What's Wrong with my Toilet?Fixing a faulty toilet can seem like a difficult challenge but do not fear as most problems with your WC can be rectified quickly and easily. Read on to find out more on how to tackle your faulty loo.

Toilet Fault Finding

Dripping overflow – You probably need to replace the ball valve washer.

Cistern will only flush with repeated use of handle – Probably need to replace the flap valve.

Water is pouring from overflow – Ball float probably needs replacing.

The cistern is leaking – This can be repaired easily by emptying and filling any hole or crack from the inside with specialist putty. You will probably need to replace the cistern though as soon as you can.

Pan is overflowing – Pan may need plunging or unblocking with an auger. The problem could be at the drain as well. You may need to inspect your drain gulley and remove any matter.

Toilet will not flush – Possibly need to replace a broken cistern lever. The wire connecting the lever and the siphon may be disconnected.

Replacing a Flap Valve

If you have to repeatedly depress the WC handle to make the cistern flush this is usually a sign that the flap valve which controls the amount of water leaving the cistern needs replacing.

  • With a modern plastic ball valve with a small float, you will find the water flow is controlled by a rubber diaphragm.
  • After turning off the water supply remove and replace the diaphragm.
  • You should be able to see a large knurled nut just behind the float arm pivot.
  • Tie up the ball valve to stop the water flowing and empty the cistern by flushing the loo. Clean up the last of the water with a cloth and then disconnect the flush pipe and slacken the large nut that holds the siphon apparatus in place.
  • Remove the metal link that connects the flushing handle to the flap.
  • Lift the plate and remove the siphon.
  • The plate should then fall out and a new plastic flap valve can be fitted in place before re-assembly.

Repairing a Ball Valve

If there are drips from the cistern overflow take a look at the mechanism inside the cistern. The ball valve washer or diaphragm is probably the cause of this troublesome problem. Older WCs often have brass parts while modern WCs are most likely to be plastic. Check the ball valve float for any holes and unscrew it to see if it is holding water. If it is holding water it will need replacing. These are cheap and easy to replace. The valve itself could also be faulty. If water stops entering from the valve then it may need adjusting. Some ball valves can be adjusted by screws or you may be able to reposition it. If this does not remedy the problem it is likely the ball valve or the washer inside it is not working properly. Probably the easiest solution is to replace the whole valve:

  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Siphon off any water if necessary.
  • Undo the nut holding the water supply pipe to the valve and disconnect.
  • Undo further nuts and washers attached to the cistern.
  • Refit the new ball valve and washers and tighten all nuts before reconnecting the water inlet pipe to it.
  • Finally, it’s a good idea to fit Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tape around the thread of the ball valve. This is used as a specialist tape in plumbing work for sealing screw threads.

Blocked Loo

If the pan is blocked a WC auger is the best tool for unblocking your loo. This specialist plumbing tool is available at hardware stores and will clear most blocked toilets. A hand crank operates a long sleeve handle and the special auger device at the end which is placed down the pan. When the obstruction is reached you turn the cranked handle and it should dislodge the blockage.

Don’t Panic

Remember, toilet parts are quite straightforward to fix. Most parts can be easily identified as broken by examining the function of the parts in the cistern. You can identify most problems by a little common sense. Isolate the water supply then take a look inside. Undo and replace broken parts. Simple DIY. If the toilet needs flushing in the meantime just use a bucket of water filled from your bath taps and pour it down the loo.