If you own a home, you will eventually need to deal with a leaking toilet, running toilet, or a toilet that doesn’t flush properly. And If you’re unfamiliar with the Parts of a toilet or don’t have a good Toilet tank diagram, you might not know how to fix toilets, or where to start when replacing toilet tank parts.
We’ve all been there before…your toilet has been running for days, weeks, or even months, or with guests arriving soon, it’s just time to get it fixed! Personally, when toilet problems like these happened at our home, we used to just call the plumber – and pay a hefty repair bill to have these simple repairs done.
Once I learned how easy toilet repair is, I’m now able to buy the toilet part(s) and quickly take care of the repair myself. And It’s simpler than you think.
Some Toilet problems require a professional plumber – But most toilet repairs do not, and are simple DIY jobs.
With a good diagram of toilet parts – the majority of toilet repairs can easily be fixed by the homeowner. For these repairs, you’ll need a few basic hand tools, but you won’t need any power tools.
Basic “Toilet Parts Diagram”:
Tools Needed to Repair Toilet:
In addition to studying the diagram and learning about all of the toilet parts, it is essential to fix a running toilet, you will need to grab the right tools to execute these simple repairs. Fortunately, toilets are relatively easy to work on and do not require anything that can’t be found in a standard home tool kit. Toilet Repair Tools include:
- Adjustable wrench
- 4- In -1 Screwdriver
- Vice Grips
- Hacksaw (if your installing new flange bolts – That do not have EZ snap-off marks)
- Shallow Water Bucket – To catch toilet tank water.
- Soft towel or Sponge for the cleanup
While the specific tools will vary, most repairs can be done using an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver. However, if your toilet is older and has rusted bolts on it, you may also need a pair of vice grips to help you break them loose before you can remove them with your wrench.
How a Toilet Flushes, Check out this Quick Video:
Names of “Toilet Tank” Parts:
Most parts of toilet assemblies are located inside the Toilet Tank. Some people refer to these parts as the “toilet insides” because they are located inside the tank. Inside the toilet tank (the tank is the water reservoir that sits on top of the toilet bowl) – you will find two different types of mechanisms: One is the Flush Valve and the other is the Fill Valve.
Toilet Tank Parts Include:
- Toilet Tank
- Toilet Tank Lid
- Toilet Lever
- Toilet Tank Fill Valve
- Toilet Tank Flush Valve
- Toilet Flapper
If you need some help identifying them, refer to the toilet parts diagram for a complete look at all the interior Toilet Parts. Incidentally, unless you need to completely replace your Fill Valve, the repairs below do not require any tools.
1) Flush Valve (diagram)
The first step in making repairs to the parts of a toilet tank is to determine which toilet pieces are the problem. The fast way to do this is to look for the vertical white plastic tube standing up inside the tank.
This is known as the Flush Valve and acts as a protection mechanism to keep the tank from overfilling. If the water is flowing into the Flush Valve, then the problem is with your Fill Valve (see detail below) – which is not shutting off properly. We’ll get to that in a minute.
However, If you find that the water hasn’t reached the top of the Flush Valve and is instead running out into your toilet bowl below, you have a problem with your Toilet Flapper (see details below) With that in mind, let’s look at each toilet part specifically:
2) Toilet Flapper (diagram)
The #1 component that wears out in a toilet’s flush valve is a piece known as a Flapper. The flapper is the rubber part connected to your flush valve that creates a seal between your toilet’s tank and bowl, allowing it to retain water until it is flushed. If your toilet is running continuously and the culprit isn’t your fill valve, the flapper is likely the source of your problem.
The easiest way to tell whether or not your flapper has gone bad is to press it down from inside the tank with your hand. If additional pressure closes off the tank and stops the toilet from running, the flapper probably needs to be replaced. Like any other moving part, flappers wear out over a while, eventually preventing them from sealing properly.
Replace Toilet Flapper:
To replace the flapper, start by turning off the water to your toilet and draining the toilet tank. After this, you should be able to reach inside, grab the flapper and carefully remove, it by pulling it off the tabs that secure it on either side.
Next, detach the flapper from the chain that connects to the toilet handle.
If there is any lime, slime, or hard water build-up where your old flapper seats against the flapper seat on the flush valve, you can use a scouring pad to remove it and make sure that the new flapper forms the best possible seal.
To complete the installation, attach the new flapper and reattach the chain from the handle. Before finishing up, you should turn the water back on and test the new flapper.
Although flush valve problems are usually the result of a worn flapper, other issues can come up.
Note: Although flush valve problems are usually the result of a worn flapper, other issues can come up. If the chain that runs between the flapper and the handle arm is too loose or too tight, it can prevent the toilet from flushing correctly. If the chain appears unusually loose or so tight that it is preventing the flapper from sealing after a flush, you can try adjusting the chain itself.
3) Toilet Fill Valve (diagram)
Assuming the Fill Valve is the problem, the first thing you should check is whether your Float is adjusted correctly. To do this, adjust the float (this will either be the float ball connected to a lever/rod or a newer “float ” design
See both diagrams below) Simply lift the float gently to its highest position and listen to see if the water stops running.
How To Repair or Fix Toilet “Fill Valve”:
If the water stops after temporarily lifting the float, then the water level isn’t raising the float properly as it fills your tank. Many toilets will have a simple screw at the top of the valve assembly that can be used to adjust the float cup.
If your toilet doesn’t have this feature, slightly bend the float arm itself or unscrew the float ball gradually counterclockwise. This will adjust the position of the float ball in the tank and cause the water to shut off at the fill valve.
If the float isn’t the problem, inspect the toilet fill valve assembly itself to see if it has become jammed with lime deposits from your water. If the fill valve is stuck, remove and clean, or more likely replace it.
4) Fill Valve Seal (Washer)
Often times the small Fill Valve Washer inside the FIll Valve simply wears out. This is a very inexpensive part and easily be replaced.
How to Fix Toilet Fill Valve Washer
Simply remove the top cap of the Fill Valve and inspect the rubber washer on top. If the fill valve washer appears to be cracked, not pliable, or worn out – replace it with an identical washer available at any hardware store. This could be a very simple and cheap fix to stop your fill valve from running continually.
Note: If all remedies fail to fix the fill valve, you can remove the entire fill valve assembly, by removing the bottom nut holding it to the tank, and replacing it with a new one. This solution is a bit more labor-intensive than the others, but it will fix any issues you have relating to a fill valve.
If you aren’t sure what kind of replacement valve you need, be sure to bring the old valve assembly with you to the hardware store so that you can ask a plumbing representative to help you find an adequate replacement.
Note: If you want to go the safe route and replace all of the most common toilet parts at one time, use the list below to pick up all the
New Toilet Tank Part Assemblies You May Need:
- Fill Valve Assembly ( Make sure to replace with the model that fits your toilet)
- Flush Valve assembly
- Flapper (if not included with flush valve assembly)
- Toilet Handle, chain, and retaining nut
Toilet Tank “Optional Designs”
For a quick look at the two optional “Toilet Tank Designs,” you may find in your home, we’ve also included a Toilet Parts Diagram below. This illustrates the two different types of fill valves, including the Newer “Float Cup” design (invented in the 1950s), and the older “ball cock” fill valve design.
When replacing your fill valve, you should be looking for a modern “float cup” toilet filler valve – as ball cock fill valves are no longer as useful.
“Float Cup” Fill Valve Toilet Tank – which you will find when purchasing most modern toilets and replacing newer toilet tank parts:
The Toilet Tank Diagram shows an “older” “Ballcock” fill valve design – with a “Float Ball”: Hardly ever manufactured anymore, an older home may have this toilet float design.
Toilet Bowl Parts:
Once you get past the Toilet Tank parts, the parts of the Toilet Bowl are simpler and repair is straightforward.
All “Toilet Bowl” Parts include:
- Porcelain Toilet bowl
- Toilet Seat
- Wax Ring (The Seal below the toilet bowl) with Floor Bolts included
- Toilet Floor Flange
The entire principle of toilet operation is quite simple. From the Toilet bowl, water is flushed down a bent flow in the toilet bowl casting. The Toilet tank refills and is ready to complete the process again.
The Toilet Bowl itself seals with a Wax Ring, that sits on top of the PVC Floor Flange, with the main waste line located beneath it. Make sure you position the Floor Bolts shown below, at the same time as the new wax ring, ahead of setting the toilet back in place.
Typical Porcelain “Toilet Bowl”
How to Replace Toilet Seat
Replacing a toilet seat is one of the simplest DIY repairs you can perform. Toilet seats are offered in two different shapes (Oval or Round), different sizes, and materials (plastic or wood), but all toilet seats attach to the toilet bowl using the same method – with two toilet bolts.
The most popular toilet seat today is the Oblong, Plastic, Self-Closing toilet seat. Measure your toilet bowl, determine the shape, then choose the seat that best matches your toilet bowl size, preferences, and budget.
To Replace a Toilet Seat – begin by removing the existing toilet seat. To do this, start by gripping one of two bolts underneath the toilet seat with pliers, and turn the top screw counter-clockwise. Repeat by removing the second toilet seat bolt and screw, then remove and discard the old toilet seat.
To install a new toilet seat, simply set the new toilet seat in place, then install two new bolts and screws, and secure the new toilet seat tightly.
Note: Most Modern toilet seats now employ a toilet bolt design, with snap-on (flip-up by using a flat-head screwdriver), or twist-on bolt covers (no tools) to conceal the toilet seat bolts. A much more sanitary design, vs. exposed toilet seat bolts.
The Wax Ring
Whether you’re looking at American Standard toilet parts or other manufacturers, A typical wax ring toilet repair kit includes floor flange anchors, nuts, and washers.
Toilet Floor Flange
The Toilet Floor Flange (shown below) is connected to your Toilet by way of the Wax Ring (shown above)
Together, these toilet installation “floor parts” create a completely waterproof seal between the toilet commode itself and the drain pipe that carries water and waste away, preventing it from leaking out on the floor.
If water is seeping out of your toilet and pooling around the bottom, the problem is an almost certain failure of the wax ring. Purchase a “Universal Toilet Bowl Wax Ring” which works on 99% of the modern toilets manufactured.
10 Steps – “Change Toilet Bowl Wax Ring”
Many homeowners panic a little when they see used toilet water seeping from under the toilet during flushes. In reality, this is more common than you realize. The issue, however, is simple, and the toilet repair is very cheap and easy for most homeowners, by following these 10 steps:
1) Turn off the water supply to the toilet.
2) Disconnect the water supply line near the rear base of the toilet.
3) Remove the floor anchor Nuts that connect to the bolts at the base of the toilet
4) Empty the water from the toilet bowl – as much as possible.
5) Lift the toilet straight up – and Remove the toilet – and set it aside.
6) Remove the old wax ring. To clean, thoroughly scrape, and remove all leftover residue. If you see any damage to the PVC flange (mounted to the floor), remove and replace the floor flange to match the size of your drain pipe (this type of damage is very uncommon).
7) Hint: It’s a good idea to install the New toilet anchor bolts with washers (which are included with the new wax ring) to the toilet flange (illustration above). Make sure you install them in the same toilet flange slots as the original bolts were in.
8) Gently position the New Wax Ring (flat side is down) and center it on top of the PVC flange (on the floor).
Note: In the last few years, Fluidmaster has developed a “Wax-Free” Toilet seal which is hugely popular. You can order a wax-free toilet ring (illustration below)
8) Position toilet bowl bolts in place, and carefully set the toilet on top of the new wax ring, allowing the toilet bolts to slide through the bottom side of the toilet. (Be careful not to manipulate the wax ring too much when setting it on top of the flange, as bending it may prevent it from forming a complete and tight seal).
9) Use a hacksaw to cut toilet anchor bolts for length (some are snap-away bolts – if so, use pliers to snap them off to proper length)
10) Reconnect the water supply and check for any leaks at the base of the toilet bowl.
11). Highly Suggested: Waterproof the Toilet bowl. To do this, simply apply a thin bead of clear or white caulk around the toilet bowl where it meets the flooring. Use Outdoor/Silicone caulk for this application which is waterproof.
This step is especially essential for toilets or bathrooms that sit above finished spaces – and should keep the overflow of toilet water contained, without damage to lower floor ceilings. This is one of the best preventative steps you’ll ever do for your home.
Alternate Wax Ring Install Method: “New” Toilet Installation:
Note: If you’re installing a new toilet, the preferred method for installing a wax ring will be to mount it to the underside of the toilet itself, Prior to seating the entire toilet bowl to the PVC toilet flange on the floor. This method is illustrated below:
Here’s Another Good DIY article we wrote For Homeowners – How to Wire a 3-way Light Switch
Bonus: “How to Replace a Toilet” – Toilet 101 – This Old House
If you’ve decided you simply need to replace your entire toilet and not just a few toilet parts, don’t worry – it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Check out this video from This Old House on “How to Change a Toilet”
Now that you understand how the basic components of a toilet work, you will be able to quickly determine the parts of a toilet that have gone bad then repair or replace them, and in case your toilet overflows grab a wet/dry shop vacuum to be ready for a quick clean up.
If you want to save money and time by waiting for (and paying for) a plumber, consider making an easy DIY project out of your toilet repair the next time it starts running continuously or leaking. With a little reading and some basic tools, you now know how to get your toilet back in working order, and quickly eliminate the risk of flooding, and at the same time avoid costly damage and keep mold from occurring.
Have some additional tips on repairing toilets? Leave us a quick comment below – we would love to hear from you.
Thanks again for visiting BestHomeGear.Com and good luck with your DIY toilet repairs!
Additional Reading & Resources:
- How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Your Toilet
- How To Remove a Dishwasher (Before New One Arrives!) – BestHomeGear.com
- How To Replace a Lavatory Faucet
- How To Connect Rain Barrels and Save Water – Besthomegear.com
- How To Get Rid Of Ants Permanently – Besthomegear.com
- How do you clean and change your Lawn Mower spark plug? – BestHomeGear.com