The Guide to Toilet Troubleshooting: When to DIY and When to Call the Pros

You don’t ever want your toilet to stop working correctly. Unfortunately, sometimes it decides to cause problems anyway. When your toilet starts acting up, do you know when it’s something you can solve on your own and when it’s too complicated for DIY?

Here are some common problems you might run into. Learn when you can perform a minor fix on your own and when to call Muncie’s pros to get your toilet working again.

The Toilet Water Keeps Running

Why it happens: A toilet usually runs constantly due to a fault with the flapper. The flapper seals the valve opening between the tank and the bowl, opening to refill the bowl after a flush. If it leaks, the water will constantly run as it attempts to refill the tank for the next flush. It may also be a problem with a fill valve full of debris that prevents the water shutoff mechanism from working.

Do it yourself: Remove the tank lid and set it aside carefully. Check that the flapper seals correctly with the bottom valve of the tank and that its chain is hanging straight and untangled. You can find the flapper easily by moving the flush handle and noting which piece lifts into the air when the handle is depressed. Simply manually reseating the flapper may solve your problem; check with another flush.

When to call the pros: If reseating the flapper doesn’t work, call a professional plumber to replace the flapper or the entire flush valve assembly. We can also clear out a blocked fill valve.

Your Toilet’s Not Filling up with Water

Why it happens: A damaged or out-of-place fill tube may cause a low water level in the toilet bowl. Clogged inlet holes in the bowl may also prevent water from reaching the toilet.

Do it yourself: Make sure the fill tube (a thin, usually plastic water line) is positioned over or leads into the overflow tube (the pipe in the middle of the tank).

Use a handheld mirror to check the inlet holes in your toilet bowl, just under the rim. If they’re blocked, pour hot vinegar into the overflow tube and let it sit overnight. Use something rigid, like wire, to clear out the blockage.

If your water level is constantly too low, find your manufacturer’s instructions for how to adjust the water level in the toilet bowl. You may need a screwdriver to adjust the float arm.

When to call the pros: It’s time for an expert if the fill tube or toilet bowl is damaged or cracked. If your toilet bowl still doesn’t fill after troubleshooting, call for repairs.

No Water in the Toilet Tank

Why it happens: If your toilet tank is not filling with water, there may be a problem with the water supply valve or the float arm.

Do it yourself: Check the water in other areas of your home; do you have water in the rest of your house, or is this a larger problem than just your bathroom? Inspect your toilet’s water supply line to ensure it’s open. Try readjusting the float arm if there’s just a little water in the tank.

When to call the pros: If your water supply lines are open and adjusting the float arm doesn’t work, schedule an appointment with a professional plumber. Avoid using this toilet until it’s fixed.

What to Do When the Toilet Clogs

Why it happens: In most cases, something flushed down the toilet isn’t moving through the pipes correctly and has gotten lodged instead of passing into your sewage pipes.

Do it yourself: If water doesn’t stop filling the bowl or your toilet is overflowing, turn off the water supply valve to prevent more overflow. If it's not, skip right to plunging. Fit the rubber head snuggly over the drain in the toilet bowl, pushing up and down with short, sharp motions. You may have to repeat this process if the toilet still drains incorrectly.

When to call the pros: Get professional help if the toilet doesn’t unclog after a few rounds of plunging. The blockage may be too deep in the pipe to dislodge without special tools. If the same toilet clogs repeatedly, an expert plumber can diagnose and resolve your issue.

When Calling it In Should Be the First Step

Some problems will always need professional expertise and tools to solve. Immediately call the experts for repairs if:

  • You smell sewage.

  • There’s heavy leaking under or around your toilet.

  • Your toilet bowl or tank has visible cracks.

  • You’ve encountered the same problem repeatedly.

  • The toilet is overflowing with sewage.

  • Something other than waste is clogging your toilet.

  • Any parts of your toilet are broken or cracked.

  • You can’t pinpoint the source of the problem.


If your broken toilet is overflowing or if you’ve only got one toilet in your home, call for emergency plumbing services.

You Can Always Call the Pros for Jobs Big and Small

At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Muncie, we’re always ready to handle your plumbing jobs, no matter the size. Whether you’re faced with a big plumbing emergency or a minor inconvenience, you can always call us without trying something yourself first. (We won’t tell.)

Ready for service? Give us a call at (765) 248-3693 or book an appointment online.