Plumbing issues are something that many homeowners feel ill-equipped to deal with. The truth is, however, that appliances like your toilet can give you minor issues that are simple enough for just about anyone to repair. If you have a complicated plumbing issue, calling in a professional will usually save you time, money and frustration. If it's something simple plaguing your toilet, however, it makes sense to try to fix it yourself. Here are a few easy fixes that you might be able to handle, plus tips on when to call in a professional plumber.
DIY: Running Toilet
You know the annoyance of a toilet that's constantly or occasionally running. If you find yourself jiggling the handle to make the toilet stop trickling water, it's time to get to the root of the problem. Luckily for you, this is a quick and simple fix!
First, remove the top of the tank and take a look inside. Sometimes the problem is as simple as the chain that runs from the float cup to the flapper being too long. If the chain is getting stuck under the part where the water drains out, you'll hear a constant trickling. All you need to do in this case is disconnect the chain and reconnect it at a different link to make it shorter. (Don't make it too short, though, or else the flapper won't be able to close properly! This might take a bit of experimenting.)
Other issues that you can probably fix on your own include a leaking or worn out flapper or a leaking fill valve. You can find DIY instructions for fixing these issues at familyhandyman.com.
DIY: Loose Toilet Seat
Having a loose toilet seat is annoying, but more importantly, it can be dangerous, as you or one of your family members could fall off the toilet and land on the floor. Over time, the clips that hold your toilet seat to the bowl itself can become corroded and loose due to moisture building up around the area. Before you replace your loose toilet seat, first check the screws holding the clips in place; they might just need to be tightened, which is a 10-second fix that anyone can do with a flat-head screwdriver.
If the clips are broken or corroded, however, it's time to replace the toilet seat. Measure the seat first, then head to your local home improvement store to buy a new seat. Replacing it is a matter of just removing the old one and putting on the new one. Be sure to tighten the screws, but just do this by hand, as torquing them too much could crack the clips on the new seat.
DIY: Minor Toilet Clogs
If your toilet is clogged with toilet paper or other material that can be safely flushed down, a toilet plunger can be your best friend. Make sure there's water in the bowl, push the plunger against the bowl to create a good seal, and plunge air rapidly in and out of the hole. With any luck, your clog will go down; in some cases, it will be drawn back up, in which case you can either flush it or remove it manually.
A plumber's snake is another good tool to have on hand, as it can allow you to dislodge things like children's toys and other items that have gotten stuck in the part of the pipe closest to you.
When to Call the Plumber
In general, if you need to fix a problem that you aren't sure about that that could cause major damage if left unchecked, it's best to call in a professional. These types of issues can include
- A large item that you can't reach with the plunger or a plumber's snake stuck in the pipe.
- Mold growing around the base of the toilet that comes back after being cleaned with bleach.
- A toilet that moves on the floor when you sit down.
- A leaking pipe behind the toilet.
- Bubbling in the adjacent tub/shower or sink when you flush the toilet (this can indicate a septic problem or a blockage in the water pipes underground).
In general, if you aren't reasonably sure that you can handle a repair after watching or reading a tutorial, it's best to call a plumber from a company like Shakley Mechanical Inc.