If your toilet isn’t flushing, there’s a good chance it has a problem with one or more of the major components. The main ones are the tank, flapper and fill valve (also called a ballcock).
A toilet’s tank is shaped like a U, with water in the bowl filling about halfway and additional water stored at the bottom of the tank. A seal between the two parts lifts when you depress the handle, which forces water out of the tank and down the drain.
A flapper is a rubber stopper that connects the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. When it’s new, the flapper is flexible and fits snugly into the bottom of the tank, settling back into place after every flush. Over time, however, the rubber can harden and become less able to seal the tank. If this occurs, you can easily replace the flapper, a quick and inexpensive toilet repair.
The fill valve, also called a ballcock, opens when the toilet is flushed and stays on until the tank refills. This prevents the toilet from running out of water when a flapper is leaking or a clog in the drain becomes large enough to flood the bowl.
To test whether the fill valve is causing your toilet to run out of water, give the handle a little jiggle. If you hear water escaping, the fill valve isn’t working properly. This could be caused by a leaky flapper, a faulty fill valve or even a dirty tank.
Your toilet’s fill valve should be set to raise the water level after a flush, so that it is higher than a half-inch from the top of the overflow tube. The higher the water level, the more water you’ll be able to flush out of your toilet each time.
If you’re using more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, consider replacing your toilet with an ultra-low-consumption model. These toilets use 1.28 gpf or less to flush and can save you 20 percent of your water bill while maintaining equal or better performance than older models.
Before you go out and buy a new toilet, take some time to consider how you plan to use it and where it will be placed in your home. Ideally, your toilet should be at least 15 inches from any object in the room, like a bath or sink. This will ensure that you aren’t uncomfortable or cramped when using it, and will make the whole experience more pleasant.
Some people prefer a taller toilet for ease of use and comfort. A 17-inch or 19-inch toilet is ideal, as it will be easier to get on and off the toilet and will help reduce strain on your back and knees. These toilets are available in a variety of styles and can be found at plumbing showrooms and online retailers.
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