Your toilets are some of the hardest-working appliances in your home. The average person flushes the toilet five to six times each day, adding up to nearly 2,000 flushes per year. Toilets account for nearly 30% of the water usage in your bathroom, so keeping these essential plumbing fixtures in good condition is a must.
While toilets do not require a significant amount of maintenance, some regular care and cleaning is needed to keep them in good working condition. Additionally, if you notice leaks, problems flushing, or other issues with your toilet, it’s best to address them immediately rather than ignoring the problem, which can lead to more significant damage and bigger toilet troubles.
Cleaning Products that Can Damage Your Toilet
Regular cleaning will keep your toilet in good working condition—however, it’s important to note that certain cleaning products can actually do more harm than good. Avoid using “drop in the tank” cleaners, as these can damage the rubber flaps and other mechanisms inside the tank that are necessary to flush your toilet with each pull of the handle.
Instead, keep your toilet clean by applying an in-bowl solution periodically. Use a porcelain-safe household cleaner to clean off the tank, seat, and handle to disinfect them and prevent stains.
How to Check for Toilet Leaks
A running toilet occurs when the flapper valve that controls water flow from the tank to the bowl is dislodged or damaged, causing continual water transfer inside your toilet. Running toilets can waste as much as two gallons of water per minute, increasing your water bill very quickly.
You can check your toilet periodically for leaks by completing the following steps:
- Place a few drops of food coloring into the water in the tank.
- Don’t use the toilet for 20-30 minutes.
- Then examine the water in the bowl.
- If any coloring has appeared in your toilet’s bowl, there is a leak that must be addressed.
You can replace your toilet’s flapper valve with a kit from your local hardware store, or contact your plumber for assistance.
How to Unclog a Toilet Drain
Your toilet’s drain may look large, but it is actually quite small. Toilets are designed only to handle human waste and toilet paper, so avoid tossing anything else into the bowl.
If you do experience a clogged toilet, complete the following steps:
- Turn off the water using the emergency shutoff valve mounted on your wall behind and beneath the tank to prevent overflowing.
- Use a plunger to try to break up or dislodge the clog so that it can be flushed through your plumbing pipes.
- If plunging your toilet doesn’t work, you can also try using a toilet auger to remove the clog.
- Never pour a chemical drain cleaner down your toilet; harsh chemicals can irritate your skin and eyes or cause damage to your plumbing pipes.
- If you can’t repair a clogged toilet on your own, contact a professional plumber for assistance.
Maintaining your toilet takes just a few minutes each week, but it can save you a major headache and prevent water damage to your home.
About the Author: Steve Ferree, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Portland
Steve has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Portland since 1999. With over 20 years to back him, Steve has experience with a wide range of plumbing related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in drain cleaning, sewer repair, re-piping, and more.