DIY Guides

Parts of a Toilet – Tank Diagram

DIY Instructions - Identify Toilet Parts and Repair Yourself!

At some point, every homeowner ends up having to deal with a toilet that leaks, continually runs, or doesn’t flush properly. When this happens, you can either call in a plumber and pay a hefty bill to have the problem fixed, or buy the Toilet Parts and We think; Easily take care of yourself.

While there will be some problems that require a professional, the vast majority of toilet problems can easily be fixed by the homeowner, especially if they’re due to the malfunction of individual toilet parts.

Before you can go about repairing your toilet, though, you need to know what each part is and what it does.

To see how a toilet basically functions, check out this quick informational video:

Now that you understand how the basic components of a toilet work, you will be able to quickly determine which part has gone bad and repair or replace it.

Here are the essential parts you need to be familiar with and to fix most home toilet problems.

Toilet Tank Parts

The most complex parts of toilet assemblies are in their tanks. In the tank, you’ll find two different valve mechanisms, known as the fill valve and the flush valve. If you need some help identifying them, refer to the toilet parts diagrams below for a complete look at all Toilet Parts.  

1) Flush Valve

The first step in making repairs to the parts of a toilet tank is to determine which toilet tank part is 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).

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 Flapper (see details below)  With that in mind, let’s look at each toilet part specifically:

2) Fill Valve

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 a float ball connected to a lever/rod or a newer “float cup” design – see diagram) simply lift the float gently to its highest position and listen to see if the water stops running. If it does, the

water 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. 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 fill valve assembly itself to see if it has become jammed with lime deposits from your water. If the fill valve is just stuck, removing and cleaning it should fix the problem.

3) Fill Valve “Washer”

Often times the Washer inside the FIll Valve simply wears out. This is a very inexpensive part, easily replaced. 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 fix for your fill valve running continually.

Note:  If all remedies fail to fix the fill valve, you can remove the entire fill valve assembly, by removing the nut holding it to the tank,  and replace 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.  

4) Flapper

The #1 main component that often 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 more likely than not 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.

Flapper Replacement:

To replace the flapper, start by turning off the water to your toilet and draining the tank. After this, you should be able to reach inside, grab the flapper and 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 or other buildups where your old flapper was sitting, 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. 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.

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 for all  the new toilet tank parts you will 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 Diagrams

For a complete breakdown of all Toilet Tank Parts, we’ve included a Toilet Diagram below which illustrates a Fill Valve with “Float Cup” design (invented in the 1950’s). This is the modern design you will find when purchasing toilet replacement parts:

      The Toilet Tank illustration Below  shows an “older” ballcock fill valve design – with a “Float Ball”:


Toilet Bowl Parts

Once you get past the Toilet Tank, the parts of a toilet become much more straightforward.

The actual Toilet Parts include:

  • Toilet bowl
  • Wax Ring (Seal) with Floor Bolts
  • Toilet Floor Flange

The entire principal 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 Floor Flange, with the main waste line located beneath it.

The Wax Ring

Typical Wax Ring with Flange (mounted to the floor)

Toilet Floor Flange

(below) is connected to your Toilet by way of the Wax Ring (shown above)





      Typical Floor Flange

Together, these parts create a complete seal between the toilet commode itself and the 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 Wax Ring” which works on 99% of the modern toilets manufactured.

To change the toilet bowl wax ring, follow these steps:

1) Turn off the water supply, then disconnect the water supply line near the rear base of the toilet.

2) First, remove the nuts that connect to bolts at the base of the toilet

3) Pull up and remove the toilet – set it aside.  

4) Then remove the old wax ring. Thoroughly remove any residue.  If you see any damage to the PVC flange (mounted to the floor), you will also need to remove the floor flange to match the size of your drain pipe (however this damage is very uncommon).

5) Gently position the new wax ring and center on top of the PVC flange (on the floor).

5) Carefully reinstall the toilet on top of the new wax ring. Be careful not to manipulate the wax ring too much while setting it on top of the flange, as bending or mis-shaping it may prevent it from forming a complete and tight seal.

6) Use a hacksaw to cut toilet anchor bolts for length (some are snap-away bolts)

7) Reconnect the water supply and check for any leaks.

Alternate Wax Ring Install Method- For “New” Toilet Installation:

The above instructions assume you’re attempting to replace your leaky – old wax ring with a new one, which is an “under $5.00 repair”.  If you fall into this category, you won’t need to empty all the water out of the toilet tank, only the toilet bowl.

However, 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 floor.  This method is illustrated below:

 Tools Do You Need to Fix a Toilet

In addition to studying the diagram and learning about all of the toilet parts,  it is essential that you have the right tools to execute the repairs. Fortunately, toilets are relatively simple and won’t require anything that can’t be found in a standard home tool kit. These tools include:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • 4- In – 1 Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Vice Grips
  • Hacksaw (if your new flange bolts don’t have snap off marks)
  • Bucket

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.

Bonus:  “How to Replace a Toilet” – Toilet 101

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”


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 know-how and some basic tools, you can have your toilet back in working order quickly.

Thanks again for visiting BestHomeGear.Com and good luck with your DIY toilet repairs!

Additional Resources:

How to Remove Hard Water Stains From of Your Toilet

How To Replace a Lavatory Faucet

How do you clean and change your Lawn Mower spark plug?

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As a Homeowner, builder, and property owner/manager for 30+ years, I’ve truly worn a lot of different “hats”, and In that capacity, owned or used about every tool or piece of home equipment I can think of. Managing properties in Michigan, Arizona, and Florida, allows us to test many of the products we review firsthand, in vastly different climates and conditions. Our goal at BestHomeGear.Com is to share that first-hand experience by providing exceptional Home & Garden tool Reviews, and useful DIY Guides for our faithful readers - Homeowners like you - We hope you find our reviews helpful and enjoy the site!

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