Everyday Toilet Care & Maintenance Tips

Flushing a toilet is one of the most natural things in the world, but for many people, flushing is also a source of confusion. This article provides some simple information about how to flush a toilet properly and about how to avoid some common mistakes that waste water and clog toilets.

If your toilet isn’t flushing properly, try these tips.

Tip #1

Check the handle. Is it loose? If it is, tighten it. Is it stripped? Replace it. If that doesn’t work, try adjusting the handle until the water starts flowing properly.

Tip #2

Check the tank lever or chain. Is it loose? If so, tighten it or replace it. Some older tanks have levers that may be sticking—they can often be freed up with some WD-40 applied to the pivot points on each side of the lever. You can also check to make sure there isn’t any debris stuck in the handle or lever mechanism itself—use a paperclip or something similar to clean out anything that might be blocking its movement.

If you still have trouble flushing after inspecting and adjusting these mechanisms, you might need to replace them completely—the mechanisms are inexpensive and can usually be found at local hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Tip #3

Once every two weeks or so, you should put a cup or two of chlorine bleach in the toilet tank and then flush it. This will disinfect the toilet, killing germs and removing odors.

The bleach will also sanitize the rubber flapper valve at the bottom of the tank, reducing its odds of growing a colony of bacteria that might otherwise cause the toilet to smell.

You can use any chlorine bleach, but I recommend 5.25 percent “ultra” chlorine bleach. (The regular kind may not be strong enough.) The label probably will say to dilute it with water before using it; this is to prevent accidental staining. Add about a cup of bleach for every 10 gallons of water in the tank, and then flush away.

Tip #4

Check if the water level in the toilet bowl is too low. Check the water level by leaning over and looking down into the bowl. If you notice that there is no water in the bowl or very little water, then you are experiencing a low water level issue and will have to refill it. This can be done by adjusting the lever on top of the tank of the toilet or by adding additional water from a bucket until you reach your desired amount.

You may also experience a low water level where you do not have enough water in your tank, which requires a more extensive repair, but can still be done easily at home. Start by checking your flapper valve to ensure that it is not jammed or missing. Flappers can be adjusted with a flathead screwdriver by bending them so they fit tightly around the edge of your toilet tank. Your flappers are also detachable; this should be done every few months so they do not become loose and fail to seal properly against your tank. You can also purchase new flappers if necessary, though this should only be used as a last resort since replacing them with an incorrect flapper size will cause issues.

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