Solving Common Toilet Problems

What can you do if too little water comes from the tank to flush the toilet bowl clean?

Step 1: Check the water level in the tank. It’s probably too low. If the water level doesn’t reach within 1 ½ inches of the top of the overflow tube, bend the float arm up slightly to let more water enter the tank.

Step 2: If the water level is correct but there’s still not enough water coming from the tank to clean the bowl properly, the problem may be the tank ball on the flush valve seat the bottom of the tank. The ball is probably dropping too soon because the guide is set too low. Raise the guide, but make sure it stays in line with the lift wire. If the guide and the wire are out of alignment, the tank ball will not drop straight into the valve seat opening, and the toilet will run continuously.

Step 3: Look for other cause of inadequate flushing. The small ports around the underside of the toilet bowl’s rim can get clogged with residue from chemicals in the water and prevent a sufficient amount of tank water from running out into the bowl. A small mirror can help you examine the holes, and a piece of wire coat hanger or an offset Phillips screwdriver—if one is available—can ream out any clogged debris.

Here’s another common problem among toilets. Toilet tanks can sweat and drip onto your floors just as the pipes can. There are jackets designed specifically to fit over the tank and absorb the moisture. There are also drip pans that fit under the tank to catch the dripping condensation so that it doesn’t damage your bathroom floor. A device called a temperator valve is another way to combat tank sweating. The valve provides a regulated mixture of hot and cold water, which lessens the difference between the temperature inside the tank and the temperature of the surrounding air. It is this difference in temperature that causes condensation, or sweating. Consider installing a temperator valve if the water in the tank is usually below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Too little water in the toilet bowl to keep it clean when flushing? Is your toilet sweating? Learn how to solve the most common toilet problems with our helpful step-by-step guide.
The temperator valve, which requires both hot-water and cold-water supply connections, can reduce toilet tank sweating.

A temperator valve requires you to hook up a hot-water line to the valve, which may be quite inconvenient if there is no such line relatively close to the toilet. Moreover, the temperator valve does not prevent the water inside the tank from cooling between flushings: thus, condensation can still occur even on a temperator-equipped toilet. A leak may be due to loose connections or defective washers on the spud pipe or where the water inlet pipe and ballcock assembly are attached to the tank. Replace any worn gaskets or washers and tighten all of the nuts, then test with bluing in the water.

It is also possible that water is seeping out from under the toilet bowl. The wax ring seal that joins the bowl to the drain outlet may be defective. If this is the case, the bowl must be removed, and a new gasket installed. If the leak is due to a crack in the tank or bowl, the whole toilet must be replaced.