Know your toilet

Most homes have at least two, so it pays to have some understanding of how your toilet works. If you have a basic knowledge you could save yourself hundreds of rands on minor repairs. Here are a few things that it helps to know...


Water inlet valve
In order to operate, a toilet needs water supply. The water supply inlet valve will be located close to the toilet and this valve allows you to turn the water supply on and off. If you are renovating a bathroom and removing sanitaryware, this is where you will cut off the water supply to the toilet before removing it.

The water from the inlet valve flows into the cistern (tank).

The water inlet valve passes water through the water inlet and out of the float/fill valve into the cistern.

As the ballcock/float rises with the water level, the float/fill valve closes, cutting of the water. If the ballcock arm becomes bent or damaged it will not allow the float/fill valve to close properly and water will continue to flow into the cistern. Any excess water passes into the overflow pipe (or siphon tube) and causes continuous running or dripping of water into the toilet bowl.

Flush the toilet
At the base of the overflow pipe is a 'flapper' or flush valve. As the handle is depressed, the handle arm lifts the flush valve up and allows water to flow out of the cistern and into the toilet bowl.

The water flows into the toilet bowl around the rim and activates what is known as the 'siphon effect' - flushing all water and waste out of the bowl and replacing with water from the cistern.

When the flush handle is released, the flush valve returns to its original position block off the flow of water into the toilet bowl and the cistern begins to again fill with water.

Water continuously running or dripping into the toilet.

Check that the float/fill valve is closing properly.
Check that the drain valve seats firmly into the cistern drain.
If worn, these parts can easily be replaced.

Loud 'trumpet' sounds when flushing toilet.

Occasionally the ballcock valve assembly becomes loose or bends and does not allow water to flow freely into the toilet, causing vibration or loud noise. Turn down the water supply to the toilet at the water inlet valve to see if that rectifies the problem.

You can purchase a new ballcock assembly at your local Builders Warehouse.

Flush handle is loose.

Lift the lid off the cistern and tighten the plastic bolt that holds the handle firmly in place.
Check that the clip that holds the flush arm in place on the overflow pipe has not come off. You can easily clip this back on.