HOWTO: Fix Your Toilet

“Honey, the toilet is running.”
“Fix it.”
“I hate you, die.”
“Hate me while fixing the toilet.”

These midnight discussions are so fun…we know you’d never want them to end, but you can fix the inner workings of your toilet (for good) without buying a whole new one or even hiring a plumber. Yes! You can! Even you!

From DIY site Curbly:
“Just because your toilet runs a little doesn’t mean you need a new one. Of course, if it’s cracked or ugly, have at it. But more than likely it just needs some new mechanical parts inside, all of which are easy to install. Why pay a plumber a minimum of $100 for something you can fix on your own for $20?”

So get to it, and never have to get out of bed to fix a running toilet again. —MEGHANN MARCO

Unless it’s cracked or ugly: don’t replace that old toilet, fix it! [Curbly via Lifehacker]


Edit Your Comment

  1. mfergel says:

    It’s true. I had to replace the inner workings on two toilets in our last home. Took about 20 minutes tops. Heck, I’ve even completely removed a toilet in order to paint the wall area behind it. Eazy Cheazy.

  2. Hoss says:

    If you suspect you have a leaky toilet (for example, your recent water bill was way out of line or you hear it running constently), put a few drops of food dye in the top part at night. If the bowl in the morning at a hint of the dye color, you got a problem.

    I love anal subjects

  3. etinterrapax says:

    Toilets are so easy. If you’re uncertain, just take off the tank lid and flush. Watch what happens. It should give you a pretty clear idea of how it works and what’s making it run. It can only be one of about three things. I think half of why people run to the plumber is ignorance, and the other half is squeamishness. When I can afford to be squeamish about reaching into a toilet tank, I’ll know we’re wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. But I still wouldn’t call a plumber.

  4. MeOhMy says:

    “When I can afford to be squeamish about reaching into a toilet tank, I’ll know we’re wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. But I still wouldn’t call a plumber.”

    The real irony here is that the water in the tank is CLEAN, so being squeamish should never even factor into the equation, even if you’ve got more money than brains! :-)

  5. John says:

    More reports from the land of people that never had to do damn thing for themselves before in their whole lives.

    Next up: Don’t throw out those malfunctioning lamps! 99 cent fix revealed! From Buy a light bulb.

  6. And the whole internal mechanism can be purchased for under $20. On an older toilet it might not be as easy as it’s described (We had this rubber stopper/washer between the top and the bottom that was crusted and torn and was a pain), but it’s doable.

    But that water ain’t clean. No, your body fluids and solids don’t go up there, but in an older toilet there’s sometimes still some unpleasantness up there. Again, for me it was that ruber stopper/washer thing that was all busted up. I think that’s what turned a lot of stuff black. It’s not the cleanest job in the world.

    Also, and maybe thisis a no-brainer, but the odds are one of your parents has done this before and can help/explain it. Assuming you want to talk to your parents.

  7. Spaceman Bill Leah says:

    Toilets are a snap, what I need is a how-to on unclogging a terribly clogged sink and attaching the thing back to the wall (it’s a pedestal style)

  8. MeOhMy says:

    “But that water ain’t clean…”

    I wasn’t advising drinking out of the tank, just that it’s absurd for someone to be squeamish about reaching in there :-)

  9. Yep says:

    I used to know how to fix the guts of a toilet. It was typically a matter of changing a seal or adjusting the float. But have you seen them lately? The inside looks like a friggin’ rocket engine. It’s downright intimidating.

  10. kenposan says:

    They look like rocket engines but still easy to fix. I can say that having just fixed on this week. I was intimidated to, but I knew what was wrong, went to Lowes, found a replacement part and wahlah, works like a charm.

  11. etinterrapax says:

    Troy F., I know this, but I think that unreasonable squeamishness keeps a lot of people from bothering to learn what goes on in the tank or reach in to fix it. Or maybe I just know a lot of wimps. Rest assured, I’m not shy about it. Whatever is in anything washes off a lot more easily than the shame of wasting money for lack of guts.

  12. robrob says:

    you can REPLACE a toilet for under $100 if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty! My gf broke mine throwing a tamptrum one night. I spent about 10 minutes googling how to replace one (Home Depot has good guides on their site).

    I managed to remove it pretty easily (the “hole” was a bit “interesting”, i just shoved a rag in it till morning. Went to HD, got a $79 one piece toilet, a $4 handle mechanism, a $4 wax ring, and a $5.99 wooden seat at kmart.

    Did it on my own with no experience in under an hour. I have no idea what it would costs a plumber to come out and do it, but probably far, far more.

  13. Yozzie says:

    ^^Dude… your GF busted your toilet throwing a tantrum? Who are you dating, Mo’Nique?

  14. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Fixing a toilet ain’t rocket surgery, and it could save you some bucks if you do it yourself.

    On the bad side, it’s also easy to grab the wrong part or to break something else while you’re working on it (plumbing in general is great for this), so be prepared to make more than one trip to your local Home Deephole.

    It is interesting to note that the toilet is one of the last things remaining in the home that doesn’t have a computer in it.’ve missed a market segment!

    (This toilet is designed for Windows XP Professional!)

  15. Sudonum says:

    Have you see the latest toilets coming out of Japan from a company called TOTO? They do just about everything but wipe your ass, however they will hit it with a warm stream of water. And to those of you who buy the cheap Home Depot toilet, get yourself a good plunger to go along with it.

  16. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I forgot about Japan..the only country where your toilet comes with a remote control.

  17. FLConsumer says:

    You can buy a toilet for under $100, BUT, don’t expect it to work. I just bought a house…and will be yanking the

    In their place will be going two Toto Aquia toilets imported from Thailand. I’ve had Toto toilets in my other residence since 2001 and have yet to need a plunger, and this is after MANY parties. Worth every single penny. Now, as for Toto’s new Neorest…well… it’d be rather difficult to justify spending $5k on a toilet.

    I do wish Toto’s Apricot washlet (from Japan) was sold in the USA. Maybe next year… Took long enough to get a US-plumbing compatible Aquia in this country. The other thing I wish I had was one of the toilet-tank sinks which many loos in Japan have. When you flush the toilet, the clean water goes to a faucet and basin on top of the toilet tank…the basin then drains into the tank, thus giving you an opportunity to wash your hands after using the toilet (you do wash your hands, right?) and re-use the handwashing water for flushing down waste.


    Toto Apricot Washlet:

  18. pestie says:

    My parents have always been the sort to call a plumber to fix even the simplest of toilet problems. But I’m much more mechanically inclined than either of them, and when I eventually became a homeowner myself, I had two toilets in the house and didn’t feel like ponying up tens or hundreds of dollars every time some little thing went wrong. So when something would go wrong I’d open the toilet, see how it worked (I had a vague idea, but quickly learned the specifics) and replaced whatever was broken. The instructions that come with most replacement parts are more than sufficient if you’ve got even half a clue. Typical toilets are pretty simple mechanisms and anyone with even the most basic handyman skills should be able to handle repairing them.

  19. Hipsters do Plumbing 101.

    God, I love a good laugh.