Toilets save lives. It might sound crazy, but it's true. Proper sanitation in the form of functioning toilets and well-maintained sewage systems helps prevent potentially life-threatening diseases from attacking you and your family. In the United States we are incredibly lucky that the majority of us never have to worry about catching such illnesses, but it is still important to keep our toilets clean and in good operating condition to avoid the potential for illness to our families - in addition to saving ourselves the general hassle and high cost of toilet problems left unattended for too long. Fortunately, most toilet troubles are fairly easy to fix yourself, and your friends at PlumbingSupply.com® are here to help arm you with the information and tools you need to handle almost any toilet crisis quickly and easily.
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General Toilet Information & FAQs
Finding the Right Parts for Your Toilet ...pssst, it's easier than you think!
Toilet repair tends to freak most people out a little, which is completely understandable. Nobody wants to accidentally break something that could flood their bathroom with raw sewage. However, the majority of toilet repairs are simple and straightforward tasks - such as replacing a worn flapper - that most people can do themselves in about 5 minutes. The most common question we run into regarding toilet repair is how to find the right parts for your toilet. Sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it's not. Mostly it's easy though.
The first step in finding the right toilet parts is figuring out your toilet model number - so we've created this handy toilet identification cross reference to help you out. Alternatively, if you already know which manufacturer made your toilet, you can look through our toilet index pages (linked below) to find your parts. If you can't find any model information - i.e., you have a "mystery" toilet - read our guide to finding "will fit" parts for more assistance.
If you'd like to learn more about how your toilet works and how you can find "will fit" parts, view the video below.
General Toilet Parts FAQs
Q. "What is the difference between "OEM" and "will-fit" parts? And what do these terms mean anyway?"
A. OEM stands for "Original Equipment Manufacturer". This means anything from the original manufacturer that is sold to a second company to use in production of that second company's product. In other words, many toilet manufacturers outsource for the internal working parts of the toilet, such as the fill valves, flush valves, or flappers. When this happens, they have the opportunity to use an existing part, or to spec something for the specific toilet. When the toilet manufacturer chooses to use an existing part, the manufacturer of the part can still sell that piece under their own name - these are considered "will fit" parts. If the toilet manufacturer chooses to spec something for the specific toilet, the part manufacturer can then only provide that part to the toilet manufacturer. What this means for you is that you can sometimes get the *exact same part* (by the original manufacturer of the OEM part), but under another name and at a better cost! So when your toilet's internal working parts need to be replaced, you may have the option to use either the "OEM" part number or use the "will-fit" part number to order what you need. Please note that only some "will-fit" items are manufactured by the OEM manufacturer. If this is essential to your repair, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to check for you. For further information regarding "OEM" and "will-fit", click here
Q. "What are the most commonly replaced toilet parts?"
A. This depends on several factors; each time you use your toilet the trip lever, flapper, and fill valve are operated. You will find, however, that the flapper and fill valve are the parts most exposed to water and will be the first ones to wear out in most cases.
Q. "How long 'should' the parts inside of my toilet last?"
A. That depends on a number of variables and which parts. Water quality is one of the major factors. If your water source is heavily chlorinated then many parts won't last long. Or if you have a lot of sand or grit or have a low pH or "aggressive" water source then parts simply won't last as long as the 'average' length of time. Also the quality of the parts matters. The replaceable parts such as flappers and washers/seals generally will last at least 4 to 5 years on "average." If you use a chemical bowl cleaner some flappers won't even last one year. However, some toilet bowl cleaners isolate cleanser from the internal workings of the toilet therefore, maximizing the life of your toilet parts. Depending on the material make up, flappers will either deteriorate (leave residue on your skin when touched) or some will tend to harden or stiffen up and lose their original shape and flexibility. If this is the case, then it's best to change it.
Q. "Why does my toilet continue to run after flushing?"
A. If, after flushing, you find that the toilet continues to run, and you have discovered that by jiggling the handle it will stop; then the problem may be that the chain controlling the flapper is too long. When installing your flapper, you want the flapper chain's S-hook in the hole closest to the handle with very little slack in the chain itself. By doing so, when the toilet is flushed, the chain will fall behind the flapper where it won't snag and cause problems such as keeping the flapper from closing properly. Check to make sure that the flapper has enough clearance to close, i.e. not hitting the float ball when the water level drops. You also want to check to see that the toilet's flush handle (aka tank lever) is installed securely so it can't rotate too high, hitting the tank's lid or other parts and sticking.
Q. "I have a lot of scale, stains and mineral buildup inside my toilet bowl. Is there anything that you recommend to get rid of that? To make my toilet bowl look good as new?"
A. If you have rust spots, using phosphoric acid generally will help remove them. If you would like to try the gentlest approach maybe try using some Coke on the rust first. No, we aren't kidding, Coca-Cola contains a trace amount of phosphoric acid. To try this, drain the toilet bowl to below where the rust marks are. Then pour on some Coke. Wipe with a soft cloth and then more Coke, over and over, etc. If that doesn't do the trick then use Naval Jelly which contains a lot more phosphoric acid (be sure to read the directions and safety warnings first!). Naval Jelly is what we here at PlumbingSupply.com® use to get rid of rust stains and it's readily available at most hardware stores.
If your problem is more related to scale and mineral build-up, it's important to be aware that most scale and mineral build-up in toilet bowls is caused by hard water. Hard water generally leaves lime and calcium buildup which can become quite unsightly. While phosphoric acid and other cleaning methods will certainly help, we strongly suggest you look into installing a water softener to help with your hard water.
In the meantime, however, we suggest you first try using non-harsh and non-abrasive white vinegar and lemon juice with baking soda. Simply pour a cup of baking soda into your toilet bowl, add some white vinegar and lemon juice, and let the mixture sit for a while. If that doesn't work, you can try a non-abrasive toilet bowl cleaner. Many of these cleaners contain concentrated levels of hydrocloric acid, which can be very harmful if it comes in contact with skin, eyes, or lungs. Please make sure to take the appropriate precautions if using one of these products.
Please note that we NEVER recommend using any type of abrasive cleaning method, including pumice stones, scouring powders or pads, etc. These types of cleaners will scratch the porcelain, which not only damages the glossy finish, but creates a breeding ground for bacteria that basic cleaning sometimes can't reach. Once you use an abrasive cleaner on your porcelain, you have to keep using an abrasive cleaner to really get into those scratches you created the last time you cleaned.
Toilet Fill Valves
For the win, Alex, what is a toilet fill valve?
The Final Jeopardy answer, you ask? The device that regulates water flow in your toilet. If you look behind your toilet, you'll see a supply line that runs from the outlet in the wall to the bottom of the toilet fill valve. This is how water gets into your toilet. After you flush the toilet, the fill valve opens to refill the water in the tank and the toilet bowl, readying the system for the next flush. If your fill valve is broken, not set at the correct level, or isn't installed properly, you might experience a frequently or constantly "running" toilet - which can cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted water.
Since the majority of toilet fill valves are pretty similar, it can be difficult to tell them apart just by looking at them. The most important thing you need to know about your fill valve before you start looking for a replacement is the height of the valve. As long as the replacement valve is the same height or very close to the same height as your existing valve, things are usually A-okay. Some variances in the refill rate might occur, but most people don't even notice this, and many "will fit" fill valves have an adjustable refill rate anyway.
Replacing a Toilet Fill Valve
Fill Valve FAQs
Q. "How are the lengths of toilet fill valves measured?"
A. The toilet fill valve measurements we show are measured from the inside bottom of the tank to the top of the fill valve. The threaded water supply shank that fits through the bottom of the tank is not included in this measurement.
Q. "I installed a new fill valve and my new valve comes on (and then goes off) for a few seconds about once per hour?"
A. This could be caused by many things. The most common is with a Fluidmaster 400. This is a great valve but be sure to install the 1/4" tube per their instructions. Use the clip that comes with it and do not just stick it into the overflow tube or it will go on and off every so often by itself. If that isn't it, take some food coloring and place it in your tank. Wait a few hours and if some of the color has gone into the bowl then you probably need a new flapper.
Toilet Flush Valves & Flappers
From Tank to Bowl, The Story of Your Toilet Water (or, How a Flush Valve Works)
The flush valve does just what its name suggests - it flushes water down the toilet to remove the waste. But how does it do this? Well, when you flush your toilet, the trip lever lifts the flapper on the flush valve, allowing the water in the tank to flow into the bowl and down the trap to the sewage line. Once the tank is empty, the flapper again seals off the flush valve outlet and the tank refills. While the tank is refilling, the fill valve is also sending water down the overflow tube of the flush valve to refill the bowl. The overflow tube is why you don't get a flooded bathroom if something goes wrong with your fill valve, since any excess water in the tank will go down the overflow, into the toilet bowl, and down the drain.
As with fill valves, the most important measurement on your flush valve is the height of the overflow tube. You want the overflow tube to be about 1 inch below the refill tube outlet on the fill valve so that everything will refill properly - and of course the overflow tube should be slightly taller than the water line of your tank so you aren't constantly losing water from the tank. The second most important measurement of your flush valve is the diameter of the outlet. For most toilets, this is about 2 inches, but many newer toilets - including high efficiency models like Toto brand toilets - feature a 3 inch flush valve. Knowing the diameter of your flush valve is important because you may have to change the flush valve only every 6-7 years, while your flapper might need changing more often, depending on your water quality and whether or not you use chemical cleaners.
Matching Your Flapper To Your Flush Valve
One of the most frequently replaced toilet parts is the flapper. They are entirely submerged in water, and if you use chemical tank cleaners or have very poor water quality, the flapper can slowly disintegrate and/or turn to mush. If you're looking to replace your flapper, you need to know that all flappers are NOT created equal, and it is most important that you get a flapper that will work with your flush valve and trip lever. If the chain is too short, you won't get a good seal and will leak water. If the chain is too long, you won't get a good flush. If the flapper doesn't fit well over the flush valve outlet, water will leak from the tank into the bowl - wasting water and costing you money.
When shopping for a new flapper, your best option is to try and find the same flapper that originally came with your existing flush valve. The easiest way to do that is by looking up your toilet model and choosing the flapper recommended for that model. If you don't know your model number, however, we do offer an extensive selection of "will fit" flappers to help you out. Watch the video below to learn more about the different kinds of flappers available, or visit How To Replace Toilet Flappers for brief tutorials on changing toilet flappers, tank balls, and flush valve seals.
Save Water with Dueling Flush Valves! Er, sorry...DUAL Flush Valves
Dual flush valves are becoming more and more common, as both manufacturers and consumers seek new ways to save water. Dual flush toilets allow the user to choose the level of water needed to flush the toilet based on whether the waste is liquid or solid. We've all heard the old adage, "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." Well, many people find that squicky - and so the dual flush was born so you can still flush it down if it's yellow, you're just using less water to do it.
Dual flush valves typically don't use flappers or trip levers like ordinary flush valves, they have a seal that keeps the flush outlet closed. With this type of flush valve, you'll probably need to change the seal most often as it is subject to the same abuse the flapper is on a normal flush valve.
Flush Valve & Flapper FAQs
Q. "What's the best way to replace my toilet flapper?"
A. Generally, with most toilets: turn off the water supply and flush the toilet. Reach in and unhook the ears of the flapper and unhook the chain from the trip lever. Install an identical flapper to the original that came from the factory. Do expect to get your hands dirty from the old flapper. Simply reinstall the new one in reverse order. Note that should you have very old brass pipes inside of your toilet, be careful not to be rough on them. They can easily break and end up leaking. After you have replaced your flapper, and the toilet tank bowl has refilled, the water fill valve should not leak (be going on and off in cycles). If it does, then we recommend putting some food coloring into your tank. This can help diagnose the problem. The colored water should not be going into the bowl (unless you flush the toilet of course). If the food color does go into the bowl, then possibly the flapper is not the correct one, the surface where the toilet flapper sits has eroded (feel below where the flapper touched the toilet and see if you can feel erosion/groove), or you may only need to add some slack to the chain.
Toilet Trip Levers
Jiggling the toilet handle is so 5 minutes ago
Pretty little flappers may get all the glory in the toilet world, but the trip lever is the bridge between man and machine. After all, if the trip lever doesn't lift the flapper to flush the toilet, you have to jiggle and wiggle and sometimes even stick your hand in there and lift the flapper manually. And who wants to do all that work??? In all seriousness though, making sure your trip lever is working well can save you the hassle of those small daily inconveniences - that most people just live with and never realize they can fix in about 5 minutes - not to mention the gallons of water wasted every day by a poor seal.
So, if you want to stop having to jiggle your toilet handle every time you flush and are sick and tired of posting polite signs in your bathroom everytime you have people over, get a new trip lever that actually works for your toilet. While certain specialty flush valves or flappers might require a specific trip lever to work properly, most toilets will work just fine with a "will fit" lever - which is good news for people who can't find their model number or who maybe have remodeled or upgraded their fixtures and want a different finish or style handle to match the rest of their bathroom décor.
When looking for a trip lever, you need to know 5 things:
- Where the trip lever is mounted on the outside of the tank
- How the trip lever is mounted to the tank
- How the trip lever is angled toward the flush valve
- How far it is from where the trip lever is mounted to the flapper chain
- What kind of chain or connection the flapper has
Installing Your New Trip Lever
Once you've found the trip lever you want, all you really need to do is (CAREFULLY!) remove your tank lid, unhook the existing lever from the flapper, and unscrew it from the tank. Take your new trip lever, place it in the hole where your old trip lever was and secure it. Remember that because of the way a lever works, the locknuts for most toilet trip levers will be reverse threaded so be sure you're turning things the correct way. When you've secured the trip lever and are ready to hook up your flapper, make sure you've got just enough slack in the chain to ensure the flapper is sealing tightly over the flush valve yet is still lifting all the way when you push down on the trip lever.
For a quick tutorial on changing your trip lever and a visual on how this process works, check out the video below.
If you have an adjustable style trip lever, watch this video for installation help.
Trip Lever FAQs
Q. "How do I tell what type of mount my trip lever is?"
A. There are several ways trip levers are mounted; the style will depend on the manufacturer's shape of the tank, and the location of the flush valve. The styles are angle mount, side mount, front mount, right-hand mount, and offset. The angle mount typically has a 45° angle in the arm so that it can reach the flush valve located near the center of the tank. The side mount trip lever is for toilets that need a trip lever on the left side of the toilet tank (when standing and facing the toilet). Front mount toilets are one of the more common styles, and are mounted on the left/front of the tank (unless it is noted as "right hand mount"). Right hand mount is located on the right/front side of the tank. The offset trip lever has a long arm, and is angled to work around a less commonly angled tank shape.
Q. "What are trip levers usually made of? What's the best kind?"
A. Some trip levers have a metal handle and brass arm; however, as more and more homeowners opt to replace parts themselves, plastic replacement trip levers have become more readily available as a less expensive alternative. The metal trip levers are of superior quality when compared to plastic, and will far outlast them. Unfortunately, plastic trip levers are more likely to deteriorate than the all metal ones, making replacement more likely, more often. Additionally, brass levers are easier to adapt to odd tank shapes if you can't find an original tank lever, as you can simply bend the lever to place it where you want it. Note, however, that bent or altered trip levers cannot be returned.
Other Toilet Parts
Bolt kits and gaskets and tanklids - oh my!
While the "Big 4" - fill valve, flush valve, flapper, and trip lever - tend to be the main focus of most repairs, there are plenty of other small toilet parts that should also be well maintained to help avoid leaks and other toilet troubles. For instance, if you have a two piece toilet, the tank to bowl gasket is your first line of defense against leaks between the tank and bowl. As it gets worn, it can start to harden and crack or simply be so squished that it doesn't fill the space as well as it used to, and you end up with water all over the place. Just like with the gasket, sometimes your tank to bowl bolts and washers can become so worn or corroded that they spring a leak. Whenever you replace your flush valve, we strongly recommend also replacing your gasket and your bolt set to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.
Aside from these two important components, there are a myriad of small, maybe less critical things that can break or deteriorate. For instance, if you lose your toilet bowl bolt covers (those little caps on the base of the toilet), the bolts holding your toilet to the floor will corrode much more quickly. Constant gross smells coming from the toilet can indicate you need a new wax ring where your toilet attaches to the floor drain. If the float rod of your fill valve isn't lifting properly, you may need a new cap for the fill valve. Bulges in the supply line can burst and cause a leak. If mishandled, tank lids can crack and leave your toilet's inner workings exposed. While this won't affect the function of your toilet, it certainly doesn't do much for the aesthetic of your bathroom. We're not trying to psych you out by mentioning all the things that can go wrong, the point is - your toilet is a complete fixture and every part needs to be in good shape for it to function at its best.
Replacing Toilet Tank-to-Bowl Gaskets
If you're performing repairs to your toilet or need to remove the tank from the bowl for any reason, it's always a good idea to change your gaskets and bolts (especially if you haven't in a while) to make sure everything is still leak-proof. It's an inexpensive and easy way to help keep things in good working order.
Miscellaneous Toilet Parts FAQs
Q. "I have looked everywhere and just can't find the toilet tanklid that I am looking for. Can you help me?"
A. Don't give up hope. We have the largest toilet tank lid inventory in the entire United States and always have more lids coming in or lids that haven't been categorized yet. If you've looked over our EXTENSIVE TANK LID INVENTORY, and still can't find the lid you're looking for, we provide a free tank lid search service and probably can help you locate your antique and unique toilet tank lid very quickly. Just click here to read all about our free toilet tank lid detective and research service.
Q. "I've replaced the 'bad' wax gaskets on my toilet a few times, and my toilet still leaks! What else can I do?"
A. Generally wax doesn't "go bad" on a standard floor-mounted toilet, as its function is not to prevent leaks. Wax on a floor-mounted toilet is there to prevent odors. If you are experiencing a leak coming from underneath the floor-mounted toilet, you probably have a partial (or full blown) toilet stoppage down the drain line (or the toilet is cracked in the bowl). Also, make sure the leak isn't coming from above and dribbling down the back of the toilet, as this is a "typical" undetected problem. If you aren't sure where the leak is coming from, try putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank and waiting a few hours.
Colored, themed, wood, or plastic - your toilet seat CAN be fantastic!
Toilet seats don't have to be boring. In fact, we offer a HUGE selection of toilet seats - from seats in over 97 colors and various wood types to designer butterfly seats and unique guitar-shaped seats. Whatever your bathroom décor, chances are we have a seat that matches.
50 Shades of White
No, we're not talking about Barry, Ron, or Betty. We're talking about toilet seats. And while there aren't quite 50, we do offer 7 different shades of "white" toilet seats. If you've ever painted a house or shopped for clothing, you know that there are varying shades of what can be considered "white" - and toilet seats are no exception. Colors on a computer screen can show up differently depending on monitor settings, browser settings, and hardware capabilities, so please be aware that our images are representational only and may not be an EXACT match to your old seat. If you need an exact match, we recommend using our color match chips to choose your toilet seat.
How to Measure a Toilet Seat
It is estimated that the average person spends over 3 years of their life sitting on the toilet, and many bathroom readers are at risk of becoming permanently attached to the fixture. Which is why choosing a comfortable, well-made toilet seat is extremely important. However, you have to make sure your toilet seat actually fits your toilet. The majority of toilets are standard sized - meaning a "will fit" seat is sufficient for safety and comfort. Some toilets, however, have uniquely shaped bowls and require a specific seat, like the Eljer Emblem. It really isn't a good idea to use a toilet seat that is either much too big or much to small, unless they have been specifically designed to fit normal toilets, as the toilet seat can wobble and cause you to slide around, or won't distribute your weight evenly and could eventually cause cracks in the bowl.
Most toilets in North America come in two standard sizes: Round and Elongated/Extended. Use this simple measurement to determine what size toilet seat you'll need for your toilet. Please note, the dimensions shown here are approximate and are to be used to determine which style toilet seat you have, they are not necessarily an exact size measurement. As long as the seat reasonably fits over the toilet bowl and distributes the weight evenly, it is a "good" fit.
Today on This Old Toilet: How to Install a Toilet Seat
For more detailed information about installing various types of toilet seats, check out How to Install Toilet Seats.
Toilet Seat FAQs
Q. "Which material do you feel makes a better seat, plastic or wood?"
A. The pressed wood seats that are manufactured today are generally well made. Wood seats don't tend to "wiggle" much and should last 5 - 20 years (depending on usage and cleaning methods). If you drop the seat's lid a lot, the paint will wear off. Plastic seats come in many grades and thicknesses. The lower priced ones tend to "wiggle" and move around while you are sitting on them. If you are going to buy a plastic seat, we strongly suggest that you pay extra and get a thick seat. The paint won't wear off and a good quality, thick plastic toilet seat can't be beat. They are more expensive but worth the price.
Q. "Are all of your toilet seats made by the original manufacturers of the toilets?"
A. Many toilet manufacturers put their name on the seats that came with or were recommended for their toilets, but the seats were produced for them by another manufacturer. The same is true for most replacements manufactured today. Some of the replacements we offer are made for a specific toilet, but are not made by the manufacturer of the toilet. Note that there are many obsolete toilets still in use today, but those models haven't been manufactured for many years. For example, the Case Model 1000 (round front) was first manufactured in 1950, and their Model 1100 (elongated front) was first produced in October of 1952. Many are still in use in homes all over the country even though they haven't been in production for many, many years. The Case replacement seats we offer for these models will fit these Case toilets, but please note that they will only work with the noted Case models. Before purchasing ANY replacement toilet seat, please be sure that you measure your seat and compare to the listed dimensions for the seat you are considering. For some seats, the pictures that are used to show the dimensions appear to be the same, but the dimensions clearly are not. Please refer to the dimensions depicted rather than to the pictures.
Q. "There seems to be a seam or a line in the plastic toilet seat I received. Is this a crack or a weak spot?"
A. Per the manufacturer, there is a line that is sometimes visible at the front of the seat, usually just to the left or right of center. This is known as the "mold line" or "seam line", where the liquid plastic molds (or "knits") together during the manufacturing process. The line is usually more noticeable in darker seats, and runs the length of the seating rim in that spot on the seat. It"s important to note that it is not a weak point in the seat and will be smooth to the touch.