M2=H2: T is for Toilet

While the average toilet really does not require much maintenance, from time to time, it will need some parts replaced or repaired. In addition, there are several things you should avoid in order to keep it in efficient service.


CAUTIONS: Be careful about what you flush! Whether you are connected to public sewer or you have a septic system, here are things to avoid. Because they do not disintegrate as toilet paper does, grease, hair, paint, paper towels and baby wipes can all contribute to a clogged toilet and sewer line. Dispose of such items in the trash can rather than in the toilet.

CLEANING: Commercial cleaning products are generally safe, if designated as a toilet cleanser. Never mix different cleaning products, and never use both a cleaning product and bleach simultaneously. These things could give off toxic vapors. In-the-bowl cleaners are safer than drop-in-the-tank tablets. When you put a tablet into the tank, if you do not flush your toilet daily, the tablet can damage the internal parts and cause a leak.

TOILET PARTS: From time to time, you may find that you have a leak, or that the water is not shutting off properly after the tank refills. Both of these issues can be repaired by replacing or adjusting a part of the toilet. As with any repair which involves a connection to a water line, remember to first turn off the water at the intake valve before doing anything else. Next, flush the toilet to empty the tank of water. Finally, pour a bucket of water in the bowl. This will force a maximum amount of water out of the bowl so you will have less mess to clean.

The toilet itself is very durable, as it is made from a glazed china. It is, however, prone to cracking if hit or if fastened too tightly. The inner parts are the places which wear out and might need replacement. See the diagrams below to learn names of parts.

Toilet Diagrams

To determine exactly what is amiss with your toilet, begin by looking under the tank lid. If flushes are incomplete, check that the water level reaches the proper level — an inch or less from the top of the overflow tube. If the toilet constantly refills, or if water trickles into the bowl, the tank water level may be too high. Excess water slowly runs over into the overflow tube and into the bowl. You can regulate the water level by adjusting the float so it shuts the water off before it pours into the overflow tube.

If the toilet is clogged, use a plunger or a plumber’s snake to clear the problem.

If you have hard water, you may notice that over time, the flow of water from the tank into the bowl decreases, despite the tank’s being full. In this case, the water holes may be clogged with mineral deposits. Simply take a bent wire hanger and a mirror so you can see, and poke the hanger into the holes under the bowl rim to clear them. Take care not to scratch the porcelain as you do this.

If water seeps out the bottom of the bowl when the toilet is flushed, the wax ring needs to be replaced. If you do not feel comfortable with removing and re-sealing the toilet with a new wax seal, call a plumber for help.

Finally, over time, the seat may become loose or cracked. Simply loosen the seat bolts to remove the old one and fasten the new seat in its place. Take care not to fasten too tightly, as the porcelain could crack.


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