The "devil is in the details", or so the saying goes. When it comes to toilets, there is a lot of truth to that particular axiom. Despite the complexities of some modern flush toilets, the proper functioning of toilets often depends upon how well three simple parts operate: the flush lever, chain and flapper valve. As parts wear out or are poorly adjusted in the first place, your toilet's functioning will be greatly impaired. Below is how you can perform a toilet tune-up on these particular components and get them working as they should, which in turn will help your toilet do the job it needs to do:
Tools and materials needed
1. Turn off the toilet's water supply - Before performing any work on the toilet, be sure to turn off the water supply to the toilet to prevent possible accidental flooding. Some of the internal components are sensitive to damage, and an inadvertent bump could cause water to uncontrollably spray out of the top of the tank. Turn the valve handle clockwise to shut off the water flow.
2. Remove the toilet tank lid - While toilet tank lids are easy to remove, they are also easily broken. Be sure your hands are dry before lifting the lid, and get a firm grip on the sides of the lid before attempting to pick it up. Place the lid on a soft surface where it won't be stepped on or otherwise damaged.
3. Remove and discard the chain and flapper - Once you have access to the inside of the tank and the water is turned off, give it a final flush to remove the standing water inside the tank. Hold down the lever for a few seconds to hold open the flapper valve and allow the water to drain.
Next, remove the chain from the toilet lever; use a pair of needle nose pliers to pry the chain from the end of the lever and lift the chain with your free hand. The flapper valve is attached to the other end of the chain and can be removed by lifting the sides of the flapper valve away from their pivot points. Chances are high the flapper valve and chain are worn, corroded or covered with hard water deposits, so pull the flapper valve off completely and discard it along with the chain.
4. Remove the toilet flush lever - After detaching the chain, it is time to remove the flush lever to perform some maintenance on it and to install a washer. The flush lever will be attached to the toilet via a flange nut that is screwed onto the backside of the lever. Remove the nut with a pair of adjustable pliers; turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen it, but be careful not to crush it or break any of the plastic components. Pull the nut over the flush rod and set it aside, then pull the flush lever and rod out of the hole in the side of the tank.
5. Lubricate and install a new flapper valve - Take your new flapper valve and spread a thin layer of silicone grease along the edge where the flapper meets the inside of the tank drain. The grease will help keep the rubber pliable and aid in sealing the joint between the tank and flapper. If you see any deposits along the inside edge of the tank drain, then wipe them away with a shop towel or other cloth.
Place the flapper valve inside the toilet tank so it is seated in position, then slip each hinge end to its appropriate mounting clip if it doesn't come with a new chain already attached. Next, reinsert the flush lever into the hole on the tank, and slip a fender washer over the rod and slide it up to the inside of the tank. This will aid in reducing friction between the lever and inside wall of the toilet. Replace the flange nut on the lever, but be careful not to break it by applying excessive torque.
6. Reattach the chain to the flush lever - When both the lever and flapper valve are in place, stretch the free end of the flapper chain up toward the flush lever and make a connection to the end of the flush rod; you may need to use needle nose pliers to do this. Be sure the chain is taut and does not have excessive slop in in the connection between flapper valve and lever. The goal is to keep the flapper valve open long enough immediately after flushing to provide adequate water flow into the bowl. Cut away any excess chain material to prevent it from being washed into the tank drain and causing the flapper valve to stay open at all times.
7. Replace the tank lid and turn on the water - After the chain is reconnected and all else is in place, restore the lid to the top of the tank and turn on the cold water. Test the tank by flushing the toilet; be sure the flush is sufficient to handle the wastes generated by you and your family members. If it isn't, you may need to consider upgrading your toilet, so contact a plumbing contractor from a company like Aalco-The Drain Doctor for help.
Keeping your home's plumbing system in good working order is a family job. Have you taught your kids what should never be flushed down the toilets or poured down the drains? Do your kids know what to watch for to know that there is a plumbing problem that needs to be addressed? If your kids know what to look for, they will be less likely to contribute to making a minor plumbing problem more serious. This blog will show you things that you should teach your kids so that everyone can work together to protect the entire plumbing system in your home.