When it comes to household plumbing, few things are more essential than a properly functioning toilet. Unfortunately, toilets can be temperamental and prone to malfunctions that can be both inconvenient and unpleasant. Luckily, there are a number of simple steps you can take to keep your toilets running smoothly and avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Regular Maintenance Is Key

Like most things in life, prevention is key when it comes to keeping your toilets running smoothly. Regular maintenance can help prevent minor issues from turning into major problems. Here are some easy steps you can take:

1. Check for Leaks

One of the most common toilet problems is a leak. Even a small leak can waste a significant amount of water over time, driving up your water bill and potentially causing damage to your floors or walls. To check for leaks, add a few drops of food coloring to the tank and wait about 10 minutes. If the coloring appears in the bowl, you have a leak and should have it repaired.

2. Keep the Toilet Clean

A clean toilet not only looks better, but it can also help prevent issues down the line. Regular cleaning can prevent mineral buildup and keep your toilet in good working order. Be sure to use a non-abrasive cleaner and avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the porcelain.

3. Don’t Use Your Toilet as a Trash Can

Toilets are designed to handle human waste and toilet paper, not much else. Flushing items like feminine hygiene products, paper towels, or other items down the toilet can cause clogs and other issues.

Troubleshooting Common Toilet Problems

Even with regular maintenance, toilets can still experience issues from time to time. Here are some common problems you may encounter and how to troubleshoot them:

1. Clogs

Clogs are perhaps the most common toilet problem. If your toilet is not flushing properly, there are a few things you can do. First, try using a plunger to dislodge the blockage. If that doesn’t work, a toilet auger (also known as a snake) can be used to remove the clog. If neither of those options works, it may be time to call in a professional plumber.

2. Running Toilet

If you hear your toilet running long after it should have finished flushing, you likely have a running toilet. This can be caused by a number of issues, including a worn flapper or a faulty fill valve. In most cases, replacing the worn or faulty part will solve the problem.

3. Weak Flush

If your toilet is not flushing properly, there may be an issue with the water level in the tank. Check to make sure the water level is at the recommended level (usually marked on the inside of the tank). If the water level is too low, adjust the float arm or ballcock to raise the water level.


Q: How often should I clean my toilet?

A: It’s a good idea to clean your toilet at least once a week, more often if you have a large household or frequently have guests.

Q: What should I do if my toilet is leaking?

A: If you have a leak, it’s important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Even a small leak can waste a significant amount of water and potentially cause damage to your floors or walls.

Q: Can I use chemical drain cleaners to clear a clog?

A: While chemical drain cleaners can be effective at clearing clogs, they can also damage your pipes over time. It’s best to try using a plunger or snake first, and if those methods don’t work, call in a professional plumber.