Problems You Can Tackle on Your Own
The modern toilet is a fairly simple device that has made life much easier for people the world over. The modern flush toilet is associated with Thomas Crapper (no kidding) in England in the late 1800’s, though he did not invent the flush toilet as many people have claimed. Since the toilet itself only has a couple of moving parts, toilet plumbing problems are generally easy to solve.
Installing the plumbing for a new toilet can be handled by the DIYer with a knowledge of basic plumbing. The water supply line is connected to the cold water supply from the sink or bathtub and needs to emerge from the floor or wall on the left side of the waste line. The toilet waste line needs to be installed with plastic pipe centered 10-12”(depending on your toilet) from the finished wall and flush(sorry, even) with the height of the finished floor. The waste line is typically 3”, but 4” waste lines are not uncommon. All of the other waste water lines will empty into the toilet waste line, so plan the layout accordingly. A vent pipe will be connected to the toilet line to allow air flow as water flows down the pipes. Always fireblock any pipes which penetrate floors or ceilings to prevent the possibility of fires spreading.
Toilet plumbing problems are confined
to 4 areas:
Water supply problems. The water is stored in the water tank at the back of the toilet. Water flows from the supply line into the tank through a valve that is controlled by a float. When the water level in the tank rises, the float rises with the water until it rises enough to mechanically stop the flow of the water. The inlet valve can become clogged with sediment and prevent water supply to the toilet, or the valve can fail to seal and water will continue to flow into the tank. Either problem can be solved by replacing the inlet valve.
Continuously running toilet. The flapper, which controls the flushing of the toilet, is made of rubber and loses its flexibility over time, or simply decays, and allows water to continuously run into the toilet bowl. Replacing the flapper is easy, and will solve this problem. A faulty fill valve will also cause a toilet to run continuously.(see above)
Water leaking onto the floor. There are several places where water can leak around a toilet. Any place where a connection between two parts of the toilet is made can leak. The water shut off valve, supply line connections, fill valve, toilet bolts, connection between the tank and bowl, and the water outlet can all develop leaks. Each connection point will typically have a rubber washer which seals the connection point. Over time any rubber material will lose its flexibility and will crack or deform. Replacing the washer will solve most toilet leaks.
Plugged toilet. In modern, low water usage toilets, the outlet of the toilet is smaller and more prone to clogging. In most cases, simply using a plunger to force the obstruction through the outlet will solve the problem. If the plunger doesn’t solve the problem, use a specially designed toilet snake, which will mechanically pushed the obstruction through the outlet. In rare cases you may have to remove the toilet from the floor, turn it upside down, and unplug it from the bottom. This not a pleasant job, but it is a simple job. Always use a new wax ring when you reseat your toilet to prevent leaks (see above)
Toilet plumbing is a job that any DIYer can perform, though not all DIYer’s want to work on toilets. That’s a decision that you need make on your own. Generally, I don’t find removing or replacing a toilet terribly objectionable if I can first spray it down with bleach! That may help you, also.