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Toilet Troubleshooting

The average person flushes the toilet about five times per day.  This means that a family of four flushes the toilet around 7,300 times per year.  That’s a whole lot of flushing, and it means that the toilet is a very important fixture.  When the commode stops working or isn’t working properly, it can cause a lot of trouble.  Here are a few common problems and how to address them.


Water Trickling into the Bowl:  Plumbers often call this “phantom flushing,” because it sounds as though someone has recently flushed the toilet even though they haven’t.  What’s actually happening is that there is a small leak from the tank into the bowl.  Usually, this means there is a problem with the flapper or the flapper seat, the parts that allow the water from the tank to flush into the bowl.  Drain the tank so you can inspect and clean the flapper and flapper seat.  Replace them if they’re worn or damaged.

Water Trickling into the Tank:  If you hear a hissing sound, this may be your problem.  Water is constantly coming into the tank and isn’t being shut off by the float.  Make sure the float arm isn’t sticking, and adjust it if necessary.  Also make sure the refill tube is only about a quarter of an inch below the rim of the overflow tube.  If you’re still having trouble, you may need to replace the ballcock assembly.

Bad Seals:  There are several seals on a toilet, and each of them could cause a problem if they go bad.  Your seals may need replacing if you find water leaking outside the toilet, such as between the toilet and the bowl.  In this instance, the tank will need to be removed and the seal replaced.  There is also a wax seal that goes underneath the toilet base and sits on a plastic flange.  If this leaks, it can cause major damage to the floor around the toilet.  The entire toilet will need to be removed and the seal replaced.  This is a task that may require the help of a professional plumber, especially if the plastic flange is broken or cracked.

Won’t Flush:  If you push the handle and nothing happens, you could have one of several issues.  Check the lift chain on the flapper to make sure it is still attached to the lever on the back side of the handle.  You may need to tighten or even replace the handle if the lever is corroded.  Also, make sure the water supply valve is on and allowing water to fill the tank.


Remember never to get in over your head when it comes to plumbing issues.  A&W Plumbing is happy to help with our fast, friendly service.  Just give us a call at 618-687-5862.