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Common Toilet Problems and How to Fix Them: Their Causes and Solutions

Like most fixtures used in homes, toilets are prone to develop problems in the course of their work. And most of these problems are more frequent. Hence, one must be aware of the problems they are likely to develop and their solutions.

So, what are the common toilet problems, and how to fix them? The usual problems include toilet clogging, leaking, and not flushing. And the solution to clogs involves a plunger and replacing worn-out parts to fix leaks. Most of these issues can be fixed without requiring a professional.

This article covers various toilet problems, their probable causes, and corresponding solutions. Keep reading to learn more.

Common Toilet Problems, Causes, and A Step by Step Guide to Fix Them

common toilet problems and solutions

The common problems and solutions include;

1. Clogging

Clogging is one of the common toilet problems in most homes and involves the toilet not flushing. A clogged toilet has a strong odor and can result in health problems, especially for people with asthma.


Clogging is usually a result of flushing items that shouldn’t be flushed in a toilet. Items like;

  • Sanitary towels
  • Baby wipes
  • Cooking oil or grease
  • Clogged sewer lines
  • Tree roots in the sewer lines
  • Hair and other debris.
  •  Clogged S-trap

Also, if you have kids, they may have tried to flush toys down the toilet, causing blockages.


One of the solutions to unclog a clogged toilet is using a plunger. Follow the steps below;

  • Step 1.  Wear protective gear, including gloves and glasses.
  • Step 2.  Place the plunger on the toilet bowl hole and hold it with both hands tightly to create an airtight seal.
  • Step 3.  Push and pull on the plunger about six times without breaking the seal.
  • Step 4. If the method works and the toilet water drain, remove the plunger and flush the toilet.

If there are tree roots invading the sewer lines, you can use rock salt. Rock salt sucks moisture from the roots causing them to die after some time. Flushing the toilet with at least half a pound of rock salt can clear most roots in the system.

If the clog is due to cooking oil or grease, you can fix it by pouring plenty of hot water. The water will dissolve the solidified oil and grease, unclogging the toilet in the process.

Clogged sewer lines can be fixed by adding a solution of vinegar and baking soda. Follow the steps below;

  • Step 1. Mix vinegar and hot water in a ratio of 1:1
  • Step 2. Pour baking soda into the clogged toilet
  • Step 3.  Add the water and vinegar mixture immediately after

For homes using a septic tank, the clog may be in the tank. For this problem, you need to hire professionals who will vacuum the waste and unclog it. And the cost of unclogging and cleaning a septic tank will be around $400.

2. Leaking

Another common toilet problem is leaking, which happens in the key seal in the fixture. Leakages are common in toilets with flush pipes between the tank and the toilet bowl.

Another type of leakage involves the water running into the bowl slowly without the user knowing,


Leaking usually happens due to a loose key seal on the pipe, just where it connects to the toilet seat. With time, the key seal becomes loose and eventually gives up, allowing water to run through during a flush.

For a toilet that leaks slowly, the flapper is usually the cause. If the flapper is not properly seated on the valve seat, it may allow water to run through. 


Fixing a leaking toilet flush pipe involves installing a new key seal. Follow the steps below.

  • Step 1. Drain the toilet tank
  • Step 2. Unscrew the flush pipe, where it connects to the tank
  • Step 3. Pull out the pipe
  • Step 4. Remove the old key seal and install a new one
  • Step 5. Reconnect the flush pipe, starting with the top, then push the bottom
  • Step 6. Tighten the pipe and test

The following video shows how to replace the key seal.

To replace the flapper, follow the steps below

  • Step 1. Drain the toilet tank
  • Step 2. Disconnect the chain from the flapper
  • Step 3. Remove the old flapper from the tank and install the new one
  • Step 4. Reconnect the chain
  • Step 5. Refill the tank and flush to test the new flapper

The following video shows how to fix a leaky flapper valve

3. Loose Handle

A loose handle is another common problem with toilets. The handle becomes so loose that it becomes ineffective and doesn’t flush as it should. On some occasions, the handle may stop working.


The handle usually becomes loose when the chain connecting it to the flapper becomes loose or disconnects. However, the bolt that holds the handle to the tank may also be loose.


The solution to the loose handle problem includes tightening the bolt and reconnecting the lift chain. Follow the steps below;

  • Step 1. Lift the toilet tank cover
  • Step 2. On the inside part of the handle, observe the screw, and if it’s loose, fasten it in an anticlockwise way
  • Step 3. Check if the clip connecting the handle to the chain is loose or disconnected
  • Step 4. Tighten or reattach it to the handle
  • Step 5. Cover the toilet tank and test the handle

The following video shows how to troubleshoot this problem

4. Toilet Not Flushing

Sometimes the toilet won’t flush even when you’re sure the tank is getting water.


Usually, the problem is due to the water level in the tank being too low.  A stuck float ball or loose mounting nut causes low levels of water.


Solutions to a toilet that won’t flush involve unsticking a stuck float ball and tightening a mounting bolt. Follow the steps below,

  • Step 1. Open the toilet tank cover
  • Step 2. Check whether the mounting nut that connects the handle to the chain is loose, and tighten it
  • Step 3. If the ball touches the edges, bend its flat rod slightly to stop that from happening
  • Step 4. Replace the toilet tank cover and test


Following are the frequently asked questions on this topic and their answers.

Q1. What Causes Toilets to Flush Sluggishly?

Blocked leach fields usually cause the toilet to flush sluggishly for those using a septic tank. A septic tank usually clogs if the microbes in it reduce, allowing sludge to build up and run through the pipes.

Q2. What Causes Most Toilet Problems?

Flushing non-flushable items or using too much toilet paper usually causes most toilet problems. These habits result in clogging and blockages in the toilet system.

Q3. Is it a Common Problem for a Toilet to Fill Slowly?

When the toilet fills slowly, the problem is usually with the supply valve. This toilet problem is common and can point to various causes, including a dirty supply valve or low-pressure water.

Bottom Line

Maintaining modern toilets is made easy with user manuals that guide owners on repairs. However, it’s still necessary for owners to be aware of possible issues and prepare accordingly.

To prevent problems, avoid flushing inappropriate items, especially for households using septic tanks. If issues arise, follow the provided steps or consider hiring a professional for assistance.