible to fix a leaky toilet without a professional. In this DIY plumbing guide, we’ll walk you through some common problems and how to proceed with a DIY repair.

PARTS OF A TOILET

THE TOILET TANK

The tank is often the source of a leak. It contains several moving parts and holds a large quantity of water, which is used to force waste out of the bowl when you flush. Waste then passes directly through the drain and toward the sewer lines. A leak is therefore quite inconvenient, but can be addressed by checking the:

TOILET FILL VALVE

The ballcock or refill valve fills the tank with water. Typically located on the left side of the tank, it may be in the form of a plunger-type ballcock made of brass, a diaphragm-type ballcock of brass or plastic, float cup fill valve, or a floatless fill valve. All types move up and down with the water level; the open the water supply valve when the water level falls, and turn off automatically when water rises to a certain level.

When the fill valve doesn’t work properly, water can continue rising until it spills over into the bowl. You can address the problem by:

  • • Adjusting the float by turning the screw at the top of the ballcock. This lets you reduce the water level in the tank.
  • • Inspecting the float for holes or to see if it’s too low in the water. If so, the inlet valve will never be tripped.
  • • Turn off the water to test the inlet valve; then flush the toilet, hold down the handle, and use a sponge to absorb excess water.
  • • Replace the ballcock assembly. The ballcock is secured with a nut, which can be removed with slip-joint pliers; then push up from the bottom to lift out the assembly. Next, drop the new one into place, treading a new nut from under the tank and re-tightening. Reattach the supply line and clip in a new refill tube before turning the water back on.

YOUR TOILET’S FLUSH VALVE

The flush valve in the center of the tank is triggered with a rubber or neoprene flapper or float ball that sits against the valve opening. Its purpose is to keep water in the tank until you move the flush handle, which it’s connected to with a chain or lift wire. The flush valve is also attached to an overflow tube.

A leaky toilet or running toilet may be caused by the flapper not seating correctly over the flush valve opening or the water level being too high. Either adjust the water level or adjust/replace the flapper valve. If the flush handle has become loose or disconnected, reconnect the lift chain or wire to the flapper or adjust the handle mounting nut in the tank (tightening it requires a counterclockwise turn).

HOW TO CHECK YOUR FLAPPER

  1. Drain the tank
  2. Turn off the water (using the shutoff valve)
  3. Flush and hold down the handle
  4. Clean the flapper seat with a cloth
  5. Check whether it is cracked, split, or worn.

A new flapper will fit onto the hinges near the bottom of the overflow tube.

TOILET BASE LEAKS

The base of the toilet is a less common source of leakage. A wax ring seals the base to the drain opening; if this seal is worn or damaged, water can pool up on the floor. Replacing the ring is the only solution.

For replacement, purchase a new ring, disconnect/remove the toilet, remove the old wax with a putty knife, and place the new wax ring over the drain opening. The plastic cone must face downward into the drain and the tee bolts must be positioned in the key openings on the sides of the drain flange. With the toilet reinstalled, it should be leak-free.

Other components that may need to be fixed include the:

  • Gasket, which seals the connection between the tank and bowl.
  • Closet bolt, which holds the bowl to the flange; loose bolts/nuts can cause the toilet to rock.
  • Closet flange, which anchors the toilet to the floor.

CONTACT THE AC HERO

Our plumbers can easily fix your leaky toilet if you don’t have the tools, equipment, or confidence to do so on your own. A professional knows what to look for and can check whether there are other hidden problems to correct. Plus, we have all toilet parts in stock and are committed to fixing all problems permanently. We offer 24/7 emergency service and fast response times. If you have a toilet leak and don’t want to chance a DIY repair, schedule service online or call (817) 631-2507 today.