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Do you have a dripping toilet or one that runs constantly? If so, simply follow the steps below to fix the problem. The interesting thing about a broken toilet is that you never give much thought to it until it happens to you. While some homes have multiple bathrooms, many have only one, making a broken toilet a disastrous situation. First, you should educate yourself on the various parts of a toilet so when a problem does occur, you have a better idea of where to start in getting it fixed.

Bailcock � This is the water supply valve

Flapper (Stopper, Seal, Disk, or Tank Ball) � This is the rubber plug that attaches to the lift chain

Floatball � This ball sits on the surface of the tank water, turning the ballcock off when the tank fills with water

Flush Valve � This connection is comprised of a flapper and flush valve seat

Flush Valve Seat � The plastic or brass sealant found on the base of the tank

Lift Arm � This is the thin rod that sits inside the tank, connection the flush handle and raising the flapper valve

Main Drain � The slanted pipe found under your crawl space, in the basement, or in the garage that carries the waste from the house

Main Water Valve � This is near the floor by the base of the toilet where you can turn the water supply on or off from

Overflow Pipe � Located on the bottom of the tank, this is seen as a long, hollow tube

Tank � The large ceramic portion of the toilet that fills with water

Trap � The waste goes through this as it leaves the bowl

Some of the more common problems that you might experience are listed below along with quick and easy solutions:

Handle Sticks or is Loose � To fix this, take the tank lid off and then clean the mounting nut attached to the handle. Sometimes, a lime build-up causes the handle to stick. In this case, a stiff brush dipped in vinegar will clean the lime off. If the handle is loose, look at the chain to make sure there is no more than one-half inch slack. If there is more, simply adjust it and the handle will tighten.

Toilet will not Flush � Start by checking the handle, lift arm, chain, flapper valve, and connections to ensure they are all working properly. If the handle is too tight or loose, this could be the problem. Other problems might be a bent or broken lift arm, broken or out of adjustment lift arm/lift chain, or the flapper may not be lifting up enough.

Toilet does not Flush Completely � In most cases, all you need to do is eliminate the slack in the lift chain

Toilet is Clogged or Overflows � Using a plunger, push it down in the stool hard several times to remove any material clogging the water flow. If this does not work, you can rent a snake to help tunnel through the material so it will move and flush out. If that does not work, then you might need to call a plumber.

Toilet Keeps Running � For this problem, you can try several things.

First, jiggle the handle. If that works, then you need to adjust the handle or the lift chain attachment.

The next thing to try it is to remove the tank lid to see if the float ball is touching the side of the tank. If so, bend the arm slightly so it is no longer touching.

You might also need to lift the rod about the water level. If you find that stops the water flow, then again, bend the rod gently so the float now rests where the water level is one-half inch below the overflow pipe.

It is possible that you have a leak. In this case, shut the water off at the shutoff valve at the base of the toilet and then flush the toilet to empty out the water. Now, unscrew the float and shake it. If there is water on the inside, then you need to replace the float ball.

It might be that the flapper valve is worn or distorted. When this happens, the tank is not sealing properly. Simply empty the tank, remove the flapper, and put in a new one.

Look to see if the flapper valve seat is cracked or pitted. In this case, you should replace the entire unit.

If none of the above works, empty the tank, remove the screws holding the float rod in place to the intake valve and pull the intake valve plunger up and out of its seat. Replace the washer with a new one and then put the plunger back in place.

Finally, if nothing works, call a plumber!
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