Posts tagged ‘toilet’

How to unclog a toilet

How to test for a leaky toilet

It’s a helpless feeling when it happens. You flush the toilet and instead of going down, the water starts rising. You watch as the water, toilet paper and anything else that happens to be in the toilet slowly inches its way to the rim of the bowl. Your heart races, you palms get sweaty, and a hopeless feeling of panic sets in as you brace for the flood. Clogged toilets are a nightmare to deal with but if you know what you’re doing you can help avert a disaster.

Determine if your toilet is really plugged:

There are occasions when you toilet seems like it’s plugged when in fact it really isn’t. In order for a toilet to flush properly it needs to have a certain amount of water rush into the bowl at a certain speed. If there isn’t enough water, or if it doesn’t enter the bowl fast enough, the toilet won’t have the suction it needs to create a proper flush.  Over time the ports that are at the top rim of the toilet bowl can become choked off by calcium and lime deposits from your water. When these ports get plugged the toilet does not get the rush of water that it needs.

lime scale calcium build up toilet bowl flush de-limer de-scaler mineral deposit calcified calcium calcified limed plugged clogged unplug unclog cleaner

Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner

To take care of the problem you need to get yourself a good de-limer. The best one the we have fond is a product called Santeen Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Our plumbers dry off the rim of the toilet and then duct tape over the ports. This keeps thesanteen from jut pouring through the ports and lets it really work its magic. Pour the de-limer into the overflow tube located in the toilet tank (it has the flapper attached to it). Let the Santeen eat away at the lime build up for about 15 minutes. Take the tape off of the ports. Be careful not to get the Santeen on your hands (gloves are recommended , it’s nasty stuff). Pour more Santeen into the overflow to flush anything more out of the toilet. You should see all kinds of nastiness come out. Try flushing the toilet again, you should see marked improvement.

If you’re worried about an overflow you should shut-off the supply of water to the toilet. The shut-off  is found on the left down behind the toilet. Turn it until it stops the flow of water.

power plunger toilet clog plug removal unplug unclog clean out plumbing plumber flush how to

The “Power Plunger” by Harvey

Next you need to get a plunger. Use a plunger that has a pull out that will make a good seal in the bottom of the bowl. A good one  that you can use is the Harvey power plunger. Plungers that do not have the pull out option will not make a great seal and therefore will not have the push that the power plunger has.  A plunger is used to force whatever is blocked in the toilet through.

If you cannot get the block taken care of by pushing it trough you may need to use something that pulls the blockage out. To do this you ill need a toilet auger (also called a toilet snake).  A toilet auger is used to grind through and/or grab a blockage. Be careful when inserting the toilet auger into the toilet bowl not to scratch t bowl with the spring on the auger. Marks left by the auger will be very difficult to remove. Slide the auger down into the bend at the bottom of the bowl. Extend the cable out into the toilet until you hit a blockage. Gently turn the handle and grind or grab the blockage and pull it back out. Be careful if you find resistance don’t force it. If the spring binds and then releases violently you could potentially crack he porcelain of the toilet from the inside. After removing the blockage turn the water back on and attempt to flush again.

Toilet auger snake plug clog unclog unplug clean out repair plumber plumbing

How to auger out a toilet

Along Came Polly toilet scene – YouTube.

If you have any questions, comments, or if you want to schedule a plumber contact us at 763-551-8990

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at and on Facebook at


How to Repair a Leaking Toilet?

Plumbing and Hardware Maple Grove, MN

Have you ever been brushing your teeth at night and suddenly you hear the toilet refill on its own. It’s what we here at LeVahn Bros. Plumbing like to call a “ghost flush”. A ghost flush occurs when the water that is in the tank leaks out and the tank refills itself .  A toilet is a simple mechanical device that can be explained as follows. The toilet bowl is the area that waste is deposited (i.e. the business end of the toilet that we are all to familiar with). The tank is on the back of the toilet and it’s job is to hold water that is going to be used to “flush” out the contents of the bowl. This is the behind the scenes workings of a toilet that confuse the bejesus out of us. When we flush a toilet we push down on the flush handle which lifts the flapper up allowing the water to enter the bowl and expel its contents. The same flush could be done with a bucket of water but that’s  a bit of a pain to have to refill each time. When the water level in the tank goes down, the fill valve turns on to bring the water back up to a preset level.

Toilet Tank

When a “ghost flush” occurs it is because water is leaving the tank. After a while the water level lowers in the tank until it reaches the point when the fill valve turns on to bring the water level back up. There’s only two places for the water to go when it leaves a tank. The first place it could go is that it’s leaking out of the toilet itself. If this is occurring you would probably see evidence of water on the floor or on the base of the toilet. The most likely causes of this are: 1) you have a crack in your tank. 2) you have water leaking out through the holes where the tank bolts are. 3) your tank to bowl gasket is leaking. If your tank is cracked we would recommend that you buy a new toilet. You could also attempt to seal it with a two-part epoxy that can be applied when the surface is wet. If you have a leak occurring through the tank to bowl bolts you will need to replace the washers under the bolts. To do this you will first need to shut the water off to the toilet. Then you will drain the tank by flushing the toilet and sponging out any remaining water. Finally remove and replace the old washers with new washers that you have already purchased from your local hardware store:) If your tank to bowl gasket is leaking you will need to un-bolt the tank from the bowl and remove the old gasket. Bring the gasket as well as any make and model info you have for your toilet to the hardware store and get a replacement.

note: There is no such thing as a “universal” tank to bowl gasket so you need to make sure you get something that matches the one you removed from your toilet.

The other, more common, reason for water leaving the tank is through a faulty flapper. Normally you can not see or hear the water leaking out past the flapper. It leaks so slowly that it’s hardly detectable be sight or sound. There is a simple solution that is very effective to figure out if this is your problem. At our store we have free leak detectors that you add to the tank of the toilet.

Leaky Toilet Test

All you have to do is open up the leak detector, place it in the tank and let it work its magic. Essentially all it does it turn the water in the tank blue. What this does is  it allows you to see if water is getting past the flapper without you flushing the toilet. If you leave the toilet alone WITHOUT FLUSHING IT and after a few hours there is blue water in the bowl, you know that water is leaking past your flapper. It will look something like the picture below.

Leaky Toilet Test

Once you find out that your flapper is the problem shut the water off to the toilet flush it and remove the old flapper. Bring the flapper with you when you go to buy a new one because like toilet tank gaskets there is no such thing as a universal flapper. We must have 20 to 30 flapper styles here at our store and there are still some other unique ones out there that we don’t carry.  There are many different styles, especially since the addition of low flow toilet to the market. Here’s an image of the most common one we sell. We’ve changed over to using blue vinyl flappers when available because we’ve found that they seem to outlast the traditional black rubber models.

Toilet Flapper

There are a few reasons why a flapper goes bad. One reason is that it’s just old. The rubber doesn’t last forever and eventually it gets water-logged and broken down. The other major reason for a flapper failing is from the use of chlorine tablets in the toilet tank. Chlorine tablets are an effective way to keep your bowl looking it’s best but they eat the rubber seals in a toilet away in no time. The flapper, tank to bowl washers, and fill valve seals all get eaten away by the chlorine. If you want a very effective alternative you can use Fluidmasters  “Flush and Sparkle” bleach cartridges. We use them here in the restrooms here at our store and they do a great job of keeping the toilet clean without introducing bleach into the toilet tank (You can see the cartridge attached to the back of the toilet tank in the picture at the top of this post).

Fluidmaster Flush and Sparkle Bleach Cartridge

If you can’t find your exact flapper there may be a models that’s close enough. You may also want to clean the edge where the flapper is seating against the tank to make sure there is no debris holding up the flapper allowing water to get past. The use of a non-scratch scouring pad is advised for doing this. Whatever you do make sure you talk to someone who knows what they’re doing at the store you go in to. Nothing drives me crazier and makes me more thankful for my employees then when people tell me how incompetent the help is at the big box stores.  If that’s your only option I say, good luck to you.

Additional blogs you may be interested in-What to do for a leaky toilet, What to do for a leaky water heater, How to repair a copper pipe leak, How to repair a dripping faucet

For more Information call 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us in the Bass Lake shopping center at 12700 Bass Lake Road, Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at and at

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How to repair a Leaky Toilet

Have you ever been in the basement watching TV all by yourself and suddenly you here the toilet running? I like to call it the ghost flush. So what causes that? It likely means that your toilet flapper is not sealing anymore. The flapper is the valve inside the tank that opens when you flush letting the water exit the tank and go into the bowl.
Flappers can deteriorate over time due to in-tank cleaning products (like chlorine tablets) and also from the chemicals that the utilities put into the water. So what’s the big deal, why worry about the toilet having to refill once in awhile? Here’s why. A faulty flapper can allow water to literally go down the drain. Depending on the extent of the damage to the flapper it can allow up to 200 gallons of water a day to be lost costing you big bucks. So how do you know that it’s the flapper that’s making your toilet run? You can start by picking up a free Fluidmaster leak tester from our hardware store and place it in your toilet tank. If you see blue coloring go into the bowl of the toilet then you know the flapper is bad. Now that you’ve determined that the flapper is the problem and needs to be replaced, here’s what you should do next:

1) Shut off your water supply to your toilet. This is typically located behind your toilet bowl, below your tank, near the wall. If you don’t have a shut off to your toilet or the valve is bad you will need to shut off the water to the house. This is found in the basement, typically in a laundry or furnace room. There will be a pipe coming out of the floor with a valve on it. Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off.
2)Now that the water is turned off you should flush the toilet to remove the water out of the tank. You want as much of the water out of the tank as you can. You may need to scoop the water with a cup to get it all out.
3) Remove the flapper. Flappers are attached differently depending on the manufacturer and age of the toilet. (The directions that follow cover the most common but not all styles of flappers.) The most common style of flapper is a model in which there are two holes that fit over the plastic ears found on your fill valve. (refer to toilet diagram above). Simply slip the flapper off of the ears and then remove the chain from the handle. Older flappers may be attached by a rubber ring that slips over the overflow tube. You will need to remove the water refill tube that is attached to the top of the overflow tube in order to remove the flapper. After the refill tube is removed slip the flapper up and off the overflow tube and again unhook the chain. Another style of flapper has a hard plastic body that snaps on to the ears of the overflow tube. For this style simply unsnap the flapper from the ears and unhook the chain. Another style of flapper is an old style that is more bulb shaped. This style is attached onto a brass threaded rod that is screwed in to the flapper. With this model you just unscrew the flapper from the rod.

4) Write down the manufacturer of the toilet if you can find it. The manufacturers name is often found on the bowl near the toilet seat hinges.
5) Take your flapper with you to our hardware store. This will help us get you the correct replacement. Flappers are not universal. You will need to get the same style flapper in order for it to work properly.
6) Before you install the new flapper make sure that the rim of the outlet (what the flapper seats against) is clean. Sometimes the old flapper can leave residue on the rim or there may be calcification that won’t allow the new flapper to seat properly. If it needs cleaning use a scouring pad and scrub it clean.
7) Install the new flapper. Place the new flapper on the same way the old one came off. Leave a little bit of slack in the chain but not not too much. If there is too much slack the flapper won’t allow enough water to enter the bowl. If it’s too tight it may not allow the flapper to seat against the rim and water will be able to escape the tank into the bowl causing the “ghost flush” to occur. The easiest way is avoid trouble is to match the chain length of the old flapper.
8) Turn your water back on and make sure that the toilet is flushing properly. You can use another leak indicator to verify that the flapper is working and water is not seeping into the bowl. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the shut-off is not now leaking. Often times shut-offs valves will leak after being turned off and then back on again. If it is leaking, take a wrench and turn the nut found directly below the handle and that should solve the leak.
Visit LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove to pick up a flapper or leak detector.
For more info visit our website at
Or call us at 763-551-8990
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