Whether you live in a house, condo, or an apartment, common toilet troubles plague everyone eventually. While they’re not fun to discuss, toilet clogs and leaks are something that all bathroom owners must face at some point.
One of the benefits of renting is that you can always have a landlord or property maintenance come by and deal with any problems. When it comes to toilet issues, however, time is of the essence — you don’t want to be stuck without access to your porcelain throne! This is why it’s helpful to know how to address some of the most common toilet troubles yourself.
Common Toilet Troubles (and How to Deal With Them)
A Clogged Toilet
One of the most dreaded sights in the days of modern plumbing is watching the water in a toilet slowly rise towards the brim instead of disappearing down the bowl. If this happens, the first thing you want to do is stop more water from coming into the bowl. Quickly reach down and turn the knob behind the toilet to turn the water off. Next, open the toilet tank, reach in (no worries; the water in there is perfectly clean!) and close the flapper to keep more water from entering the bowl.
The next step is to clear the clog. The easiest way to do this is with a plunger. When you put it in the toilet bowl, push it down the first time to expel all the air beneath it. (Don’t push too hard or you’ll shoot toilet water out of the bowl.) Once the air is out and you have a good seal, move the plunger up and down, keeping contact with the bottom of the bowl to maintain a seal. Give one final plunge upwards, breaking the seal and (hopefully) loosening the clog.
Should the plunger not work, you might also try squirting a bit of dish soap into the bowl and following it with a gallon of hot — but not boiling — water. Another option is to add a cup of baking soda to the toilet bowl, waiting a few minutes, then pouring in two cups of vinegar. This will create a bubbly reaction that will help break up the obstruction. If these all fail, it may be time to call the landlord.
A Toilet That Keeps Running (or Won’t Flush)
Next to a clogged toilet, the most common toilet trouble is probably the Forrest Gump toilet that just keeps running. Not only is the constant trickle annoying; it’s also a huge waste of water — and one that will likely frustrate even the most patient of landlords when the utilities bill arrives.
What to do? First of all, take the lid off the tank and check the flap to make sure it’s staying shut. Quite often, the chain that attaches to the flap will get tangled and cause it to remain open, and this allows water to keep flowing into the toilet bowl. You might need to adjust the chain to make sure it’s long enough for the flapper to shut. Alternately, the chain may disconnect altogether, meaning that when you press the lever, the toilet won’t flush. Either way, being confident enough to adjust or reattach the flapper chain will address lots of toilet woes!
Next, check the float. It controls the water level in the tank, and if it’s set too high, the water will continue to flow into the overflow tube and out of the tank. Newer toilets have floats that are adjustable by sliding a clip along a rod, while older toilets will require you to bend the brass rod to adjust the float level.
Loose Seats, Leaky Toilets, and More
While these are some of the most common toilet troubles, there are many others that may arise over the years as you enjoy your apartment. Minor ones like a loose toilet seat can be addressed by simply flipping up the plastic screw covers and tightening the bolts underneath. Others, like a leaky toilet, may best be addressed by shutting the toilet water off and calling your landlord (as it’s always better to be cautious when it comes to potential water damage). Maintain an excellent relationship and open communication with them and remember that even with toilet troubles, a good landlord is always there to help!