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10 Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them

10 Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them
Common Toilet Problems

Toilets are essential fixtures in our homes, but they can also be a source of frustration when problems arise. Fortunately, many common toilet issues can be fixed with a little know-how and the right tools.

In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 toilet problems and provide step-by-step solutions to help you maintain a functional and efficient bathroom. From clogs and leaks to sluggish flushes and strange noises, we’ve got you covered.

Understanding these common issues and how to address them can save you time and money. Plus, it helps keep your bathroom running smoothly without needing to call a plumber for every little issue.

So, let’s dive in and tackle these common toilet problems together! 

1. Clogged Toilet

Problem: A clog or partial clog blocks water from flushing down as it should. This can be caused by flushing non-biodegradable items like paper towels, sanitary pads, or toys. Often, small kids might flush toys or other objects, leading to blockages. As a rule of thumb, avoid flushing anything that is not toilet paper or human waste, even if it’s marked “flushable.”


Use a plunger: Start with a plunger to dislodge the clog. A flange plunger works best because it creates a tighter seal, offering better suction and making the task less messy. Place the plunger over the drain hole and push down gently, then pull up sharply. Repeat this several times.

Try a plumbing snake: If the clog persists, a plumbing snake (or auger) can help reach further into the drain. Insert the snake into the toilet and turn the handle to break up the clog. This method is especially useful for clogs caused by non-flushable items that have traveled deeper into the plumbing.

Regularly remind family members of what can and cannot be flushed to prevent future clogs.

2. Toilet Leaks

Problem: Water leaking from the toilet can lead to wasted water and higher bills. Leaks can occur either from the tank to the bowl or from the base of the toilet. Leaks can be tricky to detect but can waste gallons of water over time.


Check the flapper valve: The most common cause of leaks is a flapper valve that doesn’t seal properly. Lift the tank lid and examine the flapper. If it’s worn or not sealing tightly, replace it. This part is inexpensive and easy to install.

Inspect the fill valve: Sometimes, the fill valve might be the culprit. Ensure it’s securely tightened. If it’s damaged or not functioning correctly, it might need to be replaced. Adjust the float arm to stop water from flowing into the overflow tube if necessary.

Detect slow leaks with food coloring: Add a few drops of food coloring to the tank and wait about 15 minutes without flushing. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a slow leak. This simple test can help you identify leaks early and save water.

Fixing these leaks promptly can prevent water damage and reduce your water bill significantly.

3. Toilet Does Not Fill/Bowl Water Level Drops

Problem: The water level in the toilet bowl can be too high or too low, causing issues with flushing and overall toilet function. This could be due to a damaged fill tube, a cracked toilet bowl, or an improperly aligned fill valve.


Inspect and reattach the fill tube: Open the tank and check the fill tube. If it’s damaged or disconnected, reattach it or replace it. The fill tube should direct water into the overflow tube to fill the bowl properly.

Check for cracks in the bowl: If you notice water on the floor around the toilet and suspect a crack, you’ll need to contact a plumber. Unfortunately, a cracked toilet bowl can’t be repaired and will need to be replaced.

Ensure the fill valve is functional: Look at the fill valve and make sure it’s working correctly. Adjust the float if necessary to ensure the water stops filling before it overflows. If the fill valve is old or malfunctioning, replace it with a new one.

By keeping these components in good working order, you can maintain the proper water level in your toilet and ensure it flushes correctly every time.

4. Whistling Tank on Flushing

Problem: A whistling sound during flushing usually means you have a faulty toilet tank fill valve. This noise is often due to the fill valve aging and wearing out over time.


Replace the tank fill valve: The most effective solution is to replace the old fill valve with a new one. Turn off the water supply, flush the toilet to empty the tank, and then follow the instructions that come with the new fill valve to install it.

Benefits of replacement: Not only will this eliminate the annoying whistling sound, but it will also ensure your toilet uses water more efficiently, which can help lower your water bills.

Replacing a fill valve is a relatively simple DIY project that can make a big difference in the performance of your toilet. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber.

5. Sluggish Flush

Problem: A slow-flushing toilet can be quite frustrating. This issue might be caused by a blocked leachfield in homes with septic systems or simply insufficient water in the tank.


Clean the leachfield: If you have a septic system, a blocked leachfield can slow down the flushing process. Use Bio-Sol’s shock treatment product to clean the leachfield and restore proper function.

Unclog the toilet: For a sluggish flush not related to a septic system, the problem might be a clog. Use a plunger to clear any obstructions. If that doesn’t work, try a plumbing snake to reach deeper clogs.

Keeping the toilet tank filled to the right level and ensuring there are no blockages in the drain can significantly improve the flushing efficiency.

6. Toilet Rocks to and Fro

Problem: A toilet that wobbles can be more than just a nuisance; it can lead to leaks and potential water damage. This rocking can be due to improper installation or the floor settling over time.


Tighten the flange bolts: Start by tightening the bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. Be careful not to overtighten, as this can crack the toilet base.

Stabilize with shims: If tightening the bolts doesn’t completely fix the wobble, place shims under the base of the toilet to stabilize it. Once the toilet is steady, apply caulk around the base to secure it in place and prevent any future movement.

A stable toilet not only feels better to use but also helps prevent leaks and the subsequent damage they can cause.

7. Toilet Refills on Its Own

Problem: If you hear your toilet refilling on its own, this “ghost flushing” usually indicates an internal leak. This can waste water and lead to higher utility bills.


Check the refill tube: Ensure the refill tube is correctly positioned above the overflow tube and not inserted into it. Adjust it if necessary.

Replace the flapper: A common cause of internal leaks is a damaged flapper. Check the flapper for wear and tear. If it’s damaged, replace it with a new one.

Replace the flush valve assembly: If the problem persists, you might need to replace the entire flush valve assembly. This part ensures the toilet seals properly after flushing, preventing leaks.

By following these simple steps, you can resolve these common toilet issues and maintain a well-functioning bathroom.

8. Sweaty Toilet Problem

Problem: High humidity can cause condensation on the outside of the toilet tank, making it look “sweaty.” This can lead to water dripping onto the floor, creating a mess and potentially damaging your bathroom floor over time.


Install an insulated toilet tank: An insulated toilet tank is designed to prevent condensation from forming. This is a simple and effective solution if you live in a humid area.

Check your air conditioning or dehumidifier: Ensure that your air conditioning system or dehumidifier is functioning properly. Maintaining a lower humidity level in your home can help prevent condensation on your toilet tank.

By addressing the humidity in your bathroom, you can keep your toilet dry and your floor safe from water damage.

9. Bubbling Toilet Problem

Problem: Air bubbles rising in the toilet bowl can be a sign of a clogged toilet or a faulty vent. This can disrupt the toilet’s normal function and cause unpleasant sounds.


Use a plunger: Start by using a plunger to try and clear the clog. Place the plunger over the drain hole and push down gently, then pull up sharply. Repeat until the bubbles stop.

Clear the vent: If the bubbling continues, the vent might be blocked. Use a plumbing snake to clear any blockages in the vent. If you’re unable to do this yourself, it’s best to contact a plumber for assistance.

Addressing the bubbling issue promptly will ensure your toilet works efficiently and quietly.

10. Rusty Hinge Screws

Problem: Hinge screws on the toilet seat can rust over time, especially if they’re exposed to urine. This can lead to unsightly rust stains and a less sanitary toilet.


Prevent rust with nail polish: Apply clear nail polish to the screw heads to prevent rust from forming. This creates a protective barrier against moisture.

Clean or replace rusty screws: If the screws are already rusted, clean them thoroughly and apply caulk to protect them. Alternatively, you can replace the rusty screws with new ones.

Taking these simple steps can keep your toilet looking clean and functioning properly, ensuring a more pleasant bathroom experience.


Q1: Why does my toilet bowl not fill up with water after flushing?

Ensure the refill tube is in place and clear any debris. Adjust the water level and refill rate if necessary.

Q2: Why is my toilet not holding water in the bowl?

Check for a cracked bowl or a clogged plumbing vent. Replace the bowl if cracked or clear the vent with a plumbing snake.

Q3: Can I fix my toilet myself?

Many toilet repairs, such as replacing the flapper, fill valve, or handle, are simple DIY tasks. For more complex issues, consult a professional plumber.


Toilet issues can be a hassle, but many can be resolved with simple DIY fixes. By addressing these common toilet problems promptly, you can avoid more significant issues and keep your bathroom running smoothly.

Remember, a little maintenance goes a long way. Regularly checking for leaks, ensuring proper water levels, and keeping parts in good condition can save you time and money.

However, for more complex repairs or if you’re unsure about any fixes, don’t hesitate to contact Western Rooter for professional plumbing services. We’re here to help keep your home plumbing in top shape!

John, Larry, Mike, owners of Western Rooter & Plumbing

Need expert plumbing help?

If you’re having plumbing issues or emergencies, contact Western Rooter & Plumbing online or call our dispatch center at (626) 448-6455. We are the Los Angeles County and San Gabriel Valley’s number one plumbers – don’t wait, call now!



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