How to Fix a Toilet

How to Fix a Toilet

Written By: ReviewHomeWarranties Team

Edited By: Andrew Dunn

Your toilet is one of the most frequently used – and most important – fixtures in your home. So when it’s on the fritz, that can cause a major disruption. Luckily, most home warranty plans cover problems with your toilet. You have the option to file a claim and have a service technician come and fix it for you.

But for most toilet problems, it is cheaper, easier and faster to simply fix it yourself. Despite their importance, toilets are fairly simple machines – and most homeowners can address basic issues themselves. Here are a few tips.

Common toilet problems you can easily fix yourself

If you live in a home long enough, your toilet is inevitably going to need a few repairs. The interior parts tend to break down over time, leading to these common problems:

  • Toilet constantly runs. You’re used to the noise of a running toilet after you flush. But if you hear this noise constantly throughout the day, that’s a sign that your flapper has worn down and needs replacing.
  • Toilet won’t flush properly. If your toilet doesn’t flush all the way or if you have to hold down the handle for a long time to get it to flush, this could be an issue with your chain. 
  • Toilet handle is loose. If the handle jiggles when you use it, it could have a poor connection to the interior parts.
  • Tank doesn’t fill properly. Over time, you may not get enough water in your toilet tank. This can be a problem with your fill valve. 

Fixing Common Toilet Problems

If you experience one of these problems, don’t get discouraged. Fixing them yourself is much easier than you think – and much cheaper. All the parts you need are readily available at any hardware store for just a few bucks.

For the issues listed above, you’ll want to buy a “toilet repair kit.” These kits include:

  • Flapper. This is the rubber piece that covers the bottom hole that connects the tank to the bowl.
  • Fill valve. The fill valve uses a float to determine when the tank has enough water.
  • Lever arm. The lever arm is connected to the handle and helps lift up the flapper.
  • Chain. The chain connects the lever arm to the flapper, working with the lever arm to lift the flapper off of the hole when you push on the handle.

DIY Toilet Repair Step-by-Step Instructions

Before you get started, make sure you have all the tools you are going to need. You’ll typically need a screwdriver, a small adjustable wrench, and the toilet repair kit. You may also want a bucket and sponge nearby to catch any water spills.

Once you’re ready, follow these steps to complete your repair.

For a Running Toilet 

In most cases, the culprit will be a worn-out flapper. This is a simple fix.

  • Shut off the water. It’s “Plumbing 101” to always cut off the water to the fixture you’re working on before getting started. Toilets will have a water supply line with a valve handle nearby. Turn the valve closed. 
  • Drain the toilet. Get the water out of your toilet tank by simply flushing. Make sure you shut off the water supply first, or it will fill right back up.
  • Take off the lid. Your toilet tank will have a lid on top that’s easy to remove to access the inner parts.
  • Disassemble the old parts. Unhook the lever arm from the chain. This releases the flapper, which you can now remove. If the lever arm is in bad condition, unscreStep by step - how to fix a toilet yourselfw it from the handle using a screwdriver and replace with a new lever arm.
  • Put in the new flapper. Your toilet repair kit will include a new flapper. Place this over the hole and make sure it seals securely.
  • Reconnect the chain. Make sure you have the proper length of chain between the lever arm and flapper. Test the handle to make sure it opens the flapper properly.
  • Turn the water back on and test. Your tank should refill when the water is restored. You can then test out your repair.

For A Toilet That’s Not Filling Properly

If the flapper isn’t your problem, it may be the fill valve. Replacing this component is a bit more complicated, but not by much. After you shut off the water and drain the toilet, you can follow these steps.

a man fixing the toilet tank

  • Disconnect the water line. Using a wrench, you can carefully remove the water line from the bottom of the toilet. You may want to have a bucket and sponge handy to catch water that comes out of the water line.
  • Unscrew the mounting nut. There should be a nut holding the fill valve assembly inside the tank. This is usually accessed from the bottom of the tank.
  • Lift out the fill valve. With the nut removed, this should lift right out. 
  • Put in the new fill valve. Your new fill valve from your repair kit should fit directly in. 
  • Replace the mounting nut and water connection. Just reverse the steps above, and you’re set. Make sure the water connection is secure to avoid leaks. If you get a leak, shut off the water and try to tighten the connection.

When To Go Pro

These simple repairs are easy to do yourself. But if you’re dealing with a leak, the repair is a bit more complicated. You may still be able to do it yourself, but it will likely involve removing and replacing the entire toilet. 

This is when your home warranty may come in handy. Most home warranties cover toilet repair and replacement. You can file a claim and have a service technician handle the job for you. The cost to replace a toilet professionally can range between $200 and $400, so you’re likely saving money by using your home warranty and simply paying the service fee. 


1 thought on “How to Fix a Toilet”

  1. Thank you for the article. Many people get scared when they see or hear the word plumbing. It’s really not that hard, just shut off the water to your home. That way if something does happen, you aren’t going to flood out your home like you see on youtube. And if you ever have any questions about pipe fittings or different kinds of pipes you can use, you can always take a picture of whatever it is you need to replace, and go to home depot. Most of the sales people there would help you out and point you in the right direction.

    It’s either do it all yourself, or you could call a handyman to fix the issue. Normally they are cheaper than a full blown plumber, but they are just as good…. Well, it depends on which one you get. Make sure you get one that is licensed,bonded and insured. Always make sure they are insured. Because if they aren’t, and they mess up your home, chances are they won’t be able to cover the damages.

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