Your toilet is perhaps the most important thing in your bathroom, or maybe in the entire house, yet it’s something that, for many, is taken for granted and only used when needed, but what happens when it goes wrong and doesn’t work?
It is perhaps only then we realize what an essential part of our house this humble porcelain device really is.
The first thing that most people do is to call out a plumber, but in many cases, these tradesmen are expensive, so is it possible to repair a toilet ourselves? We look at the five most common problems that happen with your loo.
No water in the cistern
The cistern is the square tank or receptacle that fills with water and fleshes into the basin. It is fed by a cold water pipe behind or underneath it. There is a ballcock, a plastic ball attached to a metal or plastic arm that drops down when the loo is fleshed, opening a valve and allowing water back into the tank. When the water level rises, so does the ball, closing the valve and cutting the water supply.
If the cistern does not fill up after flushing, chances are that the ballcock or the arm it is on, is stuck. Simply lift the cover off the top of the cistern and you should see this very thing. Gently lift it up so the water valve opens and starts to fill. Then flush again and if it still sticks, then look at the hinge or pivot that allows the arm to move, for signs of rust or perhaps it may have accumulated dirt from the water supply or even a build up of limescale. Clean all this off, make sure the arm moves freely and try again. Your loo problem should be fixed.
Toilet won’t flush
If your toilet will not flush then chances are that the handle that moves the ballcock we mentioned above may be stuck or broken. One again, look in the cistern for any signs of damage. The handle usually affixes to the ballcock mechanism by a screw so double check none of this is broken, but if it is, a replacement handle is cheap and easily available form your local DIY store
If the handle moves freely but the amount of water that comes out in the flush is not enough, adjust the screw at the pivot end of the ballcock mechanism, which will allow more water to flow into the tank and the flush will be more powerful, but be aware if you are on a water meter, this will use more water each time you flush.
Toilet won’t stop flushing
If the loo won’t stop flushing, i.e. the water keep on coming out into the bowl, then repeat step one as in all likelihood, the arm that the ballcock is on is stuck and is allowing the inlet water feed pipe to carry on filling with water, in fact you may see it pouring out through an overflow pipe located on your exterior wall.
If the loo is leaking then you must first check where exactly it is leaking from. Is it coming from the cistern or maybe from the join where the end of the u-bend underneath the toilet bowl, joins onto the waste pipe, because with use, and people sitting down year after year on the loo, the bolts fixing the loo to the floor can become loose and the loo will move around slightly, which will break the seal. Dry the area and then seal the gap back up with silicone sealer and allow to dry. Try not to use the loo for a few hours whilst this is drying.
Foul smell coming from toilet
If your loo is emitting a smell but the water still flushes away, this is probably caused by a problem in your sewerage system so go outside and lift the manhole cover and check for any blockages. This is admittedly NOT a nice job but it has to be done. The best way to clear this is with a special toilet unblocker or you can use a mixture of caustic soda and boiling water although be careful as it can burn your skin if it comes into contact.
Hopefully these tips will let you identify and fix any problems you may have with your loo!