Things that Break on a Toilet

Things that Break on a Toilet

The commode is one of the simplest mechanical items in your home, but also one of the most used. Most toilets are built out of very durable materials like porcelain for the tank and base and plastic for the seat and lid.

Inside the toilet the various parts are made of plastic, steel, brass and rubber. They are generally out of sight and out of mind until you hear the telltale sound of the tank constantly filling, meaning your toilet is “running” due to a broken or malfunctioning piece.

Most Commonly Broken Toilet Parts

Despite being built to last and last, parts can wear out and break on your toilet over time even if you’ve had top-rate toilet installation.

Flush Lever — this mechanism gets the most use and abuse.

It is the most commonly broken piece on a toilet and renders it unusable when that happens. The lever is a rod that in some models of toilets is made of brass or steel. Its job is to lift the flapper sealing the water in the tank via a chain when you flush.

Since it sets inside of a wet tank, over time, with lots of use the rod can start to corrode and eventually break. Many newer model toilets have a plastic rod that is cheaper to produce and less prone to breaking. But even these can be broken with enough time and use.

The Flapper Valve — this piece inside the toilet controls the flush.

The flapper valve is usually made of thick rubber and rests at the bottom of the tank submerged until you press the handle lifting it to release the water in the tank to flush the toilet. Over time, the rubber can get hard and brittle so that the flapper does not seal properly. That’s when you will hear the constant flow of water seeping from the tank into the bowl.

Float System — this series of parts in the tank control how much water flows back in after a flush.

The float system activates a switch when it sinks with the water level that opens a valve to let more water flow in and refill the tank for the next user. The float system drifts up with the rising water level until a certain amount has been reached and then closes the water valve. If it becomes defective, once again, you’ll hear water running constantly in the tank.

You can determine if it’s the flapper valve or the float system that is causing the running toilet by looking inside the tank. If water is pouring into the long hollow pipe next to the float, to keep the tank from overflowing, you need to replace the entire float system.

Wax Seal — this is found around the base of the toilet where it sits on the bathroom floor over the drainpipe to the sewer.

The wax seal keeps water from leaking out of the toilet but over time can become dried and cracked. If the bolts holding the toilet in place loosen with vibrations from years of use, the seal will allow water to seep onto the floor, and worse, underneath it.

Toilet Seat Screws — these hold the lid and toilet seat over the bowl and are generally plastic.

They can loosen causing the toilet seat to slide a bit one-way, or the other, when you sit down on it. This can cause them to crack. Always tighten them back up if the seat feels loose to prevent that from happening. However, be careful about over-tightening them and breaking the bolts.

Toilet Drain Pipe — the pipe from the toilet into the floor to connect to the sewer is unlikely to break, but it can become clogged.

Too much toilet paper, a feminine hygiene product, wad of paper towels or other non-flushable item can seal the toilet drain pipe off and cause your toilet to back up. When that happens, shut off the water and try to plunge the item out of the pipe to release the water and other things in the bowl. If the plunger does not open the pipe, DO NOT pour a chemical unclogging liquid into the toilet.

Here are the reasons why:

  1. It will most likely be too diluted to clear the obstruction
  2. The noxious chemicals sitting in your tank can give off unhealthy fumes
  3. It could easily only be a temporary fix and you would soon have another clog

You will need a professional plumber to unclog the pipe at that point. If you continue to have frequent clogs, especially in an older house, you might have to replace the drainpipe. This is a difficult and dirty job that requires completely draining the toilet, moving it, and going into the wall behind the toilet or even underground to find the end of the drain.

That’s a messy and delicate job, with no room for error, best left to a professional plumber. A leaky pipe underground or behind the drywall from improper installation will be an expensive plumbing disaster.

The Porcelain Bowl — this is the most durable part of the toilet made to last indefinitely.

However, the porcelain bowl is not completely indestructible, and a crack means you have to replace the entire toilet. Pouring hot water into the bowl that is always filled with cold water can cause the porcelain to expand rapidly and a crack to form. There’s no fixing that, and a brand new toilet installation will be needed.

If you attempt to fix broken parts inside your toilet yourself you have to be EXTREMELY careful not to accidentally bang the tank with a wrench and crack it.

Call a Professional Plumber to Get the Job Done Right

If any parts in your toilet break it’s a major inconvenience. There are a few options. You could hassle with it yourself. However, this could mean that you would possibly end up with the wrong size parts or install part improperly, making your toilet unusable for a longer period of time. Get toilet installation done properly. Call a professional plumber and get the job done right immediately.

A plumber can quickly assess the problem, get the right part in the right size and has the skills, tools and expertise to quickly repair your “throne” so business as usual can commence in the bathroom.

If you want to upgrade your commode to a more eco friendly model that uses less water or get one that suits your décor better, letting a professional plumbing company do the toilet installation will give you peace of mind that it was done correctly.