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What's Wrong with my Toilet?

By: Alan Cole - Updated: 13 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
Toilet Repair Toilet Cistern Repair Diy

Fixing a faulty toilet can seem like a difficult challenge but do not fear as most problems with your WC can be rectified quickly and easily. Read on to find out more on how to tackle your faulty loo.

Toilet Fault Finding

Dripping overflow – You probably need to replace the ball valve washer.

Cistern will only flush with repeated use of handle – Probably need to replace the flap valve.

Water is pouring from overflow – Ball float probably needs replacing.

The cistern is leaking – This can be repaired easily by emptying and filling any hole or crack from the inside with specialist putty. You will probably need to replace the cistern though as soon as you can.

Pan is overflowing – Pan may need plunging or unblocking with an auger. The problem could be at the drain as well. You may need to inspect your drain gulley and remove any matter.

Toilet will not flush - Possibly need to replace a broken cistern lever. The wire connecting the lever and the siphon may be disconnected.

Replacing a Flap Valve

If you have to repeatedly depress the WC handle to make the cistern flush this is usually a sign that the flap valve which controls the amount of water leaving the cistern needs replacing.

  • With a modern plastic ball valve with a small float, you will find the water flow is controlled by a rubber diaphragm.
  • After turning off the water supply remove and replace the diaphragm.
  • You should be able to see a large knurled nut just behind the float arm pivot.
  • Tie up the ball valve to stop the water flowing and empty the cistern by flushing the loo. Clean up the last of the water with a cloth and then disconnect the flush pipe and slacken the large nut that holds the siphon apparatus in place.
  • Remove the metal link that connects the flushing handle to the flap.
  • Lift the plate and remove the siphon.
  • The plate should then fall out and a new plastic flap valve can be fitted in place before re-assembly.

Repairing a Ball Valve

If there are drips from the cistern overflow take a look at the mechanism inside the cistern. The ball valve washer or diaphragm is probably the cause of this troublesome problem. Older WCs often have brass parts while modern WCs are most likely to be plastic. Check the ball valve float for any holes and unscrew it to see if it is holding water. If it is holding water it will need replacing. These are cheap and easy to replace. The valve itself could also be faulty. If water stops entering from the valve then it may need adjusting. Some ball valves can be adjusted by screws or you may be able to reposition it. If this does not remedy the problem it is likely the ball valve or the washer inside it is not working properly. Probably the easiest solution is to replace the whole valve:

  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Siphon off any water if necessary.
  • Undo the nut holding the water supply pipe to the valve and disconnect.
  • Undo further nuts and washers attached to the cistern.
  • Refit the new ball valve and washers and tighten all nuts before reconnecting the water inlet pipe to it.
  • Finally, it’s a good idea to fit Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape around the thread of the ball valve. This is used as a specialist tape in plumbing work for sealing screw threads.

Blocked Loo

If the pan is blocked a WC auger is the best tool for unblocking your loo. This specialist plumbing tool is available at hardware stores and will clear most blocked toilets. A hand crank operates a long sleeve handle and the special auger device at the end which is placed down the pan. When the obstruction is reached you turn the cranked handle and it should dislodge the blockage.

Don’t Panic

Remember, toilet parts are quite straightforward to fix. Most parts can be easily identified as broken by examining the function of the parts in the cistern. You can identify most problems by a little common sense. Isolate the water supply then take a look inside. Undo and replace broken parts. Simple DIY. If the toilet needs flushing in the meantime just use a bucket of water filled from your bath taps and pour it down the loo.

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[Add a Comment]
A lid off freshner can fell in the toilet whilst it was flushing and has blocked toilet
T - 13-Jul-17 @ 6:06 PM
I have recently replaced the entire system inside my cistern, along with a new button flush. Unfortunately the fill is intermittent, either fills great or not at all, if I just touch the fill valve it starts filling as it should. Has anybody got any ideas please?
David - 20-Aug-16 @ 3:23 PM
My toilet flushes but water then sprays out of a pipe in the tank and seems to stop when tank is filled up. I've never noticed the noise before and there's a egg like smell Is this a result of blockage
Vix - 15-May-16 @ 2:37 PM
After flushing a press button toilet, it is only dripping ever so slowly on refilling the tank, no ball in cistern-can you help please?
Handycap - 19-Jul-15 @ 4:37 PM
@Sarah - I think in this instance you may need to contact your plumber.
DIYBasics - 8-May-15 @ 10:52 AM
I have a duravit toilet, and the flush started going continuously. I managed to pull the lid of the cistern off, although it was a bit stiff-and then afterwards i googled it and now i'm worried has this added to the problem?! Should i have just been able to unscrew the push button? But it didn't seem clear to do, and it did come off-I'm really not that strong to be able to pull apart ceramic! But anyway, the flush is still not working, i have turned off the water but I can't find a reason why it isn't working....my dad said there should be a wire that connects it all but there isn't...is this the problem? What do I need to do? Thanks in advance!
Sarah - 7-May-15 @ 2:35 PM
Really works saved me a lot of time , I do have rods to clear but takes a long time to set up from the main drains , also saved the smells and seeing what blocked it in the first place. Really appreciate the tip .
Klm625 - 17-Jan-15 @ 4:46 PM
After the flush the cistern is slow to fill with water. It sounds the same problemsusie posted on 5-jul-11.
Billbodgit, - 5-Jan-13 @ 9:13 PM
Pipe from toilet cistern to pan is leaking ,suspect from base of doughnut fitting to pan.Has been leaking onto boxed in area below cistern cauing mold and rot, help[
gozzy - 20-Oct-12 @ 2:04 PM
Turning off the water supply is vital. Look on the pipe that feeds water into the cistern and you should see a screw. If the groove faces along the length of the pipe the water is on. Turn it so the groove is vertical and that shuts off the water. Then, if you can, flush the toilet to remove the water and give yourself easier access to the inside of the cistern for your work.
Joe - 6-Jun-12 @ 10:56 AM
toilet will not flush ,and syphon has been replaced . what else can i do
holly - 31-Aug-11 @ 4:58 PM
Toilet doesn't clear solids after flush, needs physical help (pushing down) HELP!!!
denis pickerill - 27-Jul-11 @ 9:57 AM
@ Jeffro, I would beware of that. If the toliet sits on chipboard or similar and over the years it has become damp then there is a real possibility that the toilet may go through the floor. Do you have the skills to remove the toilet and take a look? If not then maybe you should wear a parachute when on duty. Good luck!!
BuilderBob - 18-Jul-11 @ 2:24 PM
I noticed the floor is wet around the base of my toilet and the toilet moves like its getting ready to fall through the floor when I sit on it..help
jeffro - 18-Jul-11 @ 1:54 PM
After flushing a press button toilet, it is only dripping ever so slowly on refilling the tank, no ball in cistern-can you help please?
susie - 5-Jul-11 @ 9:57 AM
SQUIRREL - 26-Jun-11 @ 8:57 PM
I replaced part of the toilet,and had to take the cistern off the pan, bought new do-nut ring replaced cistern but got leak from wingnuts, the washers on the bolts are metal ,would rubber washers make a difference? many thanks.
debcolem - 13-Jun-11 @ 11:03 AM
After flushing, the cistern fills up fine but then schreeches / whistles really loudly and can only be stopped by turning the bath cold tap on really hard for a few seconds. It's like air is escaping from the valve or something. Is this the case ? Do I just need to get a new valve ?
Missy - 9-Jun-11 @ 10:51 PM
After having replaced the Syphon in the toilet close-coupled toilet whenever the toilet is flushed it makes a very loud screeching noise, what is the cause and how do I remedy it? Thank you
Loo problems!! - 30-May-11 @ 1:20 PM
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