Toilet Maintenance Tips

Top view of toilet with lid open and button flush

Ok folks, it’s time to talk toilet maintenance. It’s a busy time of year and a lot of families often have visitors for trekking in for the holidays which means the ‘ole john’ will be getting a little more love than usual. Making sure your toilet is in tip top shape will keep things running smoothly, so to speak. We’re sharing some tips help you make certain that the toilets in your home are running optimally, year round.

Before we get into the tips, let’s just do a quick run through of the basic components of your toilet:

Today, toilets are generally comprised of two main components, the tank and the bowl. Toilets are created out of a material called, vitreous china. The mechanical parts that are located inside the tank work symbiotically to perform gravity flush. The assembly is commonly known as the ‘flush valve flapper design.’ The graphic below showcases these parts/components which include the (1) float, (2) fill valve, (3) lift arm, (4) tank fill tube, (5) bowl fill tube, (6) flush valve flapper, (7) overflow, (8) flush handle, (9) chain, (10) water level, (11) fill valve shaft, and (12) flush tube.

Toilet tank components for a gravity flush model

Image credit: Wikipedia

Now for some toilet maintenance tips!

Keep Your Toilet Clean…

On the inside AND the outside. The vitreous china that toilets are made out of is indeed sturdy and strong, but it is china after all–meaning it can crack and break. Take care when cleaning the outside of your toilet, which should be done once a week. When vacuuming or mopping, make sure to use caution when cleaning around the toilet to avoid chipping or cracking it. For the inside, use a brush with plastic bristles and toilet bowl cleaner or bleach. Avoid using metal brushes and abrasive cleaners as these can scratch the surface making it porous and vulnerable to stains and cracks — once this happens there’s no going back as it cannot be repaired. Make sure to disinfect the toilet seat, cover, tank, and handle surfaces at least once or twice per week depending on usage. Lastly, keep the area around the toilet free of clutter and personal belonging to prevent any unnecessary accidents. This also keeps the area clear in the event of an emergency, you’ll be able to reach the shut off valves and tank lid quickly should you need to.

Check Your Toilet for Leaks

When cleaning your toilets, it’s a good idea to periodically make a habit of checking for leaks. If you detect a leak, call your local plumber to come in and inspect the problem as the issue could be more than you realize. Of course we hope that isn’t the case, but if you’re inexperienced with toilet repair and want to avoid any surprises, it’s best to call in the experts.

Is Your Toilet Wobbly?

Your toilet should be securely fastened to your flooring. If it’s wobbling even the tiniest bit, aim to fix the problem immediately. The issue could be a simple fix, such as a loose floor nut, an improper fit over the wax ring, or the caulk around the base of the bowl may need to be resealed. If the caulk needs to be resealed, remove the old remnants before resealing to make sure it’s clean and secure. If you notice a leak of any kind, it might be a good idea to call your local plumber to come out and inspect it.

Is Your Toilet Slow flush?

If your toilet is flushing slower than normal, take note. The water stored in the tank might not be filling up to the correct level. Another common issue is that the rinse holes located underneath the toilet bowl lip could be clogged. If you notice that your toilet is slow to flush, carefully remove the tank lid and inspect the water level to see if it is where it should be, which is near or just underneath the overflow pipe. If the water appears too low, this might indicate that the float itself isn’t working properly. This is a fairly straight forward repair that can be remedied with a trip to your local hardware store.

If the water level in the tank is where it should be, check the rinse holes for buildup. Excess buildup in this area inhibits water flow into the tank. A quick fix tip for this is to use a mirror and wire hanger to probe the rinse holes to attempt to remove any surface buildup of lime and other hard water particulates. You can also temporarily ‘dam’ the rinse holes, then use a lime remover to the overflow drain located inside the tank. The lime remover will be directed to the rinse holes to help dissolve mineral buildup, but you’ll need to leave dam in place for about 8-12 hours to make sure the buildup is properly dissolved and removed.

Is Your Toilet Water Running?

Lastly, if you hear your toilet water running, consider it not only wasted water, but wasted money on your water bill. If this is happening, call your local plumber immediately to help remedy the issue.

When in doubt, always contact a plumber with good reviews to help you deal with any toilet issues you might encounter.

North County Plumbing has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services… with no overtime charges!

If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “Sink and Bathtub Drain Protectors: Our Top 3 Picks.

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