We don’t have to remind you that your toilet is one of the most important appliances in your home. There are a lot of appliances that are nice but not necessary, and the toilet is not one of them. Because it is so important, we think everyone should have a basic understanding of how the toilet works and some of the most common issues people experience with their toilets.
Let’s talk about how the toilet functions. You push the lever and the wastewater magically disappears and is replaced with clean water, right? Not quite. There are five steps that take place each time the toilet is flushed.
When you push the handle to flush, a chain lifts the flapper valve. Water from the tank then flows through the flush valve opening into the toilet bowl. The water from the tank forces the wastewater in the bowl through the trap and into the main drain. Once the tank is empty, the flapper valve closes and the fill valve opens, refilling the tank. Once the tank is full, the float ball shuts off the fill valve.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the toilet’s inner workings, let’s tackle four of the most common problems people encounter with their toilets.
Have you ever heard a toilet that always sounds like it has just been flushed? That’s what a running toilet is. It’s also referred to as a ‘phantom flush’. A running toilet is caused when the flush valve ages and hardens, allowing water to constantly escape into the toilet bowl. This issue is definitely an annoying one, but it can also be quite messy if not repaired properly.
Leaking toilet bowl
A leaking toilet bowl is most often caused by a defective wax ring. In rare cases, it can be caused by a crack in the porcelain of the toilet bowl.
A partial flush is when the toilet flushes, but not all the way. If your toilet isn’t flushing fully, there are generally three potential causes:
- There could be too much slack in the lift chain.
- There could be too low of a level of water in the tank.
- The flapper may not be installed properly or isn’t the correct model.
Strong but partial flush
This issue is very similar to the partial flush, but is signified by the flush seeming to be strong, yet still not flushing all the way. This issue is often related to the flush valve volume. If the valve becomes waterlogged and is dropping too fast, the strong but partial flush will occur. If you take the lid off your tank and watch as you flush the toilet, the flush valve should stay up until about 80% of the water has drained from the tank. If the valve does not stay up that long, it’s time to install a new one.