If you pulled open the lid of your toilet tank right now, would you know how to spot and fix a problem there?
The task of repairing a broken flapper or flush valve might seem daunting, but it is one of the easiest home repairs that you can make today. With the average cost of labor for this work running between $75 to $125 for one project, taking the DIY approach can save you a nice chunk of change.
This ultimate guide to toilet hardware will take you through the ins and outs of what you need to get started.
How to Find the Correct Parts for Your Toilet
When something goes wrong with the hardware, you’ll hear water running, more noise than normal, or the unit will no longer flush correctly. There are times when you might experience all these elements simultaneously.
The first step you need to take when determining the repair that needs to be made is to find the model number of your fixture. You’ll typically find two different numbers. The first is the lid part number, while the second is the model number.
If you own a two-piece toilet, then you may have three model numbers – one each for the lid, tank, and bowl.
If you have a one-piece toilet, the model number is located inside of the tank by most manufacturers. It will usually be stamped or imprinted into the ceramic. Most are a four-digit number, sometimes preceded by or ending with a letter.
On two-piece toilets, the lid part number will be on the interior of the part. You’ll find the tank model number along the back that typically rests next to the wall. Then the bowl number is placed on the outside of the fixture, typically on the left when facing the unit, just underneath where the tank rests.
Once you have that information, you’ll be ready to go through the next following questions.
FAQ About Hardware and Repair
What are the most commonly replaced hardware components?
On the average toilet, the internal hardware that helps the unit to flush typically needs a replacement about once every five years. In general terms, the components that are exposed to water are usually the first ones to wear out.
What does it mean if the hardware is OEM?
OEM is an abbreviation which stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. That means the hardware comes from the original manufacturer of your fixture. It can be sold through a second company using outsourcing methods to create the parts. The contracted company must use the same specifications, materials, and resources to product the items in question.
If you see will-fit parts for a or a product that is universal, then these generally work as a replacement as well assuming that the model number is listed as a compatible part. Always review the compatibility charts, spreadsheets, or lists on products like these before finalizing your purchase because “universal” rarely applies to every operational unit in the world.
Why after I flush does the water keep running?
The most common reason for water to continue running after you have completed a flush is a flapper that requires a replacement. Try to jiggle the handle a little to see if you can get a tighter seal. Sometimes the lever will pop over the edge of the tank when you let it go, which prevents it from closing completely. If none of these tricks work, you can also try to adjust the chain in the tank before purchasing a replacement part.
Why is there a lot of white powder on the inside of my tank?
If you have hard water, the minerals left behind after the fluid evaporates will settle as a white “dust.” It looks a lot like flour or sugar. You’ll want to periodically clean your internal tank hardware when encountering this issue because this powder, which is called “scale,” can interfere with the various seals and gaskets that work to create an excellent flush.
How can I get rid of rust spots?
If the surface receives a scratch at some point, it will begin to develop rust spots, corrosion, scale contamination, and similar issues. You can typically use a cleaner that contains phosphoric acid to remove the unsightly stains. If you want to take a “softer” approach to cleaning, try using baking soda or Coca-Cola in the bowl instead. Allow the cleaner to sit for about 15 minutes or as instructed by the chemical manufacturer.
What is the easiest way to clean my toilet?
If you have general cleaning needs or a stubborn stain that won’t go away, one of the most effective tools you can have in the bathroom is a pumice stone. The hardness rating of the stone is softer than the materials used in your bowl (under most circumstances), so it won’t leave scratches like metal tools would. Lightly scrub the stain and it should go away, sometimes even without a cleaner.
How do I remove a tough clog?
If you have tried a plunger and the results were ineffective, then an auger is your next best tool. Some homeowners prefer to use a more natural method. If you have a gravity-flush model, you can use some liquid dish soap or shampoo with hot water to remove the clog sometimes. Listen to the drain to hear if there is a trickle of water moving through, otherwise adding more water may create an overflow.
What is the most common flush valve to replace?
The most common type of fill valve available today is the Fluidmaster 400A. You can use this product or any other that says it is compatible to complete a repair.
What Happens If I Use My Toilet Infrequently?
If the fixture is not refilling or flushing, then short bursts of air can begin to creep into the fill valve. If they constantly leak, you will likely need to replace the part.
You may also need to think about replacing the seal, flapper, or other internal parts in this situation because the constant presence of the water can have a degrading effect on the hardware.
When you experience ghost flushing, constant running, or repetitive overfilling, this is the likely cause of the situation.
Best Fill Valve to Use During a Repair
American Standard Universal Fill Valve
The American Standard universal fill valve is an option to consider on all of the products manufactured by this brand. You’ll receive the shank washer, valve, refill tube and clip, along with the coupling washer, nuts, and lock when you purchase this replacement part.
Although it isn’t a true universal part for all brands, it does work well for the Williamsburg, Hampton, and Colony collections (along with several other series) that are one of the most common options that you will find in American homes today.
When installing the replacement fill valve, it’s essential to remember that you will need the water level to be about a half-inch underneath the top of the overflow tube. Depths vary according to the tank on your model, so it will depend on the age and series of your unit at home to determine the final result.
You can use this fill valve as a direct replacement for most 1.6 GPF models that are available from this manufacturer today.
We found this unit to be exceptionally quiet compared to other models, providing you with a consistent user experience that quickly replaces the older part in an appropriate model. You will find it to be a fast and effective way to restore the functionality of older American Standard models and potentially any model that works with a Fluidmaster 400a. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the American Standard Universal Fill Valve.
Best Repair Kit to Use
Korky Universal Complete Toilet Repair Kit
When you need to complete an entire repair of your hardware, a repair kit is your most practical solution. You’ll receive all of the components you require to get the job done for a price that is often cheaper than what you would find when purchasing them independently.
We really liked the quality of the components that were available in the Korky Universal Complete Toilet Repair Kit. If your fixture is noisy or leaking, you’ll receive everything necessary to complete the work on a 2-inch flush system. The flush valve with this kit is easy to adjust, which allows it to work with most models.
The actual components of the hardware are constructed from chlorazone rubber and metal, which means they are resistant to bacteria and chlorine. You will receive a long-lasting experience when you complete your repair using the components from this kit thanks to that detail from the manufacturer.
Even if your fixture isn’t malfunctioning yet, older models will benefit from this kit because it’s an upgrade of the previous parts used for the hardware. Each element is designed and manufactured in Wisconsin.
You will receive a universal fill valve, a flush valve, flapper, a tank-to-bowl gasket, and all of the hardware needed to finish your work. The instructions are easy to understand and implement as well, making it possible to do an overhaul in just one trip.
You no longer need to deal with slow flushing, one that’s noisy, or a float that sticks thanks to this universal kit from Korky. Take a closer look today to see if it works with your model. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the Korky 4010PK Universal Complete Toilet Repair Kit.
Best Flush Valve to Use
Mansfield Plumb Pak
If you have an older fixture that could benefit from some new water-saving technology, then the Mansfield Plumb Pak is the flush valve to use. This option offers an instant shut-off so excessive water consumption disappears almost immediately. It won’t rust or corrode like some other models.
This kit does not come with new tank bolts if you happen to need them, but it will provide you with the shank gasket and valve seal in the box.
One of the best reasons to choose this upgrade today is that you can stop the flushing action in the middle of a lever pull, which means it’s much easier to prevent an overflow if you have a clog that prevents drainage. All you need to do to engage this mechanism is to turn the handle in the opposite direction.
Some existing fixtures may need to have a longer rod installed to take advantage of the features that come with it. You may need to perform a handle or lever upgrade as well. Most users will find that the installation or repair is a 5-minute process that will help you upgrade or replace the tank hardware.
You will need to ensure that this product works with your existing setup, so verify your fixture’s model through Mansfield Parts to ensure that you can complete this repair in a timely manner. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the Mansfield Plumb Pak.
Best Flapper to Use
Fluidmaster Universal PerforMAX Toilet Flapper
You might be surprised at how much water you are wasting when your flapper no longer works as it should. That’s why a replacement is often recommended every five years for this component. This model from Fluidmaster features their PerforMAX design that helps to solve numerous running toilet issues that households experience today.
The standard model works with two-inch flush valves. If you have a larger size, you’ll want to look for the appropriate universal model that will fit your needs. This model also works best with models that handle at least 1.28 gallons per flush.
What makes this option a superior product is the dial that’s molded onto the product itself. You can use this measurement device to ensure that your internal mechanisms receive the correct placement so that the pull chain does its job with every flush. You won’t need to worry about this product trying to twist or warp as a way to create a tight seal. It just goes up and down like a good flapper should.
You may find that some designs may cause the flapper to immediately shut off the flow of water into the bowl the moment you release the level. In this situation, you may need to engage the flush for up to 3 seconds for a full experience. It is easy to install, creates a fantastic seal, and will get the job done for you. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the Fluidmaster Universal PerforMAX Toilet Flapper.
Best Auger to Use
RIDGID K-3 Toilet Auger
One of the primary complaints that homeowners have with their toilet auger is that it leaves scratches in the finish of their bowl. With revolutionary surfaces being used to create a cleaner area with every flush, a little bit of damage can turn into a very big headache quickly.
That’s why we prefer the RIDGID K-3 auger. It offers three-feet of snaking ability with a bulb head that will help you clear out some of the toughest clogs like a pro. There is a vinyl guard in place on the product to prevent scratching too, assuming that you take the time to place it correctly before starting the work.
The handles are oversized and fit nicely in your hand, making it easy to negotiate in any model. You can spin the snake to rotate the bulb on the end to dislodge a clog. There is also the option to pull it up and down to break apart stubborn clogs.
Some clogs are deeper into the drain, so a 6-foot option from RIDGID is available as well to help you handle the worst of the worst blockages.
There are times when a plunger is strong enough to dislodge something that got stuck near the drain. If your problem is deeper in the trap, then this is the tool that will help you achieve the results you want. Remember to clean it after you’re finished to ensure that germs won’t have a place to reside when placing this tool into storage. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the RIDGID K-3 Toilet Auger.
Best Seal to Use During Installation
Plumbcraft Seal Waxless Gasket Kit
If you have an older model at home, there is an excellent chance that it’s using a wax seal over the primary drain. This product prevents leaks from escaping underneath the unit while eliminating the threat of sewer gas exposure at the same time. If you lift the fixture off of its seal for any reason, you must replace it.
Instead of using a wax seal, the best practice for installers today is to choose a waxless gasket kit that offers a universal fit for any model. Almost every modern model offers a standard rough-in of 12 inches combined with a drain size that matches every home. This product from Plumbcraft allows you to take the guesswork out of the traditional wax installation because it fits together just like a puzzle.
You’ll also gain the benefit of being able to reposition the gasket if you don’t position it correctly when you choose this option over the traditional wax seal. If something goes wrong with the latter version, you must purchase a replacement to correct the issue.
You’ll receive the silicone ring, an EVA foam ring, and then a third with bolt holes. There are solid brass snap-off bolts included in the box as well, along with metal nuts and stainless-steel washers.
This setup also makes it possible for setting your fixture above the floor even though it offers a one-size-fits all design.
Stop searching for the best wax seal, and start using this waxless product today. It’s an excellent kit with fantastic hardware that will take your bathroom experience to the next level. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the Plumbcraft Seal Waxless Gasket Kit.
Best Plunger To Use
Mr. Clean Turbo Plunger and Bowl Brush Caddy Set
If you look in the average bathroom, there is a good probability that you will find a sink plunger in there instead of one designed to help deal with a toilet clog.
Although you can use those round plungers easy enough with a little ingenuity and an extra tool or two, it is much simpler to use a product that is designed to specifically fit inside the drain.
There is the caddy for the plunger to consider as well. You need to have a place to store this bathroom tool where it won’t collect water or germs, yet still be in a useful position when you need it to be available during an emergency. That’s what this Mr. Clean setup provides for your home.
It offers a large round brush that offers easy cleaning for those weekly or as-needed chores that come up. This plunger offers an extended length and grip that gives you excellent leverage when trying to dislodge a bothersome clog.
The caddy also offers a non-slip base which allows you to place it almost anywhere in the bathroom that’s convenient. Instead of using rubber, this Mr. Clean plunger features a durable, flexible plastic that doesn’t harm the surface of the bowl under regular use.
Is this a product that people dream about owning? Of course not. It is a straightforward tool that allows you to handle the necessary chores of the bathroom. This plunger is built to last. That’s for certain. Click here to compare prices on Amazon and find the best deal on the Mr. Clean Turbo Plunger and Bowl Brush Caddy Set.
What Is an Upflush Toilet?
Upflush models make it possible to install it in locations where the plumbing design of your home would otherwise make it impossible. You can avoid the cost of an expensive change by taking advantage of the discharge system that comes with this unit.
This type comes with a powerful macerator that will reduce the size of waste particles so they can flow better with the water of the flush. It creates a slurry that can then be pushed through the newly installed waste pipe until it reaches the main drain that removes items from your home.
It’s a 3/4-inch pipe that moves this slurry, reducing many of the discharge issues that occur when a fixture sits below the main discharge pipe. You can install this system almost anywhere because a pump moves the waste throughout the system.
Some models allow you to connect a sink or shower to the system to create a half-bathroom, adding value to your property. Most people can install this option over a weekend without any prior plumbing knowledge. Once it is fully operational, the only difference between an upflush model and a traditional one is that you will hear the macerator and pump working every so often.
Most models that feature this technology will last at least 10 years before they need to have their mechanical components replaced. Look for an option that provides a 3-year warranty at the minimum to protect your investment. For more info check out our post here.
The Correct Parts Help
Finding the correct parts for your fixture is easier than you might think. The products listed here are excellent examples of universal and brand-specific kits that are useful in the way they’re designed.
Anyone can use these products and a few essential tools that almost everyone has at home to repair or upgrade today. Choose the parts that you need, and not only will it save you some time on the installation, but you will also reduce water waste and noise pollution in your home.