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Toilet Troubleshooting Procedures and Problems


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A water leak isn’t always obvious. Sometimes, the leak happens in hidden plumbing pipes. If you cannot see water dripping from a pipe but suspect there’s a leak, here are some of the things you can look out for to verify the existence of a leak before calling a trusted plumber:

  • The water bill is higher than usual, but there are no changes in your consumption, supplier rate, etc. 
  • There’s an unexplainable musty smell
  • Low water pressure
  • Water stains or discoloration on ceilings 
  • Blistering or peeling wallpaper or paint
  • Strange noises coming from the pipes or plumbing fixtures


A leak needs to be fixed as soon as possible because it can cause massive, costly damage. If you think your property have a water leak, contact a plumbing expert for assistance in detecting and fixing the problem.

There are several simple practices you can do to minimize the risk of sewer backup, like not pouring grease down the drain or flushing paper products in the toilet, and cutting tree roots. But there’s only so much you can do. Consider investing in an overhead sewer system, a type of sewer system designed to prevent sewer backup. 

Fixing your toilet may seem like a complicated endeavor, but it’s simpler than you may think.

Your toilet consists of two basic parts: the bowl and the tank. Since the tank contains all the mechanical parts, it also represents the place where most problems occur. Toilet troubleshooting is easier when you know the basics of how it works and the most common issues.

Toilet Basics

Consider the tank as the powerhouse of the toilet. It holds water until you flush, then it releases the water to run through the bowl to remove the waste and replace it with clean water.

When you open the tank, you will see several parts ranging from balls to tubes. It may look complex, but you should familiarize yourself with two main components of the tank:

  1. Flush valve—You can find this valve in the center of the tank. It connects to a float ball responsible for keeping the water in the tank until a flush. Using the flush handle lifts the float ball, or flapper, away from the valve, allowing water to flow out of the tank. Once the tank is empty, the float ball returns to the valve and allows water to refill.
  2. Fill valve—Also known as the ballcock, the fill valve is responsible for refilling the tank with water. You can find it on the left side of your tank. It works by opening the water supply valve when the tank begins to empty, then automatically shuts off when it reaches the appropriate water level. There are four types of fill valves.
  • Plunger-type ballcock: Made of brass
  • Float cup fill valve: Made of plastic
  • Diaphragm-type ballcock: Similar to the plunger-type; can be made of brass or plastic
  • Floatless fill valve: A new design not permitted in certain areas

In summary, when you use the flush handle, the float ball lifts away from the flush valve and allows water to exit the tank into the bowl. As water leaves the tank, the fill valve automatically turns on to refill the tank. Once the tank reaches the appropriate water level, the float ball returns to the flush valve to keep the water in the tank until the next flush.

Common Toilet Problems and Troubleshooting Steps

If you notice any of the following problems with your toilet, you can try some troubleshooting techniques before calling a plumber.

  • The tank does not refill properly.
    If the water is running but the tank won’t refill properly, lift the tank lid to see if anything appears loose or broken. Start by checking the flush handle and float ball.
  • The water level in the toilet bowl seems either too high or too low.
    If the water level isn’t where it should be, the flush valve could be a problem. Check the float ball and make sure it seats properly by the flush valve. A corroded flapper can also prevent your toilet from refilling correctly.
  • The water continuously runs even after the tank refills.
    Continuously running water commonly occurs with toilets. This can be due to a malfunctioning handle or trip assembly. First, check the flush valve and make sure the float ball is where it should be.

    If you notice corrosion in the tank, cleaning it will go a long way in improving toilet function. Also, check to see if the float ball has water inside it. You want water to surround your flapper, not fill it.
  • The toilet won’t flush.
    Check the arm that attaches to the float ball. Bend it down to lower the water level or upward to raise it. The appropriate water level in the tank is 3/4 inches below the overflow tube.
  • Water leaks from the tank or bottom of the toilet.
    • Tank leaks—Check the fill valve. Make sure nothing is loose and that the refill tube runs into the overflow tube. In some cases, you may need to replace the washers in the tank.
    • Leaks coming from the bottom of the toilet—If water leaks from the base, it could be an issue with the wax ring or the bolts. Grab your tools and tighten the bolts at the base of the toilet. If the bottom of your toilet feels secure but still leaks, you probably need to replace the wax ring.
  • Strange noises are coming from the toilet.
    Open the shutoff valve entirely and check the float ball and flush valve. Check for corrosion, breaks, or loose parts. Replacing damaged floats or flush valves can quiet your noisy toilet.
  • The toilet bowl overflows.
    An overflowing toilet is a common and unpleasant problem. Water overflows in the toilet bowl when a blockage in the pipes occurs. You can generally fix it with a plunger; however, some drain clogs require a more complicated removal process.
  • The flush handle is loose.
    Luckily, a loose flush handle requires a more straightforward fix than most other toilet problems. Adjust the handle and make sure the chain is connected correctly.

Stellar Plumbing Toilet Repair

When toilet troubleshooting doesn’t solve your problems, reach out to the trained professionals at Stellar Plumbing. Our experts understand the importance of having a functioning toilet and know how frustrating it can be when your plumbing system malfunctions.

We offer quality toilet repair in Chicago. When one of our professional plumbers repairs your toilet, you can trust that the job will be done quickly and efficiently. Whether you experience minor issues or more significant problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional right away.

For over 17 years, Stellar Plumbing has helped people resolve their toilet problems. From toilet repair to installation, our professionals continue to improve their skills to provide our clients with the best service possible. Our experts dedicate themselves to ensure that your plumbing system remains functional.

Don’t stress about the mess. Instead, call Stellar Plumbing at (847) 979-4552 to let the experts handle your toilet problems!

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