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Top 3 ways to fix your broken toilet

Did you hear the one about the 85 plumbers on a plane with a broken toilet? You might be thinking, surely you can’t be serious.

I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.

While it may sound like something out of the 1980 classic Airplane!, this is no joke. The strange but true story happened just over a month ago, as a Norwegian flight from Oslo to Munich carrying a platoon of plumbers to a business function was forced to reroute due to toilet trouble.

The inherent funniness of the situation was not lost on Frank Olsen, managing director of Rørkjøp, the plumbing company hosting the event. “We did not take the risk to send a plumber outside at 10,000 meters high [approximately 6 miles or 30,000 feet],” said Olsen. “There was a good atmosphere in the plane with the irony about the broken toilets.”

Olsen is correct: the plumbing problem could not have been corrected from inside the plane. And with no plumber expected to pull off a Mission: Impossible-style mid-air repair, it was time to ground the flight.

Despite the potty-humor appeal of this story, we know you’re probably not working on airplane plumbing (but if you’ve ever wondered how they achieve that super-suction, or just where the waste goes, check this out). So without further ado, here are the top three challenges facing us land-based DIY plumbers.

1.  Clogging and overflow

It’s the flush of fear: you pull the handle and the water rises… and keeps rising. If you’re lucky, it stops before it spills over the bowl. If you’re not, it’s time to break out the mop.

Toilet troubles like this are generally due to a clog within the waste pipe; it may be a build up of that bottom-cushioning two-ply, or maybe your kid wanted to see if a Lego Man could swim. Either way, you can usually stop everyday clogs with a plunger, dish soap, or vinegar/baking soda solution.

If clogs continue, you should call in a plumbing pro who can use high-end video inspection equipment to check for clogs, corrosion, or other pipe damage.

2.  Constantly running toilet water

Is your toilet running? Better go catch it! All jokes aside, a running toilet is wasteful. A leading factor in high water bills, running toilets left unrepaired can cost you hundreds of dollars in water usage each year—and it could all be due to your toilet flapper.

The flapper is the rubber valve in the tank that raises and lowers with each flush, managing the amount of water flow into the bowl. But a worn flapper can’t perform as designed, allowing leakage and seepage that keeps the water running. Thankfully, flapper valves are very inexpensive and easily installed; look for them at your local home improvement or hardware store.

3.  Fixing partial or slow flushes.

It’s bad enough when it happens at your own home; but have you ever flushed at a friends’ home only to be faced with the horror of a partial flush? 

A partial flush is often due to an over-saturated flapper restricting flow between tank and bowl. Roughly 80 percent of over-saturated flappers cover the water flow pipe prematurely, cutting off bowl flow. A simple flapper replacement can fix it up.

Flapper not the fix? A slow bowl could be a sign of clogging or obstruction somewhere in your plumbing pipes. Test your toilet drain pipes for clogs by filling the bowl with a five gallon bucket of water, flushing as quickly as possible. If the flush uses greater force, your pipes are probably fine; however, if the flush retains the same sluggish speed as before, there’s probably an unreachable clog in no-man’s land that only your plumber can get to.

Time to Call the Plumbing Pros?

Whether you're in the clouds or on the ground, plumbing problems can happen anywhere. Some issues may be handled without help, while others require the expertise of a professional plumbing company to evaluate and repair your broken, clogged or poor performing toilet.

Dealing With Common Plumbing Problems

Topics: Toilet Repair