Common problems with toilets

February 25, 2015 - Benjamin Dowson

As plumbers, we see all kinds of problems with people’s toilets on a daily basis. Whether it is a toilet that won’t flush, or a bad clog, most people will have to deal with toilet problems at some time or another. Here are the 2 most common problems that we often see when clearing out toilets.


Calcification is a common problem in areas with hard water (like Alberta). When you flush your toilet, the agitation from the water movement takes the calcium out of the water and deposits it in the toilet bowl and around the jets. This buildup can restrict water flow through the jets, reducing the pressure that the water comes out with. The calcification process is quite slow, and it takes about 10-15 years for it to become an issue. One way to slow down the calcification is to install a water softener. The downside of using a water softener is that it robs the water of its minerals. This makes the water look for other mineral sources to replace its robbed minerals from, which may cause problems with hot water tanks.

Toilet Misuse

Another very common problem with toilets that causes clogs is flushing things down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed down. Some examples that we regularly see include: baby wipes, paper towels, toys, Q tips, pens, and toothbrushes.

When a blockage does occur, you can try to unblock the clog with a plunger. However, it is not always possible to unblock a toilet with a plunger, especially when there are bigger objects blocking the flow (such as small toys that get jammed). In some cases, a toilet auger can be used to unplug most toilets. These are usually about 3 feet long and are manually spun. These do not always work though, because sometimes an auger can go right past whatever is causing the clog (such as Q tips that form a filter). The way we check that a clog is completely taken care of is to send a camera down into the toilet to check. If the clog still hasn’t cleared, the toilet needs to be taken off and inspected. At worst, the toilet may need to be replaced.

These are just some of the things that could happen to a toilet is not maintained and cared for properly.