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Know Your Toilet

Maintaining the functionality of all types of plumbing fixtures is an important part of a plumbers work. With some skill and knowledge servicing plumbing fixtures can be a real source of positive cash flow for a plumbing company. However not every plumber makes this skill set a priority. Before attempting to repair and/or replace a plumbing fixture it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of the different types of plumbing fixtures, potable water and drainage systems. The fixture we will be talking about today is the the water closet, AKA Toilets. Although taken for granted the simple water closet can be quite tricky and here are the reasons why.

  • There are many different type of water closets
  • There are different types of flushing actions that remove waste from the closet bowl and into the drainage system.
  • There are several different ways to deliver water from the water supply system to the bowl to start the flushing action.
  • The internal flushing mechanism must protect the water supply from contamination due to possible backflow.
  • There are different rough-in measurements when water closet replacement is called for.
  • Water closets are manufactured in different heights for special applications, i.e. primary education, hospitals, prisons.

Toilet Knowledge Every Plumber Should Have

toilet troubleshootingThe very first thing a skilled plumbing technician should have is the ability to diagnose or read certain problems in most of the different toilets. The more varied your skill level the more you can market yourself. Here are a few things a plumber should make part of their skill set.

  • The plumber should know how atmospheric conditions will affect the water closets operation.
  • The plumbing technician should know how water volume and incoming water pressure can affect the flushing cycle.
  • The professional plumber needs to know how the fixture vent affects the flush cycle.
  • The plumber must be aware of the locations and functions of the jets that deliver water to the bowl.
  • The plumber should know how scale and or crystal build up can affect the operation of the water closet and preventative maintenance in case a build-up occurs.

So you have a customer that has a tank type toilet issue and you want to know what your first step should be? Read on.

The very first thing a plumbing technician should do in the event of a toilet issue is remove the tank cover. Once the lid is off the plumber should be able to get a read as to whether the problem is float valve or flush valve related. This step should even be performed of the bowl is visibly stopped up. By removing the lid the plumber has instant control of the water supply at the float or flush valve. The water entering the tank can be stopped instantly with the tank ball or flapper.
Here are some of the things to look for that will tell you that there is a float valve issue.

  • Water flowing into the over flow tube.
  • The tank slowly refills for the next flush
  • Water leaking or spraying from the float valve cap or from around the plunger.

Next are some of the things to look for that tell you you have a problem with the flush valve assembly, flush valve seal, tank ball or flapper.

  • Water levels drop without anyone using the toilet.
  • The water is constantly running.
  • Water will continuously run into the bowl. HINT : Check your water bill. If your toilet is running constantly you’ll rack up a noticeably higher water bill.

Finding a leak at the base of the toilet can be caused by anyone of the several issues listed below.

  • The closet collar that holds the toilet to the floor can be cracked or deteriorated allowing water to flow under the toilet. (A leak that occurs in this situation is more likely to leak underneath the house or in the ceiling of the floor below but it can and does leak from under the toilet.
  • The wax ring, plumbers putty or foam gasket sealing the toilet to the closet collar may be compromised.
  • Believe it or not and this is a tricky one, the float valve could be spraying against the lid and then running down the back or sides of the toilet tank landing around the toilet.
  • The leak can also be coming from the close couple connection between the tank and bowl.
  • You should also check the cavity under the bowl for an cranks, or sand casting leaks.

My Toilet Just Doesn’t Have a Powerful Flush Anymore

One of the main purposes of a modern toilet is to remove all waste with one flush. Having a toilet that has a slow or sluggish flush can be caused by the build-up of minerals or scale in the flushing rim jets or the main flushing jet. This is often caused by leaving urine in the bowl overnight. Many individuals don’t flush the toilet at night as a courtesy to light sleepers in the house. These build-ups can be treated by a plumbing technician with a rust or scale remover. Please use this product with care, the active ingredient is usually hydrochloric acid.
Here are some tips you can use while repairing or attempting to repair a toilet.

  1. Be familiar with the various toilet manufacturers. Some of the inside repair part can be quite expensive. Please be aware that it can be cost prohibitive to take the time to repair the insides when you can replace the toilet for a similar price.
  2. Be conscience of your customers property, i.e. floors, walls, counter tops and other fixtures. Don’t put tools on top of anything without covering the area.
  3. NEVER put the toilet tank lid up on anything, always find a safe place to put the cover on the floor. This eliminates the potential mess of a tank lid sliding and breaking, being stepped on or stumbled over.
  4. When reassembling a toilet be sure not to overtighten the bolts. It is very easy to overtighten and crack the porcelain.

Thanks for reading our toilet repair strategy. If you have any tips or tricks of your own that you’d like to add please feel free.


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