Toilet won’t flush

Check water supply

Make sure the water supply is turned on in the house and at the toilet.

The handle is loose, stuck or damaged

Toilet handle
A damaged or stuck handle can make it difficult to flush a toilet.

If the tank handle is loose it can be tightened by using an adjustable wrench to turn the locknut on the inside of the tank counterclockwise.

If the nut cannot be turned you might try applying a lubricating oil and allow it to sit for several minutes before attempting to tighten the nut again. If that does not work you may need to remove the nut by cutting through the handle shaft with a hacksaw. You will then need to replace the handle and trip lever, which is attached. Simply remove the trip lever from the chain and slip it through the toilet tank hole before replacing it with a new handle assembly.

Lift chain or wire is out of place or damaged

If the lift chain in the tank it too short it may be allowing water to seep through the flapper valve. If there is excess chain you can use pliers to open the links and reposition the chain. If the chain is too short you will need to replace it. Using a paper clip or other other wire to lengthen the chain will cause it to corrode.

If your tank assembly has a lift wire you can loosen the screw attached to the guide arm and move the guide arm up or down to adjust the length.

Ball cock is damaged

The ball cock opens and closes as the float ball falls and rises with the water level in the tank. This action controls the flow of water into the tank. With a plunger-style ball cock the float arm pushes the valve plunger and washer to stop the water flow. With a diaphragm ball cock the plunger pushes against a rubber diaphragm.

Before working on the ball cock turn of the water and flush the toilet to empty the bowl. Remove the screws surrounding the ball cock assembly to gain access to the washers or diaphragm. You may need to slide the float arm out of the way to gain access to the assembly.

Remove the washers or diaphragm from the valve plunger with a small screwdriver. Use vinegar and a small brush to clean sediment from inside the ball cock and washer or diaphragm. Once cleaned reassemble the parts and the ball cock. If any of the pieces appears damaged or if the water continues to run, replace the ball cock.

Toilet water runs non-stop

The handle is stuck

If the tank handle is loose it can be tightened by using an adjustable wrench to turn the locknut on the inside of the tank counterclockwise.

If the nut cannot be turned you might try applying a lubricating oil and allow it to sit for several minutes before attempting to tighten the nut again. If that does not work you may need to remove the nut by cutting through the handle shaft with a hacksaw. You will then need to replace the handle and trip lever, which is attached. Simply remove the trip lever from the chain and slip it through the toilet tank hole before replacing it with a new handle assembly.

Tank water level is too high

Reposition the float ball

If the float ball is too high it will allow water to run into the overflow pipe. You can simply bend the float arm down slightly to keep the water about 1 inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Flush the toilet to a make sure it enough water is getting into the bowl. If the toilet does not flush completely you may need to adjust the float ball back up slightly to get more water in the tank.

If it also possible that the float ball is damaged and allowing water in. If this happens the float ball will not rise enough to close the ball cock. The float ball can be screwed off of the float arm counter clockwise. You may need to use pliers to grasp the float arm. When placing the new float ball on the arm, apply petroleum jelly or plumbers tape to the threads.

Adjust a water-intake assembly
Water intake assembly.
Adjusting your water intake assembly can fix a toilet that runs non-stop.

Your toilet may have a water-intake assembly instead of a float ball. To adjust the water level in the bowl so it does not flow into the overflow pipe, pinch the clip attached to the thin metal rod and slide it and the cup down to lower the water level. Sliding the clip and cup up will raise the water level. Try moving the clip about an inch at a time.

Adjusting a metered fill valve

Your toilet may have a metered fill valve instead of a float ball or water-intake assembly. To adjust the water level, simply take a screwdriver and turn the knob counterclockwise and half a turn at a time to lower the water level. Turning the know clockwise will raise the water level.

Lift chain or wire is out of place or damaged

If the lift chain in the tank it too short it may be allowing water to seep through the flapper valve. If there is excess chain you can use pliers to open the links and reposition the chain. If the chain is too short you will need to replace it. Using a paper clip or other other wire to lengthen the chain will cause it to corrode.

If your tank assembly has a lift wire you can loosen the screw attached to the guide arm and move the guide arm up or down to adjust the length.

Ball cock is damaged

The ball cock opens and closes as the float ball falls and rises with the water level in the tank. This action controls the flow of water into the tank. With a plunger-style ball cock the float arm pushes the valve plunger and washer to stop the water flow. With a diaphragm ball cock the plunger pushes against a rubber diaphragm.

Before working on the ball cock turn of the water and flush the toilet to empty the bowl. Remove the screws surrounding the ball cock assembly to gain access to the washers or diaphragm. You may need to slide the float arm out of the way to gain access to the assembly.

Remove the washers or diaphragm from the valve plunger with a small screwdriver. Use vinegar and a small brush to clean sediment from inside the ball cock and washer or diaphragm. Once cleaned reassemble the parts and the ball cock. If any of the pieces appears damaged or if the water continues to run, replace the ball cock.

Flapper or flush valve needs servicing
Flapper valve.
A worn flapper valve can cause a toilet to run non-stop.

First try cleaning mineral deposits from around the valve seat. This can keep the flapper valve from sealing properly and allow water to seep into the bowl. First turn of the water and flush the toilet to empty the bowl. You can unhook the flapper valve to get it out of the way. Using emery cloth scrub the inside of the valve seat to remove the mineral deposits. Next coat the valve seat with petroleum jelly to help the flapper valve make a tight seal. Replace the flapper valve, turn on the water and check to see if the water still leaks.

If the flapper valve is old it may be deformed. In this case you will need to replace it. You can unhook the valve and remove the lift chain from the valve. Be sure to purchase a similar size replacement valve.

If the valve seat is damaged you will need to replace the entire flush-valve assembly. You will need to remove the tank to do this. Be certain to turn off the water supply and flush the tank to drain it. You might also want to place newspaper and towels on the floor to soak up any water that may leak out. Using and adjustable wrench loosen the nuts at the supply tube and push the tube aside. Next, use a flat-head screwdriver to hold the bolts inside the tank still while using an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut on the bottom of the tank. You will then be able to lift the tank off of the bowl. Lay the tank on the newspapers or towels.

To replace the flush-valve assembly first remove the old one by unscrewing the locknut on the bottom of the tank. Use a hacksaw to cut the new overflow pipe to 1/2 inch below the tank top. Put plumber’s putty on the washer at the base of the flush-valve assembly and push the assembly against the tank opening, removing any excess putty. Use a monkey wrench to tighten the locknut. Replace the gasket over the locknut and replace the tank on the bowl and reassemble them.

Toilet tank vibrates when it fills

Float ball is too low or adjust water-intake assembly

Reposition the Float Ball

If the float ball is too low the toilet may not flush completely and you may need to adjust the float ball back up slightly to get more water in the tank. You can simply bend the float arm up slightly to keep the water about 1 inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Flush the toilet to a make sure it enough water is getting into the bowl.

If it also possible that the float ball is damaged or rubbing against the side of the tank. If it is rubbing the tank, gently bend it toward the center of the tank. If the float ball is damaged, it will not rise enough to close the ball cock. The float ball can be screwed off of the float arm counter clockwise. You may need to use pliers to grasp the float arm. When placing the new float ball on the arm, apply petroleum jelly or plumbers tape to the threads.

Adjust a Water-Intake Assembly

Your toilet may have a water-intake assembly instead of a float ball. To adjust the water level in the bowl so it does not flow into the overflow pipe, pinch the clip attached to the thin metal rod and slide it and the cup down to lower the water level. Sliding the clip and cup up will raise the water level. Try moving the clip about an inch at a time.

Ball cock is damaged

The ball cock opens and closes as the float ball falls and rises with the water level in the tank. This action controls the flow of water into the tank. With a plunger-style ball cock the float arm pushes the valve plunger and washer to stop the water flow. With a diagphragm-style ball cock the plunger pushes against a rubber diaphragm.

Before working on the ball cock turn of the water and flush the toilet to empty the bowl. Remove the screws surrounding the ball cock assembly to gain access to the washers or diaphragm. You may need to slide the float arm out of the way to gain access to the assembly.

Remove the washers or diaphragm from the valve plunger with a small screwdriver. Use vinegar and a small brush to clean sediment from inside the ball cock and washer or diaphragm. Once cleaned reassemble the parts and the ball cock. If any of the pieces appears damaged or if the water continues to run, replace the ball cock.

Loose toilet seat

Toilet Seat bolts are loose or damaged

If the bolts are loose, use a flat head screw driver to hold the bolt steady and gently tighten the nut underneath the seat with adjustable pliers. If the bolts are corroded or damaged they will need to be replace. Be certain to purchase the same size bolt from the hardware store. To loosen corroded bolts you may need to apply penetrating oil and let it set for several hours. If that does not work you can use a hack saw to remove the bolts.

Toilet Seat is cracked

If the toilet seat is damaged and needs to be replace remove the bolts in the manner described above and lift the seat from the bowl. Be certain the seat you purchase is the same width and length as the one you are replacing.

Clogged Toilet, Bowl Overflows

The bowl or drain is clogged

Plunger

First, prepare the floor around the clogged toilet should water overflow or splash out. If the bowl is overflowing or filled to the rim you will need to bail it out. Use rubber gloves, a bucket and a small container to empty about half of the water from the bowl.

If the bowl is empty fill it to half full with water.

Place a plunger flush over the drain opening in the bottom of the toilet. Quickly pump the plunger about a dozen times, then remove it with a quick motion. If the blockage is dislodged the water should rush away. If not, repeat the process as necessary.

Auger

If a plunger does not clear the clog an auger will likely do the trick. Be careful not to scratch the porcelain in the bowl when inserting the coil into the drain. Once the auger is fed into the drain turn it clockwise until you feel resistance. Then turn it counterclockwise. Repeat this process to clear the clog, then remove the auger from the drain. If the drain is not fully cleared try using the plunger again and then repeat with the auger if necessary.

Remove the toilet

If you are still not able to clear the clogged toilet you may need to remove the toilet to remove the blockage from below.

Toilet Clogged: Bowl Drains Slowly

The bowl or drain is clogged or blocked

Plunger

First, prepare the floor around the toilet should water overflow or splash out. If the bowl is overflowing or filled to the rim you will need to bail it out. Use rubber gloves, a bucket and a small container to empty about half of the water from the bowl.

If the bowl is empty fill it to half full with water.

Place a plunger flush over the drain opening in the bottom of the toilet. Quickly pump the plunger about a dozen times, then remove it with a quick motion. If the blockage is dislodged the water should rush away. If not, repeat the process as necessary.

Auger

If a plunger does not clear the toilet an auger will likely do the trick. Be careful not to scratch the porcelain in the bowl when inserting the coil into the drain. Once the auger is fed into the drain turn it clockwise until you feel resistance. Then turn it counterclockwise. Repeat this process to clear the clog, then remove the auger from the drain. If the drain is not fully cleared try using the plunger again and then repeat with the auger if necessary.

Remove the toilet

If you are still not able to clear the toilet you may need to remove the toilet to remove the blockage from below.

Float ball is too low or adjust water-intake assembly

Reposition the Float Ball
Reposition float ball
Reposition the float ball if it is too low and your toilet is not flushing completely.

If the float ball is too low the toilet may not flush completely and you may need to adjust the float ball back up slightly to get more water in the tank. You can simply bend the float arm up slightly to keep the water about 1 inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Flush the toilet to a make sure it enough water is getting into the bowl.

If it also possible that the float ball is damaged or rubbing against the side of the tank. If it is rubbing the tank, gently bend it toward the center of the tank. If the float ball is damaged, it will not rise enough to close the ball cock. The float ball can be screwed off of the float arm counter clockwise. You may need to use pliers to grasp the float arm. When placing the new float ball on the arm, apply petroleum jelly or plumbers tape to the threads.

Adjust the Water-Intake Assembly
Water intake assembly.
If your toilet has a water intake assembly, adjusting it may fix your problem.

Your toilet may have a water-intake assembly instead of a float ball.
To adjust the water level in the bowl so it does not flow into the overflow pipe, pinch the clip attached to the thin metal rod and slide it and the cup down to lower the water level.

If the water level in the tank is too low sliding the water-intake assembly clip and cup up will raise the water level.

Try moving the clip about an inch at a time and flushing the toilet to see the results.

Flush holes are blocked

Clean and clear flush holes

If the flush holes below the bowl rim are blocked the toiled will not drain properly. You can try using toilet bowl cleaner and a brush to clear the holes. If that does not work use a coat hanger to clear the holes and clean the bowl again.

Leaky Toilet: Water Under Bowl

Faulty gasket

If water is leaking from beneath the bowl the wax gasket has failed and should be reseated by a plumber. Turn off the water at the shut off valve and flush the toilet until the tank and bowl have emptied.

Bowl is cracked

If the bowl is cracked it should be replaced by a plumber. Turn of the water at the shut off valve and flush the toilet until the tank and bowl have emptied.