Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Basic Plumbing: Toilet Repair

I am not a plumber. I've never claimed to be a plumber, I don't want to be a plumber,  I've never played one on TV, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

None of that is any slight against plumbers. Quite the contrary, I have great respect for my comrades who are experts in the dark arts of liquid supply and removal, for they have a skill set that is very valuable. They also happen to know this fact, and therefore calling a skilled tradesman for basic repairs can be very expensive for fixes you can often do on your own. Today, that repair is fixing a toilet that won't stop running.

A constantly flowing toilet is fairly simply fixed by replacing the flapper and fill assembly in the tank. The repair kit is inexpensive, and the repair takes all of about 15 minutes. When you're done, you'll save water and money, and have a toilet that flushes much better. The kit includes complete instructions, but there are a couple high points worth hitting.

First you'll need to shut off the water to your toilet. There should be a hose behind and below the toilet, with a valve near the wall or floor. Closing this valve turns off the water to your toilet. If you don't have a valve on this hose, stop now, as this has become a much more advanced job! Once the water has been turned off, remove the lid from the tank and flush the toilet until all of the water is out of the tank.

The shutoff valve for my toilet. A quarter turn to the right shuts the water off.

Replace the guts according the the instructions, making sure to clean any loose debris in the tank. The rubber seals tend to degrade over time, and can make a mess or gum up the works. If you use a bleach block in your toilet, be sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent chemical burns.

After you're done replacing everything, turn the water back on and let the tank fill. I recommend giving the commode a couple good flushes, just to make sure everything is working properly, then replace the tank lid, and bask in the glory of a job well done.

The aforementioned guts. All of this except the white flush arm and the black tube assembly on the left get replaced.

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