Troubleshoot Toilet Problems

Chances are, you don’t think too much about your toilet until something doesn’t work properly. The toilet is used multiple times a day and are pretty low maintenance. We scrub the bowl, wipe it down and that’s pretty much the extent, right? However, when it’s not flushing correctly or flushing on its own, it commands our attention. Here are some ways to troubleshoot toilet problems.

Troubleshooting toilet problems

  • Issue #1 – Suspected leaks. If you think that your toilet is leaking, there’s a simple test you can perform. Add 6-8 drops of food coloring into your toilet tank. If your toilet is leaking, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. You may need a new fill valve or a new flush valve. This will conserve water.
  • Issue #2 – Ghost flushing. If you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of flushing, when everyone in your home is snug in bed, it probably wasn’t a dream! If a toilet is flushing on its own, it may have a bad flapper. A flapper is a rubber piece in the toilet tank. It opens to let water out of the tank when you flush, and closes to allow it to refill. It breaks down due to age and faster if harsh chemical toilet cleaners are used. Once the flapper is repaired, you won’t have any more rude awakenings!

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  • Issue #3 – Not flushing. When your toilet doesn’t flush properly, it’s an indication that there is an obstruction in the drain. The obstruction usually cannot be cleared with a plunger. A snake, or toilet auger, will remove whatever is stuck in the drain. The wire of the auger will “grab” the object as it is twisted to “catch” it for retrieval. To avoid this, we do not recommend keeping anything on the back of the toilet tank that could accidentally fall in. If you have little ones, toilet seat locks can be a helpful deterrent.
  • Issue #4 – Overflows. If your toilet overflows, the drain is clogged. Once the toilet is flushed, the water has nowhere to go but back up. Feminine products and wipes are the two major culprits in toilet overflows. We cannot emphasize enough that wipes are NOT flushable, no matter what the packaging says. They are creating thousands of dollars of damage all over the country!
  • Issue #5 – Leaks at the base. Stepping in toilet water first thing in the morning probably isn’t how you’d like to start your day. There are a couple places this leak may be coming from. One source could be the rubber gasket that is bolted in between the tank and the toilet bowl. Just like the flapper, it can break down due to age and use of cleaning chemicals.  The other source could be that the wax gasket bolted between the flange and the base of the toilet has deteriorated and needs to be replaced. We strongly recommend repairing leaks as soon as possible because they can lead to floor damage.

When you should call a professional

If you’ve run through all the troubleshooting listed above, and still can’t identify the problem or make the repair, it’s time to call in a professional. We are available for routine plumbing repairs and maintenance, as well as 24/7 emergency plumbing repairs. Please call us at 860-228-1036 or fill out our Contact Us form to schedule an appointment. For more tips, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter!


Rapid Service is located in Columbia CT. We offer plumbing, electrical and heating repairs and installations for Eastern CT homeowners. Our Plumbing Installations include: well pumps, well tanks, water heaters, sump pumps, sewage pumps, toilets and water treatment systems. Plumbing Repairs include: clogged drains, frozen pipes, burst pipes, appliance hookups, clogged toilets, leaking pipes and odor or leak detection. Electrical Installations include service changes, panel upgrades, generators, electric heat, surge protection, outside lighting and interior fixtures. Electrical Repairs include faulty outlets, GFIs, and updating wiring and circuits. Heating Installations include oil or gas boilers. Heating Repairs include baseboard, piping, valves and coils. We offer FULL Kitchen Remodeling and Bathroom Remodeling services too!  Some of the towns we cover are: Columbia, Willimantic, Andover, Coventry, Bolton, Vernon, Ellington, Willington, Tolland, Mansfield, Willlimantic, Ashford, Chaplin, Windham, Lebanon, Colchester, Hebron, Marlborough, Glastonbury, Manchester, Portland, Middletown, East Hampton, Bozrah, Norwich, Franklin, Sprague, Lisbon, Scotland, Canterbury, Guilford, Madison, Haddam, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, East Lyme, Waterford, New London, Montville, Groton, Ledyard, Stonington, & North Stonington CT.