Toilet problems can usually be divided into either blockages or problems with the mechanics inside the cistern. Here are some common problems with toilets and some simple repairs you can do yourself – but if in doubt, always call in a professional.
Changing the valve
- If the inside of the valve is dirty or full of limescale, use wet and dry paper wrapped around a piece of dowel to clean the surface.
Clearing a blocked WC is similar to clearing a sink but you will have to hire or buy a large plunger to force the obstruction through the U-bend.
Dripping overflow pipe
One of the most common problems with toilets is a constant leaking of water from the cistern. In older systems, the water inlet is controlled by a brass piston containing a rubber washer. If the washer is worn or damaged, the water will continue to enter the cistern and drip out of the overflow pipe.
To fix, turn off the water supply to the cistern either at the stopcock or by turning off a valve fitted to the inlet pipe, then flush the water out of the cistern. Use pliers to straighten and remove the split pin that holds the float arm to the valve, then remove the float arm. Unscrew the brass end of the valve with pliers and lever out the piston by pushing a screwdriver blade into the slot on the underneath of the valve. Then remove the washer by undoing the piston using the tip of a screwdriver and pliers to separate the parts.
Some valves don’t come apart and you will have to prise out the washer with a small knife. Fit the new washer and smear the piston assembly with some silicone grease before assembling the parts and turning on the water supply.
The toilet doesn’t flush
If the WC doesn’t flush, it may be the handle has disconnected from the cistern or the flexible flap valve at the bottom of the cistern is worn or damaged. To fix, open the top of the cistern and check if the handle is connected to the siphon assembly. It may be one of the wire links has come loose and can be reconnected. Bend the ends around with pliers when refixed. If the links are missing, you can make new pieces from wire.
If the handle is connected, it may be that the flap valve at the base of the siphon is worn or damaged. Tie the ball valve to a piece of timber batten laid across the top of the cistern – this will stop more water entering. Flush the cistern or bail out the water to empty it, then disconnect the siphon from the cistern – it will either be held by a large nut under, or inside, the cistern. Disconnect the metal links that join the handle to the siphon. Lift out the siphon and remove the old flap valve from underneath. Replace and refit the parts in the reverse order.