Toilet Refill Problems

copyright 2001 G.G. Alonzy

Dear NH:
I need some help. Our toilet bowl does not have enough water in it! Yup, a daily mess because it doesn't flush completely most of the time. Please help us!!

Look into the toilet tank. If you have a typical residential toilet, there is a flexible rubber or plastic tube that is attached to the inlet valve. It runs to a long, vertical tube in the center of the toilet called the overflow tube. That's it… right over the flapper.

When you flush the toilet, this tube redirects some water into a vertical pipe to which the rubber flapper is attached. This additional water is what controls the level of the water in the bowl. If this tube is not supplying water... either because of a defect in the tube such as a kink, defect in the inlet valve itself, or if it has been disconnected or moved... the bowl will have too low a water level for an efficient and thorough flush.

If the tube is kinked, try to unkink it or replace it. These tubes occasionally become very stiff and even brittle when the homeowner has used bleach-containing toilet cleaning products in the tank. If you find that there is no water flowing through the tube, even though it is not kinked or blocked, your intake valve probably needs to be replaced.

If you have an unusual low flow toilet or some of the older odd brands, this won't be of much help but the concept is the same… water must somehow get into the bowl as the tank fills so that there is enough water for a proper flush. Many plumbing supply stores are happy to help you troubleshoot unusual toilets as long as you can supply some basic information. Aside from the brand name, useful information is often times stamped onto the inside of the toilet tank lid.

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