No Plumber Necessary

We've all had those annoying toilet issues/noises that won't seem to go away. The toilet still works so we hold off on calling in a professional until it's too late. Some of these toilet problems will not necessarily get worse – they will just keep annoying you until something gets replaced. Other problems if left unchecked will progress into a bigger problem such as not flushing at all. Here are some tips on fixing basic toilet issues yourself:

Issue #1: "The Phantom Flush"

Do you hear your toilet tank start filling up out of the blue as though someone has just flushed it? If your toilet appears to run intermittently, you most likely have a slow leak from your tank to your bowl, most often times caused by a bad flapper or flapper seat. This can be resolved by draining the tank and bowl and replacing the flapper if it is worn or damaged.

Issue #2: Trickling Water

If there is a constant hissing sound from your toilet, the supply line is probably leaking water into your toilet tank. The hissing sound is caused by You need to check three places for adjustment – the float, the refill tube, and the inlet-valve assembly. Check if the float is sticking or needs adjusting. Then make sure the refill tube extenss only about 1/4" below the rim of the overflow tube. If these two parts are adjusted and looks okay but you still hear hissing, then you will need to replace the inlet-valve assembly.

Issue #3: Weak Flush

If your toilet bowl empties slowly after you flush, you most likely have clogged holes underneath the rim of the bowl. To clear the holes, use a curved piece of wire, such as a coat hanger wire to poke gently at the holes. Use a small mirror to help you see under the rim. Be careful not to scratch the bowl.

Issue #4: Clogged Toilets

These are the most common toilet problems of them all. Minor clogs can be cleared by a force-cup plunger. Insert the bulb into the drain and pump forcefully. Slowly release the handle to let a little water in. Repeat if the drain is still not cleared. For more serious clogs, use a closet auger. Insert the auger into the drain hole carefully so as not to scratch the bowl. Twist the handle as you push the rotor downward.

Issue #5: Leaky Seals

On a standard toilet, there are at least five seals with the potential for leaking and need to be tightened or replaced. The largest seal is located between the tank and the bowl and will cause the biggest leak if broken. Water will shoot out from underneath the tank every time you flush the toilet. To replace this seal, you have to drain the tank and then remove it. For better and easier access turn the tank upside down. Remove the old seal and replace it with a new one. There are smaller seals at the mounting bolts that may fail and cause smaller leaks. Usually if you tighten the bolts or mounting nut occassionally it will stop it from leaking. If not, these can be replaced the same way as the tank seal. The fifth seal is a wax seal mounted on a plastic flange underneath the toilet base and can cause the most damage. If this seal fails, your floor will start to rot as a result of water leaking underneath the toilet base. To fix this leak, the toilet must be removed and the wax seal replaced as simply caulking around the base will essentially trap the water and make it worse. If you have a broken flange, it's time to call a plumber.

For more information on maintaining your toilet or any other real estate related topics, please contact us at 888-988-6248 or

About the Author

Brandon Lau grew up in Kailua and currently resides in Honolulu with his wife Andee and children Caylah, Elijah, and David. His eighteen years in real estate led him to become a Partner at ChaneyBrooks Choice Advisors. Over the past 10 years he has developed the team and systems that has created a high level of service and value for his clients.

What differentiates Brandon and his team is his consultative approach to real estate. He advises clients with relevant data and expert insight to help them make the best choices in real estate. Good choices in planning for long term dispositions, negotiating for the best price or knowing when not to pursue an investment are ways his consultative services will give you an advantage in the marketplace. His bottom line is providing service with the utmost integrity and expertise.