Super Handyman: Tips for fixing toilet problems

May 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Toilets may look very complicated, but the standard models really aren’t. Let us take some of the mystery out of how the average toilet does its thing. You’ll also need to know how to adjust these parts if they stop working correctly.

There should be a water-supply shut-off valve located under or behind the toilet. Use this to shut off the water if the toilet is overflowing or running continuously. It also can be used when servicing the toilet.

When you push the handle down to flush the toilet, it raises the flapper or plunger within the tank, allowing the water from the tank to go down into the bowl quickly to flush the contents of the bowl down the drain. If at any point during the process something doesn’t work like it is supposed to, you could have problems.

If the drain is clogged, use a plunger or auger to free the clog. You also can use a wet/dry vacuum to suck out the clog.

If the water doesn’t drain into the bowl from the tank with enough force, then check the function of the flapper to see if it is raising up enough and that you have sufficient water in the tank to do the job. Adjust or replace the flapper, or adjust the water level in the tank to fix this problem.

If the water continues to run after the flush, check the flapper to make sure it seats securely. Replace the flapper or adjust the chain for a better fit. Another cause of a running toilet is that the water level is too high, over the top of the overflow tube within the tank. Adjust the water level down to resolve this issue.

These are all common problems with easy fixes. Not all toilet problems are solved this easily, but knowing the basics should help you with most issues.

Q: I thought I had a leak in my attic because I found mold on some of the wood. I think it must be a moisture problem, not a leak. What can I do? – H.J.

A: You need to add ventilation to your attic as soon as you can. A powered vent is the most efficient way to do this, but a solar vent is a good option because it will run without the aid of electricity. Other vents, like turbines or static vents, also will help. You need to have plenty of soffet vents as well. The air is drawn in through the soffets and exhausted through the rooftop vents. To figure out exactly how much ventilation you need, multiply the length of your attic by the width to get the square footage. Then divide that number by 150. That number will give you the total square footage of venting needed for your home. You can convert that into square inches by multiplying that number by 12. Sixty percent of that number should be used for exhaust venting, and 40 percent for the soffet vents. This is just a basic formula that you can use, and you may want to adjust it for your particular home.

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