How to Solve Common Toilet Issues

Why is it that it is almost impossible to leave out toilets from the list of common plumbing problems?  For one, it is frequently used making it susceptible to breakdown.  Another possible reason is that many homeowners often take for granted toilet issues thinking it is just a “small” thing.  Let us take a look at some of the common toilet issues that you may encounter.

Phantom Flushing

This is a condition wherein you may hear your toilet seemingly flush by itself and spontaneously refill after.  What is causing this problem?  Normally, the source is an extremely slow leak that allows the water to flow from the tank and into the bowl.  This happens when the flapper or flapper seat has gone bad.  Since this is the case, the obvious solution is to replace the damaged part.

Before you do anything though, make sure that you turn of the shutoff valve under the toilet and completely drain the tank and bowl.  Make sure that you clean the flapper seat before replacing the damaged components.  Check for leaks after reassembling the contents of the tank.

Sustained Hissing Sound

This is something that is often taken for granted by many homeowners thinking it is just the tank filling up.  However, the sustained hissing sound is a possible indication that there is water trickling in to the tank coming from the supply line.  When this happens, the float, refill tube, inlet valve assembly, and ballcock are just some of the parts that may be affected.

To deal with this problem, test if the float is sticking, maybe it needs to be adjusted.  If that does not solve the problem, make sure that the refill tube is only inserted about ¼ inch from the rim of the overflow pipe.  If the hissing sound persists, replacing the ballcock assembly is in order.


toilet bowl

This will eventually happen, especially if you are not careful what goes into your toilet bowl.  In fact, one of the most common reason for toilet clogs is that people throw things like cotton balls, sanitary napkins, diapers, and other materials that should go into the trash bin instead of the toilet bowl.

For minor clogs, snaking and plunging would usually do the trick.  It is important to point out that many homeowners are not aware that there is a different type of plunger designed specifically for the toilet; so you need that one.  The cup of the plunger should be submerged in water at least an inch deep.  Vigorously plunge about 10 times and check.  If necessary, repeat about 2 to 3 times.

If this does not remove the clogging, proceed with snaking the toilet to dislodge the obstruction.  Gently push the snake forward to make sure that you do not damage the finish of the bowl.

Leaking Seals

Did you know that seals normally get worn out or damaged, leading to leaks?  With the standard toilet having five seals at the very least, you can imagine why the toilet is one of the more problematic plumbing fixture.

The largest seal can be found between the bowl and the tank.  When this seal breaks, you are facing a major leak that can flood your bathroom floor every time you flush.  You need to cut off the water supply and completely drain the tank before you remove it.  Place the tank upside down on a stable table to remove the old seal and replace it with a new one.

Based on, you should check the smaller seals of the mounting bolts so you can replace them at the same time if necessary.  These are also responsible for smaller leaks.  In case you are not aware of it, there is a seal at the base of the toilet touching the bathroom floor.  This wax seal can rot and break causing leaks that will damage your bathroom floor and the ceiling underneath it.  Repairing this seal requires removing the toilet and replacing the wax seal.

Keep in mind that every time you work with your toilet plumbing, you should turn off the shutoff valve underneath.  If there is none, the main shutoff valve should be turned off.