There are two main mechanisms inside your toilet tank that control flushing: the flush valve and the ballcock assembly also called the fill valve. The flush valve includes the handle you press down to flush and the interior attached arm that triggers the ballcock into action. If the ballcock is broken, the flushing process will immediately run into problems.
Lift the lid off your toilet tank and look inside. The tall column standing inside the tank is the ballcock assembly. The assembly is attached to your home's main water supply at the bottom and the top has some sort of mechanism that alerts the assembly when enough water has come into the tank for a refill.
Here are a few of the common signs that your toilet's ballcock assembly has a problem. You shouldn't need professional plumbing services to fix the issue; simply head to the hardware store with your old ballcock, find the matching type, and follow the installation directions.
Toilet Bowl Overflows Without a Clog
When you flush the toilet, does water from the tank refill the bowl so quickly that an overflow happens even though the drain isn't clogged? This is likely due to a broken ballcock assembly.
Specifically, the mechanism broke that's supposed to let the assembly know that flushing is over and the tank is supposed to stop pumping out water. On many modern toilets, this mechanism is a balloon-shaped plastic floater that gets pressed upward by the rising water until its connecting arm reaches a position to trigger the water to stop.
If the floater itself is damaged, water can seep inside and cause the floater to be heavier than it's supposed to be. So the floater will take much longer to float up to the shut-off level. And that amount of time can be long enough to allow your toilet to overflow. New floaters are available to purchase separately so that you don't need to replace the entire assembly.
Toilet Bowl Fails to Fill
Did you flush the toilet, wait for the tank water to refill the bowl, and see that nothing happened? The toilet bowl's failure to fill can be due a couple of different problems in the ballcock assembly.
First, if the bottom of the ballcock that's attached to the house's water has somehow become blocked with dirt, rust, or broken pieces, the water supply will be blocked from coming into the tank at full power. This means there isn't any water available to make it into the bowl.
Failure to fill can also result from a stuck flapper. The flapper is the round rubber piece on the bottom of the tank that opens and closes to start and stop water entering the bowl. The flapper attaches to the ballcock assembly with a chain. If the chain is too long, the flapper can fail to open and prevent water from entering.
Flapper and chains are available for purchase separately if that's the problem. If the water supply route is the issue, you will need to replace the entire assembly.
Toilet Keeps Running
Does it seem like your toilet is constantly running? This happens when small amounts of water from the tank continuously get through to the bowl.
A common cause is a flapper that's partly stuck open. This can happen due to rust, a flaw in the flapper, or a chain that's slightly too long and can get stuck under the flapper's edge. If the flapper looks undamaged, you can slightly shorten the chain yourself using the attaching clip.
For more information, or if you would like professional assistance, contact Aurora Plumbing and Electric Supply, Inc. or a similar company.