It's easy to take toilets for granted--until, that is, one day they stop working. That's the cue for most people to panic and reach for the phone to call a plumber. But, believe it or not, many common toilet problems can be easily fixed by even a complete amateur. If you would like to learn more about making basic toilet repairs, read on. This article will explain how to fix two of the most common toilet issues. 

1. Weak Flush

Does it usually take two--or even three--flushes to clear your bowl? If so, the problem has to do with the amount of water flowing into the bowl from the tank. More often than not, hard water deposits are the culprit.

Water flows into the bowl from the tank through holes on the inside rim of the toilet. Because these holes are relatively small, they can easily become clogged by hard water deposits. The easiest way to fix this problem is by using a toothpick (or other appropriately sized wooden implement) to manually clear each hole. Just be sure not to use a metal tool, as these can easily chip the porcelain.

2. Tank fills repeatedly

You're probably familiar with this phenomenon: you've just flushed the toilet and everything seems okay. But then a few minutes later you heard the water in the tank suddenly come on again-and then yet again a few minutes later. This is generally an indication that water is slowly leaking out of the tank.

There's an easy--and colorful--way to test for the cause of this problem. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. Wait a few minutes, then go back and take a look at the water in the bowl; if it's colored, then you know that water is leaking from the tank into the bowl.

This problem is almost always caused by the flapper, that circular rubber seal at the bottom of the tank. First, check that there isn't some obstruction keeping the flapper from closing all the way. You wouldn't believe the kinds of things that end up in toilet tanks--especially in houses with children.

If you can't find anything physically obstructing the flapper, then you've got a pretty good indication that the flapper itself needs to be replaced. This usually has to do with age; after several years at the bottom of a toilet tank, a rubber flapper tends to crack and deteriorate. Luckily, a new flapper is not only cheap, but relatively easy to install.

Bottom Line

Certain toilet problems will require the intervention of a professional plumber, like Roto-Rooter, there's no doubt about it. But others are fairly simply to repair--even for those who have never taken the lid off a toilet tank before! The tips outlined above should prove sufficient to help you fix two of the more common toilet problems.