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Troubleshooting Toilet Problems

When your toilet stops functioning properly it can quickly become more than a huge inconvenience. The first thing to do in such a situation is to diagnose the problem. For example, in some cases, it could be a flaw with the flush which causes it to not flush properly or not flush at all or maybe even start flushing on its own. Another common problem you may face is a clogged toilet. Whatever the reason, once you diagnose the problem you may find that it is easy to troubleshoot with a few simple tools. If it seems more complicated, it’s better to get the help of a professional plumber.

Listed below are a few questions about toilet problem troubleshooting, answered by the Experts.

I used an auger to unclog my toilet as it wasn’t flushing. Now the toilet bowl has no water flowing into it and nothing happens when I flush either—the water level in the bowl remains constant and there is an absence of a flushing noise. Also, the water is only trickling into the tank. How do I fix this problem?

If your tank is full but nothing happens when you flush, it probably means that the flapper is not connected to the chain any longer. Since you say that the water is trickling in, you might either need a new fill valve or there could be a blockage in the water supply line. Since you also have clogging problems, it might be better to rebuild the entire tank or install a new toilet.

When I flush my toilet, it fills up with excess water followed by a gurgling sound in the shower and the sink. Thereafter, the toilet starts draining slowly till there is almost no water left. I used a hose to flush the vent and the water then filled both the tub and the toilet. What should I do to solve this problem?

It seems like the large drain piping (3” or 4”) that goes downstream from the toilet and the tub is plugged. This will need to be rodded out with large equipment. It may include removing the toilet as well if there is no other way to access the piping. It’s advisable to hire a plumber to help you out with this.

Every time I flush my toilet, the water swirls around but doesn't "flush" away for quite some time. How can I fix this?

It’s possible that you have a partial blockage and it can be cleaned using a toilet auger that is available at Lowes or Home Depot. This should fix the problem.

I notice hairline cracks developing on my toilet tank at the bottom right corner. Will the tank break? I am also thinking of replacing it with a taller one that comes with a power flusher since I have a septic tank. What do you think?

The cracks might develop leaks after a while. It may not break at one go. You can get a product called ‘plumbers goop’ at a home/hardware store. All you have to do is drain the tank and follow the instructions given on the product. This should keep your toilet going for a few years more.

In the case of a pressure assisted toilet, you shouldn’t have a problem using one with a septic tank. It usually shoots the water and the waste farther down the line which is better.

If you find that your toilet is beginning to back up and you are unable to clear the blockage with the usual snake methods or by using a plunger, it could indicate that you have a serious problem with the plumbing. In some cases, it may even be that this problem is affecting other toilets or drains which are also backing up. This is when you may need the services of a professional plumber to sort out the problem. Also, if you find that the toilet is rocking or has sprung a leak around the seal and you can’t fix it yourself, it’s advisable to get a plumber to help or ask an Expert.
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