Water Hero

Common Toilet Problems & Solutions

Posted by Monica Levy on Aug 7, 2018 9:47:19 AM

Some of the top plumbing problems homeowner's face have to do with an extremely integral part of the home, the toilet. Most homes have multiple toilets, meaning that the risk of water damage from a toilet is twice or even three times as likely. To add to that, there are a number of different things that can go wrong with your toilet. Keep reading to learn more about common toilet issues and how to fix them!

Or, click here to learn more about How Your Toilet Works.

Low Bowl Water Level

Low bowl water level refers to when your toilet flushes fine, but then over time, after the flush, water leaves the bowl. This is most likely due to something such as toilet paper or a rag stuck in the colon of your toilet, which blocks the air vent.

To fix this, empty your toilet bowl of water. You can do this by either holding down the flush lever or manually raising the toilet flapper. Next, use a flashlight and a small mirror to look up inside the pipe of the toilet to see if anything is stuck. If something is stuck, use a slim spring-like wire to snake the pipe and retrieve whatever is blocking it.

In rare cases, your toilet bowl may have a crack in the interior piping of the bowl. If this is the case, you may need to install a new toilet bowl which usually requires the work of a professional plumber.

Tank is Slow To Fill

This problem is the opposite of low bowl water level. Instead of the water gradually leaving the tank, this problem refers to water taking a while to enter the tank after you flush. Some common causes of a tank that is slow to fill include the following:

  • Partially closed shut off valve
    • If this is the case, a lot of times homeowners are unaware. Often times a previous owner or plumber may have restricted the flow of water into the tank.
  • Debris build up
    • After about 7 years, parts of your toilet commonly wear out and leave debris behind.
  • Low water pressure
    • Low water pressure is not only an issue with your toilet, but could be an issue across your whole home. Low water pressure is normally caused by old or rusted pipes that prevent a strong enough flow of water. This is extremely common in older properties.
  • Low float ball
    • Check to make sure your float ball is high enough. If it is too low, not enough water will enter the tank. To raise your float ball, simply bend the float arm upward. As the ball is raised, it stops the entry of water at a much higher level, allowing more water to get in.
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Toilet Flapper

Another common issue homeowner's face are problems with their toilet flapper. Sometimes dubbed the "phantom flush", a leaky toilet flapper can be identified when water continues to audibly run in your toilet long after you flush.

A DIY test that many homeowner's use to check for a leaky toilet flapper involves using food coloring in the tank. After the water has stopped running, use food coloring to dye the water in the tank. Check back in 5 or 10 minutes. If the toilet bowl has colored water in it, you have a toilet flapper problem.

Read our article on How to Fix A Leaky Toilet Flapper or Choosing the Right Toilet Flapper learn more.

Leaky Seals

A standard toilet has around 5 seals, which all have the potential to leak. The good thing is, all seals can be fixed similarly no matter where on the toilet they are. First you have to identify the faulty seal, then you have to tighten or replace it.



A break in the largest seal can be identified by water shooting out from underneath the tank at every flush. To fix this, it may be easier to drain and remove the tank. After draining the tank, turn it upside down to give you easier access. Then, remove the old seal and pop on the new one.

As mentioned, fixing other seals on the toilet can be done similarly. Sometimes, merely tightening the bolts or mounting nut is enough to stop the leak.

Toilet Won't Flush

This can be one of the most frustrating toilet issues to run into. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more challenging to diagnose. Your toilet could not be flushing for a number of reasons. Some common culprits are as follows:

  • Handle may be too loose or too tight
    • If this is the case, take off the top of the tank and check behind the handle. Play around with loosening and/or tightening it to see if it helps.
  • Lift arm may be bent or broken
    • Take off the top of the tank to identify this issue. If this is the case, you may need to purchase and install a new lift arm.
  • Connection between lift arm and lift chain may be broken
    • This can also be identified by removing the top of the tank. If the connection appears broken and is unable to be hooked back on, you may need to purchase and install a new lift arm.

Toilet Only Flushes Partially

If your toilet makes some indication of flushing, but does not flush fully, you may have one of the following problems:

  • Too much slack in the lift chain
    • To fix this, toggle with the chain until it is not too tight or too loose. This often takes a fair amount of trial and error.
  • Low water level in your tank
    • Try raising your float ball. To raise your float ball, simply bend the float arm upward.
  • Incorrect flapper install
    • If your flapper is not properly covering the overflow tube, it may cause your toilet to not flush completely. Do not worry, installing a new flapper is easy! Click here to learn more about how simple and easy it is to install a new flapper.

Stuck or Loose Handle

If you are constantly toggling with your toilet handle every time you flush, it may be necessary to adjust the handle. You can do this by adjusting the mounting nut found behind the handle on the inside of your tank.


If adjusting the handle doesn't work, you may have to clean it.. Typically, over time, lime builds up around the mounting nut and can cause a faulty handle. To mediate this issue, use a brush dipped in vinegar to clean up the area.


If your toilet does not flush properly after the first flush, do not flush it again! If you do, more water will be pumped into the bowl and can cause it to overflow. Instead, take the top of the tank off and put down the toilet flapper to prevent anymore water from entering the bowl.

If you see the obstruction, you can reach in and grab it yourself. If you cannot see it, you will most likely need to use a plunger. For minor clogs, a force up plunger is more effective than a standard plunger.

Click here to learn more about How to Unclog A Toilet, The Right Way!

Tank Leak

Tank leaks mainly apply to two piece toilets, which most toilets are. This means that the toilet consists of a bowl, which sits on the floor, and a toilet tank. Sometimes the rubber gasket between the toilet tank and the toilet bowl can leak. Alternatively, the leak could be due to the bolts that hold it in place. To fix this problem, you will need to tighten the bolts.

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Water Beads Up on Toilet Tank

You're in luck! This one the least damaging of all the problems. Essentially, water is beading up on the tank as a result of condensation. Most likely, the water in your pipes and in your toilet are colder than room temperature, causing this condensation. To fix this, simply decrease the temperature of the bathroom. You can either do this through your thermostat, by reducing activities that raise the temperature of the bathroom, such as long hot showers which increase humidity.

No Solutions?

If none of these solutions work for you, it may be time to replace your toilet. Click here to read more about purchasing and installing a new toilet.

Tags: toilet leak, toilet supply line leaks, toilet supply line failure, toilet flapper leak