What are the Best Tips for DIY Toilet Repair?

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  • Written By: Keith Koons
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2020
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Do-it-yourself (DIY) toilet repair is a fairly simple process that the average homeowner can complete on his own within a few hours, with the majority of the time being spent diagnosing the actual problem and purchasing replacement parts. There are only a few moving parts within a toilet, and determining where the problem lies requires a quick inspection of each of them. If the water is leaking from the upper tank into the lower one, usually a faulty stop valve needs to be adjusted or replaced. On other occasions, the toilet may continue to run internally even though water is not leaking into the lower tank, and this situation would require a replacement of the float or the corresponding shut-off. Most of the time, DIY toilet repair experts recommend replacing all of the internal parts at the first sign of trouble since they are inexpensive and relatively easy to swap out.


The first thing to check when completing a DIY toilet repair is the water level within the upper tank, because if it is set too low, then it is possible that there is not enough pressure for the device to flush properly. If this is the case, there is normally a manual adjustment that can be turned by hand or with a screwdriver; counter-clockwise should raise the internal water level, while turning in the opposite direction would lower it. After making this adjustment, the toilet should be flushed again and the entire cycle should be observed to ensure that the stop valve shuts properly and the toilet refills in a prompt manner. At this point, the toilet should flush perfectly and shut off at the correct time; if it does not, then individuals should replace the internal parts.

Before starting any DIY toilet repair project, it is important to turn off the incoming water at either the shutoff switch on the toilet's water line or at the main valve outside. Once that step is out of the way, individuals can flush the toilet and allow for all of the water from the top compartment to drain out. A towel can be used to collect any excess water that remains within the upper tank, and once everything is dry, it is possible to remove any damaged internal parts.

Now that the water is properly disconnected, the next DIY toilet repair step would be to remove the bolt that holds the refill mechanism in place. This is normally located underneath the upper tank and can be turned with a standard set of pliers; once the nut is removed, the entire valve should lift straight out of the toilet. The remaining parts will simply snap loose, and from that point, the instructions can be followed to install the new toilet parts. If the toilet still does not flush properly after the DIY toilet repair, then it is possible the wax ring beneath the toilet or the return pipe leading to the septic tank is damaged. A wax ring can be installed by unscrewing the anchor bolts and lifting the entire toilet off of the floor—the drainage line would require professional assistance.



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Post 2

@Ruggercat68, I think the hardest toilet repair I've ever had to make was a total replacement of a cracked commode. The clerk at the hardware store talked me through it, though, and I found someone willing to help with the heavy lifting. You never realize how heavy and awkward a toilet can be until you try to lift one out of a cramped bathroom. It was a really messy and smelly job, but it probably saved me at least $100 doing it myself.

One important thing to remember is to stuff a rag into the exposed drain once you pull off the commode. If you don't, your whole house will smell like sewer gas for hours.

Post 1

I have learned over the years that most toilet repairs are easy to make, as long as you have the right tools and a willingness to get a little wet and dirty. Professional plumbers will charge a lot of money for a service call, and they don't always shop around for the cheapest replacement parts. They'll do a great job with the repair, of course, but most homeowners with any mechanical aptitude at all can get the same parts at a local home improvement store and do it themselves.

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