Toilets are difficult things to know. They’ve been built pretty much the same way for hundreds of years, so you can’t really tell how old they are. It might not work very well all the time, but you can’t tell if that’s normal or not. Plus, there’s that never unacknowledged but omnipresent feeling that it’s you–you’re somehow doing something wrong in there.
Luckily, it’s someone’s job to understand toilets so you don’t have to. Specifically, it’s our job. If you think it might be time to replace a toilet but you just don’t know, start here. You should seriously consider getting your personal “oval office” replaced if…
…It clogs once a week or more
Every toilet clogs once in awhile. How often a toilet clogs depends on the strength of its flush, the cleanliness of its drain pipes, and what it’s trying to flush. If your toilet clogs more than once a month–or even once a week!–it’s probably because mineral deposits have built up around the top of the drain or in the drain pipes themselves.
Mineral deposits get caught on the sides of a pipe and harden. Over time, the deposits accumulate, until they form a bottleneck that makes it harder for water and waste to pass through your pipes. These deposits happen more frequently when a toilet is old or has a weak flush, because the toilet doesn’t have the power to blast the minerals away from the drain pipe. If you want to make doubly sure your toilet is the problem before you replace it, you could have your drain pipes professionally cleaned. If your drain pipes are clean and your toilet still clogs, it’s time for a new one.
…The tank or bowl are cracked or leak significantly
Toilets and bathtubs are made of porcelain because it’s waterproof, sanitary, and durable. Unfortunately, however, porcelain isn’t perfect–it can crack. Even if your toilet isn’t leaking now, hairline cracks and fractures grow, because even a tiny crack compromises the resistance of the entire structure.
Look for cracks or leaks when you clean your toilet. Feel around the wax sealing at the base of the toilet, check the intake pipe behind the toilet, and look in and out of the tank as well as the bowl. Some cracks and leaks can be safely repaired without replacing the entire toilet, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have a crack in your toilet that’s actively leaking, you should get it replaced immediately. If your toilet does enough water damage, it could wind up crashing through the bathroom floor. That’s a mess you don’t want to clean up. Trust us…
…Your water bill is very high, and getting higher
Like frequent clogs, a high water bill isn’t exactly a smoking gun. There are plenty of non-related reasons why your water bill could be high. Try looking for places where you could cut down on water use. If you still can’t seem to bring the bill down, the toilet may be the problem.
As toilets get older, they have to work harder to do their jobs. Harder work means more water. Even if your toilet functions effectively, it’s also possible that it’s simply an old design that uses a lot of water. If you’re worried about your water bill, consider replacing your old toilet with a modern low-flow model. The new low-flow toilets work just as effectively as any other type of toilet, and you’ll save a surprising amount on your bill.
…The toilets wobble or shift when you sit on it
This is a bad sign. Toilets should absolutely never wobble, shift, or wiggle. It’s not you, and it’s not something you’re doing. If you can move a toilet around by doing anything less intense than swinging a sledgehammer at it, that toilet should be replaced. Incorrectly seated and sealed toilets could leak, damage plumbing, or even compromise the structural integrity of the home.
First thing’s first: check the bolts in the seat and tighten as needed. Hopefully, it’s just that simple. If the toilet still shifts and moves, however, you should call a plumber right away. Don’t use the toilet until they’ve had a chance to look at it. A pro might be able to fix the toilet without replacing it, but chances are a wobbly toilets’ time has come. Don’t wait to call, either–if the problem isn’t the toilet then it could be the floor underneath it. You definitely want to fix that, too, and fast.
In general, toilets are pretty simple to operate and repair. Almost any part can be removed and replaced relatively easily and quickly. The flipside of the toilet’s low maintenance nature is, when it has a problem, the stakes are high. Damaged toilets can do some truly extensive, expensive, and… stinky damage to a home.
If you’re worried about the state of your toilet, give us a call today. We can perform a thorough inspection and let you know exactly what your old commodes’ deal is. If you decide it’s time for your toilet to go to the big bathroom in the sky, we can even replace it for you too.