Nothing is quite so frustrating—or gross—as a malfunctioning toilet. When things go wrong, most homeowners reach for the phone to call a plumber. Yet, believe it or not, certain repairs are surprisingly easy to make on your own—even for complete amateurs. If you would like to learn more, read on. This article will teach you what's involved in repairing two common problems.
1. The Ghost Flusher
Don't worry--despite its name, there aren't actually any poltergeists involved in this problem. Rather, a ghost flushing toilet is one whose tank can be heard refilling over and over, even when it hasn't been used recently. This is not only annoying, but it can also result in a higher water bill. Luckily, it's an easy problem to fix. In almost every case, a ghost flushing toilet is caused by a deformed or corroded flapper.
The flapper is that piece of circular rubber responsible located at the bottom of your tank. It is responsible for controlling the flow of water between tank and bowl. When you flush, the flapper is pulled up by a metal chain, thus releasing the tank water into the bowl. Once the flush has completed, the flapper falls back into place, allowing the tank to fill once more.
When a flapper has become cracked or damaged, water will slowly leak out the tank into the bowl. This makes it easy to conduct a simple test: put a few drops of food dye into your tank. Wait a while and then go take a look. If you can see any dye in the bowl, this means the flapper isn't forming a water tight seal inside the tank. Pick up a new flapper at your local plumbing supply store, install it, and you should find that your ghost problem has been flushed for good.
2. The Rattling or Whistling Tank
Has your toilet been making strange sounds each time you flush? This could be anything from a shrill whistle to a startling machine-gun rattle. Such odd sounds are commonly associated with an out-of-date piece of toilet technology—the ball-cock valve.
A ball-cock valve is responsible for shutting off the water once it has filled to a certain point in the tank. The device consists of an air-filled float ball, usually made of plastic, mounted at the tip of a metal rod. The rising water carries the ball up with it, thus gradually closing the water valve. The problem is that, as the opening shrinks in size, the water pressure goes way up, causing all kinds of weird sounds.
There's really only once solution to the problem. If your toilet is still equipped with a ball-cock valve, consider upgrading to a modern fill valve. In contrast, this type of valve remains completely open right up until the last second. This quick shut-off means no more pressure-related rattling or whistling. Best of all, installing a new fill valve is easy enough for most people to do on their own.
For bigger plumbing issues, consult with professionals such as Kelly's Pipe & Supply Company.