How do you know when it’s time to set the plunger aside and instead, take the plunge of buying a new toilet? Usually it’s when a serious problem forces you into the decision. That may be too late. Some toilet problems are an easy fix; others are a clear signal that it’s time to replace.
If it’s strictly a cosmetic thing, like the porcelain being worn from years of scouring, or that harvest-gold coloring finally striking you as dated; just go for it! Your family will thank you. Beyond that, let’s first address some very fixable, routine problems.
The flush is strong, but stops too soon. Replace the flapper; that round, rubber thing on the bottom of the tank. It’s closing too soon.
Can’t flush. Check for disconnected or broken levers, arms, or chain mechanisms in the tank.
Whistling refills. Replace the fill valve – the upright cylindrical device in the tank.
The following problems might be routine, but often warn that it’s time for a new toilet.
Flush is weak. Maybe the chain is slack, the flapper is worn, or the water level is low. If adjusting those doesn’t restore good flow, it’s probably hard water deposits clogging the tubes and inlets. You can attempt to chip away at the buildup, but it’s probably time to replace this obviously older toilet.
Random hissing. There may be an internal leak from the tank to the bowl. Add a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the bowl water changes color after a few minutes, there is a leak. First replace the stopper. Test again. If the water still turns, there is a crack and you need a new toilet.
Spongy flooring and visible water. Most likely the wax ring needs replacing. If that doesn’t fix things there’s a hairline crack; immediate replacement is in order.
Always clogging. It happens to everyone occasionally. After all, the plugged toilet is why they sell plungers. But if it’s happening every week, your flushing power has weakened and it won’t recover.
It’s old. If it’s been there longer than you can remember, sooner or later one or more of the above issues will develop and could lead to very expensive home repairs. New toilets are more water efficient, powerful, and comfortable than ever. If you suspect it ’s time for a new toilet, it probably is.