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At 24 Hour Plumber we specialise in emergency and household plumbing across Ireland. If you have a query or would like a quote, call us on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111 or contact us here to arrange a plumber to call out at a time that is convenient for you

When it comes to plumbing problems, toilets are at the top of the list for having the most common and often weirdest problems. At 24 Hour Plumber, our plumbers are kept busy with regular toilet fixes and at least one daily toilet installation for our customers.

Our customers tell us that toilet problems are some of the most mysterious plumbing issues they have ever experienced. More than one customer has had an experience of when a toilet keeps flushing itself or when a toilet makes noise randomly in the night. One of the strangest issues we ever got called out to was a house where the family could hear toilet noises 10 hours a day!

Whatever the problem, whether the toilet level is low in the bowl or the toilet only fills halfway, even if you have a toilet making foghorn noise after flushing, we know how to fix it. 

Below we have addressed 9 of the most common toilet problems experienced in Ireland and the UK. We’ve also included some toilet hacks and cleaning tips for recommended toilet maintenance.

Pro Plumber tip: Always turn off the water at the mains when attempting plumbing jobs in your home. When in doubt, call a professional plumber for advice. 

1. How To Fix A Toilet Cistern

A toilet cistern is the small tank behind, and sometimes on the wall above the toilet, with a removable top. Inside the cistern, you will find a flush valve (sometimes known as a flapper) which releases the water from the cistern into the toilet bowl when you flush and a fill valve which lets the cistern fill back up again ready for the next flush.

If you find that the toilet cistern is not filling, toilet cistern is filling very slowly or that the toilet cistern keeps filling and filling, then the most likely problem is that there is an issue with the fill valve. This could be something as simple as debris causing an obstruction in the valve. In which case the debris just needs to be cleared away. Replacing a fill valve should be considered if the problem persists. See below for tips on How To Fix A Toilet Fill Valve.

Sometimes we get calls that a toilet isn’t filling up with water. In these instances, it’s important to tell the plumber if it is the toilet cistern that is not filling or the toilet bowl that is not filling. If it is the latter then the problem is most likely with the flush valve. See below for more information about fixing a toilet flush.

If the problem persists then it is possible that you need a toilet cistern replacement or have a water pressure issue. This is a job we recommend a professional plumber completes as an incorrectly fitted cistern can cause even more problems. Call us on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111 for assistance with cistern repairs and replacements.

2. How To Fix A Toilet Fill Valve

Signs that it’s time for a toilet fill valve repair include a toilet filling slowly after a flush or a toilet keeps running. Have you ever had trouble sleeping because you can hear a toilet running water?  That’s most probably a faulty fill valve.

To fix a toilet that’s not filling up with water fast enough in the cistern, or one that keeps running, first isolate the water supply beneath the cistern. Empty the water from the cistern. Release the existing valve via the bolt underneath the cistern and then reverse your steps to put in the new fill valve. Keep in mind that not all fill valves are the same and to check sizes carefully before buying and fitting the replacement fill valve. 

For help checking, repairing and replacing toilet valves, contact 24 Hour Plumber for a local plumber (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111.

3. How To Fix A Toilet Flush

Toilet flush repairs are a regular call out for plumbers across Ireland. A toilet flush not working is usually down to wear and tear of the flush handle or the flush mechanism.  Here’s how to work out which toilet part needs to be repaired when your toilet doesn’t flush properly.

The ballcock valve (also known as a ball float valve) might need changing if you spot any of these: the toilet keeps running water after flushing or the toilet is making noise after flushing (this can include scraping metal noises).

The flush valve might need changing if you spot that the toilet is not flushing paper away or in general a toilet is not flushing properly or not flushing at all. A definite clue is a toilet not refilling after a flush.

Here’s how to fix a toilet that won’t flush.  Establish if the problem is the flush valve or the ball float valve. (If you are not sure, don’t guess. Call a professional 24 Hour Plumber on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111.) To fix, first, isolate the water supply using the isolator valve. Check the water is isolated by flushing the toilet. The water should leave the cistern but not fill back up again.  

To fix a ball float valve, you will need to know if you have high or low water pressure as there are different components for different water pressure. Once you have the right one, use two adjustable wrenches to release the old valve and then attach the new one to the coupling nut of the existing shank. You may need to make small adjustments to get the water level you require.

4. How To Fix A Toilet Handle

Toilet handles are designed to last many years. The nuts that hold them in place can become worn and need replacing. Depending on your water type, parts can corrode. This is very common in Ireland where many residential areas have hard water. 

A handle needs replacing if the toilet handle is loose or disconnected and does not allow the toilet to flush.  To fix a toilet handle that is broken, unhook the flush chain and unscrew the nut on the inside of the cistern that holds the handle in place to remove both. Put the new handle in place and tighten the nut with an adjustable wrench. Hook the chain onto the flush lever and test by flushing. Alternatively, call a professional 24 Hour Plumber on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111.

5. How To Fix A Toilet Button

Toilet buttons get stuck occasionally through wear and tear and, after long use, may not be flushing anymore at all. Similar to a toilet flush handle, you might find that the toilet button is broken when it no longer flushes the toilet. 

There are different styles of toilet buttons – some screw directly through the lid of the cistern into the body of the flush valve (a good way to know you have this type of button is if the cistern lid won’t lift off the cistern.) The way to remove this button is to remove the button anticlockwise. 

Another type of push button is one where the screw is hidden under the two push button chrome caps on the button body itself (a good way to know you have this type of button is if the cistern lid won’t lift off the cistern.)

The next type is called a cable operated push button. This can be located on the front, top or side of the toilet cistern. When you lift the lid off you will see there is a cable attached to the button. At the point where the cable attaches to the button there should be one or two press release clips. 

Another type of push button is called a rod. The lid lifts away from the toilet cistern. Underneath the lid release the large nut connected to the button by turning it anticlockwise. 

It’s important to check the make and model of your toilet components either by looking for the manufacturer’s logo or brand on the button or the toilet flush valve in order to get the correct dual flush button. When bringing this information to your plumbing store, they should be able to give you an exact match button to replace your old faulty button. 

The toilet button can sometimes be surprisingly tricky to replace if it is an unusual brand or if the toilet component is now obsolete and can no longer be found on the market. In some rare circumstances our customers are always surprised that the entire cistern has to be removed for the seemingly simple flush button to be replaced. 

To replace the toilet button:

  1. Lift the lid carefully to unlink the button (the button is attached to the lid of the cistern by a cable type link on the underside) and then remove it. 
  2. Remember to isolate the water and empty the tank. 
  3. There are five parts to remove next. Two nuts on the back inner side of the cistern, two wing nuts underneath and the cold water feed pipe.  
  4. With these taken off carefully lift the cistern and empty any remaining water into a bucket.
  5. Lay the cistern carefully down on a surface that you can easily work on.
  6. Underneath the cistern, you will see a black rubber seal – remove this carefully along with the large plastic washer and metal winged clamp.  Keep all of these parts safe.  
  7. Next, you remove the flush unit (flush valve) by pulling it up and out from the inside of the tank.  Now you’re ready to put in the new unit by following the steps in reverse order.
  8. Before attaching the button, let the tank refill to make sure the cold water feed is attached properly and there are no leaks. You can attach the button, minus the cistern lid, and test the flush at this point. 
  9. Once you’re confident that there are no leaks or problems, insert the new button into the lid and secure with the washer. 
  10. Relink the button to the flushing mechanism and replace the cistern lid.

If this sounds like too much hassle for a toilet flush button, call a professional 24 Hour Plumber on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111.  We will have the job done quickly and with minimum fuss. 

6. How To Fix A Toilet Leak

Toilet leaks can be obvious or subtle. Often a toilet bowl can be leaking water without anyone noticing for days. This is because the water sometimes finds another way to go and drips under wooden or lino flooring. There are a few areas where you might find your toilet leaking from. It could be that the toilet is leaking at the back when flushed or that the toilet is leaking at base.  The latter usually results in a small pool of water or water stain around the base. If the toilet is leaking from under the tank then it could be the cold water inlet. On some occasions, a toilet might be leaking into the bowl or even the toilet cistern.

Toilet leaking at the back when flushed

Check behind the bowl to see if there is water coming from a joint on the large waste pipe (pan connector) or if it is dripping down from the cistern above.  A drip from the cistern is most likely a worn rubber seal. To replace it, follow the steps for How To Fix A Toilet Flush Button to remove the cistern tank and then simply pop off the old seal and replace with a new one. Replace the cistern securely. 

Fixing and replacing a pan connector (toilet waste connector) is a much harder job which we highly recommend leaving to a professional plumber. Please call us if you think your pan connector is leaking. We would be happy to advise, our customer service team will happily put you in touch with a local plumber to help (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111.

7. How To Fix A Toilet Seat

Did you know that there are different types of toilet seat fittings?  That’s right. There is no ‘one fits all’ option when it comes to toilet seats. 

If your toilet seat is loose, it doesn’t necessarily need replacing - just tightening. With an adjustable wrench, tighten the bolts that attach the toilet seat to the toilet bowl. There could be wing nuts rather than bolts, in which case you can tighten by hand.

Pro Plumber Tip: Not sure what toilet seat size you need? Measure the size of your toilet bowl, not the existing seat. Measure length from the centre of the two bolt holes to the front edge of the bowl. Then across the centre of the bowl for the width.

When it comes to replacing a toilet seat be sure to not only buy the right size but avoid buying the cheapest option too. The cheaper seats tend to have seals and fittings that will wear away quickly. Considering how much use the seat will most likely get, It’s probably best to invest a little more so you don’t have to replace it again in a few months.

Changing a toilet seat is a relatively easy and quick job, but we understand that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of DIY toilet fixes. Our plumbing team can have your seat replaced quickly and affordably so you don’t have to spend your morning trying to loosen an old toilet seat, we can do it for you in an hour or less. Call us on (01) 531 2220 or 085 855 6111 or contact us here to arrange a plumber to call out at a time that is convenient for you.

How to tighten a toilet seat with no access to the underside (enclosed toilet fittings or concealed fittings)

Firstly, you need to remove the toilet seat from the bowl (pan) by lifting the seat and lid in an upright position. There are three different ways that a toilet seat can be attached to a bowl. 1) Push buttons to the left and right of the toilet seat at its base where it connects to the toilet fixings.

2) Another push button directly in the centre of the toilet seat. Push the button and lift the entire seat vertically upwards. You may need to shake the seat as it may have become jammed over time.

3) Allen key or screwdriver points connected to the toilet seat fixings (quick release hinges.)

When you have the toilet lid away from the bowl, lift the chrome or stainless steel caps off the toilet fixings on top of the bowl. Here you will see either an Allen key or a standard screw. At this point you must keep the toilet fixings in the same position and tighten the screw. As you tighten the screw the compression nuts underneath will tighten. Follow the steps from above in reverse to install your toilet seat. Your toilet seat should be firm and solid.

8. How To Fix A Toilet That Keeps Running

When your toilet keeps filling into the toilet bowl after you flush, it is most likely that there is too much water in the cistern. This is a simple fix. All you need to do is adjust the height of the float in the tank.

Alternatively, the problem could be with the flush valve (flapper). Problems with the flush valve vary from limescale buildup to a worn seal or faulty cistern. Any of these issues can create a problem that results in water constantly running into the toilet bowl. In some cases, you can clean off the limescale build-up and that will fix the issue. 

Otherwise, the flush valve or fill valve (float valve) could need replacing. A job which varies depending on the type of cistern you have. Modern bathrooms tend to have the plastic one-piece cisterns small float that release with a twist and are simply replaced. Older houses will have the classic cistern unit with a ballcock (ball float) mechanism. The units are plastic also but a little fiddly to release.

In the case of an extreme hard water area a toilet cistern may need to be changed.

  1. First, isolate the water and drain the tank.
  2. Next, unhook the ball float.
  3. Loosen the large plastic washer beneath the cistern that connects the cistern to the toilet bowl.
  4. Remove the cistern unit from the cistern tank.
  5. Now is a good time to add a new seal to the downpipe that connects the cistern to the bowl.
  6. Fit in the new cistern unit.
  7. Tighten the washer beneath the cistern tank to secure the pipe connection. Use a good size malgrip to get this tight.
  8. Next, rehook the c-link to the flush handle and replace the ball float.
  9. Turn on the water and flush to check all is working properly.

9. How To Fix A Toilet That Is Blocked

This is everyone’s secret nightmare - a toilet that keeps overflowing. Anyone that’s experienced the feeling of dread you get when the toilet keeps filling up after flushing and all you can do is stand and watch as it gets higher and higher in the bowl will tell you it is the worst feeling! 

Overflowing like this is usually because a toilet is blocked with paper. It could be that tissue and waste have built up over time causing the toilet to overflow or that something has been flushed that shouldn’t have been. The bad news is that a toilet overflow fix is not a pleasant job but it is necessary to prevent the toilet from continuing to overfill and overflow. Before trying to unblock a toilet, put down towels in case it overflows again.

Four 24 Hour Plumber Toilet Unblocking Tips:

Tip 1: Boil a full kettle and pour the hot water from a height into the toilet bowl. If the blockage isn’t too bad then this should be enough to clear it.

Tip 2: Fill a bucket with water and pour this in from a height. The force of the water will push any medium blockages out.

Tip 3: Try and loosen the blockage by pouring a generous amount of washing up liquid into the bowl followed by a half a bowl of hot water. Wait for 10 - 20 minutes and check if the water has gone down. If it has, then pour in a bucket of water with some force (see tip 2) and wait a few minutes. The water should disappear from the bowl and the toilet flush will cause no more issues.

Tip 4: Use a plunger to unclog the blockage. The correct way to do this is to flush the toilet and then keep plunging until the water drains away. Repeat the process to remove the blockage completely.

Pro Plumber tips: Buy a long handle plunger for toilets and make sure you clean the plunger thoroughly after use.

24 Hour Plumbing Toilet Cleaning Hacks

How To Reduce Toilet Stains and Smells 

The easiest way to reduce toilet stains and smells is to clean the bowl daily or at least every other day. This will keep the toilet bowl fresher and prevent any kinds of build-up.

What Toilet Bowl Cleaners Are Best?

There is a huge range of toilet bowl cleaners available in the average supermarket which makes choosing one harder. If you are looking for a general toilet bowl cleaner then look for one that contains bleach and / or disinfectant. Most brands have the same ingredients. 

For a home where limescale is common, try Harpic Limescale Remover Toilet Cleaner. With regular use, this will prevent limescale build-up in the bowl.

For more environmentally friendly options. Try Coca-Cola or distilled white vinegar. Strange as it might seem they both can work wonders.

What Toilet Cleaners Cause Damage?

Beware that cheap toilet bowl cleaners with colour in them can actually stain your bowl. Toilet freshener blocks that are dropped into the cistern tank can also dissolve seals, causing damage and leaks. Any products that are high in corrosive chemicals can cause damage over time. 

How To Remove Hard Water Stains From A Toilet Bowl

Not all toilet bowl cleaners will remove hard water stains. For hard water stain removal, you need an extra-strong cleaner. Stores like Homestore + More stock brands like HG which make a ‘super powerful toilet cleaner’. 

The best way to use a cleaner to remove hard water stains is to first use a plunger to remove excess water from the bowl. Then pour in the strong cleaner fluid. Leave for the time instructed on the bottle and scrub vigorously. Depending on how hard the stain is, you might need to do this a few times to get rid of it completely.

How To Remove Toilet Mineral Build Up

Mineral deposits sometimes build up underneath the rim of the toilet bowl. A great way to remove them is to use a pumice stone, which you can buy cheaply from a pharmacy. Wearing gloves, use the pumice to take off the mineral deposits around the bowl. This should only need doing once, maybe twice, a year depending on the water in your area.

How To Clean A Toilet Plunger or Toilet Brush

To clean a toilet plunger use a good bleach. Spray the whole plunger head, inside and out and leave that to work for a few minutes before cleaning using the flush of the toilet itself. The toilet brush can be cleaned the same way. Use the toilet seat to hold the plunger or brush over the toilet bowl whilst the cleaner gets to work.

For any plumbing and toilet problems you are experiencing in your home, call 24 Hour Plumber on 01 531 2220 to book a local plumber near you. 

All repairs by 24 Hour Plumber have a 12-month guarantee. Call us or email now for a free quote