Why maintain your toilet?
Most people are afraid to fiddle with household plumbing. We understand that, but the best thing you can do for your home’s plumbing is also the easiest: maintain it. Toilets are often the most-used fixture in a home. They also have the potential to be the messiest and most expensive if they aren’t used properly and maintained effectively. With these toilet maintenance tips, you can keep your toilet happy and clean throughout its long life.
Give your toilet an inside look every six months
Doing so will help you make sure the components are still in good condition and functioning properly. Take the cistern lid off and flush the toilet. Then watch the components work. Make sure the flapper (a valve that allows the cistern to empty into the toilet bowl beneath, through a mechanism called a siphon) is sealing well and that the fill valve stops running at an appropriate water level.
Check for leaks
If you suspect you have a leaky toilet, first check the water level in the toilet’s cistern. Make sure that the water is not overflowing by way of the overflow pipe (the pipe in the middle of the tank with a small piece of tubing connected to it).
If water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve until the water stops approximately 2.5 centimetres below the top of the overflow tube. There may be a water-level mark stamped on the side of the cistern. Test the flush valve mechanism by putting a few drops of food colouring into the cistern. Then check the bowl after 15 minutes. If the water in the toilet bowl has changed colour, the ball or flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.
Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket
Do not flush facial tissue, cotton balls, makeup pads, sanitary products or disposable nappies down the bowl as they do not dissolve and can clog the waste pipes. Keep a trash container in each toilet area and toss these items away instead.
Top toilet maintenance tip: Blue in-cistern tablets are a no-no
While these popular in-cistern tablets create lovely blue water in your toilet bowl, they contain chemicals that corrode the flush valve and washers. They can also get stuck against the flapper and stop it from sealing closed. This leads to the water in the cistern running through into the toilet bowl continuously, wasting countless litres of water.
In-cistern tablets are not environmentally friendly either. Do not use them if you have a septic tank on your property. They contain chlorine and anionic surfactants (a primary component of cleaning detergents), which are known to have toxic effects on aquatic organisms. These chemicals are also harmful to naughty pets who drink from the toilet bowl. Keep this high up on your toilet maintenance tips list.
Clean your toilet regularly with a mild cleaner
Vinegar, baking soda, or a mild soap are all great for regular porcelain cleaning. Not only does cleaning your toilet help you keep a more hygienic, better-smelling toilet area, it also gives you the opportunity to spot a leak or a problem with your toilet’s plumbing fairly quickly.
Chemical drain cleaners: yes or no for toilet maintenance?
There are mixed opinions about using chemical drain cleaners to unclog your toilet, mainly because they are risky. They are harmful to your health if accidentally splattered on your skin, consumed, or even inhaled too much. They can also damage older fixtures and pipes. Plus, these chemicals really aren’t the ones we want in our water systems. Chemical drain cleaners cause trouble for homes with septic systems as they kill off the good bacteria in the tanks.