~~ Caveats ~~
While these pages will attempt to show you how to fix a toilet and most problems can be fixed, it must be remembered that there are some UNFIXABLE toilet problems.
A toilet bowl that has an object (comb, toothbrush, toy, etc.) stuck in the passageway that can't be reached or dislodged from inside the bowl or from the bottom of the toilet will have to be replaced.
When the passageway in a toilet bowl becomes encrusted with scale, it restricts the flow. It's almost impossible to completely remove the scale, and it's time for a new toilet.
A cracked toilet tank can't be fixed and should be replaced as soon as it is noticed whether or not it is leaking. I had a student tell a sad story in class of knowing her toilet tank had a crack in it, but because it didn't leak she didn't do anything about it. One evening, she came home from work to find water cascading down the staircase from the second floor. The tank crack had opened up during the day when no one was home and a part of the tank fell off. The water drained out of the tank, and the water turned on. The water ran for most of the day.
Do You Need a Permit?
There are some plumbing repairs that only licensed plumbers are permited to do. Following is an example of what the plumbing code in Washington County, Oregon allows:
A permit is required to install, replace or abandon plumbing fixtures -- such as toilets, sinks, water heaters, floor rains, dishwashers -- OR to do any plumbing repairs that would break the seal on the trap of any fixture. That means you can change a faucet without getting a permit, but hooking a sink back up does require a permit.
You also need a permit to install or repair supply or drain lines outside of the building. Rain drains, septic systems, drywells, sewer lines, water lines, lawn sprinkler systems, capping a sewer and abandoning a septic tank all require a permit.
Check your local plumbing codes if you have doubts about what is allowed in your area.
Here are a few web sites that address permits:
City of Los Angeles Municipal Code: Plumbing Permits (Section 94.103.1)
City of Portage, MI -- Plumbing Permits
National Plumbing Code of Canada
Uniform Plumbing Code
Are You Physically Up To the JOB?
Plumbing repairs or bathroom remodeling can be very stressful and physically demanding. Yes, do-it-yourself can save you time and money and many bathroom projects are simple and safe to do. But you need to remember a job that a professional plumber does frequently can appear to be easier to do than it really is. Installing a new toilet, lifting an old toilet or climbing up on a roof to clear a vent may be more than you should attempt. Toilets are heavy and awkward; climbing around on a roof is dangerous, please recognize your limitations.
Get an Estimate
You should balance the cost of having a plumbing contractor do the job against the potential for injuring yourself. Before you tackle a physically demanding or dangerous project, contact a professional for an estimate.
Many plumbers use a "Toilet Truck" that safely and quickly lifts and sets toilets.
How to Install a Toilet
With the above caveat regarding what plumbing repairs and installations can be done by a homeowner, the following links are offered to guide you in re-installing an old toilet or installing a new one ... note that violating or ignoring local code restrictions is high on the list of common problems encountered by do-it-yourselfers.
Information provided in these documents is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose.