Common Toilet Problems

8 Common Toilet Problems

Originally contributed by • last updated 6/2/2021


Toilets are a necessary, though sometimes unpleasant, part of life. Especially when you have toilet problems. The truth is, you can mostly forget about a toilet until something goes wrong. And, inevitably, something will go wrong. We’ve put together a list of the most common toilet problems, from a weak flush to a sweaty tank.  


The Mysterious Running Toilet

Filios Sazeides

Yes, if your toilet is running, you probably should go catch it. A running toilet may seem like a small toilet problem, and in the grand scheme of things, it is, but the constant thrum of running water can drive you crazy. A running toilet also wastes water. We’re all trying to reduce our carbon footprint, so this is a toilet problem worth taking care of as soon as it starts. 

Most of the time, a running toilet comes down to a poor seal around the flapper. Less common but still a possibility is a bad fill valve or an overflow pipe at the wrong height. If it’s the flapper, you can check the seal by pressing on it with a stick. If the running stops, the flapper isn’t sealing, and you need to replace it. 

A toilet fill valve problem can sometimes be fixed by adjusting the angle of the toilet float arm. However, if that doesn’t do it, you might need to replace the valve altogether. If your overflow pipe isn’t lining up right, you’ll need a hacksaw and a few more plumbing skills to get the toilet back in line. 


A Toilet That Rocks

If you sit on your toilet and start rocking like you’re on an ocean liner, you’ve got a toilet problem. A rocking toilet is one that’s not fastened to the floor as it should be. That wobble can damage the wax seal where the toilet meets the floor. Without that seal, a whole new set of problems that includes leaks and flooring issues could start. 

You can steady a rocking toilet with plastic shims, caulking, and a gentle twist of the bolts to secure the toilet. 


A Loud Lid

Giorgio Trovato

The slamming of a toilet lid is a cringe-worthy toilet problem with a few simple solutions. The toilet lid can slam on the tank, the seat, or both. A rubber bumper attached to the tank can stop the clanking of a lid thrown open. To silence the closing, consider installing a soft-close lid. These lids control the descent of the lid to put a stop to toilet racket with minimal effort on your part. 


Rusty Parts

Water and steel naturally lead to rust. Rusty bolts and hinges pose a number of toilet problems for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t look great. The rust can fall and bleed onto the toilet, creating an unsightly mess. Second, rust will eventually wear down the bolts and hinges, causing them to break. The last thing you need is for the tank to fall off because rust has eaten away the bolts. 

Rusty bolts can be tough to remove. Try a little lubricant to see if that loosens things up. If not, you might need some safety glasses and a drill bit to get them off. Once they’re off, all you need to do is replace them with new bolts. 

Rusty hinges are an even easier fix. Your first option is to use clear nail polish on the screw heads. However, if the rust has already taken a firm hold, fill the holes with caulk. Don’t panic about getting at the screws again. You’ll replace the seat and lid assembly long before the lid alone has an issue. 


Sweaty Tank

Another common toilet problem is sweat. A toilet that sweats more than you do after a good workout isn’t that unusual in humid climates. The differences in temperature and humidity between the tank’s interior and the bathroom can cause drippy condensation. At the very least, that extra water makes a mess. In a worst-case scenario, the extra water can drip enough to rot out the floor. 

An insulated tank is your go-to solution. Some toilets come with an insulated tank or have an insulated tank option when you buy the toilet.


When It’s Blowing Bubbles

Karolina Grabowska

Your toilet and Old Faithful should have nothing in common. But if your toilet starts bubbling up like a hot pot at Yellowstone, you’ve got issues. There are a few different toilet problems that could be going on. 

Bubbles that also come with fluctuations in the toilet bowl’s water level mean you’ve either got a toilet vent problem or a clog. Vent problems are fairly common if you’ve got another appliance like a dishwasher or washing machine nearby. In this case, you’ve probably got a drain line that’s screaming for mercy. It needs air to equalize the pressure, which is an issue you will most likely need a professional to handle. 

However, if the bubbles start suddenly, you’re most likely dealing with a clog. You can try a plunger or snaking the toilet yourself. In many cases, the clog is near the bowl since the bubbles are showing up there. However, if that doesn’t do it, the clog could be somewhere hidden in the walls. 


Slow Flush, Slow Fill

Clogs are common culprits for toilet flush problems, but the pipes aren’t the only place you could have a clog. Slow flushing can also stem from clogged rinse holes. These holes hide at the front of the rim, near the lip of the toilet seat. They’re small enough that mineral deposits can clog things up, slowing the whole flush and fill process. 

This is a plumbing problem easily fixed with a mirror and wire hanger to poke out the mineral deposits. 


Loose Seat

Lazar Gugleta

A wiggly toilet seat can make it feel like you’re playing a balancing act while taking care of your business. Sometimes the solution is a matter of tightening things down. Other times, it takes a little more effort to keep that seat in place. If tightening the seat doesn’t make a difference, try installing rubber bushings and/or seat stabilizers. Rubber bushings replace the toilet seat nuts. Stabilizers require a bit more work, including a drill, but you can install them yourself if you have basic DIY skills.


Cracked Toilet Seat

One pinch from a cracked seat, and you’ll never trust a toilet again. Thank goodness it’s a quick fix. The only stumbling block you may run across is corroded bolts on the old toilet seat. Often, a screwdriver or pliers will do. If not, you might have to hold the bolt with pliers while unscrewing the bolt. After that, it’s a quick three or four-minute job to install the new seat according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 


Many common toilet problems are a quick fix if you have a basic understanding of plumbing. A trip to the hardware store and a solid 30 minutes with a basic toolset is often all you need to get things running smoothly.