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Common Toilet Problems

It’s hard to know when to call a licensed plumber to fix a toilet, and when to attempt it yourself. Use this guide to determine when to bring in the pros.

Constant Running

toilet that won’t stop running isn’t usually a big problem. Removing the lid of the tank will usually reveal a float that is stuck or a chain that has come disconnected. The result is that the flapper can’t flip down to stop the flow of water. Dislodging the float or reconnecting the chain should fix the issue.

Phantom Flush

When the water flow in a toilet cuts on and off spontaneously (as if it’s been flushed when it hasn’t been) there’s usually a small leak. The result is that water slowly leaks from the tank into the bowl through a poor flapper seal. This sounds like a relatively minor problem, but over time it can drive up your water bill substantially. (It’s also extremely annoying!) Flappers can wear down with use, reducing the strength of the seal. Check the flapper for obvious signs of damage. If you cannot spot the issue quickly, call in a licensed plumber to determine what can be causing the phantom flushing to avoid wasting water.


leaking toilet can quickly flood a bathroom. If you ever see water leaking from the bowl or tank, call a licensed plumber immediately! A small leak can cause extensive water damage to floors and walls. A leaking upstairs toilet can also result in damage to floors underneath if it’s not discovered quickly. Most often, leaks are a result of faulty seals, which can be repaired or replaced by a plumber. Leaks typically require a professional plumber’s tools and experience to ensure that it will be fixed right the first time.


Clogs are the most common toilet problem, but not every clog is created equal. Minor clogs can be cleared with a plunger or residential auger. However, more serious toilet clogs need the help of an emergency plumber. Plumbers have both the tools and technique needed to remove a toilet clog without damaging the toilet. Well-meaning homeowners can end up scraping, cracking, or breaking a toilet if they attempt to snake it without knowing how to use it.

Weak Flush

When a toilet bowl empties too slowly, a drain clog from paper and waste may not be the cause. Instead, clogged water holes under the rim can cause water to enter the toilet too slowly. When water doesn’t rush into the bowl, the contents go down slower than usual. Cleaning these small holes will usually solve the problem.

Hissing Sound

When the supply line leaks water into the tank, it makes an audible hissing sound. Any number of parts inside the toilet can be responsible for the hissing, although the float, refill tube, and inlet valve are the most common. A local plumbing company can help find and fix the issue to eliminate the toilet hissing sound.

Additional resources:
How to snake a toilet
A professional's tip for unclogging a toilet
Do I need to replace my toilet?
How much does it cost to replace a toilet?
Fix a toilet running away
How to fix a singing toilet
The price of installing a new toilet
When plunging doesn't work