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14 Toilet Problems You’ll Regret Ignoring

If you spot these troubles with your toilet, don't wait around for them to go away.

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Running Toilet breakdownFamily Handyman

Running Toilet

The mysteries of a running toilet can drive you nuts. Whether you hear water running constantly or cycling on and off, we’ll help you decipher the clues so you can stop wasting water. Hardware stores and home centers carry the parts for almost all toilet repairs. One cause of a toilet running is a flapper that doesn’t seal. If water from the tank seeps around the flapper and into the bowl, the flapper is probably shot.

Flush the toilet and look for a fill valve leak. Lift up on the toilet float arm when the tank is filling to see if the water stops. Bend or adjust the toilet float arm so the tank stops filling when the water level is 1/2- to 1-in. below the top of the overflow pipe. If the fill valve still leaks, replace it. Find out more about how to fix a running toilet.

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Rocking ToiletFamily Handyman

Rocking Toilet

If your toilet isn’t solidly fastened to the floor, there may be trouble in your future. Any movement of the toilet damages the wax seal. That leads to leaks and ultimately major repairs. To steady a rocking toilet, cut plastic shims to fit and slip them underneath (you may have to remove caulk before adding shims). Then caulk around the toilet and snug down the nuts on the bolts. But don’t crank them down super-tight; that can crack the toilet.

Ever wonder why old houses have a random toilet in the basement? Here’s why.

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broken toilet lid diagramFamily Handyman

Bang! Goes the Toilet Lid

Toilets are responsible for a whole lotta annoying noises. Slow close toilet seats work great at stopping the 'clank' when lowering the toilet seat, but if you still hear the noise of the lid hitting the tank upon opening, here's what you can do. Put a vinyl bumper on the lid of the toilet tank. A toilet seat with a slow-close lid and vinyl bumpers are available at home centers or online. See why you should always close the toilet lid, besides having good manners.

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cracked toilet imageFamily Handyman

Cracked Toilet Seat

Installing a new toilet seat is an easy two-minute job: Just set the seat in place and tighten the nuts. Removing the old seat, on the other hand, can be a frustrating ordeal. Often, the bolts that fasten the seat are so corroded that you simply can’t unscrew the nuts. But there’s no need to explode—we have the solution.

First, take a look at the bolts that secure the seat. If the bolts or nuts are plastic, they can’t corrode and will come off easily. Simply pry open the cover behind the seat to expose the bolt’s head. Unscrew the bolt with a pliers or a screwdriver while you hold the nut underneath with the pliers.

Think your toilet seat is bland and boring, liven things up with one of these mind-blowing toilet seats.

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Rusted toilet BoltsFamily Handyman

Rusted Bolts

If lubricant won’t free the nut, grab your drill, drill bit collection and safety glasses. Using a 1/16-in. bit, drill into the bolt where it meets the nut. Drill 1/4 in. into the bolt. Next, enlarge the hole with a 1/8-in. bit, followed by a 3/16-in. bit. Then try the socket wrench again. Your goal now isn’t to unscrew the nut but to break off the bolt as you turn the nut. If the bolt won’t break, keep enlarging the hole. Eventually you’ll weaken the bolt enough to break it. If you're in search of a completely new toilet, be sure to read our expert tips on how to pick a new toilet.

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Sweaty Toilet Family Handyman

Sweaty Toilet

If summers are humid where you live and you don’t have air conditioning, you’ve probably noticed your toilet “sweating” excessively. Condensation forms on the outside of the tank, which can drip down and make a mess or even rot out your floor. Some toilets are available with insulated tanks to prevent condensation problems.

Ever worried about waking someone up when flicking on the bathroom lights in the middle of the nights? Then this tricked-out toilet will blow your mind.

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Bubbling Toilet diagramFamily Handyman

Bubbling Toilet

If you have air bubbles that rise up through your toilet bowl (except when it flushes) or notice the water level rising and falling, you probably have a clogged or improperly vented toilet. This toilet bubbling problem is especially true when you have an appliance like a clothes washer nearby. Your drain line is gasping for air.

When you pour liquid from a can, you’ll notice that it doesn’t flow evenly unless you have a second opening for air. The same holds true for plumbing vent pipe. As water goes down a drain, air is needed to equalize the pressure in the drain line.

This is the purpose of a venting system. If the drain lines in your home have poor venting, water rushing down the drains will pull water from nearby P-traps. The drain in the toilet bowl is basically a P-trap. If the problem just started, it’s probably a blocked drain or plumping vent pipe that needs to be “snaked” out. And since the water in the toilet is dropping and gurgling, it’s likely that the problem is near that area.

Unfortunately, a clogged or missing vent is tough to fix, since it usually requires breaking into the walls to examine the drain system. Unless you have plumbing experience, this project is best left to a professional. That way you can avoid one of these 100 plumbing goofs and other scary things.

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Toilet Won't Flush WellFamily Handyman

Toilet Won't Flush Well

Master baths are often distant from the rest of the plumbing in the house, so they often have their own plumbing vents independent of the home’s other plumbing. If the flushing performance is anemic and there are no clogs or obvious malfunctions, there may be an amazingly simple remedy. Occasionally, plumbers forget to remove the temporary plug that’s used to pressure-test the lines after plumbing rough-in. They’re located at the top of the vent pipe up on the roof. If you can’t see a rubber cap clamped on the vent over the bathroom from the ground, climb up on the roof and inspect the end of the vent over your bathroom and I’ll bet you’ll find an overlooked plug. If so, break through the plastic with a screwdriver and pry out the pieces and that toilet will work just fine.

If that isn’t the problem, you probably have a defective toilet or an obstruction in the drain line. Get ahold of the plumber who worked on the house. He or she should be able to solve the toilet wont flush problem. Discover these 9 super-simple toilet tuneups, too.

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Sluggish Toilet

Sluggish Toilet

If your toilet flushes slowly, the rinse holes under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. With a mirror and a coat hanger, you can clean out those clogged holes without ever getting your hands dirty. The photo says it all—look into the mirror to see if the holes are clogged. If they are, bend a coat hanger flat and probe the tip into the holes to poke out any mineral deposits.

If you thought some of those toilet seats were crazy, prepare for 50 of the most insane toilets ever created.

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Clogged Toilet diagram

Clogged Toilet

For about 90 percent of clogged toilets, you only need one special tool: a toilet plunger. Buy a toilet plunger with an extension flange on the rubber bell-shaped end. A toilet plunger with an extension flange is designed to fit toilets better, so you can deliver more “oomph” to the plunge. You could pull a woodchuck from a hole with a toilet plunger with an extension flange. The toilet plunger will unplug sink and tub drains, too, if you simply fold the flange back into the bell. If you can't find a plunger, or never thought to get one, then check out these ways you can unclog a toilet without a plunger.

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caulk around a toiletlightwavemedia/Shutterstock

Toilet Not Caulked

Yes, the bathroom is a place to get clean, but it can easily be a place to trap some pretty foul smells. If you don’t caulk a toilet to the floor, you could find yourself smelling leftover residue from smelly mop water, tub water, or even worse, the remnants of your son’s potty training. It wasn't too long ago that indoor plumbing wasn't common, check out how the toilet has evolved through history.

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Loose Toilet SeatFamily Handyman

Loose Toilet Seat

Tighten a loose or wiggly toilet seat with inexpensive rubber bushings and seat stabilizers. It's a 15-minute fix that'll last for years. Remove the toilet seat nuts and insert the rubber bushings.

Loop the rubber band around the toilet seat and center the stabilizers so they touch the inside rim of the bowl. Drill a starter hole and secure the stabilizers with screws from the kit. Then install a set of toilet seat stabilizers, such as Safe-T-Bumpers ($6 at amazon.com). That’ll eliminate loosening caused by side-to-side movement.

If your toilet is coming up short in other areas, check out some solutions that can improve toilet performance.

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Corroded Flush HandleFamily Handyman

Corroded Flush Handle

Toilet flush handles are another part of a toilet that can cause toilets to keep running. Often handles are toilet parts that get loose or corroded and no longer pull the flap up or drop it back down properly. It’s an easy repair, but there's a trick to getting the flush handle out. The retaining nut inside the tank is a reverse thread. So, if you’re in front of the toilet, turn the nut to the left to loosen. Then remove the old handle and lever, slide the new handle into place, and thread on the retaining nut. Tighten by turning to the right. Find out why some toilet bowl cleaners aren't as great as you might think.

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Rusty toilet seat HingesFamily Handyman

Rusty Hinges

It doesn’t take long for the hinge screws on a toilet seat to rust, and then you have rust dust all over the toilet rim every time the seat slams. To prevent this, all you need to do is dab a little clear nail polish onto the screw heads. If the screws are already rusted, fill the holes with caulk. (Don’t worry—you’ll never have to get at the screws, because you’ll be replacing the whole seat and lid assembly someday.) — Mike Scholey. Next, try these super simple toilet tuneups to get yours performing better.

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