Some common toilet problems can usually be dealt with yourself, but if you’re ever in doubt it’s always advised to hire a professional. Problems with toilets can be split into either blockages or cistern mechanical problems. Here are some common toilet problems that can be repaired by yourself.
How to un-block a toilet
Un-blocking a toilet is similar to clearing a sink drain, but you will need to buy a larger plunger to force the blockage through the toilet u-bend. If using a plunger doesn’t clear the blockage make sure to hire a professional to take a closer look, as the trap or soil pipe may need clearing with a flexible metal rod.
How to fix a leaking overflow pipe
A very common problem with toilets is water leaking from the cistern, especially in older models, as the water inlet is controlled by a brass piston, which contains a rubber washer. If this rubber washer is worn or damaged the water continues to enter the cistern and leak out of the overflow pipe.
1. A leaking overflow pipe can be fixed by first turning off the water supply to the cistern, either with the stopcock or alternatively by switching off the valve, which is fitted to the inlet pipe, once you have done this flush the water out of the cistern.
2. When the water has been flushed from the cistern take a pair of pliers and straighten and remove the split pin which holds the float arm to the valve, and then remove the float arm.
3. When the float arm has been removed unscrew the brass end of the valve with the pliers and lever out the piston, which can be done by pushing the blade of a screwdriver into the slot underneath the valve.
4. Then remove the washer by undoing the piston; the tip of a screwdriver and pliers can be used to separate the parts.
5. There are some valves that don’t come apart and the washer will have to be prised out with a knife. Finally, fit the new washer and cover the piston assembly with silicon grease before fixing the parts back together and turning the water supply back on.
How to fix a toilet that doesn’t flush
A common reason why the toilet doesn’t flush is that the handle may be disconnected from the cistern or that the flexible flap valve, which is at the bottom of the cistern is worn or damaged.
1. To fix the problem first open the top of the cistern and check to see if the handle is connected to the siphon assembly. The problem could be that one of the wire links has come loose, which can easily be reconnected. When reconnected make sure you bend the ends around with a pair of pliers. New pieces can be made from wire if the links are missing.
2. If you find that the handle is connected properly it could be the flap valve that is at the base of the siphon is worn or damaged. If this is the case tie the ball valve to a piece of wood batten laid across the top of the cistern to stop more water emerging. Then empty the cistern by flushing or bailing out the water, once the water has been emptied disconnect the siphon from the cistern, which is fixed with a large nut under or inside the cistern. Disconnect the metal links, which join the handle to the siphon, the siphon can then be lifted out so you can remove the old flap valve. Finally, replace the old valve and refit the parts.