Most people understand how to flush a toilet, close the lid, and dust it up. If anything wrong happens to the tank, very few would dare open it up for investigations. Instead, they would quickly give their plumber a call.
Full disclosure, the toilet tank has a few parts, and most of them are easy fixes. You don’t need to go to school to learn that. Simply as your queries on Google or better yet, search for YouTube tutorials to guide you through the process.
We know not everyone is DIY-star, but it only takes a willing heart to get your toilet tank up and running. Believe it when we say, once a plumber arrives at your place and fixes your problem up in a minute or two, you would still part with a lot.
Now that we’ve got your attention, how about we go through all the parts of a toilet tank and a few easy fixes that would save you a lot of bucks down the line? Sounds good, right? Yes of course. Now let’s get cruising.
Toilet Anatomy: Parts of a Toilet Tank
While there are many types and models of toilets, most of them sport the following parts:
Flushing Handle- Yes, let’s start from the outside and head inside. The flushing handle is what you hold and twist to flush the toilet. They can be made of metal with a chrome finish or from plastic. Handles can be positioned to the front or side and sometimes at an angle.
Lift Lever- The flush handle/arm seen from the outside is connected to the interior flushing mechanism by a trip lever, also called lift lever. This part is usually brass or plastic (for cheap toilets) and connects to the flapper valve chain. The handle and lift lever are locked in place by a lever nut.
The Lift Chain- This is a short-chain connecting the flapper valve to the trip lever. It allows the valve to lift up so water can flow down the toilet bowl.
Flush Valve- A flush valve is a unit that actuates flushing and composes of the flapper, overflow tube, and the hole where the water goes through into the bowl. There are many types of flush valves, and their height too differs. The common ones include standard flush valves (2-inch), 3-inch flush valves, 3-inch tower-style 3-inch flush valves, 4-inch, and dual-flush valves.
Flapper Valve- This is one of the core parts of a toilet tank and sits to the bottom foaming a seal that stops water from flowing down to the bowl until when a flushing command is issued by the handle.
At this point, for easy understanding, let’s assume you have flushed the toilet. Now a refilling cycle begins.
Water Supply Valve- This isn’t practically part of the tank because it lies on the outside. The supply valve feeds the tank with water via a short hose pipe. You can turn it on and off.
Fill Valve- The fill valve brings water back into the tank for another session of flushing. It includes the refill tube and the float. There are 5 main types of fill valves, and the list includes float-less valve, plunger/piston valve, plastic body diaphragm fill valve, brass body fill valve, and float cup fill valve.
Refill Tube- This is a part of the fill valve that also helps with the tank refill process. Its water flows into the overflow tube and the flush valve.
Overflow Tube- This part of the fill valve drains any excess water in the tank straight into the bowl. This prevents water overflow from the tank.
Float Ball- This is the part of the fill valves that automatically turns it off once the water reaches the desired level in the tank. Not all toilets feature float balls. Some have a simple cup-like floater connected to the top of the fill valve tube via a float adjustment screw.
Float Arm- The float arm is a metallic rod that connects the float ball to the fill valve.
Tank Bolt- On either side of the bottom of the tank lies two holes where tank bolts pass-through for securing it strongly onto the bowl.
Common Toilet Tank Problems
The toilet tank consists of connected metal and plastic parts that need frequent replacement. As such, you should expect them to fail from time to time. Let’s go over a few toilet tank problems you can expect and how to fix them.
- Ghost flushing (toilet flushes itself)
It’s not uncommon to find a toilet leaking water down the bowl intermittently. This is called ghost flushing and wastes water. The culprit here could be the refill valve, flapper, or the entire flush valve.
It is problematic for the refill valve to go too deep inside the overflow tube. In this case, you need to pull it out and connect it to the top of the overflow tube. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then check if the flapper is damaged or full of debris. A damaged flapper would need to be replaced, but if it’s dirty, then wipe off the debris and attach it back to the overflow tube.
For toilets with a float ball, you can lift the rod and listen if dripping stops. If it does, then all you need to do is adjust the float using the float adjustment screw. The next step is to flush the toilet and let it refill to see if the leaking stops.
Is the toilet still dripping? Then in this case, you might need to do away with the entire flush valve and get a new one. They usually come for as low as $12. The price varies depending on the quality, model, and brand.
If the toilet is leaking from the outside, then you need to check on the water supply line, seals connecting the tank and bowl, and the fill valve bottom. In the latter case, the problem is as simple as tightening the locknut under the tank. Sometimes you may first need to remove the fill valve and clean the bottom before re-assembling the parts.
Leaks coming from under the tank could be an indication that the seals and washers need either cleaning or complete replacement. While the seals are easy to get, the washers may not. In this case, getting a new flush valve may be way easier. In case you get stuck, simply slide over to YouTube and search how to replace a toilet seal and you’ll get quite a handful of helpful guides.
- Corroded handle
With time, the toilet handle will become broken from frequent use. Some get corroded by hard water and would need complete replacement. The good thing is, handles are easy to get and replace.
- A toilet flushes with little water
If your toilet flashes with little water, then it is possible the float locked the fill valve way too early. For those whose toilets have a ball float, you’ll need to ensure it doesn’t stick to the tank’s wall. It should also not drop into the water too early during flushing.
For those whose modern toilets sport a cup-like float, try to adjust its level by either moving it up and down. For this to happen, you first need to reach its back and toggle a switch that loosens it for mobility. Once that happens, bring it up so the tank can accommodate more water. After doing this, you need to loosen the screw holding the float so it can move freely to lock water inflow.
If written instructions are hard to follow, then check out YouTube videos on how to adjust water level in a toilet tank.
If your toilet tank itself is cracked or broken, there is no other option but to buy another one. At this point and when buying flash and fill valves, you must consider compatibility. Otherwise, you would end up dealing with returns or worse, a kit that can’t be used. Check out our guide for the toilet repair kits.
In case some parts match, others like screws can fail to, and this leads us to another important point. Never throw away screws, nuts, and bolts for your toilet. They could easily be used again or in the future and save you the pain and hassle of looking for new ones.
You cannot expect a mechanic to solve a car problem when they don’t understand all the parts of a vehicle, can you? The same goes for you. In order to fix your toilet tank problems, you first need to be familiar with all the internal parts.
Furthermore, if you don’t want to fix faults all the time, consider investing in only the best toilets. We hope this information helps save money that could have otherwise gone into the plumber’s pocket from time to time.