A well-maintained toilet in a home.

Toilet Maintenance and Repair

Updated October 3, 2018 . AmFam Team

Keeping your toilet in working order isn’t just a matter of convenience. Taking care of routine maintenance and inspecting it carefully can save you money from an unfortunate overflow or blockage later. Check out our tips for keeping your toilets in good condition.

A working toilet is often taken for granted — why spend any time maintaining it when it’s working just fine already? Because taking the time to make sure all its components are in working order can save you from an expensive overflow later on! Check out our tips for keeping your toilet in working order.

Your Toilet Inspection Checklist

No matter if your toilet seems to have any issues or not, giving it an inspection every once in a while can help you spot and solve problems before they arise. These tips will help you identify any potential problem areas and get them back to prime condition in no time.

Know where the shut-off valve is — and make sure it works. The shut-off valve cuts off water flow to your toilet, which can be crucial during an overflow. Turn the valve to its off setting, then flush your toilet. If you don’t hear any running water and your toilet tank doesn’t re-fill, your shut-off valve works.

Check your fill valve. The fill valve controls the water that fills your toilet tank after you flush. Take the lid off the toilet tank, set it down somewhere safe, and flush your toilet. Make sure it fills to an appropriate level before turning off. If you notice any starting and stopping or continuous running, get in touch with a professional or head to a local hardware store for a new fill valve and tips on installing it.

See if your flush valve is sealing correctly. Your flush valve opens up when you flush your toilet, emptying the toilet tank and sealing back up to let the tank fill again. If you notice that your toilet seems to be running often, the culprit might be an ineffective seal. A quiet toilet is usually a functional toilet, and double-checking that your flush valve is sealing correctly can save you a few dollars on your water bill each month.

Preventing a Toilet Overflow

We all know the feeling of panic watching the toilet water rise, hoping it’ll recede and save us and our floors from a massive (and potentially expensive) cleanup. But knowing just what to do the second you suspect an overflow is coming can save you tons of trouble. Here are our best tips for preventing your toilet from overflowing.

Stop the toilet bowl from filling. Pushing down on the flush valve in the toilet tank to close the hole from the tank to the bowl is the first step. And while you might cringe at the idea of putting your hand in the water, know that the water in the tank is straight from your pipes and is as clean as can be.

Prevent the tank from filling. Lift the float, the piece that controls whether or not the fill valve should run, until the valve turns off. This will prevent any more water from entering your tank while it’s raised. Note that you may have to pinch, press or pull a clip to move the float.

Turn the water off. Locate the water shut-off valve connected to your toilet and turn it off. Without any water running to the toilet, the water in the bowl won’t be able to go up.

Try to plunge the blockage. Place towels you don’t mind getting dirty with toilet water around the base of the toilet to prevent any spillage, then use a plunger to try and get rid of the blockage.

Check your other toilets. If plunging doesn’t seem to be working, check other toilets in your home to see if they’re flushing properly. If all of your toilets won’t go, you may have a more serious main drain problem on your hands. At that point, it’s definitely time to call a professional!

Best Practices for Keeping Your Toilet Functional

Inspecting your toilet semi-regularly and knowing what to do in the event of an overflow are must-knows, but saving yourself from an expensive plumbing project can be as easy as following a few simple rules. Use these best practices to save yourself from unexpected bathroom work.

Clean your toilet regularly. Nobody wants to use a dirty toilet anyways, so why not grab your scrub brush and keep it as clean as can be? Make sure to scrub under the rim near the siphon jets, which push out water when you flush.

Only flush waste and toilet paper. Flushing things that don’t disintegrate well can really mess up your plumbing, so keep paper toilets, facial tissues, napkins and anything else besides toilet paper out of your toilet.

When in doubt, call a professional. If you’re worried that something is wrong with your toilet or plumbing, call a plumber. Spending a few dollars on an expert’s opinion is a much better option than pretending everything is working just fine.

Having the right homeowners insurance can help you avoid the hassle of the unexpected, so get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to make sure you’ve got all the coverage you need.

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