Which Toilet Maintenance Tasks Are Essential Before Christmas Arrives?

A houseful of family members and other visitors can turn into a disaster if you experience toilet issues. There are some potential problems that you should address before the big day arrives. 

Your toilet

You should be sure that your toilets are in proper working order. Even though you may know the secret of flushing your toilet successfully is to push the handle down as far as possible, your guests will not be aware of this trick. Inspect all working parts of the toilet, such as:

The handle and flapper

Your toilet handle has an inner arm that is connected by a small chain to the flapper, which opens to drain water from the tank and closes to allow the tank to fill. If the chain is attached with too much slack, the handle must be depressed as far as possible to pull the flapper open and allow the toilet to flush.

Conversely, if the chain is too tight, the handle may pull the flapper open beyond its normal capacity.The flapper closes because of the pressure of water entering the toilet tank, so if the flapper is opened beyond a ninety degree angle, the water pressure will force it backwards and the tank drain will remain fully open. The toilet will then be unable to refill.

Either of these scenarios would cause embarrassment to guests, but they can easily be avoided by removing the toilet tank lid and peering inside as you flush the toilet. If the chain looks slack, or the flush handle requires extra effort to open the flapper, move the hook that attaches the chain to the flush handle arm to a hole closer to the handle. There are multiple holes in the arm for chain adjustment.

If the flapper opens to a position that is beyond perpendicular to the tank bottom, move the chain to a hole that is farther from the toilet handle.

The toilet fill valve

While the tank lid is off, check the water level after the tank has filled, to see if the water reaches the marked fill line in the tank. If it is far below the fill line, the toilet bowl may not fill sufficiently to meet the flushing needs of some of your guests, and may cause an embarrassing stoppage or even an overflow as your guest attempts to flush the stopped toilet repeatedly in a state of panic.

You can adjust the fill valve by grasping the top of the valve and turning it counterclockwise. This will cause the top portion, which contains the shutoff mechanism, to rise. The top portion of the fill valve should be one inch below the top of the overflow tube, which is an open tube in the center of the tank.

The toilet drain

If your toilet drains slowly, it is at risk for a blockage, especially around the holidays as it is used much more than normal. You can attempt to use a plunger to loosen or dislodge any blockages that may have accumulated in the drain line. Never use chemical drain cleaners in a toilet, because they will corrupt the wax seal beneath the toilet and cause a leak.

If plunging is unsuccessful, you may need to hire a drain cleaning service or anyplumbing services provider to clear the drain before disaster strikes.