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Toilet Repair – How to Fix Cracked Bowls and Leaking Toilets

toilet repair

A clogged toilet is an unpleasant and often smelly problem. Clearing it is simple enough with a plunger (you probably have one in the bathroom) and patience. A constantly running toilet is a huge waste of water. To fix it, check the flush handle and flapper to ensure they are seated properly.

Cracked Bowl

A crack in your toilet bowl is a serious problem that should be fixed immediately by an expert plumber. A cracked bowl can lead to problems, from water leaks to irreparable damage to the flooring. Luckily, this job doesn’t require a professional; it can be done at home using glue and epoxy.

The first step in fixing a crack is determining its severity. Hairline cracks are very small and often only on the surface, so they don’t cause any structural issues with your toilet. However, they can develop into larger cracks over time. If you find a hairline crack, simply watch it to make sure it doesn’t grow any bigger and that there aren’t any water leaks from the crack.

Larger cracks on the bowl and tank are a much different story, and usually indicate that your toilet needs to be replaced. Epoxy can temporarily seal up these cracks, but they will eventually worsen. This can lead to the porcelain structure crazing and it will be unusable, no matter how many repairs you do.

If you see a crack on your toilet, shut off the water to the entire house and drain the toilet bowl or tank (depending on which area is affected). Then dry the tank and the crack thoroughly—inside and out. Once the tank is dry, apply a liberal amount of plumber’s epoxy to the crack. Allow the epoxy to cure for a minimum of 24 hours before re-filling and testing the toilet to ensure it’s not leaking. This is a simple fix that anyone can do; it just takes some patience.

Leaking Tank

While leaks may seem minor, they can run up your water bill at best and destroy the tile and subfloor in your bathroom at worst. Luckily, they are usually easy to fix. The first step is determining where the leak is coming from. This will help you figure out what type of DIY toilet repair project you need to take on.

Leaks from the tank can be caused by a number of things. For example, a toilet that has been in place for a long time can develop loose bolts or a cracked or broken wax seal. In this case, you can replace the seal or tighten the bolts to prevent them from moving.

Another common cause of a leaking tank is corrosion of the supply line connections. These can be difficult to repair if the corrosion has already occurred, but a new set of metal nuts and washers can often solve the problem.

If you suspect that the leaking is from a different source, you might be able to stop it by tightening the closet bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. To do this, pry off the rounded caps that cover the bolts and use a wrench to tighten them a little at a time. Be careful not to apply too much pressure; you don’t want to crack the toilet base.

Lastly, some leaks can be traced to the float in your toilet’s tank. The float monitors the water level and disconnects the tank’s supply valve when it reaches a specific height. If the float is broken, you will notice that the water levels in your toilet keep rising even after you shut off the water.

You can test to see if the float is the culprit by disengaging it from its rod and setting the tank water aside. Then, pour food coloring into the tank water and observe if the color moves to the bowl. If it does, you have a broken float and will need to replace it. After the leak is fixed, you can caulk the base of the toilet to serve as one last safeguard against a leaking tank for years to come.

Faulty Seat

A cracked toilet seat can be more than just a nuisance. It could pinch your derriere as you sit and can be a portal for harmful bacteria. If you have a particleboard seat, you can temporarily glue the crack together to keep it functional until you find a replacement. Alternatively, you can buy some of the small rubber bumpers found on toilets and glue them to the underside of the seat where the crack is. This will prevent the seat from shifting while you use it.

If the seat is held to the toilet by bolts, you’ll need a set of pliers or adjustable wrench to loosen them and then remove the old seat. It’s important to wear rubber cleaning gloves while doing this so you don’t contaminate the inside of the toilet with germs. You should also clean the old seat before installing the new one.

Once you’ve removed the old seat, examine it for any gaps between the rim of the toilet and the flange in the floor. If you see any, you can level and steady the toilet with shims that fit into those holes. Once the shims are in place, you can screw on the new seat and tighten the nuts.

If you’re not ready to replace the entire toilet seat, shut off the water at the tank and flush the toilet to drain the tank. Then you can remove the refill tube from the overflow tube and unscrew the float arm from the ballcock assembly shaft in the tank. If you have an older tank, the float mechanism may be sealed by a snap nut on the side of the tank near the base. You’ll need a pair of wrenches to loosen this.

With the tank empty, you can inspect the valve seat for pitting and a leaky seal. If the seal is in good shape, it’s probably just an issue with the float assembly. You can repair this by buying a kit that contains the new flapper and valve seat, then following the instructions for installation.

Faulty Flange

If you see water leaking around your toilet, this could mean the flange is cracked or broken and needs replacing. If you don’t address this issue, it can lead to serious water damage in your home and rotted subflooring that will require thousands of dollars in repairs. It can also allow sewer gas into your bathroom and cause unpleasant odors throughout the home.

The flange is the device that connects your toilet to the drain pipe. It is usually made from PVC, copper or steel and has a bolted connection with the drain pipe. The flange is also sealed to the toilet with a waterproof wax ring, which can break down over time.

Luckily, the flange is an easy part of your toilet to replace and can be done easily by anyone with a few basic tools. You can even buy kits that make the process even easier and less messy, though nothing beats a professional’s touch.

Before you conduct any flange repair, turn off your toilet’s water supply valve to prevent water from flowing into the toilet while you work on it. Then, flush your toilet and remove the lid from the tank to ensure any remaining water is drained. You should then place an absorbent towel or newspaper on the floor where you’ll be removing and lifting your toilet.

Next, probe the floor around the toilet flange with a screwdriver to determine where solid wood ends and soft spongy material begins. If you find that the wood around your flange is soft, it’s likely due to the flange being cracked or broken and you need to replace it.

To perform a flange repair, disconnect the water supply hose and unscrew the closet bolts that hold the toilet in place using an adjustable wrench. Then, remove the toilet and clean off any old wax from the flange opening. Set a new wax ring in place and install the new flange, either by pressing it into the flange opening or using a push-in replacement that reduces the size of the flange opening. Reinstall the toilet, connect the supply hose and turn the water back on.