Do it yourself toilet plumbing

Written by juliette o'hara
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Do it yourself toilet plumbing
Close-coupled toilet cistern and pan combination. (bathroom with patterned green wallpaper image by nextrecord from

During its lifetime a toilet can need many types of repair. Although there are five types of toilet cistern and three types of toilet bowl (the most popular and modern being the "close-coupled" cistern and bowl combination), the basics of do-it-yourself toilet plumbing are universal. Although it may feel daunting, most toilet repair jobs can be completed in about an hour and all tools and repair parts are widely available.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Toilet plunger
  • Toilet auger
  • Tissue paper
  • Set of screwdrivers
  • Hacksaw or pipe cutter
  • Adjustable wrench/spanner set
  • Push-fit repair pipe
  • WD-40

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  1. 1

    Before trying any plumbing methods it is important that you locate and turn off the main water supply to the toilet by turning the stopcock counterclockwise.

    Do it yourself toilet plumbing
    A stopcock or main water supply tap. (pipe 'n valve image by stoffies from
  2. 2

    If you cannot find the stopcock, you may close the storage tank cold feed valve (located next to your water storage tank) using a screwdriver.

  3. 3

    Run all the cold taps and flush the toilet until the toilet cistern is completely drained.

    Removing blockages

  1. 1

    Blockages that cannot be cleared by using a drain blaster solution may need the help of a plunger.

  2. 2

    Insert the plunger into the toilet, ensuring that the rubber end is fully seated at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Push the plunger downward using pressure and then lift it gently. Repeat this motion until water begins to drain away.

  3. 3

    If the plunger doesn't fix the problem, try using a toilet auger, a long-handled length of cable that can be bought in different lengths from a hardware shops. A 90 cm (3 foot) auger is ideal for residential use.

  4. 4

    Insert the auger into the bottom of the toilet bowl slowly. Turn the auger handle while applying pressure downwards. This extends the auger's inner cable. Once fully extended, water should begin to drain out from the toilet bowl.

  5. 5

    Slowly retract the auger cable while turning the handle; this will continue breaking up any material that was originally causing the blockage.

  1. 1

    Find out where the leak is coming from by checking all connections and seals using tissue paper to blot for dampness. Common places to check are the connections on the base of a toilet, base of the cistern, top of the cistern and the water supply pipe.

  2. 2

    If the leak is coming from the base of the toilet, give the toilet pan a wiggle to see if it is loose. If it needs to be tightened, use a screwdriver on the screws that are located on either side of the toilet base.

  3. 3

    Wiggle the toilet pan again to test that there is no more movement and that it is flush.

  4. 4

    Similarly, if the leak is coming from the base of the cistern, wiggle it to see if it has come loose. If it is loose, open the cistern lid to locate the two screws that hold the tank to the wall.

  5. 5

    Tighten the two screws and wiggle the cistern to test that there is no movement, and ensure it is flush.

  6. 6

    If there is a leak from the bottom of the cistern, disconnect the water supply pipe from it, using a wrench.

  7. 7

    Remove the two screws from the inside of the cistern using a screwdriver. Lift the cistern away form the pan to reveal a rubber gasket.

  8. 8

    Check the rubber gasket that seals the area between the cistern and the toilet pan. If it is cracked or worn, lift out the rubber gasket and replace it with a new one.

  9. 9

    Put the toilet back together by placing the cistern back on top of the pan and tightening the two screws that were removed. Reconnect the water supply pipe by pushing it into place and tightening the connectors with a wrench.

  10. 10

    If the leak is coming from the top of the cistern, remove the cistern lid to check if the small plastic fill tube has loosened. If so, reconnect it by pushing it back together. If it still leaks check the large round ball called a float. If it contains water, then it will need to be replaced. Unscrew the float in a counterclockwise motion and screw on a new one in a clockwise motion.

  11. 11

    If the water supply pipe has a leak, you can make a permanent repair by using a flexible push-fit repair pipe.

  12. 12

    Cut off the area of pipe that is damaged by using a pipe cutter or hacksaw.

  13. 13

    Push a suitable length of flexible push-fit repair pipe on at both ends. Make sure the connectors fit snugly and tighten with a wrench.

  14. 14

    After completing do-it-yourself toilet plumbing, turn your water supply back on and flush your toilet to ensure that it is working properly.

Tips and warnings

  • Always lift the toilet seat when plumbing a toilet so as to prevent damage and mess.
  • If any connectors, nuts, bolts and screws are too stiff to loosen, try using a little WD-40.
  • Always have a bucket and some towels handy in case of spills.
  • Sometimes a toilet cannot be repaired, usually because hairline cracks or fractures can occur in the porcelain. There are porcelain toilet repair kits available; however, these cannot be considered a permanent solution and so a replacement toilet may be necessary.
  • Never flush a blocked toilet as this could cause it to overflow.
  • Toilets carry germs, so always wear rubber gloves and wash your hands after repairing a toilet.

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